Where I Live (Part 18)

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I awoke slowly, the bed warm beneath me. No . . . back to the memories. I thought angrily. I don’t want to be here. A thought struck me and I sat bolt upright. Dimly, I realized that my hair was mostly dry, but that was one of the furthest things from my mind.
“Where can you hide a flock of Birds . . .” I muttered to myself, “And a pack of Wolves . . . within easy walking distance of free internet access . . . where no one will find it?” I stood up, a flicker of hope building in my chest. “In a bunker below the freaking forest!”
I clamped a hand over my mouth as my ears picked up soft footsteps somewhere outside the cabin. Bare feet making no sound, I crept slowly to the door and pressed my feline ear against it. The footsteps stopped in front of the door, a few feet away, and the person didn’t move for a few seconds. Then, there was the soft shift of gravel as something was set down and the person walked away. I waited until I could no longer hear their footsteps, then waited some more. When I was sure they were gone, I unlocked the door and opened it slowly.
A laptop sat in the dirt a few feet in front of me, a little piece of paper on top of it held down by a rock.
Looking around frantically as I recognized the laptop as Kole’s, I grabbed it and hurried back inside. My hands shook so much I nearly dropped it before I could set it on the table. I picked up the piece of paper to read it, but had to set it back down on the table. The words were moving around too much for me to read them. When the yellow slip was sitting still on the table, I read slowly.
“There’s been an update,” I read out loud though I was by myself. “It came from the library. You don’t have internet access at the lake, but we left the pages open for you. . . Look at them.
I was nervous and jumpy for no logical reason and my fingers could barely undo the clasp to open the lid. When I did, I had to run my hand over the mouse pad to wake it up. I pulled up one of the pages. Sure enough, there had been an update. There were pictures of a Cat. This can’t be right. . . Fear gripped at my heart and I frantically pulled up the other pictures. That can’t be him. . . I searched the pictures frantically, trying to prove myself wrong, but in the end, I was right. I stumbled back away from the sight and fell to my knees on the floor, covering my eyes with my hands. A single whispered word pushed me over the edge and stinging tears ran down my cheeks.
“Kadin.”
For a long while, I sat there on the cabin floor, wishing for the numb state I had felt before, but I couldn’t keep my little brother’s smiling face from appearing in my mind. The adventures we’d had together flashed in my head, the sequence ending with one I’d conjured up in my mind. I saw Kadin on his knees, wearing the dirty pair of white shorts he’d been wearing in the pictures. His arms were held out and up at his sides, dangling from chains that were attached high up on the walls. He looked up at me, frazzled hair hanging in his eyes, and started to speak, but he made no sound.
Kryn . . . I read his lips. Help us. . . You have to help us.
I opened my eyes, glaring at nothing as I pulled my hands away from my face. All the fear, tension and sorrow melted away, replaced by sweet, blissful rage. I had felt a similar feeling when I found Ran pinning Ethan to the ground, but this guy had my brother – my little baby brother – and now the feeling was different.
It was a hundred times worse.
I stood slowly, a slightly maniacal laugh building in my throat.
“This guy’s dead.”
Thankful that I hadn’t locked the door behind me, I sprinted out of the cabin and into the forest. A twinge of nervousness came back as I realized I was heading back towards where Ethan and Kole had been, but it was quickly snuffed out by the anger that still burnt bright within me. I remembered the exact spot where we had entered the lake and once there, I skidded in the dirt that was still a little wet from the rain, then took a sharp left turn.
A little ways ahead, I saw Ethan and Kole walking, probably heading off towards town again. Ignoring the pain that seeing Ethan brought me, I sped up, but with no shoes, I didn’t make a sound on the forest floor and they didn’t hear me. In too much of a hurry to go around them, I ran up behind them and jumped up and to the right. Planting one foot against a tree, I kicked off of it and launched myself over their heads. Hitting the ground with a slight thump, I ignored their fearful cries and kept sprinting. Within less than half a minute, Kole’s shouts were nothing more than a whisper.
I continued running until I couldn’t hear, see or smell them, though I was downwind. When I had gotten to the outskirts of town, I stopped to catch my breath, pulled up the hood of my jacket, shoved my hands in my pockets and walked out onto the sidewalk, keeping my head down and ears flat, though I knew if someone looked down it would be weird that I was barefoot.
When I got to the library, I walked straight back to where the computers were. Thankfully, there was one free. Wasting no time, I sat down and accessed my email, tapping my foot impatiently when the internet slowed. Once I’d opened my email, I pulled up a message to Dad and started to type as quickly as possible:

I know you’re probably angry with me and I know I left without saying anything, but I had to. Despite the consequences of doing what I did, I don’t want to change my actions. I’ve enlisted some allies, though at the moment we’re facing difficulties, and now I think I know where this guy has been hiding. If you haven’t seen yet, he’s been capturing Birds of Prey and Wolves for a while.
I don’t know if you want to see me and I don’t blame you if you don’t, but I want to save my little brother. And not just Kadin, the other people that are down there too. I won’t just leave them there, no matter their clan.
And if you want to help, then find the place where five years ago, you knew everything.

Because of my newfound paranoia, I didn’t say exactly where it was but as a clue, I added the ages that Kyla, Kadin and I had been when we had found the wooden doors – 4, 8 and 11 – then sent the email. Barely bothering to log out, I stood up hurriedly and walked as slowly as I could manage towards the front door. People stared as I walked and I wondered why until I realized that my hood had fallen down. I pulled it back up, wondering if the Hunter with a death wish was around.





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