Scars, Pain, & Despair

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Chapter Twenty-Two

Thia

I spammed Astera's phone from my distance trying to get her attention. Proserpina and Astera were leaving the property of the house and Uncle was demanding I get Astera back to him. The girls stopped for a bit as Astera looked at her phone, only to slip it back into her pocket and continue on.

"You ignorant brat!" I spat at her angrily. Everyone would pay if they did not meet Uncle. Dialing her number again, I tried to get her to answer her phone again; giving up on text messages. The phone rang three times then she answered.

"Hello?"

"Astera what the hell do you think you're doing?!! Uncle wants to see her now!"

"We're heading to the carnival," she spoke ignorant to what I just said.

"Stop playing around!! We need to get back or he'll have all of our heads!!" I hissed violently.

"We'll save you some kennel corn if you don't make it," Astera played off every word for Proserpina couldn't hear what I was saying on the other side then she switched. "Thia do you really think it is best she sees Uncle when he is furious? I thought so we're going to wait until he cools down a little. Good bye."

"Astera!! That's it; everyone is done playing your games." I dialed another number into my phone and listened as it rang.

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Proserpina

"Astera, please I need to rest!" I pleaded with my friend trying to tug my arm from her grip. We had eaten candy of all sorts from the stands while Astera had dragged me to every game or ride there was in the park. My arm was sore from the shoulder to my hand where she still gripped me. My throat burned from lack of oxygen getting to my lungs with all the running.

"Alright we'll rest for a minute. What do you want to do next?" She chirped absentmindedly dropping my arm to my relief and scanned the crowd in what seemed paranoia.

"Maybe one of the games. I do not think I can handle another ride on the coasters without puking up the candy." I groaned dizzy once we stopped near a wall of one of the gaming booths. Disappointed Astera nodded her agreement still searching the crowd for someone I could not see.

"Who are you looking for?" I asked trying to spot a familiar face in the crowd.

"No body. I was just making sure none of these creeps were following us."

"Okay I guess that seems logical."

Something like an itch came from the back of mind in uncertainty like something she said bothered me. I did not believe she was lying to me except I feel as if I should be scanning the area too. This feeling left me clueless for I would've bet my life that I was perfectly safe with her in such a large crowd.

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Astera

We were in danger. It was almost like I could sense it when we stopped for a break. Scanning the crowd I couldn't spot anyone suspicious and I could only hope they were not after us for I doubt I could protect Proserpina long enough for an escape. I felt guilty that I tugged on her arm so arm during our time here but I would bet my life someone here almost caught us while we weren't paying attention.

I was not going to get caught nor was I going to let my friend fend for herself for a second time. I never play the same card twice.

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Thia

After I reached Kaden over the phone, I took off towards the girls in hopes that Astera will come to her senses. The carnival grounds were so busy with bodies that they pushed together hot and sweaty making me resist the urge to gag when I squeezed through people. With the others towering over my short height I hopped up and down once in a while trying to locate the girls where I last saw them but they disappeared.

"Shit," I cursed not spotting them anywhere around me. I continued shoving through the tight space filled with sweaty people at a slower pace, straining my neck to see them. Then to my right there was a flash of a blond hair before it disappeared between two gaming booths. Growling furiously at everyone around me to move, I picked up my pace.

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Astera

Proserpina slipped between my fingers and in the crowd of people leaving me scrambling after her. She moved clumsily with her injured leg and exhausted legs from walking everywhere but Proserpina weaved through everyone nonetheless seeming to trying to catch someone she knew.

Bodies pushed and shoved me like a ping pong ball in a game redirecting me from where my friend went. My chest tightened with my throat like I was about to cry but could get nothing else as I began to dread coming to such a crowded place. I couldn't imagine who she wanted to speak with in a sea of strangers but I followed until I stumbled into the small alleyway between the booths after her.

To my relief Proserpina was there waiting facing a man with a cane, he did not seem to need with his black fancy, high classman suit and tie with a disappointed frown formed on his lips. Proserpina's legs shook seeming to sense something I could not or maybe because memories returned to her, though I could only guess the man was the cause.

"I thought we understood each other," the man sounded sad like his puppy died, "Have our past lesson not been enough for you to learn?"

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Proserpina

"W...we do!" I stuttered frightened he was in one of his moods again.

While Astera was leading me over to another game, I glimpsed his top hat poking out of the crowd. Like a moth to a flame I followed, the muscle memory of being obedient pulling me into the alleyway. Hope bloomed in my chest that just maybe I could apologize and set things right with him as we were friends, but his frown quickly squashed it all before the hope could grow.

"You left. We had a deal and you broke it," My old friend whispered softly like a father speaking to a toddler though I could feel the threat hidden beneath his words. "What did we say about breaking promises?"

"It's a sin to be punished," I answered on instinct, pushing down a whimper that tried to crawl out of my throat. I may not remember but my body knew what happened when rules were broken.

"Proserpina? Are you alright?" Astera touched my arm gently so not to spook me except I jumped anyway. The whimper escaped me as I gazed at her, realizing I led my friend in the way of danger.

"Oh you made friends already. I guess you have become fond of her?" My old friend flashed a bright smile making me want to cower in my cage where it was safe.

"Who are you?" Astera straightened, stepping in front of me protectively.

"Ah you picked a brave one. Interesting choice after what we learned about brave people in the arena. Remind me, what happens to them?"

"T...they died."

"Isn't that interesting? Do you think the same rules apply out here?"

"Please don't!" I shoved Astera hard behind me where I was before as I dropped onto my knees. "I...I'm sorry I didn't mean to leave! They took me away from the arena! I knew I shouldn't have but I got curious! Please don't hurt her!!" I sobbed violently.

"What do we say about crying?"

"Please!"

"Have you forgotten our rules already?" His grip tightened on the shaft of his cane.

"Proserpina!" Astera called from behind me, "I think we should start heading back."

"I can't!"

"Can't what?"

"I can't leave! Not again. I broke the rules!!" I sobbed into my hands, praying he sees my remorse for leaving him behind. He was my friend; I shouldn't have left without asking him first. He could've come with me instead of discovering I did not die in the arena. This was my fault! I was too stupid. Friends do not leave each other.

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Kaden

"Where is she?" I huffed out of breath with pain stabbing into my sides and wounds from the run here. I spoke to Thia who called for me to come to the carnival grounds when she spotted Astera and Proserpina.

"They went into an alleyway; I don't know why or which one. I lost them after I fell and avoided being trampled to death." Thia rubbed her forearm which I guess was stomped on in the crowd. John and Nathan proceeded into the crowd ahead of us in hopes of locating the alleyway the girls disappeared into.

"Any idea if they are meeting someone?"

"Like I said you moron I don't why they left!" Thia snarled baring her teeth at me, "I only spotted Astera before I went down; I didn't see Proserpina."

Suddenly a blood curling, ear shattering howl broke the air. The tone mixed with pain and terror as it continued making Thia and I cover our ears to deafen the sound. Then it lessened gradually until it was silenced for whatever reason. Searching the crowd for the reason for the scream I spotted John disappearing around the corner of a booth. Instantly I ran and shoved my way towards him and where they went, finding myself praying that everything was okay.

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Astera

It happened so fast I couldn't move to stop it in time. Without any effort the man swung his cane, connecting it with Proserpina's cheek and continued with the swing until the force made her tumble to the floor. Proserpina shrieked in horror as blood drawn flowed steadily down her face like tears of blood. Before he swung again I ran to her side, letting her sob as I tried to get her up with comforting words, if we were fast and lucky we could lose the man in the crowd and head back to the house.

Then two boys raced past us and rushed the cruel man before us. It only took me a moment to realize they were Nathan and John here to save us. Thankful I gripped Proserpina's shoulders to help her up but she had other plans. Using her weight and everything in her will, Proserpina kicked, bucked and fought me off to race to the man and the boys.

"Don't hurt him!!" Heavy tears raced down her face in anger as she attacked our friends.

"Proserpina we're trying to help!! Get out of here!!" The boys alarmed at her violent acts shouted trying to get her to see reason.

"Leave him alone! He's my friend!" She replied kneeling down to help the man up.

"What?!!" Nathan freaked out throwing his hands into his hair.

"Proserpina he is not a friend! We need to get out of here!" John grabbed a hold of her arms, dragging her back from him.

"NO!!" Proserpina clawed, bit, and beat on John to release her as if we were the bad guys. Desperate to keep a hold of her Nathan rushed to help his companion though Proserpina almost broke him nose when he got too close.

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Kaden

I paled at the scene. Proserpina fought desperately to get away from her two closest friends and the man who owned her in the other town was sitting up with something silver glittering in her hand. I didn't know what to do in those moments I wanted to race forward but John and Nathan had Proserpina almost out of the alleyway and the man took aim with his gun while Astera tried to get Proserpina to calm down.

"Get out of the way!!" A warning ripped through my vocal cords. My feet began moving to the others hoping to get them to move faster. Thia race with me to the others, determined to get them out. She got there first her face set with firm determination and concern then....bang her eyes went wide and we all froze except her.

Eyes wide with shock Thia fell forward with a jolt, her hands clutching her chest. Proserpina stopped fighting her friends, Nathan and John stopped to stare in horror then hastily kept moving with Proserpina between them, Astera knelt by Thia in grief. And I? I stood by like a fool. Watching; forever stuck watching as the one of my strongest allies fell at the strike of the smallest piece of metal to be held.

Blood; there was so much of it now. It was pouring out of Thia like it didn't matter almost like a red fountain as she fell onto the dirt floor. The look of shock forever in her used to be mischievous eyes with a small hole, the source of the blood, appeared in her back and a small piece of metal interfered with the workings of her heart and her life. Just like that Thia was gone.

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Thia

Once there was a girl. She ran with one of the toughest gangs out there, spreading a reputation of fear out across her home country. The girl had no ties to tie her down, no family for her to miss. Her mother left early, her father left not long after that. Where was she? In a foster home with a disgusting old man. She never slept, scared of what would happen if she was not awake at all times to defend herself from the man. He had no limits to the harm he could do.

Then one day the girl met a boy with similar trouble with his uncle. They promised to never be separated. Never let the other be hurt when they were around and they kept it. The girl ran away from home and joined the boy's household in which his uncle accepted if they worked. The three of them traveled everywhere picking up more kids until one day they met a tiny girl that was terrified of the world. The two girls became fast friends racing, playing, and telling secrets to each other until one of them was bought. The girl was left at a different town when her friend disappeared saying she needed to use the restroom.

Trusting she would return, the girl looked at the shops and cafes until sunset when darkness was threatening to gobble every bit of the comforting protection of the sun. Scared the girl asked others on the streets to direct her home when she ran into a group of men. Sick men in hopes of comforts attacked the girl and left her damaged in the streets beaten and unable to move. The girl wondered if the boy would realize she had not returned home by now as she laid on the floor. She wondered how long it would take before anyone noticed not that her name had any importance.

When the sun came up again the girl found the energy to move. Crying the whole way the girl ran, walked, and crawled until all her nails broke under the pressure, home where she could banish this from her memory with the pain. When she returned she found the other girl playing scramble with a different boy on the floor of the living room. The girl ran for shelter in her room unable to face the truth behind her one time friend's eyes. She cried her eyes dry in a corner, covering as much of her body as she could with her arms.

Years later the girl never knew she would grow up to fall young. She would never have imagined she would block that same girl and another that was hurt by her from the dangers of a bullet. She never knew she would die with her friends surrounding her body on carnival grounds between two gaming booths. She never knew she would die a hero after a life of hurting. She never would've guessed they would tell her story after she was long gone or that they would remember her name.

Thia didn't know anything about the future but she had a glimpse of it all while she fell to the ground. The metal bullet taking her life from the world but giving her an immortal life of glory among the people that mattered most to her. As her life line leaked out of her dying body, Thia knew she would not regret her actions. Thia would be remembered, her story would be told when they thought of her, her friends would remember her name and life. Thia would live on and the story of her noble choice would be retold a thousand times over defining her life and her image in her friends' and enemies' eyes. Thia would be remembered.

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