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Bones

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They were gaining. No matter how fast I ran, how many cuts and bruises I ignored, and how long I managed to keep up the pace, I was going to end up back in their grasp. Why I kept running I didn’t know. There was no point. I’d tried before to escape their ruthlessness, and every time I failed, but this attempt was different. Or at least that’s what I told myself. That’s what I always told myself.
I continued to run, stumble, and crash through the forest, glancing over my shoulder every five seconds. That’s how I managed to run into him, literally. I struck him with such force that I was ricochet backwards, landing on my ass in the dirt.
“What’re you doin’ out here, Runt?” The man growled at me as I sat in front of him, panting. He glowered, towering over me. His stare alone could have scared the s*** out of the bravest men. I scuttled to my feet, wanting to match his towering height to at least make him seem like less of a threat.
An explanation lodged in my throat. There was no time. I couldn’t waste any more time. “Help me. Please.” My voice shook as it pushed past my unwilling lips.
He snickered menacingly and crossed his arms. “And why would I do that? What’s a runt like you got to offer me?” His eyebrow arched.
I thought frantically for a moment, brain addled from physical exhaustion and lack of food. “I can… I can read your fortune! I can I swear.”
That was one of the few times I ever saw him look amused. “Really then? Show me.”
I looked behind me for any movements through the trees, then quickly pulled open a small pouch that hung around my waist. I lifted out a palm-full of small animal bones. With delicate precision I balanced each one.
I cleared a patch of dirt with my foot and looked up to gauge the man’s reaction, which was still one of amusement, thankfully. With a flourish, the bones scattered, creating a sharp contrast between the white of the bone and the rusty soil
“Well?” He demanded. “What is it? What’s my future?”
I looked up at him, eyes narrowed, shoulders square and chest heaving, still out of breath from my run. “Promise to help me first.” I knew it was a long shot. What if he refused? Then again what did I have to lose?
“Excuse me?” He challenged.
“You heard me.” I answered. I could feel my body begin to shake. “Promise to help me and I’ll tell you what your future is.”
“Why should I? I don’t need to know what my future is.” Despite the surety of the words, I could see him start to fidget. His eyes grew wider and his fists clenched with anxiety.
I had dealt with people like him my entire life. Each one had their own agenda and traits, and yet they each wanted the same information in the end: what was going to happen to them and how they could stop it. It hadn’t taken me long to figure out how to manipulate them.
“Then I guess I’ll just go, if you don’t need me.” I replied with a shrug. I stooped over, fingers reaching for the closest bone.
“No!” He shouted, his hand shooting out to stop me. I smiled down at the ground before composing myself and standing back up to look at him.
“Excuse me?” I echoed.
The rustling started up again behind us and I whipped my head around, to search the shadows. “You better get back here boy!” the voices howled, a replacement for the wind that refused to blow.
“Help me?” my voice shook once more as I turned back to him.
“Alright, alright. Just get behind me.” His face bore no remnants of the amused grin he’d had when I first stumbled into him, making his stare seem almost deadly. I nodded and did as he said, moving gingerly, so as not to disturb the bones.
“You might not want to watch.” He murmured, stepping forward. He, I observed, was not as careful with the bones as I had been and without noticing he managed to knock one bone out of place. I winced as the readings in the bones became clear, but didn’t say anything. I would not risk my own life to warn him about his future.
The men stepped through the trees, their malevolent grins growing when their eyes met mine. “Move out of the way.” They sniggered to the man in front of me. “He’s ours.”
“I don’t think so,” he said. With one quick step forward and one reach of the arm both of their necks were snapped and they crumpled to the ground like collapsible tents. I watched, eyes wide, as I took a couple of steps back, a couple of steps away.
“What does it say.” He murmured, looking down at the bones. “I did what you asked now tell me what my future is.”
“You’re… you’re going to die.” I replied, the gleam in his eyes frightening me to the core.
“Aren’t we all?” he snapped back.
“Soon.”
“And how do I change that?”
“I… I don’t know. I can’t change the future. Only read it.”
“Then I guess I better keep you around so you can tell me as soon as it changes. You can call me Bayner.” He said.
“I’m Chris-.”
“I don’t want to know.” He said, shaking his head. “I’m gonna call you Bones.”




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