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The bus doors hissed and I took the opportunity to leave now. Somehow, I didn’t feel safe anywhere. Nowhere felt far enough from the darkened forest, the foreboding mountain. The cold mist seemed to sweep in and out of my life and with it I felt I saw dark figures watching me within.
Despite there being so many normal people, people who cringe with disgust when they saw my face, but didn’t flee or try to kill me. I wasn’t as threatened as I was in that town, but I felt that anyone of these people could be one of them. These awful people, the ones who must have known what happened to me.
One thing I knew for sure, they never expected me to live through it. Whatever they did to me and all those people in the pit, I was the only one who survived. I wanted to keep it that way, which is why I found myself standing two blocks away from my apartment wondering if I dare return home. Afterall, that was the last place I remember before waking up covered in the dead.
Did these people abduct me there or on the way from university? I couldn’t remember, but I still felt that either way I would be in danger. Instead of returning, I found a phone and used the coins that I begged off the street. It seemed people pitied me more with this face than anyone other beggar. It suited me fine in this moment.
“Mom?” I asked over the phone and she broke down.
I could almost hear the tears. How long was I gone? It took me three days to get back home, but how long was I missing? I listened to her talk and I got no indication.
“Mom, can you pick me up, I’m at the corner of Smith, by the bakery,” I told her impatient. “I need to see you and dad. I was kidnapped, but I escaped.”
“I will be there in a moment and we can drive to your father,” my mother replied, but didn’t end the call.
She stayed on, explaining how worried she was, how much she loved me. I heard doors close, I heard a car beep. Next I heard the rev of the car engine and m money began to run out.
“I’m low on change, mom,” I told her. “I will wait for you here.”
Hanging up, I took a deep breath and looked all around me. Nobody in sight, nobody that mattered anyway. Beggars sat on the pavement in front of hats, buckets and cardboard. The sun was setting and my legs were never given a break that meant anything. I decided to sit down near the beggar, huddling with my hood pulled far over my face.
The homeless man glanced at me, catching a hint of my scarred features and his eyes widened.
“Are you alright?” he asked me. A man who was aged by pain asking me if I was alright. It brought tears to my eyes.
“I’m fine...I was just in an accident,” I told him. “I…”
I stopped talking, I couldn’t. I just sat there and he understood, giving me peace and sitting there with me in silence. I somehow found that more comforting than anything I had experienced so far.
I don’t know how long I waited there, but I soon saw a familiar car approaching and driving past me. I stood up with so much hope. Inside I saw the figure of my mother, her eyes darting towards the sign at the corner, looking for me. In the backseat, I saw a strange man, who certainly wasn’t my father.
For a moment, I thought it was a new boyfriend, but it was familiar. The two didn’t notice me as they drove past, thinking me another beggar, but I knew who the man was. He was the one who watched me from the woods. The one who kidnapped me, or at least was a part of the group that kidnapped me. I was starting to believe the latter when I saw my mother in the car with him.
I froze there, wondering what I should do. Pretend I am mistaken and wave them down? I couldn’t, I’m not an idiot. I would be crazy to catch the attention of the madman, but my mother was in that car. What do I do?
I decided to watch from afar. I walked across the street and hid amongst the shadow of the building in the setting sun. From the darkness, even my pale face was hidden, giving me a great view of the car stopping and the two climbing out. My mother dashed over to the bakery and looked around.
She soon located the payphone that I was using and neared it, but the man stopped her. She turned to him and fear and talked with him, but he seemed unmoving and silent. He pulled her arm and dragged her back to the car. She complained and at the last moment, she tried to scream.
She was mother, I stepped forward to make my way there and help her, but I was too late. The man had no fear, no patience. A hand closed over her mouth and wrenched it to the side. The motion was so quick and she was in the car, limp, her head bobbing on the shoulders.
That icy feeling of death so close caused me to stand in place, paralyzed. It wasn’t a dead stranger I saw being thrown into the car, not one of the bodies from the pit. That was my mother, she was used and then thrown away as if she were nothing. I fell back into an alley and the car drove away.
I couldn’t believe what I had seen. I found feeling within me when something tapped my shoulder. Turning in a fright, ready to fight, but it was only the beggar from before. His miserable face stared at my own and then glanced in the direction of the shrinking car.
“Follow me, I can keep you safe,” the beggar told me.
That was not enough for me to trust him and I stepped back. That is when he said something that caused me to stay.
“You are marked, child, they want you dead and you can’t hide. I can hide you.”
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