Kieran would have cried under any other circumstance, but the fear of losing me probably outweighed the guilt or at least I'd like to think so.
Night was drawing in and a wide moon spread itself across the skies body, peppering it with stars. They always looked so much more unimpressive down in the pit than I imagined they would up in Higherlands. Nestled up in my blanket I watched Kierans stomach rise and fall from the other side of the room. Trying to keep my breathing in time with his, I watched the way his eyes rolled in their sockets and his partially open mouth and I tried desperately to force my body into sleep mode, but it wouldn't budge. Wide awake and fearing for my dignity, I crept out of the room to grab some water, hopeful that the sudden movement would trick my brain into being tired. Turning to face the only window, I saw a figure trying to peer through the shutters. At first I tried to convince myself that it was my mind playing tricks on me, but it was quite plain to see that I really wasn't tired.
Two of my fingers slipped through the shutters, forcing the panels apart. My eye rested upon the wood and dust spewed up outside where a figure was running, a figure with a mangy grey dog.
I couldn't answer to myself why I was chasing them because it could have been some kind of trap, but I needed to find out where Buckley and Fred were off to at such an ungodly hour. They had slowed down to a walking pace and I tiptoed behind them, hiding behind shacks and stalls and boxes and piles of horse shit and anything I could that would keep me from being seen. Luckily, I'd remembered my cloak in all the rush and could blend into the black.
Before long the two figures had stopped near the city centre, but only so that Buckley could reach in his pocket for something. It appeared to be a cigar, where on earth was he getting the money to buy cigars from? Striking up a match he lit the tip and inhaled an long and painful breath. I could almost see the smoke swimming around in his lungs and congealing to form a thick midnight tar. After tapping some ash from the end he continued walking, but then he seemed to suddenly disappear. Squinting in the dark, I figured he must have gone inside somewhere, so I padded softly along the dust, keeping my back to the huts and peered round where Buckley vanished. But it was an empty alleyway leading to clotheslines. Hairs on the back of my neck began to prickle up in the unbearable quiet and I had that feeling that felt so familiar; the feeling that someone was watching me.
'What're you doing out here little girl' cooed an accented voice that I'd never heard in the flesh before, not this close. But it was a voice so soft and calm, yet so devious and cunning. It had already sussed any of my next movements and it was ready for every single one. It sank into my bloodstream and pulsed around my body, triggering every piece of adrenaline I had to start a fire in my heart that blacked out my brain. A hand reached for my shoulder and pulled me around. There, right there, in front of me, gazing into my eyes with a false smile of seduction was a face I'd only heard of in nightmares. The skin an olive tone so rich that it would burn your tongue with just a peep. A face so chiseled that it could have been carved out of granite. A nose so pointed that its bridge looked like a thousand blades that could strike me without warning. The eyes, they were so dark and bitter, full of distaste and ferocity and inhumane hunger for savage and vile things that only a certified psychopath could dream up. This was the face of the infamous Caesair.
'Are you lost, my princess?' his accent had a calming husky tone that would have sent me to sleep if it didn't send me to my death bed. My breathing quickened and I was pulled out into the middle of the street. Caesair grabbed a ball of my clothing by my chest and threw me to the floor, triggering a cloud of dust to simmer around me like some perverted magic act. Caesair had a leather vest jacket over a bare chest and leather trousers and leather boots. A sure sign that this man had the money and a sure sign of overcompensation. Four other men began circling me and they appeared from the dark as if they had been in its depths this whole time, waiting for their chance. They whistled and cat-called in slurs, giggling like geese, jeering at me. But not Caesair. Caesair smiled a cruel, evil smile that turned my legs to mush.
'Wh-what do you want?' I managed to form the words but they shot out of my mouth in a jumble, so much so that I'm not even entirely sure that that's what I said. One of the other men mocked me. Caesair itched his stubble, keeping his horrifically black eyes on me the whole time.
'Oh darling, we mean no harm to you, we just want to have a little fun, that's all.' He crouched down, leaning over me, still wearing the same sadistic grin that he had on the whole time. 'How about you show me that pretty face?' He snatched my chin in his hands, snapping my head back. A tear began to fall from my eye and it rolled on to his hand; I watched it, trying to avoid his stone-cold gaze. 'Well there's no need for that, I promise I won't bite' he smiled wider, baring his teeth. His eyes trailed down my whole body along with one single finger that seemed to even brush each toe.
'Get off of her!' Kieran yelled through a panting splutter 'the three days isn't up yet Caesair.' Kieran was forceful and calm, but that didn't seem enough to not crack under Caesair's immense pressure. He looked up at Kieran and slowly turned his head back on me, a glint of recognition passed and the cogs turned as he realised the connection between us.
'So this is your sister?' he strutted over to Kieran, looking down on him, asserting his dominance. One of the other men stood guard in front of me. 'I expected her to be a little taller, a little more like you.' he smiled with insane joy and his clan laughed with him. 'She'll do.' he laughed. He had such powerful assumptions of people when he met them that it was like he already knew the buttons to press and what reaction they'd give.
'Just let her go, please'
'Oh sure, sure. When I get my money you can have her all to yourself, but for now she will stay with me.'
My guard was watching the action so I saw an opportunity to make an escape... but how? I kicked my leg up, hitting him square in the privates, knocking him to the floor. Before the gang could realise what had happened, I skirted past Caesair's legs and clung on to Kieran, hiding partially behind him.
'I'll get you your money, but for now...' he grabbed my hand 'we have to go.' Kieran dropped and pulled me along at the speed of light, winding down various different alleys and streets, the Ferox hot on our heels. Caesair was cursing in a language I didn't understand as dust rose up, layering our feet with bad memories. There was no time to ask Kieran why he was out, although I assumed it must have been gambling, still, whatever the circumstance, our lives depended on it.
Huts and sheets flew past our vision, the adrenaline Caesair had injected in us being the only flame keeping our energy from burning out. Caesair's gang were roaring along the streets and catching up with us, Kieran glanced back and teared into an alley. The gang ran past, but there was only four of them running up ahead, including Caesair... Out of nowhere, a man jumped onto Kierans back and they toppled to the floor. My eyes were clouded over from the dust and the lack of sleep. It was unclear what was happening because arms and legs and knives were flailing in a ball torsos. Yelping I tried to grab for Kieran, but got grazed by a knife. Caesair stopped at the noise and looked back, witnessing his mistake.
Kierans arm rose up and stabbed the other boy in the chest, making sure the blade was wedged between his ribs. Hauling his own dead-weight up, he brushed the blood onto his trousers and pulled me off.
A squelch clasped our hands together in a crimson reunion. I didn't know blood could be so sticky, but I guessed the sweat didn't help. It appeared we had finally lost them, so we slowed our running to a stop to get our breath back.
'Are you okay?' Kieran began walking towards me,one palm on his hip. Suddenly I shoved him back.
'No!' he stumbled back as I screeched into the night. 'don't come near me'
'Mary what's wrong? I just saved your life'
I could have screamed at him, I wanted to yell "yes but you are the one who put it in danger in the first place." I knew he was going out to gamble, after all of the utter shit that that had got us in and he still...
'You just killed someone' I gasped, tears finally freeing themselves from my eyes. So much to take in.
'I don't know if I did' he looked helplessly back. The colour was fading from his face as he turned a sickly grey and his mouth hung open, trembling all over.
'Then what was all that blood' I breathed. Kieran looked unstable, lights were turning off inside his body. Steadily, he lifted his palm from his side to reveal a pool of blood. The red cloaked him and he rubbed some in his hair whilst trying to slick it back out of his eyes that seemed to blur in and out of focus. Gasping I ran to try and stop his body from falling into the dirt, but I was too late. His head hit the floor.