I shouldn’t have come. I shouldn’t be here. I pondered for the tenth time that night.
It was cloudy, blocking the light from the moon and stars. It gave the park a darker, less forgiving feeling. I clung to the lamp-lit path like it was my only lifeline. Rune was late; although, I shouldn’t have been surprised in the least.
It was Samantha’s fault that I was here. She told me that if I didn’t go and meet Rune in a dark secluded spot in the middle of the night that she’d kill me. It was alright; I could handle myself. I felt my pocket for the taser that I had brought, just in case. I felt my other pocket for the package Samantha had shoved onto me before sending me here. When I opened it up, it consisted of a ball gag and a lasso of rope. I really didn’t know what I was supposed to do with those. Samantha seriously worried me sometimes. Times like this reminded me that her previous boyfriend mysteriously moved to California without warning.
It had been two days since Rune had first asked me to meet him. He had asked again the next day, this time telling me he would explain the truth. It was curiosity that had dragged me out here. I picked now because there was no way I could convince my mom to let me leave the house for a few hours to meet a boy. I picked the park because it was familiar and roomy. Remembering the fight between Andrew and Rune, I suddenly found myself considerably less sure. Then again, with his abilities, was I safe anywhere?
He had thought it amusing that I wanted to meet him in a park in the middle of the night. Had I thought the action through myself, I might have picked a more reasonable location. I shouldn’t have brought the taser; I should have brought a gun. Samantha had told me that I should bring my own protection. On second thought, I don’t think she was talking about a taser or the gun. I was so stupid. I shouldn’t have done this. A sudden howl pierced the night, and I froze. Please Rune, get here soon.
I paced back and forth nervously, feeling the taser for the dozenth time. I had gotten it for my fourteenth birthday. I hoped it was still charged. It was then that I began to hear the noise. It was a creaking and a rustling noise coming from the forested area nearby.
Oh, no, what is it now?
“Rune, is that you?” I whispered quietly.
The sounds stopped. I took several steps forward. It was probably just an animal. No, it was an animal. It was an animal, and I was going to prove it to myself. I could conquer my own fear. It was just some little animal. I remembered that the last animal I met in this forest was a giant demon monster. I couldn’t think about that right now. I was brave. I moved the bush aside and stepped into the forested terrain. Then I screamed.
Lying on the ground in front of me was the body of a young kid about my age. His body was torn in half. His legs were nowhere to be seen, but his torso and attached head lay right at my feet on the forest floor. Streaks of darkened blood stretched off into the distance as if he was dragged over here, or perhaps crawled.
My hands covered my mouth as I fought the urge to vomit. It was a horrifying scene; something that I had only witnessed in a horror movie. His eyes were closed, his breathing was nonexistent. It was only when I finally calmed down enough to look at the body that I realized I recognized this person. I didn’t know if that made things better or worse.
His name was Stephan. He was perhaps one of the nicest guys in school. I had had a crush on him. That wasn’t abnormal. A lot of people had a crush on Stephan; he was another member of the hawtness. His boyish good looks and pretty, petite face framed dazzling blueish-grey eyes. He wasn’t as muscular as Andrew or Rune, but he had a gentleness and kindness to his heart that neither of them could match. Someone had taken that away from him. Someone had killed him.
Rune. It had to have been Rune. I remembered him shooting purple flames of destruction. Andrew had basically said it was Rune that had summoned it. I wasn’t the brightest girl, but I could at least piece two and two together. What did this mean though? Was this some kind of message, a threat, or coincidence?
I forced myself to move closer to the dead body of the sweet boy I once knew. I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn’t going to meet with Rune. I was definitely not going to meet with Rune now. However, could I just leave Stephan here? If I found someone, it would lead to a lot of questions. I could get into a lot of trouble. He was still very beautiful, at least from the waist up. I slapped myself. No, that was creepy Samantha talk. I turned back to the corpse of the boy.
“I am so sorry for what has happened to you. I think I know who did this, and I wish for the world I could undo it.” I shook, a small tear running down my face, “You know, I used to always think you were cute.”
Stephan’s eyes opened, “Really? Cute?”
I screamed, falling back out of the bushes onto the concrete pathway from which I had come. That was my mind playing tricks on me. It had to have been. No, I’m crazy; this is crazy. Another dream. That’s what it was, another dream. More bad mushrooms. I made mom throw out the last batch, but she must have lied to me. Damn cheapskate. I reached towards the bush, but a hand came out and grabbed mine. The hand was as cold as death. I screamed again, pulling back until the hand let go.
The bushes began to shake and convulse as the torso of Stephan moved out of it. I did the only thing I could. I ran. I ran as hard as I could down the pathway. I wasn’t going to stop running; not until I was out of the park and in my own home. I was not coming back here. No, that was over with. I was done with nighttime rendezvous and the hot boys I met with them.
My body suddenly collided with a large, hard object and I went tumbling forward, the object moving forward with my momentum. I landed hard on top of someone who groaned at the force. I looked up to see red hair framing a handsome face. Rune. For once, he looked both surprised and worried. The razor-sharp emotions seemingly focused on me.
“Are you alright? What happened?” He asked with concern in his voice.
This was the guy. He was responsible. He had to be. That look of concern and confusion was a trick. Next, he would rip me in half, and then turn me into a ‘minion’. That was it. I didn’t want to be a half-torsoed monster. I had to get away. I had to get away now. I stood up with haste.
“Seriously, has anyone hurt you?” Rune seemed angry, though not at me, but anyone who might hurt me.
“Get out of my way; I’m leaving,” I demanded.
Rune growled as he stood up, “I knew we shouldn’t have met out here. Too dangerous. If anyone has touched you…”
Rune grabbed me by both arms, “Look, if anyone…”
I pulled the taser out of my pocket and jammed it into his side, flicking the switch on. His voice cut off as he convulsed several times before suddenly dropping to the ground. Oh, God, what did I just do? I looked down at him. He didn’t move. I killed him. Now, I’m a murderer. Oh, God, I killed him. I looked back down the path. Stephan was dead and Rune was dead. If I just dragged the body back to his, I could pull it off as a murder-suicide. Two beautiful lovers meeting in the night, one could no longer hold back their affections and rejected the other… and… and… and that was crazy. Even if I did drag Rune’s dead body back there, Stephan would have crawled away. I’ll… I’ll just have to finish the job.
Wait. Do tasers even kill people? I kicked Rune’s body. It didn’t move. I went to my knees, feeling him. His skin was very warm to the touch. It was far warmer than a traditional person’s body should be. It contrasted with the stark cold of Stephan’s hand. I pressed my ear up to his chest, listening. I let out a breath of relief. I could hear a heartbeat. Wait for a second, what was that other noise? I shifted my ear slightly and heard another beating sound. Two heartbeats, running in rhythm with each other. What in the hell?
I pulled my ear away as if burnt by his deliciously warm skin. He was alive. That was what mattered. At least I wasn’t leaving him like Stephan. That reminded me again of the half-dead torso undoubtedly crawling after me. I couldn’t leave Rune here, could I? I bent over, trying to pick him up. It didn’t work out so well. Eventually, I settled for grabbing his feet and pulling. His body dragged along the concrete pretty smoothly.
He might have a rash come morning, but at least he’d be alive. My foot suddenly fell back and I caught myself. I looked behind and winced. I had forgotten that this particular park trail had a concrete stairway. Well, I guess I’d just have to be careful taking him down the stairs. I continued to pull. Thump. Thump. Thump. That was his head. So, what? He might have a headache come morning, but at least he’d be alive.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. My grip slipped, and I fell. I landed five steps down at the bottom of the stairway with a thud. Rune’s body followed closely behind, springing forward and landing on top of me. Great, I’m trapped under him. I twisted steadily trying to work my way out of from under his body. He was so warm and smelled so good. I checked to make sure he was still breathing. His breath smelled of cinnamon and spice. God, why did I smell him? I did still have the rope. I could tie him up and…
“What are you doing?” A familiar voice asked incredulously.
I looked over to my side and realized that Andrew was standing there. What the hell was he doing here? Was he following me? He had a look of shock and confusion on his face. When his eyes focused on Rune, a surge of anger tinged them.
“You fiend; get off her!” he exclaimed, running over and grabbing Rune, lifting him with relative ease.
He flung Rune to the side of the road, putting himself into the familiar combative stance. Rune flopped to the ground although a light groan came out of his lips.
“No, wait!” I shouted, moving between Rune and Andrew, “He’s unconscious.”
Andrew stopped in midstride, looking confused for a second before glancing down and noticing Rune’s closed eyes and rhythmic breathing.
“Unconscious? How did he become unconscious?”
“I tasered him.”
“I hit him with a taser,” I answered sheepishly, pulling out the small taser.
Andrew looked at the taser and Rune several times, and then suddenly broke into laughter. Although he didn’t open his mouth, his shoulders shook while he put a hand in front of his lips in a failed attempt to hide his mirth.
“You… you’re not going to hurt him, are you? I won’t let that happen.”
Andrew continued to chuckle to himself. As he finally settled down and wiped a tear from his eye, he shook his head, “No, I won’t hurt him. If I defeated him now, it’d mean nothing.”
Andrew stopped as if realizing he had said too much. He lowered his head. His tone suddenly became serious.
“Why are you out here?”
“Rune promised to tell me about you,” I answered honestly. It felt wrong to lie to Andrew for some reason.
Andrew’s face went wooden, but he gave no inclination about how he felt about what I said and instead responded with, “And did he?”
I shook my head. “I tasered him first.”
Andrew nodded, his face still wooden. “That’s probably for the best. It’s getting late, Jane; you probably should go home. I will take care of him. I promise I won’t hurt him. We can talk more at school tomorrow.”
Andrew turned away, picking Rune up again. I pulled out my hand to stop him, but the motion knocked my pocket. The ball gag fell out and bounced, rolling up to Andrew’s feet. He looked down at his feet and frowned at the sight and then looked back up to me.
“You have rope hanging from your pocket,” He said slowly.
I pushed the rope back in hastily, “It’s not what it looks like.”
Andrew raised an eyebrow, looking at the taser still in my hand, the ball gag, and then the unconscious Rune. He shook his head and sighed. He nodded to me before moving down the path in the opposite direction I was heading.
“I thought Rune was the one I needed to worry about,” he muttered as he began to leave.
“I’d prefer if you explained to me what I saw that first night,” I responded.
Andrew stopped for a second, “In time, I might. I care too much about your safety to bring you into this kind of life. But if things keep going the way they are, I might not be able to help myself. Just stay away from us. All of us. It will keep you safe.”
Andrew continued to walk away. Another howl pierced the night. I turned around. Maybe it was best if I just went home.