Isellta closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep.
The monsters skittered under his bed.
He pressed the pillow against his mouth to muffle his breathing, but it seemed to amplify it instead.
He listened to their movements.
Their sharp claws snagged and ripped the carpet. Their fangs clonked as they snapped their jaws.
Leave me alone.
Please leave me alone.
His breathing grew louder and faster.
Don’t touch me again.
I don’t want you to touch me.
Something jumped on top of his feet.
Isellta let out a panicked yell, frantically uncovered himself, and scrambled out of bed.
The monsters leapt out and slashed his ankles.
He ran to the door and fumbled with the doorknob.
Their breaths heated the air as they charged at him.
He tore the door open and ran blindly down the hall.
They let out a voracious roar and chased him.
He could barely breathe, but he pushed himself to run faster and faster.
The front door was just up ahead.
They’re catching up to me.
They’re going to catch me.
They’re going to…
They’re going to…
He reached the front door and flung it open.
He rushed outside and kept going all the way to the edge of the cliff.
Isellta stopped at the edge. He looked down with tears in his eyes and almost no breath in his body.
But the monsters were gone.
I’m so tired of being hurt and afraid.
I’m so tired of losing everyone I love.
I’m tired of being…everything wrong and disappointing.
I’m so tired.
“Robin.” He sank to his knees. “What am I going to do?”
Kill Mark Caten.
“I can’t. Not the way she wants me to do it. But, if it will set us free, I should just tap into the worst of me and get it done. But…I can’t!” He curled up on the ground. “I just can’t do that.” He closed his eyes. “Robin. I wish you were here. I wish…” He sighed and drifted off to sleep.
Only six more days.
I wish I were in your arms.
Robin looked up at the sky and sighed. It was still dark, but he could smell the beginning tangerine and peach scent of dawn in the air.
Dawn’ll be here soon.
And another night’ll become another day.
He smiled and headed for home.
Only six days left, Isellta.
Elsie looked up at the night sky.
Night’s almost over.
And soon it will be dawn.
She thought of Hildreth and she smiled.
And it’s only six days left.
Hildreth entered his room and sat on the edge of the king-sized bed.
Jim-Marie slept in the middle – a comparatively small lump buried under the blankets.
Hildreth looked over at him.
How long has it been since he’s slept in a bed?
Longer than that?
But he’s only seven.
How long has it been since he’s had a good decent meal?
How long since he’s felt safe?
What if Master Shinowa turns him down?
What will he do?
He can’t just tell him to go back out on the streets. That would be wrong. That would be cruel.
He’s only seven.
What are his options?
He scratched the back of his head.
Do I take him to the police station and tell them to…No. That can’t be right. Take him to the doctor and ask for their advice? Are there any orphanages in this city? I’ve never really searched for one before.
He frowned. I guess there’s always the homeless shelters, but that really isn’t a long term plan. Not for a seven year old kid.
His frown deepened. How do I know he isn’t just a runaway? Maybe the police station is the right option, after all.
He got off the bed and left the room.
Hildreth pulled out his phone and called the police.
“Hi, my name is Hildreth Mayhew. I ran across this homeless kid tonight and I’m wondering if anyone’s reported him missing. His name is Jim-Marie Parker. He’s seven years old. Short. Skinny. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Kind of ordinary looking. Yeah, I know that isn’t very helpful. No, he doesn’t really have any distinguishing marks.” He shrugged. “Nothing obvious, anyway. I haven’t exactly done a full body search on him. No, he isn’t a vampire. I don’t think he’s fey or a werewolf. Like I said, he seems to be a very ordinary looking kid. No? Okay. I just thought I’d ask. Thanks.”
He ended the call.
So, we’re back to square one.
And the ball is in Master Shinowa’s court.
He went into the kitchen and checked the time.
It will be dawn soon.
His smile grew.
And we’re down to only six more days.