Hunter

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7. How to Prepare a Disappearing Act


My thoughts were already racing as I swiftly ascended the staircase, hastily planning out my every move once I entered the apartment. I’d have to pack a small bag, something easy to carry around, which meant I’d have to leave a lot of things behind... things the werewolves can use to track me...

But you have no scent, apparently. Hearing that twice in twenty minutes is too much of a coincidence.

Unless they were lying to me, in a poorly concealed attempt to make me lower my guard. But while I had no reason to trust Nicholas Randon, the boy I had just spoken to outside the building did swear on the Moon Goddess that he wasn’t luring me into a trap...

Whatever. I’m not likely to lower my guard anyways. I’ve been on high alert for too long to stop now, at the time when I had a genuine reason to believe there was a hoard of werewolves snapping at my heels.

I didn’t plan on being at the apartment for long. Get in, throw some things into a backpack, get out. Of course, Opal will insist on a story... and there’ll most likely be a tearful goodbye - from her, not me.

I sighed as I approached the door. Maybe I’ll multitask. Talk to Opal while I’m packing. That way, I can kill two vampires with one stake.

Pausing, my hand on the doorknob, I briefly planned a condensed, fast version of events to tell Opal. Was pissed off, did something stupid, ran to the park, found Ryker Marcel - who, by the way, highly deserves his death. That’s what you get for trying to put your nasty paws on me. Oh, let’s see, I killed him in front of Nicholas Randon, then actually killed him, all the while being completely aware he was within mind-shot of another wolf, and now the Alpha will probably move heaven and hell to get justice for the death of his brother.

Easy.

Though Opal will have questions. Lots and lots of questions.

Ugh, I can just hear the time-wasters in my head now; What the hell were you thinking? Why did you kill two werewolves when there were others around? Why did you run out on a full moon? Are you stupid?

I don’t know about the first three, but the answer to the last one is, yes, definitely.

I shook my head in self-exasperation, slowly opening the door to the apartment, then, with the door open just a crack, hesitated. Of course, I’d choose now to consider that there might be enemies within the building. There’s a chance nobody pursued me because they decided to meet me here, and catch me by surprise. But they couldn’t figure out where I lived that quickly, right? It would take them at least an hour to figure out my... secret identity is Isabelle Sage, right?

Grabbing my dagger, the hilt reassuringly resting against my palm, I pushed the door open so it hung wide, jumping back into the hallway as I did so, keeping my arm in a defensive position. The apartment was dark, and my every muscle was tensed, ready for a fight...

What is that?

A sound was emanating from the darkness, a long, low sound. I carefully stepped into the room, staying light of the feet, being careful not to make a noise.

I lunged for the lights, turning the eerie darkness into a bathing glow. Let there be light!

And the sound was...

Oh, my.

Well, isn’t this awkward?

Opal jerked up from the couch, looking utterly embarrassed. I raised my eyebrow at her attire - just in her underwear, though a few of the hooks on her bra were undone. It was highly unlikely that she would be lounging on the couch in her underwear at one in the morning.

Sure enough, Kyle sat up - shirt off, but pants still on, thank god - and gave me a cheerful grin.

“Ah, Reese!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t really get the chance to say hello when I got home! How are you?”

I gave him a long, cold stare as I kicked the door shut behind me. His smile faded, and he shifted uncomfortably.

Opal, immediately sensing my grim mood, forgot about her lack of clothing - for the moment, anyways - and studied me carefully. “Are you okay, Reese?” a tone of concern crept into her voice. “Are you upset about earlier? Because I know I said you’d be stupid to go after Ryker Marcel, and that you’re not ready...” she trailed off, her eyes wandered over me, taking in my appearance. I knew what she saw - my hair falling out of its carefully arranged ponytail, mud and dirt stains covering every inch of my body, the dagger clutched tightly in my hand, the coiled way with which I held myself, like I was a snake about to strike at any moment. My hoodie was torn, and I had a wicked headache - something she might be able to sense with her witchy voodoo thing.

Oh, and I was covered in blood.

Her eyes widened and she covered her mouth with her hands, shocked. Kyle followed her gaze and frowned.

“What happened to you?” he asked. “Did you trip and fall?”

He knows I didn’t trip and fall. He knows that I’m not that clumsy and stupid to let my own two feet bring me down.

“She did not fall,” Opal told her husband. “Look at her. She looks like she went through the Hunger Games.”

“Let’s just say,” my voice was tight. “That you were wrong about one thing. I am strong enough to go after Ryker Marcel. The problem is, you were right about something too; I’d be stupid to go after him.”

The witch was confused. “Did you have that epiphany while going for your run, and it shocked you so much that I might be half-right that you lost control over your own body?”

I transferred my cold stare to her.

And, without another word, I turned and stalked into my bedroom.

Not a moment to lose. I have to get out of here!

Unfortunately, Opal followed after me - as I predicted. “Reese?”

I ignored her, grabbing a backpack from my closet.

“Reese, what’s going on? Talk to me.”

I sighed, but didn’t pause in my movements as I wandered over to my dresser, pulling out clothes at random and stuffing them into the backpack. Looks like I’m multitasking.

“I did something stupid,” I began. “I may have run over to Riverdale Park East... unintentionally, at first, but I think the Hunter side of my brain was in control...”

“Reese, what did you do?”

I paused in my hasty packing, giving her a meaningful look. “That leads to the part where I was right - I am strong enough to kill Ryker Marcel.”

“And you know this because...?”

I sighed. Put the pieces together, woman!

“I’m sure his ghost can vouch for me,” I turned away from her and back to my backpack. “Do dead werewolves turn into ghosts?”

“You killed him?”

I shoved a spare pair of shoes into the bag. “I hope so,” I said. “I don’t need two vengeful werewolves chasing after me.”

“Two?”

I grimaced as I headed into the small bathroom leading off from my room, grabbing a few essential items - though I left my period products. I wouldn’t get the cursed beast for another week or two, anyways. “It seems I may have incurred the wrath of Elijah Randon.”

“Elijah Randon?”

The look I gave her this time was one of dry amusement. “Are you just going to repeat everything I say?”

“The Elijah Randon? Alpha of Toronto’s Pack?”

“Is there another one I’m not aware of?”

Opal looked horrified. “What did you do to piss him off?”

“Is killing his beloved pack members not enough? How many have I killed now?”

“Ten,” Opal said without hesitation. “Well, eleven now, since you killed Ryker fucking Marcel.”

It’s funny how she knows my body count, when I lost track a few months ago.

“Twelve, actually,” I said, grabbing my phone and charger.

“Who have I missed? Did you kill somebody without me knowing?”

I stopped packing again, knowing I’d just have to focus on telling her everything in one go. “Well, the funny thing is, it turns out there was a werewolf watching as I killed Ryker.”

“What?”

I ignored her. “Yeah... Nicholas Randon was hiding in the trees... he was going to take me to his packhouse, and I panicked...”

“You killed Nicholas fucking Randon?”

“That’s not all,” I winced. “He was within mind-shot of another wolf. A relay team of sorts, leading all the way back to the Alpha.”

I studied her to gauge her reaction. She visibly paled.

“So, as you can imagine, the Alpha is not happy that I killed his beloved baby brother. He’s got werewolves hunting for me all through the city - in fact, the Alpha himself is in Riverdale Park as we speak,” or, at least, he was ten minutes ago.

Opal stepped towards me, her eyes wide. “Reese...”

“I have to leave,” I said. “I need to get out of the city. I’m sorry, Opal, but my identity is compromised. They know what I look like, what I sound like, what I smell like...” or don’t smell like. You don’t have a scent, remember? Though they can’t track me, there’s still the risk of me stumbling across a werewolf and having them discover I don’t smell like anything. It shouldn’t too hard for them to put two and two together.

Opal didn’t seem surprised by my news, but she blinked sadly. “Are you sure? Maybe I could - ”

“You’re not doing magic on me, Opal,” I hissed. As accepting as I have been of her status as a witch, there were some lines a Hunter never crossed. Though my best friend was a supernatural being - like I said earlier, I didn’t see things in black-and-white - the idea of her practicing magic on me was slightly sickening.

She didn’t press the matter, knowing it would be no use. “Where will you go?”

“Oshawa, maybe,” the city an hour away from Toronto was also hit hard by the Takeover. The local werewolf pack was almost as bad as Elijah’s group. The only bright side of Oshawa was that their vampire clan was a joke. “I’m sure they could use a Hunter there,” ideally, I’d head much further away from Toronto, somewhere this bunch of vengeful werewolves could never find me, but I planned to return to Toronto one day, to finish what I started - after things have calmed down here. “I’ll head further into the city, to throw them off my trail. I’ll take the subway to Union Station, then hop on the GO Train to Oshawa.”

“I don’t know, Reese...” Opal looked skeptical. “Union Station is dangerously close to their packhouse...”

The wolf pack had taken over what was once the University of Toronto campus shortly after the Takeover. I could see what was so desirable about the place - it was big, furnished, and right in the middle of the city. Easily protected.

“I’ll be fine,” I said. “Can you see if I left anything around the apartment, while I finish up in here?”

She looked like she was about to protest - maybe try to force me to stay, which would be stupid and get us both killed - but then she sighed, nodded, and left the room.

When the door clicked shut behind her, I sunk down onto my knees to pull out a box carefully tucked under my bed. The box contained items from my family - Mom’s old phone, Dad’s watch, Thomas’s Harry Potter wand - he was obsessed with the franchise - and a photo of Cedric and I that we had taken at Canada’s Wonderland during my thirteenth birthday.

And, finally, a photo of the five of us.

I ran my finger over their faces. I was no more than eight years old when this was taken, Thomas only four of five years old, Cedric twelve, Mom and Dad hugging us all close. We had been so happy then. Little did we know, we’d be ripped apart six years later.

It’s so unfair that I’m the only one left.

I couldn’t fit all of this into my bag. None of it was useful, anyway, so there was no reason to pack it. Opal could look after it for me.

But nostalgia forced me to take the photograph out of their frames, fold them up, and put them inside Mom’s phone case. I then wrapped the watch carefully around the phone, parceling them delicately in a shirt. I stuck the wand in after them. Satisfied, I zipped the bag shut, then set about changing my clothes - wandering through downtown Toronto like I’d just been in a wrestling match would draw unnecessary attention.

I threw my dirty and torn clothes into the trash, throwing up a fresh new pair of the previous ensemble - leggings, sports bra, and a purple hoodie, though this time I threw a T-shirt on underneath the hoodie. I braided my hair into pigtails, tucked my dagger and a stake into an inside pocket, and threw on another pair of running shoes.

I’m ready to leave.

Before I could toss my bag over my shoulder, though, my phone started buzzing. I frowned down at it, wondering if Opal had found something and was just too lazy to bring it in here for me.

Unknown number.

I don’t know why I did it. Later, I’d look back on it and realize just how stupid and reckless the action was. The first rule of vanishing - Don’t answer your damn phone until you get a new identity.

But what did I do?

I answered the damn phone.

Stupid, Reese, stupid!

I held the brick-like item up to my ear, waiting for whoever was on the other end to speak first.

Silence.

I swallowed hard, unease building in my stomach. “Hello?”

There was an intake of breath on the other end.

“Hello, Little Hunter.”

The voice was velvety and smooth, the definition of perfection. A shiver went down my spine, and my knees weakened. My lungs constricted, and my heart began to pound. A tingling sensation spread throughout my entire body. What the hell? Control your damn body, Reese!

At first glance, the voice appeared to be calm, maybe a little amused. But I heard the underlying layers. The rage, the pain, the hatred.

Oh, hell no.

No.

My breathing grew shaky as the tingling subsided. However, my voice remained strong as I answered, “Who is this?”

A tsking sound. “Aren’t we past introductions by now, Reese Hearne? Or am I talking to Isabelle Sage?”

I have to say, the wave of pleasant emotions that washed over my body at the sound of my name was very unexpected. What the Hell? Pull it together!

But at the same time, a sinking feeling grew in the pit of my stomach, and I dreaded the response to my next words.

“Elijah Randon,” not a question, but a statement. A fact.

I dreaded the answer. Please, let me be wrong. Let this be somebody else I’ve royally pissed off. Maybe another fellow human?

A chuckle that sent a wave of heat washing over me. Cut it out!

“Smarter than I thought.”

I was slightly offended. Is he hinting at the stupidity that I’m very well aware of? You don’t need to flaunt it.

“Is there something you wanted?” I snapped into the phone, allowing the Hunter inside me to take over for now. At least she’s not quaking with dread. “I’m a little busy at the moment, so I’d prefer if you called at a more convenient time. Or never.”

More silence. I don’t think sarcasm was really the best way to handle this.

“There is, in fact, something I want,” came his voice, a purr to it now, sending those damn shivers through me again. “I want revenge, Reese. I wanted your body lying in a ditch somewhere - karma for all of my pack members you’ve killed without batting an eye.”

Just what I thought. He wants me dead - wait, wanted? As in, past tense?

“Though now, it seems my method of choice has changed in the past minute,” his voice hardened - frustration? “Now, Reese, I’ll just take you as you are. Alive. Though maybe I’ll break you a bit...”

Psychopath. Man, this is not how I thought this day was going to go.

“How’s your apartment?” his tone changed - again - and was now conversational. “How is your dear friend Opal taking the news of your imminent departure?”

“You leave Opal out of this,” I growled, anger coursing through me, banishing all emotions - yes, even the weird unwanted ones I was experiencing every time he spoke. “She has nothing to do with this.”

“I agree.”

Wait, what?

Did I hear him right?

“I’ll make a deal with you, Reese Hearne. Surrender now. Come to Riverdale Park. If you come to me now, I’ll leave your beloved friend and her husband alone.”

I glanced anxiously at the door to my bedroom. Should I sacrifice myself for Opal and Kyle? So they can live a happy life, without my sullenness and Hunter-ness getting in the way?

But I’m not that noble. I’m a Hunter. We don’t let feelings get in the way. Sacrifice two people to save two million.

Of course, I didn’t say any of this. I just let off a barrage of my best profanities into the phone, then sighed, making it seem like I surrendered. Though I wouldn’t sacrifice myself for my friends, I’d try to buy them as much time as I could, to leave this place.

Then I’d make my move.

He chuckled again at my obscene language. “I look forward to meeting you in person, Little Hunter. If your voice is any indication as to what I’m in for...”

He hung up.


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