Episode 1: The Chase

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This time, I grabbed something I thought looked like lasagna.

I turned and ran toward a random tree, so I didn't risk immediately giving away where we slept.

A smile crossed my face as I neared the closest tree. Honey and I were going to eat! Then, just before I was about to reach it, I felt eyes on me. I snuck a glance behind my shoulder and saw the girl running toward me.

"Wait!" she shouted.

No! No! No! She saw me! She saw me!

I had to get away from her. I couldn't lose this! Honey was counting on me!

"Wait up, kiddo!" Darn, she was fast. Or perhaps I was simply slow due to not having eaten. Still, I couldn't waver. Only Kayleigh knew what would happen to Honey if this girl caught me.

"Please just wait!" she called out again.

I came to a grinding halt. I stared in terror at the tree in front of me. I was two seconds away from slamming into it.

That gave the girl the break she needed to catch up with me.

"Hey, hey, it's alright!" The girl held her hands out and approached slowly. "I won't hurt you!"

Was I just supposed to believe her?

"I know you're already hurt." Her eyes were somewhere between blue and green. They reminded me of an oasis. "A good person doesn't target someone when they're hurt."

I stared at the cut near my wrist. I gulped. I should've worn a long sleeved shirt today.

What she said might've been true, but there were still people who hurt those who were down. I had seen it first hand when I first arrived in this world...

"Maybe you don't want to or can't, but you need to take care of that." She smiled. "Let me see your hand."

"What?" I practically jumped back. "No!"

I wasn't just going to show her my arm. Even if I probably needed to give it more attention than I'd been able to.

The cut was just above my birthmark. I refused to let her anywhere close to it. If she saw then she might end up reacting like the others. The people in the area I was in before I came here got angry when they saw it. I was a threat to them. My being here was a sign of their weakness. They refused to yield and accept why I came here.

"I'll let you be stubborn if that's what you really want." She knelt a little bit to be at my eye level. "At least let me make you something to eat. I see it in your face and eyes. You're starving. You deserve better than this morning's half-eaten, discarded leftovers."

I averted her cyan eyes. "I don't have any money."

Her eyes shone. "I know. You don't have to pay me, sweetie." She set a hand on my shoulder. "I'll never just let anyone starve. Especially not a kid who's just looking out for someone he cares about."

I flinched. D-did she just call me 'kid'? She had to be only a year older than me, so why was she treating me like a child? She even called me 'sweetie' as if she were my auntie or mom.

I sighed, deciding to ignore it this once. Perhaps it would be beneficial if she thought I was a kid.

Though how did she figure out that I wasn't just doing this for myself?

"Please?" Her voice was soft. "You don't have to eat in front of that crowd. I can slip you something. I don't think they'll really care if I take care of you, anyway."

I wouldn't be so sure... Not after what happened with the others...

I took a step closer to her then jumped back. I ran away. I had to run. I wouldn't ever let another person hurt me again. Never!

After that, I zigzagged and kept going. Whether this girl was nice or not, I had to flee. After all, even nice people would run from things they couldn't understand.


***


Eventually, I wound up out of the park and at a shopping center. I came to a stop in front of the door of one of those shops.

I gulped. Something in my gut toward me to turn around.

My eyes widened as I heard tiny barks approaching. Racing toward me was my puppy.

No. No. No. Why did she follow me?

I jumped at the sound of electronic doors sliding open behind me.

A boy around ten approached us. "Did you wanna buy something, mister?" he asked with a friendly smile. Something told me this kid was used to convincing customers to buy stuff.

My electricity pooled in my cheeks. "I'd love to, but I don't have any money."

Honey nipped the leg of my jeans.

I flicked the top of her head. "Stop that! Pants are not food!"

"Hey, mister." The boy grabbed me by the wrist, which hurt because of the cut, but I wouldn't let it show. "C'mere."

"W-why?" I asked as he pulled me inside. My hands were becoming as sweaty as when I was running to the trash can. He might only have been a kid, but they could still be cruel. Sometimes more so than adults.

The interior was of a small convenience store. Or at least I assumed it was one as most of the merchandise consisted of snacks, candy, and soft drinks.

The boy let go of my hand and ran behind the counter near the door. He pulled up a box of cookies from below the tiny counter. "Here. These are mine."

"I—I couldn't take that from you."

Honey nipped my jeans again.

"It's okay. I can share."

"Thanks for watching the store, Graham," a woman said as she dried her hands on her green apron. Her face lit up as soon as she saw me. "Oh, hi, sir. Would you like to buy something?"

Graham said, "They don't have any money, Mom. But that puppy looks hungry!"

Honey nipped my pants yet again.

Finally, I picked her up and nudged her under my good arm. "Honey! Stop that."

Graham held out something that looked like graham cracker. His name reminded me of one, too. "It's really good. I promise."

"Alright. I'll take your word for it," I said, reaching out for it. Before I could take it, Honey pulled it out of his hand with her tiny mouth. She bit on it and swallowed. She moved her tongue around her mouth, trying to get every crumb she could.

Graham's mother whistled. "That sure is one hungry pup!"

Yeah, she certainly was. That was why I needed to get some meaningful food. For her as well as for me.

The doors slid open.

"I finally found you!" a voice called out.

I turned around and saw cyan eyes staring directly at me.

No! This can't be. How did she find us? This wasn't going to be good... Ugh, I knew I should've listened to my gut!


***


Minna! I've added another book to the KK universe!

Thoughts on this opener? Alastair? Cyan? Theories? Predictions?

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