I pull the edge of the curtain away from the window slowly, peering out onto the street. It’s getting dark out, the moon illuminating the deserted sidewalk. To any other eye, the sight may have been enjoyable – peaceful even.
Everyone’s doors are closed, their curtains drawn. Their gates are locked, and their kids kept safely inside. Everyone is on high alert like they are every night.
I sigh deeply, my breath fogging up the window I look through. I rub it away with my sleeve so that I can see again. Except, there is nothing to see. There never is, because unlike other Packs, all life here on the streets dies off at night.
Why? Because of my Pack, the Purity Pack is afraid of the Vengeance Pack. Not necessarily the Vengeance Pack but their leader, Alpha Kaden. He destroyed the peaceful ideas of equality and riotousness within our Pack. He stole everything. Especially our freedom.
Our Pack isn’t loved. It is situated centrally on the Pack Quarter, on the cooler side of the lands equator. Surrounded by a thick wall meant to keep us safe, we are protected in our small world of religion and peace. He disrupts it. Rather than create hostilities between our delicate societies, my own Alpha respects our religion, and instead cowers in fear of the far more superior Alpha.
And we have a good reason to fear him. He has kidnapped innocent girls from our Pack. No one knows what has happened to them, but many think he kills them or sells them to his Pack members, of equal disgrace. Perhaps he makes a business out of it, however, none of us know. He also kills our criminals too. Anyone who breaks the law is the Discipline Packs business. But anyone who kills is Alpha Kaden’s business. He has made that obvious.
“Mara, get away from there!”
I am suddenly pulled back from the window by my shoulder. I stumbled away, seeing my mother angrily pull the curtains shut again. She turns to me, hands on her hips.
I love my mother, but sometimes she can be way too over protective. She has lived her life believing only in one thing. The Moon is our savour, and always will be. She believes the Goddess controls everything that we do, and decided our futures through some type of voodoo magic. Despite growing up in this Pack, I don’t believe in it. I respect it though.
In school, they taught us a small chant to keep fear of Alpha Kaden alive within us: Lock your doors. Seal them tight. Close your curtains, every night. Don’t look out, in case he’s there. Always live in total fear. Even if it means sacrificing your mate, don’t let Alpha Kaden seal your fate.
My mother even condones it.
“Mother, it’s fine,” I assure her. “No one saw me.”
She sighs, running a hand across her face. Stress was etched into her aging features. She doesn’t know how to deal with me sometimes, when I decide to go against her strict rules. I don’t mean to do it, but my incessant curiosity only tempts me.
“They might have...What if Kaden saw you?” she asks sternly. I roll my eyes. “What about our neighbours? You know what they say in church about you Mara. They act like I’m a terrible mother.”
“Well, I wouldn’t know if Kaden saw me because I don’t know what he looks like,” I tell her, my voice raising. Mother narrowed her eyes at me. She hated the thought of me knowing things about Kaden. His identity is still unknown to me. He could walk by me in the street, and I would be completely oblivious.
And the worst thing is, she won’t tell me why I can’t know about him. I gather fragments from girls at school, but their parents are just as strict. On a good day, I might find out whether he has killed or not. Sometimes, when it is just mother and father awake, I might sneak down to listen in on their conversation. That is how I found when girls started going missing around the town.
“Mara, please. Don’t be difficult,” mother says, exasperated. I fold my arms over my chest. To say I am sick of being holed up every night is an understatement. I’ve given up on having friends to see on Friday nights. I’m a hop skip and a jump away from graduating, but that doesn’t mean my mother’s rules will relent.
Finding our mate when we are young is essential within our culture. The amount of young males I’ve shaken the hands of is ridiculous.
“Everything okay in here?”
I turn, to see my father walk into the room. It has been raining outside; I don’t remember seeing that when I was looking out the window. He takes off his soaking wet coat and lays it on the bench.
Our house isn’t very big, which makes spending majority of my life in here even worse. My parents abide by the simple life the Moon Goddess would want. I’m not one for the materialistic luxuries of life, however, I do sometimes feel a little deprived.
“I caught our daughter peeking out the window again,” mother cut me off. I glare at her. She always seems to get me in trouble with Dad. He frowns at me.
“Kaden isn’t going to be out there. You’re over reacting when you tell me he is,” I say angrily. I see father look over at me, to mother. He motions with his head for her to leave because he knows how easily she and I argue.
When she does leave, he leads me over to the couch so that we can sit down.
“You know the neighbour’s daughter? Mandy is it?”
“Milly,” I correct him. He nods.
“Kaden took her last week. He stole her right out of her bed, and she hasn’t been seen since,” he told me. My eyes widen. Milly? She is a year older than me, and many times more attractive than me. The fact that she got selected to be a part of whatever business Kaden is dealing with doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
“Why are you telling me this?” I question. I like to be in the know, but I didn’t expect father to want that too.
“I am worried he might take you. Every morning I am worried to walk into your room, encase I find that he has stolen you in the night,” he told me. I shake my head at him.
The likelihood of me being taken is slim. Recently he took a girl from my neighbourhood, which should mean he won’t be back here for another for at least a month. It’s the kind of game he likes to play with people. He lulls us into a false sense of security, until he changes his pattern and shocks us all into confusion
Dad takes my hand in his, and looks me in the eye. Is he going to make me pray?
“We all wonder why he does this, Mara. I promise you, we will figure it out, and stop him as soon as possible,” father tells me, squeezing my hand slightly. He runs our local church, which leads me to believe his ability to stop this isn’t that high. The man we are running from is an Alpha of a notorious Pack, that should have been named after its lack of mercy
After the Great War that separated all the Packs across the land, new forms of society and morals were born. Named after our beliefs, each Pack was created to keep further peace, and it has been successful for many centuries. However, with all Packs being made of fair and just morals, one Pack had to separate the tranquility between all. That was the Vengeance Pack.
“Everything will be fine. Alpha Rylan will sort things out eventually,” I tell father, making him smile. Rylan is our only hope to end this suffering. If he can’t, we have no chance.
As I walk toward my room, I decide on heading straight to bed.
When I walk into the room, I am hit by instant cold. My room isn’t usually this chilly.
I switch on my light, watching it illuminate my room. I have a small room, with a simple closet, desk and bed. Nothing too flashy and extravagant.
But what tips me off, is the fact that my window is wide open. It is never open like that. Ever. Mother would kill me if she saw that my curtain was pulled back at night. I would surely be grounded if she found out. One time, she even escorted me to school after I step an hour too long on our front lawn.
In my defense, it was summer, and mother wouldn’t even let me open my window.
Warily I wander toward the window, hearing heavy rain patter against the road outside. The storm has picked up now, the sound of thunder clearly being heard in the distance. The sooner I close the window, the better.
So, I quickly stalk across the room and slam the window shut. A sudden burst of rain hits the glass, making me jump back in fear. I have always hated thunder and lightning...
“I just need to calm down, and go to sleep,” I tell myself, as I pull my curtains closed. I am letting this Kaden thing get to me. I pull my hair tie from my hair, as I walk across my room to my bathroom. Maybe if I just shower, I can wash all this silly worry away.
I turn the water into extra hot, and strip off all my clothes. As I step under the cascade of water, I am transported to another world. The world where I don’t have to listen to rules all the time. Where my parents can’t dictate every decision, I make. I rest my head against the tiles.
“Maybe I am destined for the Freedom Pack? A Pack where I can do whatever I want,” I murmur to myself. I probably sound stupid right now. Suddenly a shadow flitters across my vision.
I look up, surprised. I peer out of the shower, looking around cautiously. I am ridiculous right now.
I get out of the shower, turning the water off after me. As I wrap my towel around my body, I try to admonish all my paranoid thoughts. The shadow was probably just a figure of my imagination. I am known to have a strong one.
Kaden really isn’t someone who usually influences my nightmares. I’m fully aware of the threat is to me and my family, yet I can’t bring myself to usually fear him. Yet today, the chill dancing down my spine contests these facts.
In just my towel, I stand in front of the mirror, inspecting myself. My hair looks brown when it is wet, but it is a muted blonde. I look like every other Purity Pack member. My blue eyes are duller than anyone else. My skin is paler, and my cheeks have no colour. This is the reason why no boy has wanted to date me. Because there are so many better options. I still love myself though. I have no other choice.
Suddenly a loud strike of thunder from outside makes me jump. Thank the Moon Goddess that I can’t see the full brunt of the lightning through my curtain. I wander out into my room, and to my closet. I pick out some comfortable clothes to wear to bed. Once I am changed, I turn the lights out, and hop straight into bed, with the covers pulled right up to my chin. I just want to sleep this worry off and continue tomorrow without Kaden plaguing my thoughts.
But the more I try to get comfortable in bed, the harder it seems to banish him from my mind. My vision is clouded with an image of a strange shadow.
I was just about to doze off to the sound of rain splattering against my window when I feel a hand slap over my mouth.
I have been taught self-defense many times, but at that point, all knowledge of what to do left my mind. I swung my arms wildly, but I found they only got caught an unfamiliar grasp. I struggled as much as I could, screaming into the hand, even though the sound was muffled.
I kicked, as I was pulled up and out of my bed. I could feel someone applying pressure to my neck, and for a second I thought that maybe I would die of strangulation. But I won’t go without a fight.
My legs are the only weapon on my body that is free. Slightly sleep deranged, I lash out, trying to kick my captor’s ankles. But each time I miss, swiping at the air with my bare foot.
“Settle down. Everything will be over soon.”
And that soft, male voice was the last thing I had heard before I blacked out completely.