Mistaken Identity

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The City

All I could think of was the pounding pain in my legs every time my feet hit the ground and my lungs felt like they were about to burst with lack of air, but that boy’s bruising grip on my wrist never wavered, which was how I could keep moving. I looked up from the ground, gazing forward at the boy but he didn’t even seem to be out of breath. I wanted to shout at him to stop but I didn’t even have enough air to squeak, let alone shout. Seeing bright lights, I looked up past the boy and my mouth dropped open in amazement. For the very first time in my life, I could see a big city. We were running through the streets surrounded on all sides by giant, slightly run down brick skyscrapers. I lost my balance, tripping over something and my body tipped forward. To avoid being pulled off balance as well, he let go of my wrist and kept running without me. With the speed we’d been moving, I hit the ground pretty hard when I fell, feeling searing pain on my arms and left cheek. Taking huge, gasping breaths, I pushed myself to the side so I could by QuickRef" class="otejztjsp" href="#1816839"> watch the boy. His movements changed as he kept moving, but I couldn’t put my finger on how. Before, he had moving fast, but at a human level but now, just before he vanished down an alleyway, he was moving faster than I had thought possible for a human and his movements were strangely sinuous. I lay on the ground for several minutes more, grateful that it was the middle of the night, wherever I was and I stared up at the pale half-moon beyond the bright yellow street lights. As soon as I could breathe normally again, I pulled myself to my feet. The odd car passed by, but there were no pedestrians which was a relief. Despite the fact no-one was around, I tensed at every noise; thinking that those men were going to find me and on top of that, I had absolutely no idea where I was.

As much as I hated to admit it, I needed to find that boy; find out what is going on, where I am and most importantly, how to get home… As soon as I thought that, another thought came to me; Serena had run off when I was kidnapped, heading away from home. Before I went home, I needed to find Serena. I sighed deeply, well aware of how impossible it would be to track down one person when I had no idea where they had gone. My eyes fell on the alley that the boy had ran down and, with a quick look around me to be sure I wasn’t being watched, I ran down into the alley, cutting right through it to the other side which opened up onto another street. I looked both ways up and down the street but saw no trace of him anywhere. I remember his strange speed before and knew I would never find him again. I wish I’d learned his name so I knew who to call for, but I had to do something. I picked a random direction and started running,

“Hey! Where are you? I need your help!” I called, hoping desperately that he could hear me and that he would bother listening. As I passed a dark alley with two blown streetlights beside it, making it even darker, an arm shot out from inside, yanking me off my feet and pulling me into the dark. A second hand clamped over my mouth while pinning me to the wall. Two green eyes glared at me from the darkness and all I could focus on was how they reflected light, reminding me of a cat. My vision slowly adjusted and I could make out the rest of his face.

“Are you insane? Screaming at the top of your lungs like that, are you trying to get found?” He hissed in a low voice. I reached up and pulled his hand away from my mouth,

“What was I supposed to do? You just dumped me in the middle of a strange city. I have no idea where I am and I need to find my sister!” I hissed back.

“That isn’t my problem, plus you were slowing me down. I am not going back to that place and I can’t have a powerless deadweight tying me down.” He snarled and I narrowed my eyes, briefly, then sighed,

“You are the only person I know out here and you seem to know these streets. Please, I need your help.” I said softly and for the first time, his permanent scowl seemed to soften.

“Alright fine. We’re in London. It’s a huge city in England.” He told me and I sighed in relief; I was still in the same country.

“When we were found, my family was living in Kielder forest.” I told him and he raised an eyebrow,

“In Northumberland?” He asked and I shrugged, not really knowing where it was.

“Ok, wild girl. Your right, I grew up in London and know most of it like the back of my hand, but Northumberland is hundreds of miles away. We will never find one girl when she could be anywhere in the whole of England.” He said and I slumped my shoulders in misery,

“But I have to try. She’s my twin and they were looking for her.” I said firmly and he shot me an unexpected grin,

“You’re a spunky one, aren’t you?” He said then held up one hand.

“Alright. I have nothing else going on right now, nobody but them looking for me so I’ll do you a favour. I can navigate these streets better than anybody and if your sister has been anywhere in the area, I can find out. She can be anywhere in England though and it’s really unlikely she’ll have travelled all the way from Northumberland to here.” He added, basically repeating what he had already told me but I wouldn’t give up.

“I need to know how I can find her if she isn’t here.” I said and he shook his head,

“It isn’t possible, wild girl.” He told me. Angrily, I shoved past him,

“I’m doing it anyway.” I growled, leaving the alley but he just ran after me,

“I thought you didn’t need deadweight tying you down.” I hissed to me and he shot me an unreadable look,

“Thought it through and decided that it isn’t the best idea returning home as soon as I got away. This’ll be the first place they look, so I’ll do you a favour and help you get out of the city. First thing is, you’ll want to head north. This is the wrong direction and it’ll take three hours on foot, so you need to keep up. Follow me.” He said, changing direction. I sighed and took off after him.

“Hey! By the way, what’s your name?” I called just as I caught up with him. He glanced at me from the corner of his eye,

“Slate.” He told me and I frowned at the odd name,

“So you’re a street boy in name and lifestyle?” I asked, trying to make a joke but he nodded to me,

“The streets are my home, always have been. Named for them and live in them.” He shouted, elation in his voice as he raised his arms to take in the buildings around us. I couldn’t help smiling too and I looked down, judging my movements as I ran with his, remembering how he had seemed so fast and sinuous before, but now he was running like a human, like me.

“And you, wild girl?” He asked, watching me in return.

“Hazel.” I said and his smile widened,

“So, you’re a forest girl in name and lifestyle?” He asked, mimicking my earlier words and I couldn’t help laughing,

“Yeah, guess I am.” I replied as we raced side by side through the dark streets of London.

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