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Where I Live (Part 2)
When I got outside, I vaguely wondered if I’d hit Ran too hard. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he was a Wolf after all, but he was younger than me and I didn’t really feel like hurting anyone. Well, maybe Kakali. She was a Bird of Prey and just hearing her name made me mad. Out of the seven times I had seen her, she had cracked three of my ribs and broken my wrist. A couple times we had only seen each other and glared from a distance, but she seemed to have it out for me for some strange reason. Both her family and Ran’s family were one of the attack-first-ask-questions-later kinds of families that despised the other clans. I still couldn’t understand it.
When I got home, I picked Tally up and sat down in bed with her. “At least I don’t have to worry about you trying to kill me, huh, girl?”
She mewled softly and rubbed her head against my chin.
“Okay, so he probably doesn’t want to kill me but he keeps trying to beat the crap out of me. . . I wonder if Kadin got home safe.”
Setting Tally down, I pulled out my cell phone and held down the three. It dialed Mom and Dad’s home phone.
“Hello?” I heard from the other line.
“Hey, Mom, it’s Kryn.” I said, stroking Tally’s head. “Is Kadin home yet?”
“No, he’s not here. Why?”
“He came to see me and I sent him home after breakfast. Ran was following us but I lured him away. I was just wondering if Kadin got home yet.”
“Where are you?”
“Probably still passed out in the parking garage.”
“Oh. Well, I’m sure Kadin’ll make it home fine on his own. If he’s not back in a little while I’ll ask Marcus to go out and look for him.”
I felt my stomach do a little flip flop when she said his name. “Marc?”
“Yes, he’s such a sweet boy. Oh, I’ve got to go, dear. I’ll see you soon.”
“Yeah, all right. Bye.”
She hung up. We weren’t all lovey dovey, but Jungle Cat parents were like any other parents. They never stopped caring about their kids. I put the phone back in my pocket and started thinking about Marc. He had golden brown hair with ears and tail to match. His eyes were a striking light blue color outlined in black. I remembered the first night that I had seen them change to silver in the moonlight.
Shaking my head, I stood up, trying to clear my thoughts. Feeling restless, I grabbed my notebook, deciding to go back to the library. Once there, I used one of the computers and wrote down the things I found that I knew weren’t true about the clans. It was kind of funny that people wondered if Birds of Prey laid eggs. I mean, sure, they had wings, but they were still mostly human.
Sighing and shaking my head a little, I clicked on a link that led to the section of a website about Jungle Cats. I was shocked and horrified to find that there were pictures. It showed the top of someone’s head, a view from behind showed a tail coming out of a pair of pants, another showed hands with claws extended and still another showed an open mouth with fangs clearly exposed.
There was a full view picture that made my mind race. It was a guy, which I could tell from the other pictures, wearing only a pair of skater shorts. You could see a tawny tail between his legs, hanging limp. He had his claws extended and you could see ears the same shade of his tail on top of his head and short hair about the same shade. His face was fuzzed out of the picture, but it didn’t matter. If I could find a reference picture I wouldn’t need to see his face to recognize him.
Pulling out my phone, I dialed Dad’s number and searched all over the page. “Come on, pick up pick up pick up.”
“Dad!” I lowered my voice when someone looked at me funny. “I need you to look something up for me. Have any Cats gone missing since . . . Oh my god . . . this . . .”
“Kryn? Kryn. What is it?”
“Dad, I found a website about us and . . . it has pictures of a Cat. And the update is 2009. This year, only a few months ago. The photo’s been altered. I can just barely tell. There’s something wrong about his wrists. They must have been chained or tied or something, but it’s been photo shopped to look like he was just standing there.”
He paused. “I’ll check and see if there have been any disappearances. You need to come here and show it to me.”
“Already on it. Be there as fast as I can.”
He hung up without saying goodbye, as was his custom when he was busy. I tried not to look too worried as I emailed the link to myself, erased both my email and the website from the computer’s internet history and closed the window. Once I had done that, I walked out the door, giving a cheery wave to Mrs. Fletcher so I would appear normal to any prying eyes. Once outside, I picked up the pace as much as I dared and got home as quickly as possible.
When I got home, I got my keys and backpack, went down the street to the parking structure, pulled my red and black motorcycle out of its spot and started it up. Normally, I liked to take the bus since it saves money, but when I needed to get somewhere fast, I took my bike. I tried to hold back my temper when traffic slowed me down and mostly succeeded.
When I got to my parents house, I barely bothered to put the kick stand down before sprinting to the door. I knocked about ten times in three seconds and waited impatiently, tapping my foot.
“Who is it?” Came a small, sweet voice from the other side.
“Kyla, it’s Kryn.” I said loud enough for her to hear. “Open the door. I need to talk to Dad.”
“Just a second.” I heard her struggling to unlock the door since she could barely reach the high up lock. A few seconds later, the door opened.
I hurried inside, kicking off my shoes in the process and headed towards the stairs. “Remember to lock the door.”
“Got it!” She called after me.
I barely heard her as I went up the stairs, taking them two at a time. I was just barely starting to get winded when I got to the top. I jogged to Dad’s study and knocked.
“Dad, it’s Kryn.” I said, trying not to shout. He hated when any of us shouted unnecessarily.
“Come in.” He said from inside.
I walked in quickly. “I was looking for -- ”
“Close the door, please.”
After a second of surprise, I closed it. “Like I said . . . I was looking for websites about us and the others just to see what people thought they knew and I found this.” I quickly used his computer to go to my email and opened the link. “See?” I pointed to the wrists in the picture once I found it again. “It looks like they took something out of the picture.”
He nodded and pointed towards the area surrounding the boy’s hand. “Here too.”
I hadn’t seen it. “I bet if we compared other pictures . . . or actual Cats, I guess, we could figure out who this is.”
He shook his head. “There’s no need. There may have been some casualties in the past couple years, but there are only three within this age range that have actually gone missing recently. One body was found. Another was found barely alive and has since been nursed back to health. The body was a young man with black hair and fur. The one that was found was a young girl. And the only other possibility left is a boy your age, Ty Lan. I’ll make some calls and see who’s seen him last. Leave the page open.” He stood and put a strong hand on my shoulder with a small smile. “Try to calm down and relax downstairs.” He kissed my forehead and gave me a little push out the door. “Go on.”
Nodding once, not feeling confident at all, I walked out, closing the door behind me. I went downstairs and got a soda out of the fridge, then sat down in the living room. Kyla came and sat next to me as I pulled my hat off, dumping my backpack on the floor.
“I missed you, Kryn.” She said, cuddling up to my arm. “You should visit more.”
“Sorry, Kyla.” I patted her head, still lost in thought and worry. “I was busy with work. I do have to pay rent, you know.”
“Is it hard?”
“It’s hard . . . but it’s doable. Don’t worry. You have six years before you leave home. When that day comes, you’ll be able to take care of yourself. Mom and Dad’ll make sure of it. And Kadin and I will help you. It’s not like you can never come home.”
She nodded with a big smile and hopped off the couch to go play in her room. I set my soda down on the coffee table and pulled my knees up to my chest. Ty Lan. Why did his name sound so familiar? It should have been pretty distinct in my mind since not many people had two names as their first name.
I moved to lie down and was taken completely by surprise when Kadin sat next to my feet. “You’re not just here for a visit, are you?”
I shook my head and sat up again, pulling my legs in towards me to give him more room. “I’ll show you later, but while I was at the library I looked at some random websites about us and the Wolves and the Birds just to see what people got wrong . . . which was a lot, actually. But . . .” I gripped my pants at the ankle. “When I clicked on a link about us . . . I found pictures.”
He stayed silent, but the air felt thick with tension.
“It was a Cat around my age, a guy. It showed pictures of his tail, his ears and his claws. . . But when I looked at the full body shot, there was something wrong. The quality was off. The areas around his wrists and hands had been photo shopped.”
“No Cat in his right mind would just stand there and let someone take pictures of him.”
I nodded solemnly. “Yeah . . . I’m pretty sure that the people who made the website kidnapped him. Or maybe a Hunter did it and sold them the photos. . . Kadin . . . does the name Ty Lan mean anything to you?”
“Ty Lan . . .” He leaned back with a hand to his chin. “Ty Lan . . . wait . . . isn’t there a guy in your building named Ty? Maybe that’s him.”
“But . . . I would have caught his scent if he was a Cat. . . Although . . . I only saw him two times . . . and each time I was late for work and in a big hurry. . .” I got up, grabbed my hat and ran to the door, quickly getting my shoes on before going out. “Tell Dad I’ll be back as soon as I can!”
Barely bothering to strap my helmet before I took off, I drove away on my motorcycle. When I got home I forced myself to walk into the building, not run. When I got there, I went to the front desk and waited for the land lord to come back.
“Ah, Kryn, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you here.” He said with a smile as he walked up behind the desk. “Seems like every time I see you you’re on your way out.”
“Yeah, I do get kinda busy sometimes.” I tried not to rush my words. “I was wondering if you knew what building Ty Lan is in.” I smiled sheepishly. “I was supposed to watch his house for a little while and now I can’t remember his number. So, unfortunately, the spare key he gave me doesn’t really help.”
“Oh, well, just a second.” He looked at his computer and clicked the mouse a few times. “Hm . . . he’s in apartment thirty-eight, on the third floor. His rent is still getting paid, but I don’t think he’s home very often. At least, I haven’t caught him home. And there haven’t been any issues that require attention.”
“Yeah, he’s going on vacation for a while with his parents and he asked me to get the mail and things like that. Thanks, Mr. Martin.” I waved as I went outside towards the stairs.
“No problem.” He knew I was a Cat, but he was one of the people that didn’t discriminate us and trusted my word. I felt kind of bad I had to betray that trust, but I had worse things to worry about.
I took the stairs straight up to the third floor, apartment thirty-eight. When I got there, just to make sure, I knocked, then waited. I repeated this three times before trying the doorknob. It was locked, of course. Heading down to my apartment, I got my lock pick -- which, oddly enough, I had gotten on my twelfth birthday by my uncle -- and went back to the third floor. When I made sure no one was looking, I got his door open as quickly as possible and went inside. Thank God Uncle Leo taught me how to use this thing.
Everything looked pretty normal for a place that hadn’t been lived in for months. There was a dirty plate still sitting on the counter and a fork on the floor in front of it. I took a few deep breaths, trying to decipher the scents in the room. It was almost too late. I could pick out a Cat’s scent since one had been living there and it was embedded in pretty much everything. But there was something else, an indistinct, disguised scent.
I let out a low growl as I continued my search. “A Hunter.”