Iris Hale: HUNTER *NaNoWriMo Draft 2016*

*NaNoWriMo 2016*/
Periliares are a crafty bunch. You might know them as 'demons'. They hate that word. The idea that all of them are evil is idiotic. The same way all humans aren't evil, not all periliares are evil. Just top of the food chain. And a lot of them have superiority complexes. That's where I come in. Most of them view themselves as gods, which is fine, whatever. But the second they think they can kill more than their fill, I have an issue.
My name is Iris Hale, and I'm a hunter.
/©Molly Looby

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1. One

As I went crashing through the French doors, I blamed Erin. If she hadn’t spent the last hour messaging me about school starting tomorrow, I could’ve used the train ride to plan my attack. Instead, I spent the hour discussing Phoebe’s online boyfriend.

It was a rookie mistake, I’ll admit. I should’ve been concentrating all my energy on keeping the smile on my face, pretending I cared about the hominium’s life story. But I caught sight of a photograph on her wall, and my stomach dropped out from under me. It was a castle.

Erin’s words shot into my head.

“You know Mr Coleman’s gonna give us a test tomorrow. He said he wanted us to revise. I’ll bet you any money he sets us a stupidly hard quiz.”

And that’s all it took. One moment of worry about a test that may or may not happen. Of course, Erin was right, a test was something Mr Coleman was likely to set on the first lesson back, being the miserable divorcee he was. Now we were in year eleven, we had a Very Important Year ahead of us, and I was sure Mr Coleman would be the first person to take advantage of that.

The homi screwed up her face as she caught my grimace, and then she asked the question that would result in me being thrown out the French doors.

“What are you doing here?”

As I opened my mouth to lie, the truth poured out of me. The whole, unedited truth. “I’m here to kill you.”

Before I had a chance to pull my Teneculum from my jacket, she’d flung her whole weight against me in a rugby tackle, and I’d gone through the window.

I groaned as I hit the ground, a pounding thud ricocheting through my body. Jumping up, touching as little glass as possible, I whipped out my Teneculum. The movement filled me with this fizzy, immortal feeling, the confidence of a practiced attack. The blade shone in the sunlight, and I clenched my jaw and took a step forward.

“Who are you?” the homi shrieked, hiding most of her body behind the sofa.

Again, the answer poured out of me like I knew it would. She was a hominium, meaning she had some sort of ability that affected humans and other periliare. I’d already worked out that this one could make me spew the truth.

“Iris Hale.” I made my way back through the broken doors, not bothering to hide the Teneculum. My heart was throwing itself against my ribcage like it wanted to reach her itself.

She scuttled her way around the sofa as I approached, like we were kids playing chase around the furniture. I tried not to smirk, but there was something satisfying about her running from me. She wasn’t like the corpidems, getting hold of her would be no trouble. The most important part of hunting a homi was breaking their concentration. And I’d done a pretty good job on that already.

A vase flew towards my face, and I ducked out of the way, covering my head with my arm, wincing at the crash as it shattered.

“Get away from me!” she yelped. “I don’t want to hurt you!”

That was a lie. We both knew it. The whole reason she’d come to my attention was her overwhelming appetite. This periliare didn’t care for human life.

I kept advancing.

She flung a photo frame at me, but it was half-hearted. “If you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone! We can both walk away from this.”

I rolled my eyes. Of course we could. That didn’t mean we were going to.

Spinning myself round and walking the opposite way, she began retreating in the other direction. Towards the corner I was going to trap her in.

“Why me?” She grabbed a side table and used it as a shield.

“You’ve killed too many.” My voice sounded distant and hypnotic, like the words didn’t come from my own mouth. I clamped my lips shut and tightened my grip on my Teneculum.

“How dare you?” Her voice was shrill, and I winced. “You arrogant humans always think you’re better than us. Pathetic creatures. There’s no such thing as too many.”

I ignored her, edging closer and closer.

With a soft bump, she hit the wall. Her eyes flew open wide, and she pulled the table closer.

“Stay away from me.” It came out breathy and terrified. And a second later she drove the table into my stomach.

My lungs emptied all their air and refused to take another breath. I staggered back a step, gasping nothing, trying not to panic. The sound of me gulping down air didn’t match with the feeling of nothing entering my system. I knew I was breathing, but it was like nobody had let my conscious know.

The homi went to break the table over my head, and I leapt out of the way. Wood splintered all around me, and I grabbed a table leg in my spare hand. The Teneculum was still clamped in my right hand. I wasn’t about to let it go.

She scurried out of the room, tipping a small bookcase over as she went, books skidding across the floor.

Before my head had righted itself again, I hurdled the sad-looking heap and chased her up the stairs. She screamed as she flung herself into the first room. I had to grit my teeth as I dived through the doorframe, missing the door by inches as she went to slam it.

She looked around for something else to throw at me, frantic, but this room was almost bare. Just a bed. If I didn’t already know she was a periliare, this would’ve confirmed it. She didn’t need to dress this room for guests.

My heart was thundering even harder than it had downstairs, and my breaths were big and loud. I dropped the table leg and kicked it out of the room behind me, not wanting her to make a grab for it. I glared at her as I slammed the door behind us and walked forward.

She threw herself up against the wall, a snarl creeping up her lips. “You have no right to kill me, Iris Hale.”

“You have no right to kill all those people.”

“I have all the right in the world. You hunters are all the same. This is the world we live in. I’m not responsible for that.”

“You took more than you needed to.”

“And you’re the judge of that?” Her voice was growing quieter with each step I took. She couldn’t help herself. She was afraid of me. Well, there was something scary about a young girl brandishing a knife, I’d give her that. And I looked young for my age.

“Someone has to keep it fair.”

“A child?”

I didn’t justify that with an answer.

Her eyes took on a shine. “Who sent you?”

The words spilled out, but this time I didn’t try to stop them. “I sent myself.”

She shook her head. “No. You’re a child. You couldn’t have found me.”

Except I could, and I did.

I stopped, just over arm’s length away. She took a deep breath and held it, pressing herself into the wall as though she could dissaper into it if she tried hard enough.

“Someone’ll catch you,” she spluttered. “If you kill me, someone will come after you. We always get you in the end.”

“Don’t count on it.”

I gripped my Teneculum with both hands and threw all my weight into the swing.

Homis were the worst. In order to kill them for sure, you had to detach their heads. The Teneculum may have been one of the finest, sharpest, deadliest blades in all the world, but I was not a trained soldier. I’d dispatched my fair share of periliares, a good portion of them homis, but I was yet to make a clean beheading. Maybe I’d make myself a celebratory sandwich when that day came.

Today was not that day.

Her scream gargled as the Teneculum met the soft flesh of her neck. Blood poured from the wound, staining her shirt and my hands a deep red. I tried not to look at it as I swung again, meeting resistance and trying not to gag. That was the worst thing about homis. Their blood was too human-like. At least the others bled like the supernatural creatures they were.

Her body dropped to the ground, and I hopped away from it, not wanting any part of her touching me. I had to suck in a breath before turning my eyes on the heap of periliare against the wall. Her head was at an unnatural angle but still attached. I groaned and took one last swing, detaching it for good. It was unlikely she could’ve recovered, and I was certain she was dead, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

My hands were shaking as I backed away, taking in giant breaths through my mouth. Even after almost two years, I always had to take a minute to put my thoughts back in order and convince myself I was the good guy.

Swallowing my unease, I shuffled into the bathroom and washed the blood off my hands before calling Kay, my personal clean up.

“Got her?” She never bothered with the typical human greetings.

I cleared my throat and made eye contact with myself in the mirror. “Got her.”

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