The Clean Up

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This chapter was written by SebJenkins

Henry Addington's stray horse galloped off into the undulating undergrowth, before disappearing between crashing waves of green and brown. Its hooves thumped the ground harmoniously, like an undeserving round of applause for the now deceased hunter. Marcus couldn't help but feel like he was watching his father disappear into the forest, majestic, impressive, everything young Marcus had ever wanted him to be.

But it wasn't his father, and that make-believe image, as comforting as it was, had never been his father. Henry Addington lay dead on the earth, growing colder by the minute, alone. That was his legacy. That was everything young Marcus had ever known him to be. However, somehow it still hurt. Somehow, he still felt pain and sickening remorse. The blood rapidly cooling in Henry Addington's body was, after all, the blood that they shared.

They were father and son, and now he was fatherless. Nothing could change that.

Marcus wanted nothing more than to disappear into his mother's warm and reassuring embrace, but as abruptly as he had lost his father, he no longer knew who Mary Addington was. Marcus felt like an orphan. An orphan of The Hunt.

"Shit!" Mary whispered harshly, finally breaking the tense silence and bringing her two male companions crashing back down to reality.

"What? What is it? Mary, you have to give us some god damn answers!" James begged.

Mary ignored her partner's pleas, not out of distaste or anger, or any lack of love, quite the opposite actually. She wanted to pull them both into her arms and tell them that it was all going to be okay, but she couldn't. Every second wasted out here was another inch tighter on the noose that was now wrapped around their necks like a stubborn python. The simplest mistake, or the slightest wrong foot would mean curtains for all of them, especially with a dead Addington now lying in their wake.

They wouldn't be facing a quick death either, no, not for this crime. The consequences of the events of this hunt would be biblical. Long, drawn out, unimaginably cruel and agonising deaths would be rigorously planned out for all involved.

"The cameras, they're moving already," Mary exhaled, scanning the undergrowth for a different path, a path that led away from those tortuous images plaguing her mind.

James instantly picked up on her discomfort and panic, "What does that mean?"

"It means..." Mary whispered, desperately trying to recalculate, like a sat-nav with no conceivable route to suggest. "We've run out of blind spots."

Every footstep of ground beyond them was littered with cameras, ready to broadcast every dimple and freckle on their faces to the entire nation. Mary and Marcus Addington working alongside Contestant Sixty-Four. They would be lynched before the word 'escape' could even trickle off the end of their terrified tongues.

Getting James to the finish line had become a pointless exercise the second that Mary had snapped her husband's neck. Despite the fact that she was the real culprit, there was no question that the authorities, and the Addington family, would place the blame directly on James' head. Who else could it have been, after all?

Standing still meant death. Moving meant death.

But Mary had a special knack for finding seemingly non-existent loopholes in seemingly impossible situations.

"Marcus, my love, come over here and let me look at you," Mary beckoned with all the concern of a loving mother.

Marcus stumbled over gingerly, as if drunk off the sheer confusion and shock of recent events. His mother extended her arms wide, open and welcoming as he approached.

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