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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2. Two

After Kay finished removing the periliare from the building, and I’d finished wiping the Teneculum more times than I needed to, I headed back to the train station, keeping my head down. Like people could know what I’d been up to. Like they could imagine an almost sixteen-year-old girl travelling far and wide to hunt ‘demons’.

The periliares hated that word. The idea that all of them could be classed as some sort of evil creature was idiotic. The same way all humans weren’t evil, not all periliares were evil.

Just top of the food chain. And a lot of them had superiority complexes. That’s where I came in. Most of them viewed themselves as gods, which was fine. Whatever. But the second they thought they could kill more than their fill, I had an issue. Of course, all killing was wrong, but I felt like I couldn’t tell them not to kill at all while I was waving my Teneculum around. And then how would they survive?

It was a grey area, that was for sure.

Erin started messaging me every minute when I asked her to test me on our year ten history. It turned out I remembered even less than I thought, and she remembered a big chunk of it. That, or she’d found her old book and had spent the day going over it.

A text came in from Sylvie the second the train pulled into the station, like she had some kind of sensor. She said she’d just put dinner on so I’d have to walk home. Great. Just great. It was almost like she didn’t want me doing good for the sake of mankind. Oh wait.

Aunts were supposed to be supportive of everything, and up until the periliare hunting, she had been. I guess when your niece wants to put herself in mortal danger for reasons you can’t wrap your head around, all that changes. And I suppose it’s different when your niece is essentially your daughter.

She didn’t even know that’s where I’d been, though she always treated me with suspicion these days. She thought I was at Erin’s, which left me with a dilemma. Erin’s house was a fifteen minute walk away and the station was a forty-five minute walk. And ‘I’ve put dinner on’ was code for, get walking now. I had two choices: run home, or get caught. Excellent.

I chose to run.

Skidding into my road twenty minutes later, I couldn’t get my hands to work on my keys. But I didn’t need to, Sylvie was there, ready, by the door. Her honey-brown eyes were glowering into mine in an instant. It was an expression that looked so wrong on her sweet, pretty face. It was because she hadn’t practised it enough. Two years ago, this face was brand new. But she was getting better at it, I’d give her that.

“Left Erin’s late, did we?” she asked before I could open my mouth to lie.

“Yes.” I shrugged my jacket off and hung it on the hook, revealing my uninjured arms.

Sylvie seemed to deflate a little. She blew some of her mousey-brown hair out of her face. It was all falling out of her ponytail as usual.

The words came out too easy and made me sick. “Sometimes I do actually go to Erin’s.”

She shook her head and made her way back into the kitchen, her flowery skirt breezing around her knees. I gave myself an encouraging deep breath before following after her, squeezing myself into a chair pushed far too close to the wall of our cramped kitchen. The smell of dinner was making my stomach rumble and my mouth water.

“You know I worry about you,” Sylvie said snapping me out of it, busying herself with chopping a carrot.

“I know.”

“I don’t mean to ruin your life.”

I rolled my eyes. “Not sure I ever put it like that.”

“I just don’t want you to die, Iris.” She said this slow and careful, but didn’t stop chopping. There were so many unsaid things in that one sentence.

I crossed my arms and looked down at the table. “I wouldn’t go if I wasn’t sure I could do it.”

She didn’t answer.

“I’m always careful. I promise.”

“Sometimes careful isn’t good enough.” Her voice was quieter.

I hopped up and leant against the sink. “But I’m really careful.”

She sighed, putting the knife down and turning to me. “If something bad happened, I couldn’t forgive you.”

She pulled me into a hug, and I squeezed her tight, her familiar floral scent making my whole body relax, though I hadn’t known I’d been tensing.

“I could never forgive myself,” she whispered as she pulled away.

“It wouldn’t be your fault.”

She just looked at me.

“It would be my fault,” I told her. “If something happened, it would be because I made a mistake or was stupid. Neither of which will ever happen.”

She raised her eyebrows.

“Again. It’ll never happen again. I’m not a rookie any more.”

“I’m supposed to be looking after you.”

“We can look after each other.” I offered her a smile, and after a few seconds, the hard line of her lips melted.

“God.” She went back to chopping. “You’re a nightmare, you know that?”

“Noted.”

Sylvie demanded she test me on my year ten history the second I told her about Erin’s worry Mr Coleman was going to be a complete arse, and by the time I went to bed, some of it was ringing a bell.

That didn’t mean Erin wasn’t still worrying about it the next morning when she joined me on the bus.

“Hey.” I budged up so she could try and squash her massive bag on the seat with us. Her ginger super-curls were as wild as ever and seemed to have an atmosphere of their own.

“Hey.” She sighed and started chewing on her already short nails.

“What’s up?”

“Dreading today.”

“Chill out,” I said, leaning back as if to prove my point. “It’ll be fine.”

She took a deep breath and let it all out.

“We might not even have history today.”

“Oh yeah. Like the universe is that kind.”

I rolled my eyes, nudging her arm. “You know everything anyway. Stop worrying. Anyway, I want to hear about Phoebe’s boyfriend.”

Erin’s eyes widened and she looked around, like anyone cared what we were talking about anyway. Everyone was going mad, whooping whenever their best mate joined them, like they’d all been off to war and this was some kind of great reunion. I wondered how many of these people had seen each other over the past six weeks. If they were anything like Erin and I, a break from school didn’t mean a break from friendship. In fact, it seemed to mean the opposite.

“Well, I mean, I only know what Beth’s said. Phoebe hasn’t given much away.” Erin lowered her voice.

“So what’s Beth said?”

“Well, Phoebe started messaging this guy, like, two weeks ago, and now she does nothing but talk about him.”

I pressed my lips together. “Sounds normal for Phoebe if I’m honest.”

“Yeah but she doesn’t put her phone down apparently. She won’t let it go even if Beth wants to talk to her about something.”

I shrugged. “That’ll stop soon. Anyway, what’s Beth got to say to her that’s so important?”

Erin gave a soft laugh. “Like you’d be okay with me not listening to you ever.”

“Yeah, but you always listen to me.”

“Like I have a choice.”

I smirked. “So what’s this guy’s name then? Is it anyone we know?”

“Ben. And no, I told you, she met him online.”

I grimaced. “I thought maybe it might be someone from school she’s never talked to in real life.”

“Nope. He’s a complete stranger.”

I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear that’d fallen out of my ponytail. Stupid hair. I’d been growing my fringe out for the past year and the shorter pieces still couldn’t stay in my ponytail for more than three minutes.

“It’s quite exciting though.” Erin shot me a smile. “Don’t you think?”

“No. What if this guy isn’t who he says he is?”

“You sound like my mum.”

“You told your mum?”

She laughed. “No. But if I did, that’s exactly what she’d say. And she’d tell me not to be so stupid.”

“Well, your mum would be right. This won’t end well. Even if he is who he says he is.”

Her eyebrows came together. “Why not?”

I shrugged. “I’ve just got this feeling.”

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