Gabizon - Forever Young Prequel - Part 1

Gabizon is a character from Forever Young. In Forever Young we meet her as an older woman, a professor at the Venice University. In this story, published in short episodes (collected on this page), week by week, we will see some of the events from Gabizon's much earlier life. We will see what has turned her into the stern, tower of strength that she is in Forever Young.

So, without further verbiage, here is...

Gabizon - Part 1

Gabizon had never felt so cold in her life before, a bone deep chill that had sunk its icy talons into her and wouldn't let go. She had read enough about human psychology to know that, while it was really, terribly cold, she was miserable and shivering because she was far from home, far from friends, far from family, and far from sure she had made the right decision. 
"Can we turn the heater on?" she asked the back of the hulking man in the driver's seat.
"Burns more fuel," the man said. "Don't worry, it'll soon warm up in here, what with the heat from two bodies."
Gabizon gave up on the man with a snort, turning her attention back to the world going by outside her window. In the cones of orange light shed by the street lamps, she saw endless rows of squat brick buildings, huddled together in ones and twos behind low hedges. In some a bedroom light was already on, as early risers got a head start on the day, but most were still completely dark. Theirs was virtually the only vehicle on the streets at this hour. Each time they got to the end of one of these long streets, the driver yanked on the wheel and turned onto yet another street that looked exactly the same as the one before. It was becoming hypnotic, lulling her to sleep, but then they came to the end of a street, and instead of turning into the next, they emerged into a landscape of green.
"What's this?" Gabizon asked. "I thought that the Viscount lived in London."
"He does," the driver replied.
"But we're leaving London," Gabizon protested. "There it is, behind us."
"Oh, right... no," the driver said, still without turning to look at her. "We're still in London, this is just the Heath."
"The Heath?"
"Yes, and London surrounds it on all sides, but up top there is a little village."
"Engulfed but not swallowed," Gabizon said.
"If you like," the driver grunted, but it was obvious from his tone that he didn't like something about her poetic turn of phrase, as if a foreigner like her shouldn't have a better grasp of his own language than he did.
They continued to drive uphill through darkness, having left the streetlights of London behind. Huge trees, trunks so fat and tall they must have been growing for a hundred years, or even more, arched over the road, blocking out what little light there was. Gabizon felt a thump and a lurch, as the car went over what seemed like a bump in the road. It was so sudden it would have thrown her off her seat if she hadn't belted herself in.
"Shit," the driver cursed.
"What was that?" Gabizon asked.
"We hit something," he said. "There's all kinds of animals on the Heath, badgers, dear, foxes, other things."
"We have to stop," Gabizon shrieked. "We have to see if it's okay."
"No way. There are only three possible outcomes to an animal getting hit by a car. One, it's dead, so we can't help it. Two, it's fine, so it's already run away into the woods. Or three, it's all busted open, with its guts spread all over the road. Something tells me, a fine young lady like you don't want to be seeing that."
"But," Gabizon hissed, "if it has been badly injured, there is a chance we can save it. We have to stop. I command you to stop."
"You command me?" the driver said, voice low, threatening. "Well, in that case, let's take a look."
He slowed, but not by much, nosed the car into a field, hit the brakes, reversed and headed back the way they had come, in a teeth jarring and dangerous but undeniably skillful maneuver. He slowed then, after the high-speed three-point turn, headlights and fog lights on, as he scanned the road, looking for whatever it was they had hit.
"I don't see anything," Gabizon said.
"Here we are," the driver said, and pulled the car over, almost into a hedge.
He yanked at the door handle and got out, as the rusty old metal of the vehicle complained, and the car bounced on its suspension, seemingly relieved that his massive bulk was no longer holding down its springs. Gabizon opened her door, too, almost silently and got out without the car seeming to react much at all.
"Look," the driver said, pointing at a patch of darker than usual road.
"What is it?" Gabizon asked
"Blood," he told her.
"Oh mio dio," she gasped. "The poor animal, we hurt it."
"Oh yeah, you could say that," the driver snorted, supremely unconcerned, absolutely callous. "There is a shit load of blood here. Whatever we hit, it can't have gotten far. We can look for it, if you want. It seems to have carted itself off that way, to find a place to die, but all we'll be able to do is give it the last rites."
"You don't know that,'" Gabizon said.
In reply, the brutish, unshaven and malodorous driver placed his hand, palm down, fingers splayed, on the road surface. A second later he pulled his hand away and went over to the car, where he held his hand in the light from one of the headlights, displaying it to her. It was bright red. Unmistakably blood. Gabizon even saw a droplet form and then fall to the ground, twinkling in the car headlight.
"Look at that," the driver growled.
"I can see, thank you. Blood."
"No, not that," he said. "Look.”
“Look at what?” Gabizon asked, glancing over her shoulder, trying to see what the driver was looking at.
"Oh shit," the driver said.
"What?" Gabizon asked, her heart suddenly in her throat. For some reason she felt a sensation of vulnerability creep over her. It felt like the darkness was close enough to touch her skin, that there was something cold between the trees on either side of the road. Gabizon looked all round, imagining shapes in the forest.
“The whole wing is dented,” the driver growled. “They'll take that out of my pay."
"For goodness sake, is that all? Let's get back in the car, and get to where we're going," Gabizon said.
"That's the first sensible thing you've said since I met you," the driver grinned, seeming to forget his anger at the dented bodywork of his car.
He wiped the animal blood from his hand by rubbing it on a damp bush at the side of the road. They both got back in, and the driver did a slower, safer, three point turn. As he did, Gabizon looked out the back window, forlornly wondering if she might see the injured animal after all. She strained her eyes into the darkness, and gasped. She did think she saw something, just for a second, but it wasn't the shape of an animal. It was too tall, upright, like a man. She blinked in shock, and it was gone. Her imagination she decided, as the car gathered speed.

Continue reading with Part 2.

A Message from the Author

If you are enjoying reading about Gabizon, it is likely you will enjoy Forever Young. Gabizon is vitally important to the events of the book, all the way to the end. Read Forever Young:

Forever Young is a modern take on a classic Gothic novel, combining horror, death, and romance. It is firmly in the tradition of the most famous books of the genre but it is also something new. The book introduces us to Jasmine, a student of anthropology, newly arrived in Venice to work with Gabizon, and to Violetta, who is trapped in an ancient and violent world with no escape. After the two meet, Jasmine gradually awakes in Violetta the desire to escape.

The book is also available at Kobo and at Smashwords.