I fell to the ground with a grunt. Get Up, my mother’s voice rung in my head. Get to the sanctuary, that’s your only hope.
I wished I could see my mother once more but now was not the time for regrets. Another blast shook the air around me and dust blocked my vision as another grenade hit the sand.
Without thinking, I got up and ran. I ran like I had never ran before, ignoring everything except the sharpness of the wind and the sand that was settling all around me. That’s probably why I didn’t notice the blade that was coming right at me. No, not a blade, a bird. A vulture.
Before I could react, the vulture pressed right into my shoulder. I screamed. The pain was too much. I fell to the floor while the vulture clawed at me.
Except the pain was different somehow. It still hurt, don’t get me wrong. Like a thousand knives digging in slowly and forcefully. But I couldn’t feel the weight of the vulture or it’s sharp claws anymore.
Get up. Get up. My mother’s voice still rung in my head. It was the end of me, I decided. I didn’t deserve to live when so many others hadn’t. I let go and-
“I said get up, I’m helping you out here, no-one else would,” I shut my eyes even more tightly. I was obviously dying, my mother’s voice sounded like a man’s. There was no-one here except my body, bleeding and-
I felt the ground disappear under me. I opened my eyes. I was being carried, and not nicely. A person held me by a tough grip on my ankle, making me only get a view of their back. They were also running, long strides that I could never accomplish with my short height.
They’re taking me away. This person’s going to kill me.
I screamed and started pounding on their back. When that didn’t work, I tried scratching and kicking.
Suddenly, my stomach flipped and the ground came rushing towards me faster than I was comfortable with. I was on the edge of a forest and with all that was going on, I had forgotten about the small battle. As I looked around, I realised that the helicopters dropping the grenades had disappeared, leaving no trail behind. They must have gone a long time ago if there was not any smoke left in the sky. I wondered how long I had actually been lying there on the ground.
“You could have at least tried to be light.” I looked up and saw a man standing a few metres away from me. I recognised his voice, he was the one carrying me. He was rubbing his shoulders and his back where I had scratched him. I was sad to see there was no blood. He was the enemy. No way was I going to let him capture me.
I stood up indignantly.
“Well I’m sorry, but I’m bleeding here if you didn’t notice!”
He raised his eyebrows at my shoulder and snorted.
“There is nothing funny about this,” I glared at him as I gained up energy to run.
“Trust me, your shoulder is hardly even bleeding,” he gave me a nonchalant shrug. ” It’s just a scratch.”
I looked down at my shoulder and grudgingly realised he was right. I could only see a small cut from where the vulture had ripped my shirt. The Vulture.
I assessed the man. He was obviously one of the people who lived in the woods. The savages. Mr Brown, my tutor, had called them. I guess that meant he wasn’t the enemy. No matter how much some people hated them, we weren’t in war with them. I was a little sad. It meant that I had no initial reason to hate him.
The man had shoulder length black hair that he hadn’t bothered to tie up and brown eyes that informed knowledge. He was tall with a slight muscular built. I suspected he had killed the vulture. I mean, it’s not like the knife covered with blood or the vulture leg that was hanging out of his bag gave anything away.
“What?” he said. “Never seen a man before?” He had a commoner accent that i didn’t often hear. It was very insulting.
I sniffed and put my nose in the air before I realised I looked exactly like my older sister. “No, I’ve never seen a murderer before.” I said indicating to the bird leg.
He snorted again and shook his head. “I would hardly call it murdering,” he looked at me and then at the forest behind as if he wanted to get away as soon as possible. “Bye then.”
The man moved away before I realised what was truly happening.
“Wait!” I said. Closing my eyes, I got ready for humiliation. “Could you…ummm…please take me with you?” I said the last bit in a rush so it would sound less stupid. In case you’re wondering, it didn’t.
“Oh, so you’re being nice now huh?” he looked at me with an amused smile. I did not see the joke in this situation.
I lost the little self-control I had. I wanted to scream and shout at him but as Mr Brown always told me: “Control your temper. When a person raises their voice, it means that they don’t have anything left intelligent to say.” Then my nurse, Tina, would come through and sniff that “It also isn’t very ladylike.” These lessons always ended in my nurse turning her back on Mr Brown or he himself charging out the door. I’ll put this simply for you, these were my favourite lessons.
When I didn’t reply, the man looked at me, perplexed.
“Where you heading?” he asked. If he wanted to kill me, he already would have, judging from the knife and vulture. And his size. He was massive compared to me. I figured there was no harm in telling him as I didn’t really have anything left.
“To a sanctuary, it’s near the-,” I was interrupted when he said:
“Yeah, yeah, I figured that’d be it,” Even though he was probably talking to himself, it took me a few moments to form a response. I could not believe he had interrupted me. How rude. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, after all, he was a savage. He beat me to my response.
“Come on then,” he beckoned turning away. “You wouldn’t survive a night alone in these woods, who the hell thought this would have been a good idea?”
When I didn’t respond, he turned around.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Ethel?” another one of his famous snorts followed. “What a-.” At the look on my face, he finished his sentence half-way through.
“What is your name?” I asked reluctantly. I hoped it would be something ridiculous that I would make fun of in my head, if not loudly.
“That don’t matter,” he said.
“Then I will just assume what your name is,” I said as I followed him down the dirty path. “How about Leicester or Friendless.” I had heard that someone had called their children these names. It was still beyond hilarious.
“Fine then, dinky,” How rude.
Friendless it is.
To be continued