Antithetical

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Chapter 15 - Isaac

I can’t just lie here anymore.

I jump up from my bed, feeling a sudden urge to do something.

I pace the floorboards, and rack my brain for anything I can do that will help Mum, help me, help Gideon . . .

My mind turns towards the beast that killed him. The beast that they have not yet captured. ‘They’ being the Antithetical Hunters.

Inspiration.

The best way to avenge my brother’s death is to hunt down the Antithetical. With the Antithetical Hunters. It won’t bring him back, but it’s the best that I can do. And I want to do the best. It’s too late to save him, but maybe I can save others.

I give up my pacing and sit on my bed, thinking about the matter more deeply. To join the AH, I have to send in an application, where the Keepers of Peace, KoPs, review the form and give a reply, either negative or positive. If accepted, I will begin a training regimen at the Arc. I’ve heard that it’s quite intense, but I’m ready to deal with it.

You need smarts, you need the physical ability, you need determination. They aren’t that choosy about who gets in, though.

The Antithetical that killed my brother has not been found. I will find it. I will kill it. And I’ll smile while I do.

*

“Don’t you think it’s a bit of a rash decision to make?” Mum says, after I tell her.

Purple bruises show underneath her eyes, looking even odder because of her chalk-white skin. She isn’t faring any better than I am.

“Maybe,” I admit. “But I really want to do it.”

She nods slowly. “Research a bit about it. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you go there.”

“OK,” I agree. Fair enough conditions. I assess my mother, and the stupid question ‘Are you OK’ nearly comes to my lips. She is evidently not OK.

I sigh and put her arms round her, and her bony limbs encircle me as well. We silently sit in our grief, together and apart in so many different ways.

*

I use our rusty computer for my research. I type in ‘AH’, and wait for the results to appear.

Their webpage appears first, and I click on it, then scan through every part of the website I can find. We’ve learnt a bit about the AH in school, but it’s unlikely that everything has been covered.

However, I don’t learn much new. Turns out that it’s very hush-hush; you have to become a member to unlock all the details. And I have every intention of doing that. Spontaneous, maybe, but I have no doubt that I want to be an Antithetical Hunter.

I print out the application form, get a pen, and start filling it out at once. Name, age, weight, birth . . . and then more personal details: why I want to join; what has motivated me. I suck the end of my pen at this one. Maybe they won’t take me if I say ‘my brother’s death’, because vengeful people aren’t the most reliable . . . but on the other hand, maybe they will because I have a strong motive.

Honesty is probably the best policy in this situation. I write down the truth, my hand shaking as I do so. Keep it together.

I finish off the form with my signature, and go to tell Mum. By law, don’t need her permission anymore, but I won’t just up suddenly and leave her to flounder in her sorrow with just an unfeeling man to keep her company.

She agrees, though I can tell that she isn’t completely pleased with my decision. Leaving her alone with Dad is the hardest part of my life plan, but if he does anything, the KoPs will receive a complaint in mere seconds. Hunters get some money, so I can send everything I don’t necessarily need to Mum. Simple things like a day out or a good meal can brighten someone’s mood considerably.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” I murmur as I trudge back upstairs. They might decline me, and the more I think about the desired life, the more it will hurt if I am turned down.

I sink back into my mattress and close my eyes, letting the grief wash over me. If all goes well, I am going to have to stop blubbering at every moment I have and face the day.

I’ll tell Isolde. I don’t know whether she’d approve or not. It’s not like she’ll physically stop me, but it would be nice to hear her opinion on the subject.

I wipe my eyes and blow my breath out. No more crying.

Time to do something fruitful.

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