Friday, January 9, 2009

Hunted (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday fiction is hosted by Catrina Bradley at her blog, A Work In Progress, click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Note: This was an alternate idea for "Veins of Ice" but I've reworked it a bit and tried to shorten it for easier reading, lol. The definition of a MindSinger, is a super-power where the mind is temporarily frozen in a state and the one singing can order the person about wherever they please, however when the 'trance-like state' is broken, they don't remember a thing they did while under it. It is a very valuable gift that would make some sensible folk rather insane. Also, on a more personal note, please check out my new venture for 2009, In Shades of Scarlet. Enjoy!

I shuffled to the end of the darkened alley, my stomach growling loudly. I winced at the sound, hoping it would fade before I reached the shivering bundle in the shadows. The snack in my pocket was not for me, it was for her.

“J-jared?” Little Gracie’s voice chattered through the frigid air.

I quickened my step automatically. “Right here, kiddo.” My feet walked me to the shivering bundle, where my eyes adjusted to see the form of my baby sister. Her fat cherub cheeks were glistening with fresh tears and a trickle of snot was aimed towards her mouth. “Hey.” I dropped to a crouch to see her face better. “What’s the matter?”

She opened her mouth to answer and her teeth chattered loudly than my stomach had. Mournful, pale blue eyes pleaded with me, silently.

For a split second, I thought about giving her my coat and then we both nixed the idea with a synchronized shake of our heads when I started to shrug out of it.

“N-no, J-Jared.” She chattered. “N-no. F-freeze you.”

“I won’t freeze.” I lied. “I’m stronger than you, remember?

Her answer was to inch closer. “S-safe here?” One icy hand slipped into mine.

I wrapped one arm around her and then paused to wipe her runny nose with one end of my jacket sleeve. “Don’t know yet, Gracie. I still have to make a few more rounds, when I’m sure, really sure, we’ll get a room. I promise. And food, lots of food, and it’ll be nice and warm, okay?”

Her head bobbed, straggly golden ringlets dancing about her face. “S-sounds good.”

Pulling one hand free, I dug through my pockets until the packet of beast jerky came up. “Here…I brought a snack.”

A faint light touched her eyes. “Jerky?” She said the word plainly. I nodded. The angelic smile blossomed. “Me like.”

“Yeah, I know you do.” I tore open the package and shook the contents into her tiny, cupped hands. “Enjoy.” I rolled upwards to my feet.

“G-going now?” Sadness immediately trumped any other emotion as the pale blue eyes flashed a darker shade. “T-take one, J-Jared.” She lifted the pitiful offering as high as her skinny arms could.

My stomach clenched tight and I half-closed my eyes as I reached down and snagged a piece. “Thanks, sis. Be right back, okay? Stay put.” I sprinted down the alley before she could react.

The tiny piece of jerky was more like a quarter of a mouthful, but it was something just the same, so I sucked on it, enjoying the salty taste as I continued my ‘rounds’.

So far, the space station was clear, the clientele was good and I was almost sure I’d made a few contacts that would be useful. I turned down the collar of my coat, hoping to add some semblance of dignity to its shabby appearance.

The station security guards have seen me around, but they prefer to pretend I don’t exist. I don’t particularly mind that, since it allows me to leave Gracie in a somewhat protected space while I hunt around for a job and be sure that we aren’t the ones being hunted.

The few credits to my name is just enough to buy us tickets off of this junk heap in case of an emergency. From the growling in my stomach, I have a feeling that emergency is coming pretty soon.

“Hey Jared!” The Washerman pauses in his shuffling of ancient cleaning supplies. “How’s it goin’ fer ya?”

I shrug. “Usual. You know…gotta keep moving.”

“Yeah, yeah…that’s fer sure.” He waves, crookedly and kept on walking, pushing his broken cart along the fringe line of newcomers.

I almost laughed, watching him go. He owns an antique store in the center of the station’s busiest trade hub. But for kicks, he’ll venture out, leaving his respectable establishment in the hands of his capable assistant, the hawk-eyed Mrs. Lemon, and amusing himself by peddling random items to the unsuspecting tourists.

The lights above the arrivals gate began to flash, announcing a new transport had docked. I pushed through the edge of the crowd pushing past and jostled for a spot near the digital list of scheduled transports.

But there was no transport scheduled for arrival. This, I did not like. My stomach churned. I pushed my way back out of the crazy people and slunk into a corner near the private entrance where privately-owned and operated ships were allowed to dock and exit. There were a few niches in the walls, here and there, enough for me to slide into the cracks and remain, unnoticed.

One reason I had chosen this station, was for the lack of emphasis placed on the outward appearance, at least where the docking stations were concerned. It was more like the slum city streets of back home, where it was easy to join the golden-edged groups, or blend into the gutter rats.

Flattening myself against the warped wall, I peered around the corner. The churning feeling in my stomach promptly sank. There was personal security involved with this one. The thought of it being a celebrity idol briefly toyed with my logical thoughts, before I shoved it aside.

There was no way any sensible celebrity would be caught dead on this station. Not even the shady and stupid ones.

A wave of polite laughter rose from the gaggle of private security guards and a wave of nausea washed over me as I ventured to peek around the corner once more. But I already knew who it was.

Familiar blond, buzz-cut hair emerged first, followed by broad shoulders and a beast-toothed smile as the elegant businessman strolled down the gangplank of his own luxury craft. I ducked back into my darkened niche.

So he’d found us. One hand clenched into a fist and I pinched my nose with the other. I’d have to actually think this time, we’d been hiding for awhile, but I’d gotten tired of the games, so I’d quit putting all my effort into it. It was easier to simply run a few paces, rest and then run again, instead of running so far away and the living in peace for a few years. I grimaced. Living in peace was a nice dream. He seemed to do it every second of his existence. Even sharing of the best of things, such as the expensive taste in clothes too good for him. His suit was a little too tight-fitting, but his shoes were well-polished. With this outfit, a matching briefcase was carried, a few loose papers sticking out, as if hastily closed and now about to float off.

This didn’t seem to bother him, this deviation from his otherwise meticulous appearance and as he strolled past, the papers fluttered and pulled free, floating into the crack where I hid.
For a moment, I was tempted to hide, to stay where I was and wait for one of his useless lackeys to come retrieve the no doubt, important information. But when I touched the paper it skittered away from my grasp.

My eyes narrowed. So that was my game. He’d seen me. There was no use hiding then. His own powers must have felt and sensed me, directing him to this station. I opened my hand and snapped my fingers. The paper leapt to my fingertips and I picked them up.

Two, single perfectly blank sheets. One for me, one for Gracie. He was offering a clean slate. I crumpled the sheets and launched myself out of the tight crack. My feet stumbled, but quickly reoriented themselves as I headed straight for the gaggle of professionally dressed bodyguards.

“You dropped something.” I flicked the crumpled paper balls into the air and watched in satisfaction as they landed within the protected circle.

He cleared his throat and the gaggle of black parted. “Nephew Jared!” He greeted warmly. “How nice to see you again.”

I glared at him. “And don’t you wish I could say the same?”

The perfect smile wavered for a milli-second. “Why would I wish anything on or about you?” The innocent tone was perfectly imitated. “I am only here to help if I can, in whatever way you would allow me. I’ve only heard that you have…fallen…on hard times. You and dear little Gracie. How is she doing, by the way?”

“That’s not of your business.” I matched his icy stare. “Not that you’d actually care, anyway.”

“You’re my sister’s children, bless her dearly departed soul.” The beast-like smile grew wider. “I do care. I’m supposed to.”

“There’s lots of things you’re supposed to be.” I spat out. “lots of things you should be. But you aren’t. And if you’re really hoping to catch me, you’d better come up with a better gameplan.”

His face darkened dramatically. “And what exactly is that supposed to mean, nephew?”

I backed up a few steps, gauging distance and timing in my head. “Figure it out. You’re supposed to be smarter than me, aren’t you?”

I turned and ran.

His reaction was predictable, for his goons chased me a few blocks, but soon gave up. I zigzagged through crowd of people and then found my way back to the alley where I’d left Gracie.

We had to move again. And we had to move now. “Gracie?” I hurried to the now still bundle. Fear streaked through me and I hastened to her side, pushing the feelings away. “Gracie, it’s Jared.” I caught hold of her shoulders and shook her gently. Her shoulders were frozen stiff. “Gracie!” The cry left my lips as I grabbed her in a hug. “No…Gracie…”

Her head suddenly turned, burrowing deeper into my shoulder.

I quickly pulled away to see her face. “Gracie?”

Very pale to whitish blue eyes sleepily locked onto mine. “Ja-wed.” She mumbled, her bluish lips not quite forming the word.

My prayer of thanks was mixed and jumbled as I surged upwards to my feet and headed deeper into the alley. Perhaps the underground in here would help us. No, I shook my head. They would help us, no questions asked.

I dodged through shadowy places where no sane person would ever think of going, but only when I finally caught sight of the burnt wooden door at the end of a stone wall, did I finally realize how tired I was getting.

I would have to eat something soon. The thought was unwelcome, but I acknowledged it and pushed it away, approaching the wooden door. If I ate anything, she would grow weaker. My gift existed to countereact hers and the painful truth was the opposites in which we lived. If I was freezing, then she was warm, if I was full...then she was starving. I pushed the reason away once more, we needed options and fast. The door loomed ahead and I went for it.

Out of the shadows around it, two burly men seemed to melt out of the shadows. “Think you’re lost sonny boy.” One chuckled.

“More than lost.” The other added. “Disillusioned maybe? You don’t want to be here, kid.” The humor left his face as his eyes swept over me from head to toe, noting my appearance and possible potentials. “Move along.”

“We’re seeking shelter.” I coughed. “Just until we can get a ride out of here.”

“Shelter?” The shorter one snorted. “Nice try…but I don’t anything on you that says we even need a reason to toss you around a bit.”

“Of course…the girl…” The other one trailed off suggestively.

I stifled a growl in my throat. “You want proof?” I tugged Gracie’s arms out from around my neck. “Gracie, stand up.” I slowly eased her to the ground and she sleepily adjusted, wrapping her cold hands around my waist. I yanked off the jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders.

Cold assaulted me and a shiver passed through, but I held up one arm. “Need any more convincing?” I held up the other arm. “We seek shelter.” I struggled to keep my voice even. “And we demand it now.”

The burnt wooden door creaked open a dark face looked out. “What’s going on out here?” The pony tailed head stuck further out and eyes grew wide. “Don’t just stand there…bring them in!”

We were hustled through the door and a wave of warmth hit us as we both stepped inside.
The new fellow studied us for a moment, then nodded. “You be who I think you just said?” He nodded towards me as I retrieved my jacket.

I shrugged. “Depends. You believe what you see?”

“I see a boy with too many tattoos and too much power.” He beckoned for us to come closer. “I see a girl who should be dead, nearly frozen to death and yet she sleeps, unafraid.”

“Yeah. Well, she does that sometimes.” I patted her curly head. “Her name’s Gracie.”

“Then that must make you Jared Greegovach.” A tiny smile showed on the boy’s face. “Consider my place, yours.” He waved the two burly henchmen away. “Come in, sit down…hungry?”

I looked down at Gracie. “Hungry?”

She yawned. “Milk toast.”

I grimaced. “Gross.”

She smiled, rubbing her eyes open.

“Milk toast?” The guy repeated, a curious smile tugging across his face.

“Yeah.” I shrugged, slightly embarrassed, the hot feeling traveling quickly to my face. “She likes to eat bread with milk…in a bowl…with a spoon.”

Gracie giggled.

The guy smiled. “That’s easy then. Come with me.”

We followed along, obediently and I eventually reached down to carry Gracie in order to keep up with his long strides.

“How soon you’re looking to leave?” He asked, turning down one hall and tapping softly on another door before entering.

“As soon as we can. I have the credits for tickets and-”

“Oh no. No tickets.” The ponytail shook decisively. “He’ll track you down in no time with that.” A sideways glance was sent in my direction. “You should know that.”

I tried to smile. “Must be brain freeze.”

He rolled his eyes. “Right.”

The room turned out to be a kitchen, one where he was quite comfortable and familiar with. A bowl and spoon was found and a loaf of dark bread with a bottle of fresh milk. “Here you go, kid.” He dragged a chair over to the kitchen counter.

I set Gracie on the chair and we both watched as she poured milk into the pour and her little hands crumbled chunks of bread into the whiteness.

“What do you want?” The guy nodded towards the ’fridge. “Help yourself.”

I shook my head quickly. “No thanks. Sorry.”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself. You look starved.”

“maybe.” I allowed.

“All that they say about you true?” He asked, serious. “That your own uncle is hunting you and the kid’s got mad power?”

I winced. “Wish you wouldn’t put it that way, but yeah.”

He gave a low whistle. “A real MindSinger?”

I nodded.

“You’re kidding, mate.” Amazement showed plainly on his face as he stared at Gracie in a new light. “Then we’re definitely getting you out of here my way.”

“Thanks. We ’preciate it.”

“No problem. You shouldn’t be out here in the first place.” He said grimly. “You shouldn’t be hunted by one of your own.”

© 2009 Sara Harricharan


Catrina Bradley said...

When are you going to finish this novel, so we can know the whole story??

Captivating fiction, Sara. You drop in clues here and there, but never enough information to fully satisfy. I think a good author does that..makes you want to keep reading. That would make you a GREAT author. :)

Thanks for participating in Friday Fiction!!