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Part One - Trouble's Coming.


I can feel someone watching me.

Stalking me.

The hairs on the back of my neck bristled in that mysteriously familiar way they do when someone is close.

My body always knows before me.

I may not remember one fucking thing about myself but I had come to discover I was blessed with extra ordinary senses. Simply put, I heard, smelled and saw better than the average human. While that sounds cool as shit, I can guaran-fucking-tee you, it most definitely is not.

Much like a dog with raised hackles, my heart shoots adrenaline through my veins.

It’s a message to be wary, to stay alert...

Trouble’s coming.

In this case, however, I know who is trying to sneak up on me.

I know this scent and I know it well.

So, I continue packing my bag, with what little I actually own, pretending not to be as aware as I really am. “Has no one taught you that it’s impolite to sneak up on people, Arabella?”

“Fuck all, B.G, I told you not use that name ’round here,” she whisper yells, her lips pursing in disappointment.

B.G. she calls me.

aka Big Guy.

Since I awoke and had no memory of my real name, I allowed it. She claimed I was a big dude so she would call me Big Guy. Unfortunately, it fucking stuck.

I smirk knowing I’m about to rile her up, “There’s nothing wrong with Arabella. It’s a pretty name.”

She blows a loose strand of dark spiral curl from her chocolate face... a face that now looks a bit perturbed, “I don’t need a pretty name! I live on the streets! I got a rep to protect!”

“Yeah, ’cause the name Ladybug really sends chills through the spines of men everywhere!” I chuckle with a faux shake of my body. I mean, she’s fucking twelve for crying out loud. She’s tough, but definitely not scary.

“Ah!” She throws her hands into the air and screeches, “It’s BUG! Just Bug!”

“Oh. Right. Sorry, Cuddlebug.”

“Fuck you.”

I stifle a laugh, “Watch your fucking language... Beetlebug.” Being the adult in this weird friendship is difficult for me sometimes. She sighs, deflated, “I wanna punch ya in the face, ya know that?” As if her little hand could reach my face. I got to give it to the girl though, she does have big dreams.

And then, she asks the one thing I have been dreading--the one question I have been preparing myself to answer for over a week now, “Why does it look like you’re goin’ somewhere?”

“Because I’m going somewhere,” I return to packing, hoping the nonchalance in my voice is enough to make me leaving not sound like a huge deal.

It does not work.

She gawks at me with wide eyes, “What?! Why the hell ya doing that for?!”

Fuck, she is loud.

I could lie and tell her that I’ve outgrown this abandoned factory and this makeshift bed and the city stench of trash and stale urine and dirty deeds. I could claim that I got a job and I’m done being homeless, done rifling through the dumpsters for food and necessities... Definitely done smelling my own scent of fucking eau de BO. I could smash her little heart and tell her she annoys the fuck out of me and I cannot stand being around her anymore.

I could say a lot of things.

But none of them are true.

Except maybe the BO... I would kill for a fucking shower right about now.

When my nomad life brought me to America, I landed in New York.

The Big Apple.

The Melting Pot of the World.

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

Blah, blah, bullshit.

After traversing Europe, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The truth of the matter is, it’s just like everywhere else I had already been: loud, selfish and lonely... and lacking the one thing I had been searching for since I woke up on that God forsaken beach almost two years ago.

Then I met Bug.

Though I hate to admit it, I’ve grown fond of the little pest. I imagine that if I have a younger sister out there somewhere, she would be very similar to Bug. I may talk a bunch of shit but when it really comes down to it, I didn’t feel so alone when she was around.

She puts her hands on her hips, giving me a hard stare. Her clothes are tattered, torn and dirty. Her white top has turned an unsettling shade of grayish yellow and her jeans are caked with mud, grime and who the fuck really knows what else.

“I’m looking for something,” I elaborate.

“Whatcha lookin’ for?”

“I don’t know.”

She presses, “Then how you gonna know if ya find it?”

“I’ll just know,” I shrug. I realize it isn’t much of an answer but it’s all I’ve got... well, that, and the name Lina. Even though it feels like searching for a needle in a haystack, something deep inside me assures me that I will find this Lina. I don’t know why I need to find her, or even what will happen once I do, but it’s the only clue I have that will get me one step closer to discovering my identity.

Part of me hopes Lina, whoever the hell she is, will help me remember my former life... or at the very least, my name.

Unless it’s something douchey like Mark or Brad then I would very much like to forget again.

Fuck me... it’s probably Brad.

A small hand touches my forearm, making me immediately halt my packing. “Take me with you,” Bug pleads. Her carmel colored eyes hide a vulnerability she rarely shows and would wholeheartedly deny if confronted about it, but I know. I don’t know how I know this. Like many odd things I find about myself, I just know. Bug can hide that shit from the rest of the world but not me.

I feel the shift in the air... the change in her mood, her aura; she is scared that I will deny her request.

And here’s where my dilemma lies. I have no clue what to expect on my quest so I cannot predict the dangers... having another person to look out for could be costly. On the other hand, she might not fare any better without me. She had survived six months out here before we met, but only barely. It’s just a matter of time until she succumbs to the harsh reality of life on these streets. There are limited outcomes available to someone so young but all are certain to end the same: death.

I have to take her with me.

I quirk a brow, “You got a bag to bring your stuff?”

Her eyes light up at my question and she squeals. Tiny, thin arms swiftly envelope my waist. “Thank you, Big Guy,” she murmurs softly, with a sniffle she is going to try extremely hard to pass off as allergies.

It’s moments like these that make me glad to have this friendship. She doesn’t have anyone or anything so for her, I try to be it all--a friend, a brother and a father (though I’m not entirely certain I am any fucking good at the latter).

She needs me as much as I need her.

I pat her back, “Sure, Bug.”

She takes a step back, wiping her eyes with her grungy hands, “Dude, these fucking allergies are killing me.”

“Language!” I remind her with a scolding finger. I may have the mouth of a sailor but twelve is a bit young to be following in my damn footsteps.

Bug rolls her eyes, “I bet my left shoe that you were a dickbag pussy in that life you forgot.”

“Yeah?” I curl my lip, mocking her, “Well I bet my right shoe that if you don’t watch your goddamn mouth you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with soap in it.”

She glares at me, “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me,” I glared back.

Deathly leers slowly morph into ornery mirth and we are right back to good again. I ruffle her hair before returning to my backpack, “Go get your shit, you little insect, before I change my mind.”

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