Allyson

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"Up," commands Salina's nasally voice.

I groggily answer, "What time is it?" and she throws my music binder onto my bed.

"Time to get your ass to music, you're late. Your teacher came to the door and woke me up. After that stunt you pulled yesterday, because I know you can sing, I'm a little pissed. So up," she replies, running her fingers through her hair and yawning.

I sit up and look at the clock next to my bed, which reads eight o'clock. Jeeze, I am late. Not bothering to brush my hair or anything, I slip into a pair of my favourite jeans and a large tee, and am out the door in minutes.

I run as fast as I can to the music wing of the school, but it's so far away that eventually I have to take a break. As I stand there in the stairwell, catching my breath, a boy comes running down the stairs. I try to move out of the way, but fail and we end up in a huge mess of papers and blood.

Wait, blood?

"I'm so sorry! I didn't think anybody would be in the halls at this time," I explain.

The boy rolls his eyes good naturedly, "Yeah, me neither. This school's hours are disgusting. Classes beginning so early should be outlawed." He holds his hand out to me, "Nickolas. Nick Horne." He has the blondest hair I have ever seen, and it sparks a memory somewhere deep inside of me.

I smile as I reach out my own hand to shake his, "Allyson Greywood. Classes don't start for another two hours, but I'm in orchestra, so we start at six forty-five."

Nick's eyes grow wide, "Greywood?"

"Yup. The name I was born with... Greywood." I say, a little awkwardly, already starting to comprehend what's going on.

Nick grins, "I used to live down the street from you with my grandparents. We went to the same kindergarten together." By kindergarten, he means spell class. I never attended a normal kindergarten.

I feel myself blanch, and I mean really blanch. Nobody from my old life has ever found me before. Which makes me wonder, why now? It can't be a coincidence.

He shrugs, having read my mind, "Both you and I know, that those don't exist. Am I right?"

Shakily, I nod my head. "How did you find me?" If he was able to find me, others will find me, and that'll put me in great danger.

Nick scratches his head and mumbles, "Does it matter? I thought you'd want to know that you're not alone."

I frown and take in a deep, unsteady breath, sighing. "Nick, it matters. You don't know what kind of trouble you're putting your family in." Reaching out to his cheek, I wipe at smear of blood, "You're bleeding."

He shakes his head, and slaps my hand away from his face. "Don't worry about it."

All of a sudden, I notice that his hair is matted to his head, in a bloody mess. "Oh, I'm worrying about it. What the hell is going on?"

His green eyes find mine, "You're the only family I have left. I had to find you, Allie."

Anger flares inside of me, "We aren't family, Nick. Not by blood."

"By race we are. You have to come with me, Allie." He says simply, staring deeply into my eyes, with a sadness that's so unbearable that I have to look away.

"What happened to your grandparents?" I ask, sitting down on the steps, no longer caring about being late for class.

Nick's eyes fill with tears, "Taken to one of the Institutions, not long after the fire that killed your parents. I saw your name on a list at Child Services and traced your history all the way to this dump. We've shared a couple of foster families apparently, but at different times. I'd go, and you'd replace me and vice versa."

My heart breaks for him, "I'm so sorry. Your grandparents were always kind to me. But Nick, you and I aren't family. You don't owe me anything, and I don't owe you. As sad as that is, we have to move on and lay low. Why did you have to find me? What could you possibly need to tell me that is important enough to risk both of our lives?"

Nick sighs, and looks deep into my eyes. You need to run. The collectors sent me to trick you, but I can't do it.

He says to my thoughts. They're going to kill me anyway, regardless if I help you or not, so I figured I'd rather die a good man than a traitor. They killed my real family, I wasn't kidding when I said that you were all that I have left. Out loud, he says "Go!" before pushing me towards the way I was coming from.

"Are you kidding me?" I shout angrily. "You just condemned me, Nick. You just God damn condemned me."

"No I didn't," he says, pointing to the camera in the corner, where I should see my reflection in the mirror that hides it. But I don't.

"I just saved your life. You need to leave everything here behind, and run. Keep running. After two days people will be able to see you again. Anything you pick up will automatically disappear, so be careful. Survive for me, because I'm a dead man."

He points to his bloody head. "I was given this for taking too long in the bathroom. I can only imagine what they'll do to me once you're gone." He sits down on the floor. "I can't bring myself to care anymore. I'll be free. Now, go, before they come to collect me."

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