Chapter 7: Hunted
“Mom, where’s dad?”
“He will come soon honey, soon”.
A noise, much like an explosion, is heard within the house. The walls shook and a thump was heard on the floor that resonated all around the house. Dead silence.
“Why don’t we play hide and seek? You hide here in this room very well, and I will come and find you. DO NOT GET OUT UNTIL I FIND YOU” my mom spoke. I failed to hear the crack in her voice.
She got out of the room. I could hear her soft feet tread on the stairs like a cat.
“Matteo...Matteo...” she spoke, quiet enough for me to hear.
“Matteo? ...MATTEO!!!!” I heard my mom scream.
That was all it took for me to run out of the bedroom.
A pool of blood. A head. Mom crying.
I blacked out.
I woke up. I was breathing heavily. It angered me to know that these memories still triggered in me something. Something I never wanted to feel. FEAR. That which I gave to others by my mere presence, haunts and torments me every time those memories penetrate my sleep. My mind. My life.
I got up and it was 5:oo in the morning. I stood outside my balcony and breathed in deep and long. The breeze lashed against my face as if slapping me reminding me that I was limited. Weak. A weakling bound and haunted by mere flashes of the past.
I got out of my bedroom in the mansion and headed down the hallway. Quite a distance away from my bedroom was her room. Zara’s room. She is my little sister. If it hadn’t been for her, I would not be the ruthless and heartless monster I am today. If it hadn’t been for her, Mum would have been alive. If it hadn’t been for her, I would have been loved. At least, felt like it.
I opened her bedroom door, to see her motionlessly asleep. Ever since The Accident, she has been paralysed. I merely looked at her, emotionlessly. I haven’t talked to her in five years.
I went downstairs and looked up to see the chandelier glowing in the darkness. Its luminescent crystals reminded me how my life was before The Accident. That was mere memory now. A dot the size of a pinhead on a black background. A tiny speck of goodness, in a soul so dark.
I went into the kitchen and opened up the cabinet doors to see if there was anything to eat. I found a box of cereals and poured a little into the bowl I had placed on the dining table. I ate the cereal like a dry snack. While I was doing so, I went through Instagram as I had nothing better to do.
I came across this photo of a group of kids, posted by a Mariah or something and that was when I froze. Those eyes. Those very same eyes stared at me blankly from that picture. Those beautiful plum-coloured eyes. They held so much joy and wonder. I guess the pain of life hadn’t hit her then. Because behind that innocence, warmth and love, she masked an enormity of pain. She looked so fucking beautiful.
Her hazel hair was flowing on either shoulder. She had tubes coming out of her nose, which only made her look more fragile, yet innocently beautiful. I guess this must have been from a time she did not know what life’s pain was. Her face is a soft heart shape, with a beautiful jawline that was sharp as well. She had beautiful cheeks and a small mole, just below her jawline. I looked at the rest of the photograph and I saw something that made my blood boil. Some fucking dude was kissing her forehead.
I will get him as soon as I get her. Because once the devil’s monster gets his favourite meal, he will make sure no one comes to take it.
Soon it was morning. I didn’t want to go to college but I had to. I wanted to stay away from that monster of a stepfather and I hoped to see her. The girl that made me hope that I could be good again.
As I reached the door, I saw him. My stepdad. Raphael Lexus Santiago. He was named after an archangel, but he is the literal version of the devil in living form. I swear, if the archangel himself came down to earth, he would have wished he stayed up there after seeing him. He held a woman by her hair. She was crying. I saw a little boy crying by the wall of his plush office. “You give me what I desire just one more time or the boy gets it,” he growled. My stepbrother, Raguel Remus Santiago, held a gun to the boy’s head. The woman started moaning and pleading to him.
He hated it when women moaned. It annoyed him. But I hated it because it reminded me of what he did to those innocent women. It angered me.
He signalled Raguel to shove his gun into her mouth. He pulled the trigger. I closed my eyes as a deafening ring of the bullet splattering her jawbone replayed in my head. I opened my eyes to see the poor woman lying on the floor. I could only see blood. The boy, her son, just sat there petrified, while my stepdad chuckled darkly.
I went off to college on my Harley Davidson Sportster. My mother’s last gift for me.
As soon as I entered the premises of the college, I saw that weirdo girl again. She wore a hoodie as always. The very sight of her just disgusted me but in some way relieved me. It was relieving to know that I can vent out my anger on something so uncomplaining and fragile as her. I saw Dylan and Caleb walking towards me, with evil smirks plastered on their faces. I saw Dylan eyeing a girl that walked with that weirdo shit. He’s a player so he must be preparing his next meal.
My first period was with some Avocado or Ava or something. I don’t bother to learn the names of people who don’t matter.
I sat down and as soon as I did I saw that shit again. Why must I see something as annoying as her?
She thought she was Little Miss Perfect who made the rules in this town and thought that everyone ought to follow them. She was so bloody wrong. How I loved that. My word was the law in this town, literally. If she meddles in my playing field, I will ensure she will never even think of coming to this town.
That professor glared at me furiously. What did I do now?. She came forward to me and yelled: “I don’t think Mr Santiago has understood as to what tutoring means. When I say you need to go for tutoring sessions, YOU WILL GO FOR TUTORING SESSIONS!!!“.
I heard Ms Avery yell at him from a few rows behind me. I was filled with this inexplicable sense of satisfaction. That would serve him well and he would have to think twice before he ditched me off to some drug-fueled party. I talked with Josh yesterday and he said Mariah was coming to visit him in Los Angeles. He invited me over, but I said I couldn’t come because of my health issues and my unit tests were taking place. I wanted to go, but my doctors advised me against it. They said it was crowded and had more air pollution. I never actually felt strange about wearing a mask in public as many wore masks in this town. Mayville had air pollution which wasn’t something my lungs could handle and I guess others felt this way as well. Or they chose to wear it as a style statement or they were just too shady.
In the afternoon
I was walking down a lonely hall after studying in the library. I had a project coming up for biochemistry to determine the biochemical compounds used by different viruses and their similarities.
The hallway was strangely quiet. And that was when someone hit me on the head real hard. I fell on my knees and looked up to see Caleb. He kicked me, lifted me off the ground and pinned me against the wall and punched me in the face. I saw Dylan filming it all the while.
“Please...please stop....” I pleaded to Caleb. I closed my tear-filled eyes and my mind clouded with those scenes. Those bloodshot, lust-dripping eyes. Luca being stabbed. The kids. Luca’s eyes closing forever as he said to me “I love you...Rose”.
Caleb lifted me by my neck as I looked down at him. I felt myself turning blue and Caleb dropped me to the ground. I choked and coughed for a long time and my chest ached with pain. It was like a thousand cold knives, stabbing my lungs, in and out...
I saw her choking and coughing. That’s what you get after you tell me. I am warning you, don’t ever shit on my playing field. Because when you do, you are entering a deal with the devil’s monster. ME.
Seeing her in pain, satisfied me, in a psychotic way. Now people can experience the part of the pain I experience every day.
I went home, to see my stepdad standing before me, wielding a gun. Raguel stood beside him, smirking evilly. Their psychotic soul’s waves just bounced off the walls. Raphael handed me the gun and told his men to step aside. It was that boy. That damned boy whose mother was killed in the morning.
“Kill” my stepdad spoke in a dangerously calm voice. I knew that voice. It was his killing voice. Raguel lifted my arm that held the gun and aimed at the boy’s head. He was crying profusely but what I saw weren’t his tears. It was his pain. I saw myself in him. And I can’t kill myself.
I dropped the gun and pushed Raguel away. I ran up the stairs and slammed my bedroom door as I heard “YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!“.
My hands were shaking. It was time for my punishment. Whiplashes.
I went to my room, a panic attack surging through my body. Daphne was puzzled as I entered but she saw my red, flared face and gave me the space I needed. I had informed her if ever I come into the room with a flared face, it meant that I was having a panic attack. She quickly went to get some water in ice as I rushed into the washroom and slammed the door. I breathed heavily. In and out. In and out.
Luca: Why did you leave me there to die, Rose? Why?
Rose: I never wanted to!
Luca: I thought you loved me for real.
Rose: I do! I STILL DO!!
Luca: Just get away from me.
“Luca, I am sorry!! I am sorry...” I cried.
“Rose! ROSE! You okay in there!! ROSE!!” yelled Daphne. I opened the door and she hugged me as I hugged her back. She washed my face with cold water.
We went into our bedroom. I told her all that happened to me, Luca, Mariah and Josh. The orphanage kids. And how Luca died. How I became this frail, unstable thing I am today. She was in tears. She hugged me tight and said “Never am I ever gonna let anything happen to you? Do you get that? I am gonna be your number one bodyguard...”
And that was the moment Daphne Mitt became my best friend.
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