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Listening 2

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The boy and the little girl walk through the deserted city for a long time. They don’t speak for that amount of time either. The little girl is just regaining control over her limbs and motor functions, as they are wobbly and jerky.

“So what’s your name?” The little girl asks suddenly.

The boy was musing to himself before she spoke; her voice startled him into flinching.

“Oh, er-um, my name’s Empathy.”

“Really?” She looks at him wide-eyed, examining him. He has angular features, thick, messy dark hair, dark brown eyes, and tanned, weather-beaten skin. His lips are cracked. He must’ve been about fourteen years old. He’s fiddling with the zipper of his jacket as he notices her scrutinizing him. The girl adds, “My name’s Sammi, but everyone calls me Angel.”

“Oh. Well, Carina just calls me moron.”

That comment sent peals of laughter across the old, withered town, Angel’s giggles bouncing off the walls of buildings. She did look like an angel, having a heart shaped face, huge blue eyes, golden ringlets bouncing to her gait, she must’ve been only nine years old.

“You don’t talk much, do you, Empathy?” She laughs, bounding around the grey tiled road.

“No, I usually just talk to Carina.”

“Who is Carina anyway?”

The boy doesn’t answer that. The corners of his mouth turn down slightly, his eyes growing distant.

“The doctors said she was schizophrenia.” He says quietly. “But to me she’s my best friend.”

“What’s schizophrenia?” The girl asks, looking at him curiously.

The boy’s expression looks a little pained. He grimaces, but says, “Apparently a voice in your head that tells you to do crazy stuff.”

“Well then Carina’s definitely not schizophrenia.” The girl says. “’Cause she’s helping us, not making you do crazy stuff.”

To that the boy smiled slightly.

“What does she look like?” The girl asks unexpectedly.

“Huh?”

“What does-”

“No I heard that. Why are you asking me all these questions?”

He looks at her, and the girl grins brightly back at him.

“’Cause I’m curious. You ask questions to get answers, right?”

The boy sighs heavily, drooping his shoulders. “Okay I’ll tell you. She’s about my age, sandy blond, long hair, wears boy shorts instead of girl shorts, and wears a tank top all the time. She’s got freckles and hazel eyes-”

“How do you know this?”

“What?” He straightens up.

“How do you know what she looks like if you can only hear her voice inside your head?”

“Oh.” A tinge of color comes to his face. “Well, I dream about her.”

“Why are you blushing?” The girl laughs loudly.

“I’m not blushing! Gah!” He huffs and looks away, yanking on his jacket zipper and muttering things under his breath. “The first person I have to save is an annoying little girl…” And he mutters some more.

But then he stops.

The girl doesn’t notice for a split second and bounces a few feet away, but then she spins around on her heel and looks back. The boy is frozen solid, a look of pure terror on his face.

“Angel, get back here.” He says, mortified.

“Why?”

“Angel, get back!”

But when she doesn’t act fast enough, the boy lunges and scoops her up in his arms, just as a horrific monster tears out from behind a building snarling and biting the space where the girl had just been. Its nostrils flare as it tries to sniff out where she had gone.

The boy clamps a hand over the girl’s mouth, stifling her scream.

The monster is covered in wrinkly white skin, crudely stretched over its emaciated body and spindly appendages. The thing has six, crooked limbs holding its body up, but there are other deformed legs sticking out along its spine and belly, but are utterly useless to it in terms of motion. Its head is attached to a short neck, and is completely jaw; its lips were like a lopsided line drawn by an amateur pottery-maker across its thick skin.

“Oh wait, Carina says it can’t hear, so scream all you want.” The boy says and lets go of the girl’s mouth.

The girl screams.

But the thing inhales deeply and snaps its head around, saliva dripping off its humungous maw and lets out a savage, inhuman, roar.

It has caught their scent.

The boy bolts into an alley carrying the girl along with him. The monster tears after him, its legs moving all in different directions and jerkily slamming into building walls after them. Trash cans crush under it. The boy’s expression is sheer fright as he dashes through the winding alleys.

“Carina it’s trying to kill me!” The boy screams as he runs. “I can’t touch it! It’ll kill me, Carina!”

The girl continues to scream, tears streaming down her face.

The boy swerves a sharp corner, the monster smashing into a concrete building, its legs flailing wildly as it tried to pull its awkward limbs together. The boy lets go of the girl, screaming at her to run, and dashes in a suicidal attempt to touch the monster’s snout.

And he slaps his hand on its wrinkly skin.

Instantly its white skin peels back and vaporizes, all its twisted limbs dissipate, leaving nothing but a crumpled old man in the alleyway.

The boy’s chest heaves as he struggles to catch his breath, the hand that touched the monster twitching, his tendons straining.

“It hurts…” He whimpers, screwing his eyes shut. “Carina, it hurts…”

The old man groans, searching blindly along the ground, possibly for a cane of some sort, but there is nothing.

The girl rushes forward and helps the man sit up, but gasps in fright. The old man’s skin is a deathly pale, his eyes sunken, his glasses broken.

“Are you okay, mister?” She cries. “C-Can I help you somehow?”

The old man doesn’t answer. His breathing is labored.

“Carina says he’s not going to make it…” The boy whispers suddenly.

Tears spring to the girl’s eyes. “Empathy no! If I survived, than this guy can too! We just gotta-gotta get him to shelter! Let’s-let’s get some water or something!”

But then… the man just stops breathing.

The girl’s face slowly changes expressions. Her eyes widen, mouth opens, but then the expression gradually transforms into a grimace, and she lets out a sob, her shoulders racking and tears rolling down her cheeks. She scoots away and sniffs hard, burying her face in her hands and then sobbing.

“Carina… why did he die?” The boy asks softly.

There is no audible answer. The warm, thick wind brushes by.

The boy nods slowly though, having a horribly sad look on his face. “He… just couldn’t handle it…” He says softly. “Couldn’t handle the evil.”




~




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