We sit in the back of the house, in the room that has no windows. Every night, at 9:00 exactly, my parents, myself, and my little brother return to the house and prepare ourselves for the Night Watch. We sit in the back room so we can't see, so we can pretend like everything's fine. We still hear the slamming of wooden doors and shutters, the loud metal clicking of locks clasping, but we don't see the ghostly faces that shut us in.
But tonight... tonight my little brother isn't here. The clock ticks past 9:00, 9:01, 9:03.
I can’t stand the tension, the silence, the worry that fills the room. I have to find him.
My parents don’t stop me from leaving; they care for their son, but years of subtle, Colorbleeder-induced horror has penetrated their bones and left them brittle. They’ve seen things, heard things, and learned to fear Her and Her minions. A lesson I haven’t learned yet.
A star-free sky greets me as I exit my house. The pre-Nightwatch commotion is afoot around me, townsfolk bustling around like ants preparing for a storm. I don’t know where to start the search for my brother. I try to move towards the bridge, his favorite haunt, but the crowd prevents me. They are a stampede, moving in one direction, towards safety.
One of my brother’s friends tries to speed by me. I nearly miss him, my eyes are searching on the horizon, for my brother or Colorbleeders I don’t know, but I catch him just in time, grabbing his arm to slow him. He tells me he doesn’t know where my brother is, that he was last seen near the bridge.
The crowd has thinned and I manage to make my way to the bridge, stopping someone on the way to ask the time. 9:17.
The bridge is on the edge of town, the opposite end of the road to the city. As I get closer to it I see a lone shadow emerge from the darkness and into the light cast by a lamppost. As it comes closer I can make out the features of my brother. He’s soaking wet, but he offers no explanation and I don’t ask. I grab his hand and pull him towards the town. I can hear the Nightwatch coming, the eerie melody they hum reverberating across the still night, and I pick up my pace.
As we sprint through the streets we pass a group of Colorbleeders. They don’t pay attention to us, which means we have a few more minutes to reach our house.
But as soon as we turn the corner I hear pounding footsteps behind us. Its 9:30. We’re too late.
Adrenaline is the sole thing that keeps me going. But as we turn the last corner I cut it too sharp, forgetting the empty crates that make their home there. I crash into them, tripping onto the ground. I hear my head crack. Through my blurred eyesight I see my brother enter the house, right as a Colorbleeder finishes locking our neighbor’s in and proceeds to our windows and doors.
The footsteps behind me slow. A hand grasps my arm and roughly pulls me to my feet. I can feel my consciousness abandon me as blood leaves my brain and my muscles go limp.
The last thing I remember is colored tears bleeding from a deathly white face.