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I walk faster down the empty streets. The heartbeats are getting dangerously close for comfort. I turn a corner into an abandoned alleyway and decide it was now or never. I take off sprinting, not daring to turn and see if the fighters have already realized their cover has been blown.
I hear my shoes crunch against the gravel road beneath me as I sprint, full speed towards the end of the side street. Tonight was probably one of the coldest nights of the year, but it feels like it could be midsummer, the sun beating down against my skin.
The Fiery Hot was coming.
My body is moving faster than my mind can process the scene I’m beholding. As I run, in no particular direction, I take in the tall buildings on either side of me and wonder how in the world I am supposed to escape. Because at this very moment in time, escape is my only option. Escape or die.
I hear the footsteps behind me begin to fade, the fighters clearly beginning to show signs of exhaustion. Soon they might even send more after me, and for a brief moment I wonder how many I could outrun. Of course I quickly shake the thought from my mind because it only takes me a second to realize yes, if I absolutely had to I could out run them.
But I’m wrong. The three don’t send guards after me. Instead, my ears pick up the sound of the three heartbeats, but this time I can’t seem to make out from which direction they’re coming at. I can hear my heart rate and it’s still pretty even, probably only at about eighty or ninety beats per minute.
For a moment I’m tempted to stay and fight. But I quickly forget the idea. I could take on two, maybe three fully grown men easily when the Monster was out, but what if I couldn’t contain it? What if the Fiery Hot was too much for me to control? And then there was the problem of guns. I had never been shot by one before, but my guess was that a few good hits to the right places and I would go down for sure. And I had no way of knowing what kind of fighters I was dealing with. No, there was definitely only one option. Escape.
Escape or die.
“Stop!” Cries someone behind me, but I ignore them, focusing on placing one foot in front of the other without collapsing. The numbness in my head is spreading. I hear footsteps of pursuit and by the sound of it whoever is coming for me is gaining by the second. I quickly make it to the end of the street and dart into another alleyway. By this point only shear willpower seems to keep me moving, the numbness in my head has now been replaced with a painful throbbing sensation. As if my body is trying to tell me it’s strong, but not this strong.
I don’t even have time to turn and look before the hand seizes me from behind, slamming me into the concrete wall of the building beside me. The air is knocked from my lungs and for a brief moment, every thought seems to vanish from my mind expect one. Breathe. But even after a few seconds, no oxygen finds its way into my body. The force from the jolt was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. So strong, so un-humanly strong. I fall to the pavement gasping for breath. That’s when I see Ponytail Kid just inches away from my head.
“I got her!” He’s yells in no particular direction. I suck in all the air my lungs will hold and then kick the boy’s shins so hard he crumples in pain. I heave myself off the ground but I’m too late. Before I even make it to the end of the street the girl from Nick’s room appears from around the corner, blocking my path. I feel the heat begin to rush into my face. I wasn’t going down like this. Not without a fight. The Monster is awake. It tears at me from its pit, desperate to be let lose. I imagine it clawing me from the inside out, killing me. Doing whatever it took to escape.
“Jay, wait.” The girl steps closer. Stupid mistake. She must not know who I am. She has no idea who she’s dealing with. No one crosses the FireGirl and lives to tell about it.
“Move.” I warn her. The girl doesn’t budge.
“Just relax, Jay.” She says in a calm voice. This is the first time I notice her eyes. Really notice them. They’re black as night. My muscles loosen against my will. “Just relax, Jay.” She repeats again. Her eyes. So black. “I bet your legs must feel tired after all that running. They must feel really heavy. So heavy you can’t even stand.” She’s right. My legs suddenly collapse underneath me and I fall to the ground. They feel like they’ve been carrying a ton of bricks. And her eyes. Her eyes were so black. It’s not until I blink away that I realize something is wrong. I try to move, but my legs feel like blocks of lead.
“What are you doing?” I ask horrified.
“It’s okay.” She repeats again moving closer. “I bet you must be tired. Why don’t you go to sleep?” My eyes begin to close, but now I realize something is definitely wrong. I fight to stay awake. I fight like my life depends on it.
“What are you–”
“It’s okay, Jay. Go to sleep.” My eyes close again. I feel myself slipping into unconsciousness. Where was the heat? Why couldn’t I feel it? Why couldn’t I feel my face burning against the Fiery Hot? Why wasn’t I fighting? The girl bends down until her face is literally inches from mine. She leans in and whispers something so low I barely catch it. “Remember the plan. Now go to sleep.” The voice wins. I fall into unconsciousness within a matter of seconds.
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