The Hunter Series - Penelope

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Chapter 3

My attention seemed to waver to the man coming into the pub. The long brown trench coat caught my interest. The man had dark hair with a rough beard. Funnily enough, he didn’t seem like the normal punter. This guy stood out to me and my gut clenched as if warning me there could be trouble. He kept his head low with his shoulders tense. It looked suspicious.

When he passed the window, the light shimmered on an object in his hand. In that moment, the man raised his arm and fired two warning shots at the bar, smashing glasses and bottles.

“Get down on the floor, now!” He shouted.

We did as we were told but one woman screamed and started to tear up uncontrollably. My heart went out to her and I willed her to stop. It was only making him mad.

“Shut up!” The gunman yelled. But he only made her worse.

Then, he shot her in the chest. My eyes widened and I bit my finger to hold in a scream. The poor woman bled out slowly and I was powerless to help her. I was scared these would be the last minutes of her life.

“I want you to stay where you are or I will shoot you all.” He ordered. Then pointed his gun towards Cian. “I want you to open the safe in the back. There is a scroll I need to find my sister in Enukeador. Oh, and all the money in the register would help too, thanks.”

The longer I saw the lady on the floor bleeding anger built inside me. I desperately wanted to help her. At least go over and try to stop the bleeding. The only problem and it was a big one, I'd be shot if I move.

“I don’t have the ability to open the safe in the back - I don’t know the code.” Cian protested.

“Who does then?” The man yelled.

“I do!” Isaac stood up.

“Who the hell are you?!”

“Isaac Lockhart.” He said proudly. The gunman’s face dropped. He knew of him, that I was sure of. “And you’re not getting anywhere near my safe.”

“You have the one thing I need to get around Enukeador. My sister is a slave over there and you don’t care. It’s alright for you over here but what about the rest of us?”

“You have no right coming here and threatening these people. Leave or you won’t get out of this alive.” Isaac’s voice changed to one of power and authority. The man practically looked scared of him and he was the one with the gun!

While they were busy arguing, it was a good opportunity to move round the table. There was an empty bottle on a table close to the man. My plan was to smash it over his head, knock him out cold. But that’s not how it happened, not technically. It was like I had power over the elements. The bottle flung across the bar and smashed into the back of his head. He fell to the ground. The gun sliding across the floor. For a brief moment, I was stunned. There was no logical explanation for the bottle to move by itself. It was only a mere thought.

Did I do that? Do I have the ability to move things with my mind?

Then I snapped out of it.

“Pin him down while I help this woman.” I instructed Isaac while I rushed over to her, dropping to my knees. There was so much blood everywhere. When I put pressure on the wound, she let out a painful cry.

“Call an ambulance!” I yelled. Then asked the woman, “What’s your name? I’m Penelope.”

“I… I’m scared.” She stammered, her body began to shake.

There was more blood gushing. Sadly, I was afraid to say I didn’t know what to do, other than put pressure on the wound.

“I know, there's an ambulance on the way. What’s your name?” I asked, again.

“Dianne Murphy.” As she spoke, her body relaxed.

She sounded tired. Which is a clear sign of her body shutting down. This wasn't good.

“Listen to my voice, Dianne. You've got to stay awake. Hey! Come on, stay with me.” My voice pleaded.

In the back ground, the sound of sirens was getting louder.

“You hear that? They’re here, you’re going to be okay. You just need to hold on a little longer.”

Dianne’s eyes slowly closed before taking her last breath.

“No! Dianne, wake up. Hey!” I sobbed.

In that moment, the paramedics arrived. Isaac pulled me away from her. He held me as we watched them give Dianne CPR for thirty minutes. All the while I couldn’t stop crying into his comforting arms.

A little while later I sat at the back of an ambulance. Isaac found a blanket and wrapped it around my shoulders.

“Thanks.” I barely whispered but he heard me. He smiled sympathetically.

“Do you have anyone you can call to come get you? Or I can take you home if you need me to.” He kindly offered.

“I don’t know. I can’t think straight right now.” I held my head in my hands and sniffed.

“That’s understandable. You’re in shock right now. You need time to process what happened.” He said calmly which made me look at him. He smiled softly but I stared blankly.

“How are you this calm?” I asked. “Who was that man?”

“I don’t know, some crazy guy.” He answered.

“You’re lying. He knew your name.”

Isaac shifted awkwardly in his seat at my accusation. Then, sighed.

“His name is Peter Roussel. Six months ago his sister died and he’s not been able to cope with her loss and believes she was taken.”

“Why does he think that? Why does he think you have something that he needs to find her?”

However, I never received an answer when we heard a commotion across the CRIME SCENE tape.

“Ma’am please step back.” PC Tyler held up his hand to stop a lady pushing through the crowd and breaking the tape.

“I’ve got to go.” Isaac said, then disappeared. He was gone so fast it seemed like he was never here.

“My name is Eleanor Bretherick, local counsellor for young adults suffering from Depression or Bereavement. I was informed that my client, Penelope Hennessey, was in this attack today.” Holding up a badge to prove her identity.

“Eleanor? Please, let her though.” I called over to the Officer.

He hesitated but then let her pass. Eleanor rushed over and sat next to me, putting an arm over my shoulder.

“Are you okay? What happened?”

Before I answered I felt this sudden dread, deep in the pit of my stomach and this loud inner voice shouting at me.

Beware of her… Be careful of what you say to her…

So, I listened and focused on one thing.

“It was all so fast. A guy came in with a gun and shot this woman called Dianne. No idea why. He wanted money from the till or something. He didn’t care who got in his way. Dianne was losing so much blood. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t save her…”

“You did a brave thing today,” PC Tyler said, coming over to check on us. “The manager said you took the man down. That was very brave of you.”

I shrugged. “It didn’t save Dianne though, did it?”

“You saved four people today. I’m pretty sure they're thankful you risked your life for them.” PC Tyler continued. “This won’t go unnoticed. You’re a local hero.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” Eleanor agreed. “If it’s alright with the police, I’d like to take her home.”

“Of course. We would appreciate it if you could leave a contact number...” I zoned out and let Eleanor take charge. Eleanor was good like that. She worked in close liaison with the police all the time, being a counsellor. So, she knew what she was doing.

When I got home, I had to go through it all again. Eleanor did most of the speaking, which I appreciated, but there were parts Mum wanted to hear from me.

After the endless questions, I had a shower to wash the blood off my skin, again. The thought of facing the world to see another person die upset me. My bedroom felt like the safest place to be right now.

Mum brought up a cup of tea and sat at the edge of my bed. Mum spoke to me about how much she cared about me. How worried she is for me. How she nearly lost her little girl today. My mind kept zoning out, I did try to listen but my concentration span was at an all time low.

The tea Mum had brought up tasted a bit off. So, I handed it back to her with a disgusted look.

“Don’t you like it? I added some honey. I thought you would like it.” She said, but her voice was slowing. Or, was it my mind slowing? My vision suddenly turning fuzzy. Mum became a blur in front of me and I passed out.

In the middle of the night, I lurched up in bed, panic stricken and in a hot sweat. My bed saturated with sweat patches. My mind felt muddled from my nightmares. It was all too much to bare.

My alarm clock read: 10:52PM 17/3. The cup of tea had been left on the night stand. I frowned at it suspiciously. To satisfy my curiosity, I grabbed it and inspected it closer. It looked like normal tea and even smelled like normal tea. However, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that this wasn’t normal tea.

There were white fragments floating in the tea, not fully dissolved.

A sleeping pill, perhaps?

It would explain why it tasted strange. The added honey would try to mask the powdery texture. It made me angry my own mother would drug me. It didn’t make sense to me. Why did she do it?

After I changed my clothes and the bed sheets, I dumped them in the laundry basket in the bathroom. There were voices downstairs on my way back to bed. At first, I thought it might just be the TV. But then I heard a familiar voice.

Every so often, perhaps once or twice a month, these people would come to our house. Mum had only introduced them once, when I came home early one day. They were in the living room having tea and biscuits. Apparently, they were part of a book club, having regular meetings to discuss books they’ve been reading. I knew mum was lying. It was practically written across her face. Not once have I ever seen them bring a book either. You’d think if they were going to lie, they would make it believable.

Anyway, I decided to stick around and sit on the landing to eavesdrop. It was hard to hear until they were being ushered towards the front door. It was surprising they were even here so late. It was when they mentioned me that it peaked my interest…

“You understand Penelope is old enough to make her own choices. You can’t keep hiding this from her. It’s her birth right.” I recognised Margaret’s voice. “Penelope should have been told while growing up. So, upon reaching eighteen her mind would be made up on what is best for her. Instead, you've chosen to hide it. All that energy is building up inside of her. She’s twenty one now and if she doesn’t have the awakening ceremony soon…”

“I know, Margaret. This wasn’t the life I wanted for her.”

“That isn’t your choice to make, Tracey. We understood why you wanted to wait. Your family needed to grieve for Jeremy. We all accepted that. But now you are neglecting your current duties. If she doesn’t have this done soon her life could be in danger.”

Then Angela spoke in her squeaky voice. “You need to teach her about her heritage. So, history doesn’t repeat itself.”

“It is time Tracey. While Penelope is left without knowledge of who we are and how important she is - you are leaving her vulnerable to the darkness. It will grip her tight and never let go. She’ll become a night crawler.” Silvia spoke with an old croaky voice. “The circle needs to be complete otherwise they are left vulnerable too. This is her destiny, it runs through her veins, just like you and your mother. And our families. This is bigger than you. Please, stop fighting us. Please, Tracey. Talk to your daughter before it’s too late.”

“Alright,” Mum sighed. “I’ll talk to her before Leo gets back from Sidney on Monday.”

“That’s settled then.” Margaret’s voice perked up. “We can meet again on the next new moon.”

The mention of dad suddenly made me sad. It hit me like a thousand bricks falling and crushing me. It was part of his job to travel to different parts of the world. This time his job sent him over to Australia. He had been gone for over two weeks. We always had the option of travelling with him but it was too much for mum and I to uproot our lives.

The door closed, the sound of keys rustling and the clicking of the door being locked.

While sitting on the landing, it seemed like I fell into a time bubble. The world kept turning around me but I sat motionless contemplating what had happened. It was gutting to find out they were keeping secrets from me.

Did dad know as well? Were they all in on it?

It wouldn’t surprise me. The only information to be certain right now was it involved four families. It was carried through generations. This also meant my nan knows too. You'd think with all the time I've spend with her at weekends she'd mention our family heritage or her parents.

What was the massive secret?

Sometime later, I still sat on the landing. I wasn't sure how much time had passed but my bum had gone numb. There were millions of questions running through my mind. I didn’t understand what was going on. It was only when I heard mum at the bottom of the steps, I finally snapped out of the daydream. I bolted into my room, shutting the door as quietly as I could, then rushed under the covers. It took hours to fall back to sleep. I laid awake wondering how to raise the subject in the morning.

The morning finally arrived. My alarm clock read: 7:59AM 18/3. I watched until it hit 8:00AM.

My mind relayed the whole conversation over and over again. This big secret about me that I don’t know about it. It deeply hurt to think Mum would hide something important from me. It made me determined to find it out.

After getting dressed, I went down the stairs quietly.

“Good morning,” Mum said, cheerful as I entered the kitchen. “Did you sleep well?”

I rolled my eyes. “After putting a sedative in my tea - how couldn’t I sleep well?”

My sarcasm took her off guard,her cheeks flushed. “I’m sorry. I understand if you're mad but after what happened yesterday... I just thought a good night’s sleep would do you good, that's all.”

“I would have slept fine without the drugs.” I snapped. Mum apologised again and I felt bad for snapping.

“Would you like some scrambled egg on toast?” She offered.

I nodded. “Sure.”

There were a couple of piles of magazines on the table. I grabbed one in search of my horoscope. It was funny to read the generic nonsense. How many people would read this and find a way to fit it into their lives? I never believed anything they said.

When I put the magazine down, my mind wandered to the yesterday's events. Sadly, it took it's toll on me. I wished I had done more to save Dianne.

Then Isaac popped into my head. The way he smiled at me and comforted me. He seemed like a nice person. Perhaps, if things had been different, I could've had the opportunity to spend more time around him. It would have been nice to get to know him.

I doubt that would happen now.

Then I remembered the odd shock on my hand. It wasn't like any static shock I've ever had when you touch metal or something similar. It was stronger than that. As I rubbed at my palm and gave it a quick look.

What the…?

On my palm, there was a tattoo. Now, I don't have any tattoos because I'm funny about needles. So, I know I would never, in a million years get something like this done. It definitely was NOT there yesterday but it was very much here now. It was an eternity sign with a red outlined heart entwined. It also didn't hurt like a fresh tattoo would. The only explanation I could think of and it was a crazy idea - it happened when I touched Isaac.

How is that even possible?

Then again. How can a bottle fly across the bar? How can it smash over a man's head when no one touched it?

“Mum, how do you feel about tattoos?” I quizzed her.

“Why? Are you thinking about getting one?” She answered.

“How about - I already have one?” I said, unsure of her reaction. I sucked in a breath, holding it until she turned around and gave me a strange look.

Finally, she said. “Okay, lets see it.”

When I showed her my palm, she raised her eyebrow at me. My heart sunk. It was written across her face that she didn’t approve.

Great. I have to live with this now.

“Is this a joke? You don’t have anything on your hand.”

I frowned and looked again at my palm. Unless she was blind it was still there. I could see it.

“I’m not joking. How can you not see it?” To make it more obvious to her, I pointed straight at it. “Its massive.”

For a brief moment mum stared at me with concern. It crossed my mind, that perhaps, she thought I was hallucinating. She did after all spike my tea, its not a crazy notion to think it's a side effect. However, my gut told me otherwise.

Mum brought my breakfast over, sitting opposite me on the table. Her expression serious.

“I need to tell you something.”

Last night flashed in my mind again. Could this be the moment she tells me what she’s been hiding?

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