Finally found the time to keep working on this story after a couple of really hectic weeks. This part is a bit slower than I hoped, but it will pick up a lot more in the next part, I promise. It’s also not a really long part, so at least it should only take a few minutes for you to skim through. 😉
Hunted – Part 3
A noise startled me, and I sat up quickly in my bed. Someone was walking in the hallway outside my room.
I quietly pushed back my blanket and got up, walking slowly to the door and peering out into the dull morning light. I could see him immediately, trying to sneak out of the house without myself or Amanda hearing him.
“Luka,” I said quietly. He jumped slightly, turning fast to face me.
“Alex, you scared me,” he breathed, holding a hand to his chest.
“Sorry,” I whispered, “You woke me up. Is everything alright?”
“I was hoping I wouldn’t wake you. I didn’t want to bother you, I’m just going to head home.” He motioned down the hallway behind him.
“Are you sure? You can sleep longer if you’d like. There’s no rush for you to leave.”
“No, I should get going. Thanks for all your help last night, I really do appreciate it more than I can say. I have to go, though, my parents will be wondering where I am.”
I nodded and began walking down the hallway, leading the way across the house.
“Do you want a drink or something to eat before you go?” I asked as we got closer to the front door.
“No, I’m fine, thanks.” He gave me one of his quick and shy smiles, before looking at the floor.
“Are you sure? I don’t mind.”
“Really, I’m fine. I should go.” He slipped his still wet shoes on and pulled his hood up, preparing for the dreary weather waiting for him outside. Without another word he looked at me and smiled, then pulled open the door and left, closing the door quickly behind him.
I shrugged and returned to my room, too tired to worry about him any longer. He seemed determined to leave, and I wasn’t going to try to keep him for more time than he felt comfortable.
It was late in the afternoon when the power returned. Amanda and I were playing card games, and the lights coming on startled us. The weather was still slightly treacherous, but the wind had died down to a low howl and the rain was more a drizzle than a downpour.
Finally able to use the appliances, I decided to make some frozen pizza for us to munch on while we watched another movie. I wondered briefly whether Luka had made it home safely, but pushed the thought from my mind, knowing he was fully capable of taking care of himself and didn’t need a babysitter.
“I wonder if it will be too stormy for school on Monday,” Amanda said as she bit into the Hawaiian pizza I gave her.
“Don’t get your hopes up, the storm is already dying down, and you know they never cancel school. They’d probably still make us go if half the place burnt down.”
“Don’t rain on my parade, a girl can hope,” she retorted through a mouthful of food.
“Classy, Amanda. Real classy.” I rolled my eyes and started the movie before digging into my own plate of food.
I found it hard to concentrate on the movie, constantly seeing Luka in my head, remembering the weird wounds he had when he showed up. I kept trying to shake it, but I had the feeling something much worse had happened to him than what he claimed. I had no right asking, but I was curious. To clear my mind, I vowed to check on him at school on Monday.
I relaxed enough to enjoy the rest of movie, and Amanda rambled on about her dating prospects as the credits rolled. She hadn’t seemed to notice that I wasn’t all there, and I was glad for it. Usually she would be asking me what was wrong, but she was too focused on what she was saying to notice anything off.
I listened in silence for a long time before we decided to start another movie, an old favourite of ours. Picking up a notebook, I doodled as we talked, drawing nothing in particular as I wasn’t good at drawing to begin with. After a while, things were completely normal again, and I had forgotten about the events of the previous night.
School that Monday was also normal. I ran into Luka in the hallway and he smiled his usual smile at me as if nothing had happened. Amanda seemed to have completely forgotten about the events of the weekend as well, so I didn’t think twice about it. Why should I be bothered with it if no one else seemed to be?
Luka wasn’t even limping, so I forced myself to push it from my memory. It bothered me that I had so much trouble ignoring what happened when it obviously wasn’t a big deal. There was no reason for it to be weighing on my mind the way it was.
In fact, Luka seemed better than normal. He was smiling more and spent much of our free time between classes conversing with friends, which was something I had rarely seen him do, at least for so long. This continued throughout the first few days of the week. After that, I began to see a change in him once more.
By the end of that week, he seemed angry and almost hostile. He wore a scowl constantly, and if anyone so much as looked at him the wrong way, he snapped at them. Luka had always been a bit of a loner in a way, but he had never been verbally violent, much less physically so.
It was late on Friday afternoon, right before the final period, when I found him. I was making a quick pit stop in the bathroom closest to my next class to fix my hair.
There was a noise coming from the bathroom, and I thought nothing of it, assuming it was another girl trying to lose weight by throwing up her lunch. It was becoming too common to avoid, but no matter how much anyone tried to stop it, it was becoming normal to walk into any of the school’s restrooms and find someone hunched over a toilet praying to the porcelain gods.
This time was no different, or at least it didn’t sound any different. The typical sounds were coming from the stall furthest from the door, although the door hadn’t been latched this time. I ducked down to see if I knew the girl, hoping to stop any of my friends from doing something they would ultimately regret. When I did finally see the person, I considered the possibility that I had wandered into the wrong bathroom by mistake.
Luka was curled in a ball on the floor, his hands over his head. He didn’t seem to be conscious, so I approached him slowly and quietly.
Placing a hand gently on his shoulder, I said his name. He started slightly, but moved his arms to look at me. He looked exhausted and scared, and tried too quickly to get to his feet, losing his balance and falling against the wall.
“Hey, are you alright? What happened?” I asked, keeping a hand on his shaking arm.
“I need to leave. I can’t be here, it’s dangerous.” He pushed his way a little too roughly past me, heading straight for the door.
“Luka, wait,” I called after him, following him out of the room. He was already at the side exit by the time I caught up with him.
He stopped walking long enough to turn and look back at me.
“I can’t stay here.”
“So let’s go to my place. I’ll make you something to eat and you can drink some water and relax a bit.”
“Why are you helping me?”
“I don’t know,” I whispered. Then, raising my voice I said, “But I want to. Let me help you, Luka.”
He sighed, holding the door open for me to walk through ahead of him.
“Lead the way.”