Home (2) by E. Pugsley

E. Pugsley

Chapter Two

   It was getting dark, miles had come and gone, storm clouds hung in the sky threatening to make our already dreary trip miserable. The lights of a near by village shone through the darkness of my thoughts. A clap of thunder in the distance forced us to exchange a glance for the first time in hours. The silence stretched between us making him seem miles away. I knew I could bridge the gap with words but all I could think to say was, “let’s stop for the night,” he nodded.
   I expertly built the fire while he started on the shelter. My mind raced back to the days they’d prepared us for this. They’d always warned us we needed to be ready for if and when they came after us.
   “Work smarter not harder. When you’re trying to survive coincidence is your best friend.” Dr. James had always said this to me whenever I’d complain about the random advantages nature seemed to give my peers but never me.
   Angelo had always been better at surviving than me, and that is the extent of my knowledge on him. Yes, I’m running away and trying to survive with someone I barley know. This should be fun.
   The sun had just barely risen, golden rays cut through the gaps in the branches casting strange shadows on Angelo’s sleeping face. It was an eerie sight, it would’ve been frightening if it hadn’t been so beautiful. Still, the shadows made me question what I really knew about the boy. Would I be safer on my own? Sure his survival skills would come in handy, but judging by what I’d seen during the evacuation, he wouldn’t be much help in a fight.
   We were thrown together so quickly I didn’t have any time to think things through. I don’t even know his ability or how well he can control it. What if he’s a mind reader and he can hear me thinking about ditching him? What if he ditches me before I can ditch him? Oh god, I’m spiralling. I need to calm down. I take a deep cleansing breath of fresh morning air, the scent of pine was relaxing and familiar. I slowly started coming to grips with the fact that I was going to have to embrace the unknown. “We’ll be stronger together,” I tell myself.
   It’s funny, usually when I think of a girl running away with a guy she barely knows I think Disney Princess. This is nothing like that, although I swear I saw Angelo talking to a bird once. I’m pretty sure most Disney princesses are running away to find true love or whatever, not because they’re being hunted down by sociopaths to be experimented on. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve never been the damsel type.
   A soft mumbling brought me from my inner monologue. It was Angelo, he was tossing his head from side to side, but the rest of his body was paralyzed. I could see his eyes darting back and forth cloaked in his eyelids. The mumbling grew louder and the tossing violent. Should I wake him? How do you calm someone from a nightmare so obviously vivid and terrifying? The mumbling had turned to shrieks, I had no choice, if I didn’t wake him someone would hear. I attempted to shake him awake gently, nothing happened. I shook harder, still nothing. I couldn’t take it anymore. I stretched my arm out and struck him squarely in the face with the back of my hand.
   He jolted upwards. He was disoriented by the deepness of his sleep and startled by the suddenness of his painful wake up call. A scarlet blob had started to bloom across his left cheek. “What…what happened?” His voice was still groggy.
   “You were having a nightmare. You could’ve gotten us killed with all that screaming.” My voice was probably a little too cold considering what I’d just done to him.
   “Did you hit me?!” He rubbed his now slightly swollen cheek.
   “You were creating a problem and I solved it.”
   “That really hurt,”
   “Oh please, there’s not even a mark,” seeing as there are no mirrors in the middle of the woods he wouldn’t be able to tell I was lying. Better to lie than to have the thought of my abuse constantly lurking in the back of his mind.
   I was eager to change the subject, “we should pack up and get going.” I started to gather the little we were able to grab in the evacuation.
   It was easy yesterday, the only place we had to run was away. Now we actually needed a destination. I hadn’t the slightest idea of where. I wonder if he does? No, it’s entirely too early to show that kind of weakness. I refuse to admit that I don’t have everything completely under control! If we just keep running we’ll end up somewhere, eventually. We’ll just head north.
   I turned to tell Angelo my plan, but he was gone. I stood there for a second, jaw slightly ajar. I turned aimlessly about searching for any trace of where he might’ve gone. The fire was put out and the fire pit filled in. The entire shelter had disappeared. It was as if we’d never been there at all.

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