Originally broadcasted 12/12/06
Fade to Black
Spanish Vista – Sunset
As the sun sank to the edge of the vast horizon, a young, dark-haired, girl slowly made her way up the moderate incline of a narrow dirt road. The area was devoid of all sound, save for the crunch of churning gravel that echoed with each footfall. Her eyes flashed to her right, past where the gravel ended, toward a steep hill positioned perpendicular to the road. The hill, which was separated from the road by a dilapidated wooden barrier, increased in slope as the road wound higher into the mountains. The trail, while quite aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, was in fact rather dangerous to traverse.
The girl jumped as the sudden hum of a diesel engine broke her momentary reverie. She turned to see a dust-covered red pickup truck climbing the hill behind her. With a frown, she moved to the side of the road and continued walking.
As the truck approached, it slowed to match the girl’s pace. The driver lowered the passenger window and called out, “Isabel?”
The girl stopped, looking nonplussed. She took a deep breath and moved toward the car. Looking into the window, she saw a familiar man sitting behind the wheel. She smiled but did not speak.
The man fixed her with a look of uncertainty and asked, “Querría usted una espalda del paseo al pueblo?”
Isabel smiled politely. “Gracias padre, pero quiero andar.”
He nodded wordlessly, then continued, “Le veré yo en masa mañana?”
“Sí padre,” Isabel replied quietly.
“Bueno,” he said, then shifted the truck back into drive. “Yo le veré mañana. Sea seguro.” For a moment he looked as if he would say something else, but instead, he issued a short wave and moved the vehicle up the road.
Isabel frowned, and watched the truck until it disappeared in the distance, leaving only a trail of dust in its wake. Waiting a moment for the airborne dirt to settle, she continued along the road as the daylight continued to dwindle. After several minutes, the path of the road began to veer left, away from the now dangerously steep incline. About a half a mile ahead of her, the lights of a small town became visible.
Isabel took a deep breath and hopped the wooden barrier. She moved away from the road to a grassy area that rose above the dirt path. With some difficulty, she climbed the hill and found herself face to face with a large sign that read, “Utilice el Cuidado.”
Stepping around the posted warning, Isabel moved forward and took in the scene. Before her was an eight-foot wide path of flat limestone that stretched fifteen feet until ending abruptly at the cliff’s edge. Beyond that was a straight drop to the canyon two hundred feet below.
Slowly, and with significant trepidation, Isabel approached the edge of the drop. Her hands shaking noticeably, she clutched the silver cross that hung from her neck. Each step became more and more difficult as the cliff neared.
Three feet from the edge, Isabel stopped. Tears streamed down her face as she looked over the edge at the canyon below. The drop was ominous, yet at the same time the view was, for lack of a better word, breathtaking.
“No…” Isabel fell to her knees and sat back. She shook her head back and forth, unable to continue. The dark-haired girl sat for a moment, sobbing audibly, until a faint whistling breeze blew through the canyon below, drawing her attention.
Slowly, Isabel lifted her head up, listening as the wind swept through her hair. Her sobs subsided and the river of tears trickling down her face dried up. Standing, she inched toward the ledge with significantly less trepidation.
Two feet from the edge, she stopped when her left foot collided with something on the ground. Instinctively, she looked down to find a shabby looking, leather bound text. Kneeling down, she picked up the book and used her fingers to brush away the dust that coated the gold inlay until the words “Nuevo Testamento” became visible.
Isabel’s eyes widened, and she quickly rose to her feet, all the while clutching the book against her chest. Eyeing the ledge, she took one last step forward. The wind continued to whistle.
With an abrasive, audible scrape, the gravel below her feet gave way and Isabel disappeared over the side. The breeze died down, and the whistling of the wind faded. Across the canyon, the sun disappeared behind the horizon.
Cleveland – Sunset Club – Night
Three Weeks Later
A small orange neon orb flickered above the wooden door of The Sunset Club as one of the bar’s occupants exited the establishment and made his way into the street. Clad in black jeans and a leather jacket, the man pulled a cigarette from behind his right ear and headed for the side alley adjacent to the street. En route he removed a clear plastic lighter from his coat and lit the cigarette, swaying slightly as he moved.
Inhaling deeply, the man stopped as the unmistakable sound of wood on pavement echoed through the night air. He looked down in time to see a sharpened piece of wood roll from the shadows of the alley and collide with his boot. He took a moment, allowing the object to register, before sprinting off in the opposite direction.
A blurred, dark-haired figure emerged from the shadows of the alley and followed after him, snatching up the stake along the way. The club’s neon sign flickered once more as the figure streaked by.
From there, the chase was on. The man ducked into the first alley on the right and sped up until he reached the next cross street. He hung a sharp left and sprinted down the pavement, risking a glance at the sidewalk behind him.
The pursuer was still hot on his trail, having actually gained ground despite his speed and erratic route through the back alleys of one of Cleveland’s less-than-savory neighborhoods.
Quickly dashing across the street, the man narrowly missed an oncoming car before ducking into yet another side street. Once inside, he easily hopped a six-foot tall chain link fence and sprinted down the narrow one-way street.
Behind him, the fence rattled momentarily, indicating he was not yet out of the woods. The chase continued down several more side streets as he leapt over Dumpsters, traversed oncoming traffic and even cut through a convenience store in a futile attempt to get away.
Five minutes later, and a mile and a half from the Sunset Club, the man found himself running through a deserted stretch of parking lot heading toward a poorly lit intersection.
Behind him, the unidentified pursuer was quickly closing in. Stake in hand, the assailant moved within four feet and prepared to end the chase. Tires squealed on the street to their left. However, neither chaser nor chase-ee seemed to notice. The distance between them reached three feet as the man neared the intersection.
A car engine revved to their left as the distance closed to two feet. The vampire reached the sidewalk in front of the intersection as a bright light flashed across his face. Tires squealed.
Within a foot now, the slayer raised her stake in preparation for the…
A news van screeched to a halt, hitting the vampire and clipping Faith in the process. She stumbled backward, only to land flat on her back. Rubbing her head, she watched as the van’s dented side door slid open and a man with a camera emerged, followed closely by a blonde woman with a microphone. The vampire shook his head once and jumped up, running away.
The news crew wasted no time, shoving the camera in the brunette slayer’s face.
“Faith!” the reporter cried, “How do you respond to the allegations made by several guards at the Stockton Women’s Correctional Facility?”
Faith ignored the question and moved past the camera, looking into the intersection for any sign of the vampire.
Watchers Council – Faith and Robin’s Apartment – Night
Faith slammed the door behind her as she entered the apartment she shared with Robin. With a frustrated grunt, she removed her jacket, flung it onto the nearest section of sofa and stomped off toward the bedroom.
“I’ve completely had it with the press in this town!” she roared as she entered the room. Only afterwards did she look around for Robin, who was placing a neatly folded shirt into a small black travel bag. Having registered his presence, she continued, “I can’t walk a block outside without having a camera shoved in my face.”
She flopped onto the bed, nearly knocking over Robin’s overnight bag in the process. He hastily caught it before it went off the side of the bed and shot her an annoyed glare. She didn’t notice.
“I was over in Edgewater chasing down a vamp when a news van came out of nowhere and hit me,” she grumbled. Robin raised an eyebrow and looked ready to comment, but held his tongue as Faith went on. “Well, actually I hit it.” She rubbed a large bruise on her forehead without breaking stride in her rant. “That thing pulled right between me and the vamp. Can you believe that? Who does that? A second or two later and who knows? And then…and then they have the gall to say I’m avoiding the ‘issues’ when I try to go after the vamp, who only got away because they wouldn’t leave me the hell alone. And then –”–”
Faith was cut off by the sound of Robin zipping up his luggage. For the first time, she looked over at Robin, a quizzical expression on her face. She eyed the bag for a moment and then asked, “Are you going somewhere?”
“England,” he replied. He began shuffling through papers on a desk against the wall opposite the bed.
“I thought your trip wasn’t until next week,” she said, sitting up.
“It got moved up,” Robin answered without turning around. “My flight leaves in an hour.” He picked up a folder and headed for the door. “I’ll be right back. I need to get this to Rowena.”
Faith watched him leave, seemingly at a loss for words. “Okay,” she finally said, “I’ll just wait here then…” She heard the apartment door slam and frowned. “…alone.”
Sighing, she fell back onto her pillow, looking quite beleaguered. Wincing slightly, she sat up again and lifted the pillow, revealing the business end of a cell phone adapter. Her eyes darted from Robin’s bag to the charger and back again.
“Nice,” she said sarcastically, rubbing the back of her head. Scooping up the charger, Faith stood up, crossed the room, and unzipped Robin’s luggage. She tucked the adapter into a side pocket and then froze as she spotted a small jewelry box buried amidst a pile of sock balls.
Her curiosity piqued, Faith retrieved the box and flipped it over, revealing Tiffany’s logo. Her posture tensed and her eyes flashed to the bedroom door momentarily. Satisfied she was alone, Faith sat back down on the bed and slowly opened the box. Her eyes widened at the sight of three large diamonds set in a band of white gold. She exhaled audibly. The ring looked quite expensive.
Slowly, the corners of her mouth spread into a grin as she removed the ring from the box. Letting it sit in her hand, Faith stared at it, lost in thought. Holding the ring carefully, she moved to try it on, then stopped.
As quickly as it had appeared, her smile vanished. She looked at the ring and frowned. With a deep sigh, Faith returned the ring to its box and replaced it in Robin’s suitcase. She zipped the bag and fell back onto the bed, her expression blank.
The apartment door opened and then closed. Faith barely registered Robin’s presence as he entered the room, pulled his bag off the bed and set it down on the floor next to the door. He crossed the room and sat down on the bed next to where Faith was lying.
He looked down and said, “I’m sorry you had a bad night.” Faith didn’t reply, causing Robin to frown. He leaned over and planted a kiss on her forehead before standing up again. “I love you, and I’ll call you when I land.”
“Yeah, okay,” she replied, her expression unchanged.
Robin, still frowning, glanced down at her once more before heading toward the door. Grabbing his bag en route, he got halfway through the door before Faith’s voice called him back.
He turned to see her sitting up. Looking hopeful, he waited for her to continue.
Faith smiled faintly. “I love you too.”
Robin returned the smile with one of his own. “I’ll see you in a few days.” At that, he turned and left the room.
Faith watched him disappear from the doorway and fell back onto the bed, looking miserable.
End of Teaser