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Southern Flock

Catelyn's Story

April 26, 2083


Serena was lonely, and sometimes she was crazy. But not nearly as crazy as I was.

Once she woke up in the middle of the night and asked me if time had stopped, and I actually considered it for no reason at all. Time had felt frozen since the day we met, but we still grew.

From the beginning, she made me feel less lonely, more complete, more everything. But she grew, and I grew, and we hunted, and we survived, and we killed.

Our house was our home, and I would've been satisfied with just her presence filling it up, but she wasn't, and I could not stand the yearning in her eyes. I especially couldn't stand when she snuck out to visit her parents' house.

It wasn't difficult to guess. There were only two of us, after all, and while I was fourteen—old enough to mow someone's lawn or walk dogs to make money—I wasn't enough for her. I would never be able to be everything she needed, and eventually, we would need help. Her returning to her parents was one of those signs.

As far as I knew, she'd done it five times now. All on her own. Despite being eleven, Serena's five years on the streets really took to her. She was quiet, fast, and stealthy. She listened to what I said, and learned enough to teach me more. In fact, I could barely conceal myself when following her. I was too shocked at the location to even stop her. I was sure she was going to knock on the door and return to them, to the people she once called a family, but she didn't. She simply watched, and then returned home. But every time she went—and every time I followed—she got closer and closer, and one time, she almost cried.

I didn't follow her when she ran away. Instead, I looked through the window, too.

Her parents had another baby. Serena had a sister, a biological sister, and yet she was on the streets. To her, she was alone.

So, I began to hunt people for a different purpose.

It wasn't difficult. The outskirts of Vendona were jam-packed with homeless veterans, stray bad bloods, drug addicts, and kids who had drug addicts as parents. Surely, one of them would work for Serena, just as Serena had worked for me.

"What are you doing?"

I nearly jumped out of my skin, and I barely held my fire in. If it hadn't been for her voice, I probably wouldn't have. I hated to think that, one day, I could accidentally kill her.

"Serena," I growled as I turned to scold her for sneaking up on me—a talent she excelled in—but my anger subsided when she widened her misty eyes. I groaned. "Don't give me that look."

She pouted, "Don't go out without me then." The hypocrite.

I sighed, searching the streets once more to make sure we were safe where we stood. No one paid us any attention. "I didn't mean to leave you out." I raked my fingers through my hair. "Promise."

She squinted. "Then, what are you doing?"

"Surprising you."

Her gray eyes lit up, but dimmed with suspicion. "With what?"

I'd been tracking her for days, the girl I had picked. She was short, slight, and blond. She was also a slave. It wasn't something I wanted to explain to Serena, how a lot of the poor kids were traded and sold and other horrible things under the table, but I think she knew anyway. It didn't matter. I only hid one thing from her, and that was enough.

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