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Innocence Lost

By Travis Ludvigson All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Thriller

Hunting Ground

Throughout the city, the winding streets were teeming with life, just waiting to be extinguished. There were bodies of every shape and size; all completely unaware of the danger that moved silently among them.

It seemed that the environment itself added to their inherent state of oblivion. The place was filled with temptations of the flesh, drugs to alter the mind, and all manner of diversion. It was a land of passion, desperation, violence, and ultimately of death; the perfect place to hunt.

A wicked grin appeared as it waited and watched from the shadows. Suddenly, it lunged forward, grabbing an unsuspecting woman who happened by. Before she had a chance to cry out, razor sharp teeth sank deep into the flesh of her throat. The creature’s eyes rolled back in ecstasy as fear and helplessness radiated from the human in its grasp, and her lifeblood flowed freely. Once its thirst was sated, the drained corpse was tossed roughly aside. The creature shifted to a new form and quickly disappeared down the alley.

“Another body was discovered in Tondo late last night. The victim, a thirty-two year old female was found in an alleyway with her throat savagely ripped open. Authorities on the scene report that at this time they do not have any witnesses or leads on the case. This is the eighth body in the last week, all discovered in the Tondo area. While murders in this region are not uncommon, the number of deaths in such a short period has police on heightened alert. Authorities have established a hotline for anyone with information that could assist in the investigation,” Jayson Torres shook his head as he finished reading aloud from the Manila Bulletin he’d snatched earlier that morning. He put the paper down and turned to find his sister, Rea standing directly behind him.

“I’m sorry Rea I didn’t realize you were awake. Don’t be afraid, that happened on the other side of Tondo. You know that I will always protect you, right?”

Rea looked at him blankly, then without a word she turned and walked over to the corner of the room and sat down facing the wall. She did this every day. She would remain in the same place for hours on end, staring at the wall. His sister hadn’t spoken a single word since the night their parents were killed. Jayson closed his eyes tight, fighting back the too familiar flood of emotions that threatened to break free.

Rea had come home one day to find the bloody, broken bodies of their parents sprawled on the floor of their rural home. Jayson had arrived shortly after and found Rea sitting in the middle of the room, blood staining the edges of her clothes, her eyes unfocused and glazed over. He asked her what happened, but she was in a catatonic state; nothing he said or did could snap her out of it.

Fearing the killers might return for them, Jayson filled a bag with some clothes and the little bit of money he could find in their home, picked up Rea and fled to the city. The plan quickly came unraveled as the money ran out and they found themselves with nowhere to go. After many harrowing, sleepless nights huddled outside in the dangerous streets of Manila, Jayson was able to find them a one room shelter that someone had abandoned in the slum of Tondo.

Their new “home” was nothing more than corrugated metal and plastic sheets secured to random pieces of wood that had been used to build a frame. Jayson had done his best to reinforce the structure, but it was still unstable at best. He often worried that a strong storm would bring it down on their heads. In his darker moments (of which there were many), he wondered if that wouldn’t be a blessing.

For a long while he spent his days out scavenging for anything that he could sell to try and keep them alive. Eventually he got a job hauling fish during the day and then loading trucks in the evenings. It was exhausting work and the pay was a pittance, but it allowed him to bring food home for his sister, even though many times he simply went without. This was not the life they were supposed to have.

Jayson opened his eyes and looked down at Rea. She was just so small and frail. He feared what would happen to her in this unforgiving place. He had to find some way out so he could get her the help she so desperately needed. But the realist in him said that wasn’t going to happen. They were trapped here now in a land utterly devoid of hope. In moments like this he really hated himself for ever leaving the village in the first place. Better to have followed their parents to the grave than to endure this slow, tortuous existence.

“Rea, there is some breakfast here for you. Remember to stay inside until I come back. I love you,” Jayson leaned down and kissed the top of her head. He turned and made his way outside, securing the door with a chain, then concealing the chain by leaning a large piece of sheet metal over the top. He hated the idea of locking his sister in like some sort of animal. But in truth, it was the human animals roaming free out here that were the real problem, and he wouldn’t let his young sister become their prey. Satisfied that the place was secure, he set off for another day at work.

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