My feet hit the ground with dull thuds, pain searing up my legs with each step.
"Jareth, I need to stop," I called. "My leg hurts."
He nodded, but I could sense his trepidation. We couldn't see the Reflection- not at the moment, so we decided to stop briefly in a nearby motel.
"Welcome to Holiday Inn," the pallid receptionist said dully, "Want a room? Entertainment? ...Other?"
"Just a room, two beds. No questions," said Jareth, shoving a small silver keepsake at her.
She raised an eyebrow. "No credit card? Are you being followed?" she leaned closer. I didn't like the way she was looking at Jareth.
"No. We're not. We're looking for a place to stay, with no questions asked," I said gruffly.
She straightened. "Here's the key."
Her arm was in a sling. She had been in a fight.
We headed upstairs to our shabby room. Jareth sat on a wooden stool. I sat on the floor.
"Tell me about the Brahmahn," I turned to face him. "I need to know, now."
Jareth shook his head. "Casey, you don't. You really don't."
"Fine. The Brahmahn... He took a group of students out of class remember? We were the ones He told, about the Perfecting and Reflections. We were to convert others... we would know which ones. He said it would stop the fights, for those few. I wanted you to convert, but you wouldn't. I was desperate, that night those other girls beat you up.
"But then I realized that the Brahmahn was planning the Perfection. He wanted a world where he would be worshipped and loved more than anything else. He wanted that so desperately, that he instilled the drive to fight and the hope for peace in every single human being. I don't know how, but it happened.
"He was planning to leave a few people still Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim... whatever... but he couldn't control it anymore. Perfection was something everyone wanted, needed, obsessed over. The fights grew more intense. The Reflections will be welcome to all those he hurt, but perfect isn't as good as it seems.
"I've read enough books, watched enough movies, to know that absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have to get somewhere so imperfect, that even the reflections will be unable to change it." he looked out the window. The Reflections were shimmering on the horizon. By daybreak, we would have to leave.
There was a soft knock on the door. I jumped. Cautiously, Jareth went to look through the peephole.
"May I come in?" the receptionist looked at us anxiously. "Please? It's urgent..."
Jareth opened the door. Her brown eyes were large and afraid. "I'm Delilah. I heard what you said. I've been sitting in this hole too long, steering ne'er-do-wells to the nearest hop joint, giving anyone anything they ask... I want to go with you. I know where you'll find a place to escape that... that thing.."
"I'm sorry, but we can find our own way," I told her.
"Casey..." Jareth said, barely hinting at his annoyance at me, "Casey, I think we should give her a chance."
"Fine," I said, grudgingly, "Where?"
I gasped. Jareth's eyes widened. "That's... that's..." he stuttered.
"I was born there," she said softly. "I know what goes on. But it's so unholy, so twisted, so imperfect that nothing can fix it. It's a terrible place, and it's your only hope."
The Alley. Since 2013, the abomination had been growing. It started up just a bunch of hobo shacks around New York City, but by now it had become a business for all sorts of illegal activities. One of the most highlighted were the Gangs, the Waspfight and the Bearfight. They were always battling over something... or nothing at all.
"We can't go there!" I shouted, "we'd get in a fight... or worse!"
Delilah rolled her eyes. "Your a kid. They don't do anything with kids... not with a guy right next to 'em."
I was about to say something back, but Jareth interrupted. "Even so, it is dangerous. We'll have to be careful. And we're kids, too, Delilah. Casey hasn't lived the sheltered life you think she has."
She blushed. I decided now would be a good time to gather supplies.
"What are you doing?" she called when she saw me taking towels and mini-soaps from the bathroom, "My manager will kill us if you take hotel property!"
"Something tells me he won't care in a bit..." I said, gesturing to the Reflections on the horizon.
"Casey's right," Jareth agreed, "We need this stuff."
We took everything we could fit in Delilah's large purse. We all slept in the same room. The couch had a bed in it.
"I don't want to go home, now," Delilah had said simply. She didn't elaborate.
That night, I had a dream about a blind man with long hair, and a woman named Delilah.