#1 - One Step at a Time

- Prompt #1 - Spectre -

Dark. The all encompassing, suffocating kind you see in the middle of the night. Kazunari lay awake, listening to the faint lapping of waves in the distance, the creak of the house around him, and the quiet pounding of boots on stone as a lone guard patrolled around the Mist as the darkness wrapped around him, threatening to smother him. His chest was heavy, each breath feeling like a herculean task, as he scrunched his eyes shut, trying to shut out the voices echoing within his skull - each one a vibrant reminder of his failures, each one an echo of someone he had lost.

He lay for what felt like hours, letting the darkness and hate and anxiety roll over him in waves, willing it away with all he could muster, hoping - praying - for some release from his torture. But eventually Kaz found himself standing, hand gripping the cool metal of a balcony rail, his lone eye tracing a path along the faintly lit streets below him. It was late - the deep night, where nothing stirred bar the unwilling and the unscrupulous - and the world was almost silent. His body felt light here, and for a moment he could forget the weight of his scars - the gentle ache of his missing arm was gone, and he gazed out onto the world with two fresh eyes - with the gentle pressure of a body pressed against his back, arms wrapped around his chest, lips tracing along his ba-

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