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The waves came crashing into the shore and greeted me at my feet. The breeze was perfect, the sun was setting. Soon it would be night; soon I would have to run. My fingerless glove was the only thing that kept me safe in the eyes of others, if they saw what was underneath it, it would be all over for me. I walked along the shore to the tiny seaside pub. Even though its size was small it attracted many visitors. Though I was safer away from these people I found it more comforting to be surrounded by them. They were my reminder of the life I used to have, the life I would never have again.
I walked a little further past the shack to where they kept rooms for guests. The rooms were tiny shacks that seemed run down on the outside, but on the inside they were the exact opposite. I unlocked the door and entered the privacy of my room. One week, that’s how long I had stayed. One week is the longest I could stay anywhere. My goal was to avoid leaving a lasting impression on one place. I needed to get in, rest up, and then get out, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to leave this beachside shack. It was so close to the ocean, the only element that seemed to remain constant in my life. I couldn’t leave it behind. With a sigh I grabbed my packed sack off my bed and slung it over my shoulder. Then I grabbed my belt which carried my gunblade, and fastened it around my waist. I was done here; there was nothing I could do to stay. As I was walking back to the pub there was a feeling in the air that tied my stomach into knots. It’s just because you don’t want to leave this all behind. I tried to tell myself.
When I entered the pub everything was as it always was. People ordering drinks and food at the bar, groups of party goers surrounded various tables talking, and some people surrounded tables where cards were being dealt. Nothing seemed different at all, but then in the blink of an eye everything was different. The doors were smashed in, people were screaming in horror, tables and chairs were turned over, and the glass of plates and cups were shattered on the floor. Everybody was running around in a panic, trying to get out of the pub, while the Troops flooded in. It was all over for me.
Trying not draw attention to myself I headed through the kitchen and out its backdoor. The door lead me to where the trees of the forest met the beach. I looked back to the shore to see the beachgoers screaming and running as the Troops filled the empty spaces of the beach. Without hesitation I ran into the forest, determined to put distance between myself and the Troops. That’s when I heard the faint cry from the bush. I slowed myself unintentionally knowing I should keep moving, but I couldn’t bring myself to ignore the soft cries that sounded like they were coming from a child. Even though I was whispering there was an intense edge to my voice. “Hello? I’m not going to hurt you. Hello?” Nothing, just the sound of sniffles from the bush to my right. I kneeled down to the ground and pushed aside the tiny branches of the bush to find the eyes of a boy staring back at me. His eyes quickly left mine as he looked down to his left arm in horror. There were yellow arrows that ran from his wrist to halfway from his elbow. Quickly I took off the glove on my right hand and showed him the top of my hand. “It’s okay,” My whisper took on a gentler tone, “I’m a Hera, just like you.” His features relaxed and he crawled out of the bush.
“Will you stay with me? I don’t want to be alone.” His voice was soft; it was obvious he was still terrified.
The thought of him traveling with me terrified me, he would just slow down my escape, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave him in the forest for the Troops to find. I quickly rummaged through my bag, pulled out a faded dark blue bandana, and tied it tightly around the arrows on his left arm. The yellow marking disappeared from sight and I helped him to stand up. “We need to start moving.” I led the way hoping he’d follow. With a soft “thank you” he followed me. I picked up the pace and began to jog, looking back to make sure the boy was behind me. He looked like he was struggling, but he kept up pretty well. It would be miles and miles before we’d hit the next town and I hadn’t had time to collect any provisions from the pub. After running for what seemed like a couple miles I slowed down. The boy saw this as his opportunity to collapse to the floor. I sat down and looked through my sack. Nothing. There was nothing in there that I would be able to eat. With a sigh I took out my water canister and handed it to the boy. He looked like he was on the verge of dying from lack of water and oxygen. Without questioning it he took the canister and greedily gulped it down. Then he lay there on the floor, his panting finally slowing down to normal. “How are you holding up?” I asked scared he was going to die on me at any moment.
Though his voice was quieter than before I could still hear him. “Who are you?” He asked.
“I told you, I’m a Hera just like you.”
“No, I meant…” he gulped down some more water before continuing. “I meant your name.”
It then occurred to me that I’d have to keep this boy with me. He looked no older than thirteen. I couldn’t just leave him behind in the next town, the Troops would find him eventually and it would be my entire fault that he was turned into a cold killer. I was now this boy’s guardian whether I wanted to be or not. I rubbed the temples of my head, suddenly getting a headache. I was only use to taking care of myself and no one else. I didn’t know if I could take care of this boy too, but I knew I had to try.
“Kyann.” I sighed. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“I’m Brenadon.” Now he was sitting up, leaning against a tree.
“How old are you?” Even though I had just met the boy I knew he was probably too curious for his own good.
“Eighteen.” I was being terse with him, but I didn’t care, I was trying to find some solution to the food and water problem we were facing.
“Oh, I’m thirteen. You look older than eighteen.” I looked over at him. He was staring at me, but once my eyes caught his he quickly looked away.
“Nice to know.” I stood up, knowing we’d have to keep moving. “We have to go now. Water and food, that’s what we need.” I began to walk through the forest when I felt something tug at my wrist. It was Brenadon, he was trying to pull me back.
“Wait!” He cried out, trying to pull me back. “I need another minute to rest. I feel like my legs are going to fall off.” With a sigh I sat back down on a log. Brenadon went back to his tree and began to play with leaves. “Where are you from?”
“Not around here.”
“Did you know you ask too many questions?”
Red filled his cheeks and he looked down at the ground. “Sorry.” He mumbled. I felt bad, I really did, but this kid was already getting on my nerves. “It’s just that I haven’t talked to anyone in a week.”
Now it was my turn to ask the questions. “You’ve been marked for a week?”
“Yea,” He looked back at me, “I was on vacation with my family at the beach. One day while my mother left my older brother in charge and my older brother slept I thought it’d be a cool idea to explore. I was in the forest when it happened. I never went back; instead I hid in the forest.” I couldn’t help myself from thinking it was my fault he was marked. I was the Hera who came in the week he was marked. I probably triggered something to make the change.
“I’m sorry.” Now it was my turn to look down at the ground.
“Didn’t your mom and brother try looking for you though?”
“Yea, they did. I’ve been hiding in bushes. They probably think someone kidnapped me.” It didn’t sound like he was proud of hiding from them, but who would be proud of hiding from the people who love you?
“Well, now you don’t have to just hide anymore. Now you have to run as well.” Black painted the sky above the trees; speckles of bright lights decorated the canvas. “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s better than becoming a monster.” To my surprise Brenadon stood up and offered his hand to help me off of my log.
“I’m ready. I’ll do whatever you say if it keeps me from becoming a monster.” I smiled up at him, comforted by this.
“Let’s get going then.” I led the way deeper into the forest knowing that there was no going back. Now it wasn’t just all about me, it was about protecting this boy from the horrible fate we were destined to suffer. What were we walking toward? I don’t know. Maybe food, maybe water, or maybe we were beginning the journey to try and escape the fate that we were given.