My arms stretched across the soft, dewy grass. A drawn-out yawn escaped my lips, and I placed my hands behind my head and just admired the beautiful blue sky. Judging by the sun, it must have been early afternoon. I groaned as I realized what day it was, moving day. Not that I had to pack. Most of my belongings fit in a pink backpack I stole from this little store a few cities back.
This town was by far my favorite. It was quiet, and everyone kept to themselves but was extremely friendly, which was rare for humans. But I had already been here too long. Two weeks, that was the rule, and I had already surpassed that by three days. It was dangerously close to the largest Capitol, and he was still hunting me. His scent was still lingering; he would never let up. I escaped his grasp once, but that was pure luck.
Argo Otaktay. Try saying that three times fast. He was one of the vilest hunters. His name means “slaughter.” A shiver ran down my spine as I thought about our last encounter, and the memories came flooding back. I’m a small cat, for fuck’ sake, and he hunts me like I’m a deer to be displayed on his wall. No, it was time to go before he found me and wreaked havoc on these poor people.
I liked to stay near the woods; I had no money for any shelter. Hell, I had to steal everything. It was easy to find a soft spot to sleep as a cat or hunt small prey. Miss Hoyle, the baker, was the kindest. She often left out milk every night or even allowed me to sweep outside for food in my human skin.
I placed my pink backpack in a nearby tree after pulling a few essentials from it. The nearby creek was perfect for bathing and filling up my canteen for the journey ahead. I stared into the clear water, envious of the tiny fish swimming about without a care in the world. A cat jealous of a few fish? I am pathetic, I thought to myself as my arms wrapped around my body.
I dunk my metal canteen into the cool water, watching the bubbles and pulling my canteen up; once it satisfied me, it was enough. My fingers combed through my golden locks as I tried to loosen any tangles. Next, I pulled my hair up in a high ponytail and tied it off with a ribbon. Finally, smoothing out my blue dress and slipping on a pair of brown shoes, my appearance satisfied me. Today would be a sad but straightforward day, say my goodbyes and then leave.
I sighed as I made my way across the field and into town. Usually, I would stay in large cities. It’s risky, but it’s easier to hide. However, Argo always seemed to find me; I figured a small town was much easier to evade my hunter. They greeted me with smiles, nods, and even a few “Hellos” as I made my way down the main road to Miss Hoyle’s bakery.
It took no time to walk to her bakery, and I pushed open the glass door. A bell that was attached to the top rung as I carefully stepped inside. I smiled as she walked out of the back, a towel between her hands as she tried to clean off the flour. The smell of her bakery was intoxicating. My eyes closed, and all the sweet scents filled my nostrils.
“Iris! Child, what are you still doing here? I thought you were leaving today?” the older woman whispered shouted at me. A look of worry and sadness on her face.
“I still am Miss Hoyle. I just wished to stop by and say my goodbyes before I leave town.” I smiled at her, hoping to ease her worried face.
She began filling a small bag with rolls, pastries, and other small goods before pushing it into my chest. My arms wrapped around the load, and I looked at her, confused.
“He’ll be here soon, child; he knows you’re here and what you are. It’s not safe for you anymore,” she cried out.
Tiny goosebumps filled my arms, and I’m sure it filled my eyes with fear.
“W-who a-are you t-talking about?” I barely stuttered out, even though I knew who she meant.
“Argo. I don’t know how he knows, but he does, and you need to leave before he gets here.” She replied.
“H-how do you know about me?” I whispered.
“There is no time for that, Iris. I’ve known for a while. A few of us have, but you’re just a child. You’re nothing more than a kitten.” She mumbled as she cupped my cheeks with her hands.
She was right. It was time to leave now. I held the bag in one hand and engulfed her in a hug, wrapping both arms around her.
She broke the hug and gently pushed me toward the door. It was too late; the black cars were already here. One was just a typical car, but the other was an enormous truck with guns and a large cage on the back. Three prominent men stepped out of the car, but the truck, the truck, belonged to Argo. He jumped out; his black combat boots made a loud pop as they landed on the concrete. My body shook with fear as he rounded his truck with a rifle in hand. He quickly glanced around, but most of us looked to the ground, and he missed me. I sighed, but I was not in the clear yet, not by a mile.
There was a gentle tug on my arm, and my head looked up to see Mr. Sanders. He was an older man and owned a barbershop, I thought. I gave him a puzzled look as he continued to tug at my arm.
“This way Iris. Come, come.” He pulled me by my arm and dragged me across the street.
I could sneak through behind Mr. Sander’s shop and make my way to the woods. Grab my bag and hide in the woods for a while. There were only a couple of ways to the field outside town, and this was one. My head stayed down as we crossed the street and walked behind the barbershop, then I heard his booming voice.
“Danos la chica. That’s all I want. I know she’s still here!” He had a thick accent and had a habit of mixing Spanish with English.
(Give us the girl)
Argo didn’t know what I looked like in human form, but my eyes always stayed purple, so as soon as he saw my face. Game over. I gave Mr. Sanders a sympathetic smile, but we both knew Argo couldn’t hurt these people; it was still illegal to kill other humans. It was not unlawful to kill the supernatural.
My compact frame slipped through the opening quickly; my tree seemed so far away, but I might make it with Argo distracted. He was never with other hunters. Was he that desperate for my capture? Gods only knew what he would do to me now.
Looking ahead, I spotted my tree and ran for it. The ribbon holding up my hair fell out immediately, and my dress swished through the wind. My mind was foggy, and I was only halfway there. There was shouting behind me, and it was Argo, ordering his men to run me down.
“ve, ve pero no la mates. She’s mine.” He snarled.
(go, go, but please don’t kill her)