"Elle! Come here! Come look at this truck!"
I smile as I look over to the kid I'm currently babysitting. I've been babysitting little Nathan since he was a year old, so his parents trust me quite a bit. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Trunde, asked me to take Nathan to the flea market today so he could get a couple handmade toys. He just loves them. I don't know why, but he obsesses over the notches and how the paint goes into the cracks of the wood.
Of course, they are quite expensive since there aren't many resources left, but I pay with the money Mr. Trunde gives me, so I don't mind the price.
"Elle!" Nathan shouts impatiently, stomping his foot. He pouts at me and I smile inwardly.
"Alright Nat, I'm coming. What did we say earlier?" I say, stepping closer to him to look down at the toy truck he's holding. The dust coming up from the sandy ground beneath us causes me to blink rapidly.
"I can't throw a fit or else we will leave," he says, sounding sad.
"Remember that. Alrighty then, what do we have here?"
He holds out the red-painted wood truck. It's obviously made with care and I look up to the seller. Nat looks up at me hopefully as I step up to the counter and set down the truck.
"How much does the truck cost, sir," I ask as the seller stares as me. I try to maintain my composure and keep my annoyance at this 50 year old man at bay. I cough and his head snaps up. He pulls out a knit bag and gives me a suggestive smirk.
"Two hundred nonviztets, but for you, it's free."
I look down at Nat, oblivious to this interaction. Of course, he's only six so I wouldn't expect him to act any differently.
I suddenly feel a hand on my own and I move my head to look at the old man, who has set the bag on the counter and is now grabbing my hand.
"Why don't you do me a favor, little miss," his eyes trail over my body, taking in every curve. His eyes always end up on my chest, which isn't even revealed as I'm wearing a long sleeve, green turtle neck and black leggings. Disgust crawls over me.
I twist away from him, punching him in the nose. Blood quickly starts to pour out of his nose, and I grab Nat's hand. Nathan's eyes widen as I quickly pull him away, both of us realizing what I just did.
"What's going on, Elle?" The man starts shouting for the police as I run away with Nat.
"Nothing Nat, just stay quiet," I reply in a panic as I pick up Nat. We run past hundreds of merchants, and every time I bump into someone or knock something over, I apologize. Women from all around me try to help me by blocking the policemen, but men pull them away, leaving me in full sight of the policemen.
All of the sudden, a thundering pop comes from behind me, and I hear something whizzing through the air.
No, no, not again.
Excruciating pain travels throughout my body as a bullet pierces my right arm, right next to where the last one went. Letting out a shriek of pain, I keep running, even though I'm slowing down. I shift my body so Nat will be mostly protected from the bullets, on the off-chance that we would be shot at from the front. His parents would never forgive me. Nat looks up at me in fear, then covers his eyes as he has been instructed by his parents in the case that this would happen.
I soon realize that this bullet was a non-poisoned one, since I'm not feeling any burning yet, so I might survive this one. Of course, I'll probably get sent to The Grounds if I get caught. I need to get Nat to a safe place before someone catches me or, more likely, I bleed out.
I can barely hear the men at this point, they seem to be about a half mile away. But they are still shouting, telling me that I will die. Bullets whiz past me as I sprint out of the marketplace, and I see a forest. I'm almost there. Almost there, just another couple steps and I can hide. Maybe up in the trees or in a inconspicuous cave.
But I stumble and my foot catches on a root.
All of the sudden, the ground underneath me caves and I'm falling. In the dark, I clutch Nat closer to my chest, feeling my blood pouring out onto both of us. Pure fear fills my thoughts, replacing the partially panicked thinking I had just moments ago.
Nathan's tears seem to fly upwards as he buries his head in my chest and I hold tight to him, pulling him even closer to me.
"Everything will be fine, everything is going to be alright."
I land on my back after a couple minutes with a hard thud, and I can feel some bones snapping. I cry out and my mouth gurgles with all of the blood inside of it. Letting go of Nat, I roll away from him and onto my stomach to spit out the blood onto the cold, hard ground.
It's dark. Impossibly dark.
My heavy breathing and Nat's small cries are all that can be heard.
"E-Elle? Where are we?" His soft voice is trembling, and I'm wishing that I didn't let go of him.
"I don't know Nat. Keep talking to me, what are you thinking about right now?" I get on my hands and knees and feel around for him.
"I'm scared, what are mommy and daddy going to do when I don't come back? What if the scary people get you?" My breathing hitches at this, hearing the fear in his voice and feeling the fear in my heart.
"Nothing bad will happen to you or your family, Nat. It's okay. You're safe with me." I finally find him in the dark, grabbing onto him and pulling him into my lap. I hold him tight as I try to get my eyes to adjust to the darkness, but I can't even see the blood coming from me against my pale skin, which worries me. Normally my skin is easy to see in the dark because of its lightness.
Nathan shivers against my chest. It's only now that I realize how cold it is here, and that Nat is wearing a short sleeved shirt rather than the thick, covering clothes that women are required to wear.
I hug him closer to me, trying to transfer some of my body heat.
Suddenly, the room we are in is flooded with light, and Nat squeezes his eyes shut. His hands shoot up to cover his eyes, just as how protocol says. Protocol 67: In case of emergency or legal matters, children should shut and cover their eyes until told by authority that it is safe.
"What do we have here?" A deep voice speaks from nearby. My eyes flit up to see a tall man with glowing red eyes and dark hair standing in a doorway. I scoot backwards, away from him. His eyes. They're...unnatural.
"Shit," he exclaims, flipping a switch in the room, making the room completely light. I see that Nat and I have landed in an office of sorts. Large chairs surround a table, but no one is sitting in them.
Thank God. But still, I can't help but feel intense amounts of anxiety. I'm in a place that I don't know and have never heard of before.
Taking a deep breath, I try to calm my heart rate as I stare at this strange man. He takes one step at a time towards me, making sure that I'm not going to flip out.
"The king is not going to be happy," he mumbles, just loud enough for me to hear. King? Who is that? Last I knew, the only force controlling the world was the Nonvitz. A shiver goes through my spine just thinking about them. A shiver of fear. If I'm going to see them, I'm surely going to be killed.
The strange man holds out a hand to help me off of the ground, but I do not take it. Protocol 2: Females may never initiate contact with a male.
He huffs, then grabs onto my underarms to lift me up. Once I'm properly on the ground, I set down Nat.
"Double shit," he whispers, looking down at him. At that, I remember that I'm bleeding out. Grabbing onto my arm, I look around for a cloth to keep pressure on it.
"Triple shit," he is looking at me now, then he looks down at the red puddle that is soaking into the plush carpet.
"Fucking shit!" I cover Nat's ears, and his eyes widen. His eyes snap to mine and they seem to turn to an even darker red.
"Evan, are you alright? I smell blood. What are you doing, eating in private?" Another man steps into the room and his eyes darken as soon as they land on my arm.
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