Chapter 1 - The Hunted

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Dedicated to Kale Night: For being one of the first people I RPed with years ago as a cute fourteen year old, years ago, in the yahoo Harry Potter room. Savi, much love to you, from your Ses!


New York

I ran. Breathing fast and uncontrolled, eyes wild with fear, shoving through crowds of people, ran along the side walks, ignoring the bright lights of the city, of the shiny giant TV screens, ignored it all. Crowds of people, tourists, loud Americans, kids bored, tour groups, swore at me, or ducked out of the way, but with about as much interest in me as they might have had in a fly darting past.

Any other time I might have stopped and joined in with the tourists gaping at the famous city, might have found out what was so special about this place for so many to be gathered here, taken photos, posted updates on facebook or twitter about it as I wandered along. Laughed. Made friends. Tried some of the food offered to the cash filled tourists or to the savvy locals that knew how to get a cheaper and better feed than the over hyped hot dog stall offered.

The smell of the food, of coffee, of meals, it filled my senses. Made me so hungry. I was starving. Never, never in my life, had I felt so damn hungry. My stomach was twisting in hungry painful jumps.

Panic overrode the hunger though. It had for days. Four days, I assumed, or maybe five. Days and nights seemed to be irrelevant at the moment.

"Hey!" A swear, a hand gesture, as I shoved past a crowd. Heart pounding. I couldn't stand being around the crowds for much longer. Why had I even come onto the crowded streets? Why was I even here? I hated cities.

The crowds pushed against me, shoving me, but I shoved harder. Strong. Too strong. I had to tone it down, some logical voice trying to urge me to quieten, I had to calm down. Walk.

I glanced backwards as I paused. Breathed hard. Heart pounding, fear driving adrenaline through every limb of my body. I was in agony, I suspected, but I couldn't think about that. Any wounds I had, any injuries, the hunger, they didn't matter. What mattered was the hunter. Chasing me.

I didn't see him, the hunter, but I could smell him. He wasn't running, like I was, but he wasn't slow either. The hunt was getting to him. I could hear the oaths, from the same people I'd probably just barrelled into, as his instinct to hunt overrode his good sense.

Run, my own pleaded, run. Why have you stopped? Run!

I ran.

Whatever human logic had pushed me into a crowd for safety was squashed below something else now, animal instinct, the instinct of a wounded animal trying to escape the predator hunting them. Run. Hide. Move!

I ran harder, skidding around a corner, down a quieter street that had less pedestrians and traffic, attracted to the smell and lure of the forest somewhere. I should run to that forest, run into it, and hunt in it. Hunt the hunter. Hide. Fight to the death. Go to the forest.

Some part of my mind seemed to wake up then, snapping into attention, a stubborn human voice that refused to allow the other side of me to take over yet. Forest, it asked, what forest? In a city? In New York? It was that giant garden, not a forest, and not a safe place. Stay in control, I urged myself. I was loosing it. Almost giving into the fear.

I had to hide somewhere.

But where? Doors. Closed doors. Cafes. Shops, all closed, not surprising as it was two in the morning. Whatever pedestrians had been on that busy street out there were gone now. Even as I ran, they were fading away, less people on the streets, just the occasional traffic. I was running into an area that was domestic. Apartment buildings.

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