10 - The Rescue (III)

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September 2019 UPDATE: Hello. Due to the third issue with plagiarism since posting my work to Wattpad, this chapter will be removed as of January 1, 2020. It's not what I wanted to do, and I hate pulling my work from my readers' hands. However, I cannot have my art and writing plagiarized if I hope to have the chance of publishing these works in the future.

Thank you for your understanding and support. - Hannah

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III

It was strange, how when something was mentioned you suddenly saw it everywhere. Mikie had told him Garrett was a talker, and after that moment he knew. It was everywhere, from the second they set foot into their tiny clearing, Garrett was on them.

"Where the hell were you? What happened?"

And so Reem decided to play a little game. One to see just how far he could push him. Because pushing limits was fun. Plain and simple.

"Oh, we were just over there." He pointed to the trees. "Glad you didn't hear anything all night. We didn't want to wake you." Mikie went bright red against him but he managed to keep a straight face.

Garrett paused and looked between them, his eyes finally settling on Reem's. "Bullshit."

To which he responded by unzipping his soaked hoodie.

The look on Garrett's face, pale yet tense, was satisfaction enough. It was too easy of a win, making the game something that had to continue. Even as Mikie rammed her elbow into his side and glared at Garrett.

"I'm fine." She moved to stalk toward the tree that held her hammock. Reem let her take three steps. He knew he shouldn't. He should have stopped her. And yet he let her stand alone, just for a minute. Because that's what she wanted. And it was then that the game became a dangerous one to play. Because every breath he used to egg Garrett on was one that he also used to push at Mikie. "How quickly can we leave?"

And there she was again, their cool and calculating commander. The girl with a gun and not the girl who ran miles into the swamps to keep from putting her survival into the hands of others. The girl who feared them all. And so she did the only thing she could: she took control. Reem saw it in the shift of her shoulders, the twist to her spine as she forced herself to stand taller despite the stretching of her ribs. It lasted a breath, maybe two. And then she crumbled, collapsing to her knees. The pain flared across her face, jerking it from her cool mask into something wild and weak.

So the game was postponed. Because even if Mikie didn't trust them to save her, Reem had to. He could feel the pull of it in his palms, his hands shaking as he reached where she'd slumped over, arms clutching at her sides as if she had to hold herself together. And there was Garrett in his ear the whole time. Garrett shouting questions and calling for things and accusing Reem of things he'd never do, words he'd never say. So he fixed the boy with as dark a stare as he could muster—his best imitation of Mikie's own look. "Shut up, and get my toolbox."

Mikie dreamed of city streets, slipping in and out of a blue-grey noir and the dark reality of morning. She blinked, moving too slow. On her back. That's what she knew. The earth was wet and cold. It was raining. And there was Reem bent over her and white and heat and then she was back on the empty city streets, boots heavy on broken pavement. She couldn't move. She couldn't run, though she knew she had to. Every nerve screamed despite the silence. But maybe that's what did it, the silence. The cities were never meant to be so quiet. And then there was the static. No, not static, the buzzing. But that didn't sound right either.

The world flashed a luminescent orange. And her father appeared. He was whole, handsome even—in that rugged way people used to like from movies. His belly was round from age, and full. He was losing his hair but he'd always worn it short. His nails were pearled and white, clean. She'd never seen them so clean before. But as she stepped closer he began to change. His shoulders hunched, his chest caved inward and his nails grew long and rough and dark. They turned to talons and his eyes. It was the eyes that did it.

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