The last thing I saw before Selena shoved me through the portal was Enzo’s pained face staring back at me.
Then, suddenly, I was back in my home realm. I was exactly where Edward had first taken me through the portal before, but before I could even collect my bearings, I was alerted by the sound of a rogue’s howl coming from the direction of the campus. I had to move and get somewhere safe before I could do anything else, no matter how long I wanted to spend writhing on the forest floor in sadness. The rogue howled again, but sounded a little closer this time.
I cursed under my breath and scrambled to my feet, whipping my head this way and that frantically before I decided to run in the direction of the town. The campus was likely crawling with rogues now, and although I wanted to go back and search for my friends, my best bet was to go where there would be fewer rogues for now, and where Lisa and Ronan would be least likely to be wandering around. Not only that, but hopefully I could find supplies.
As I ran, the thought of the gun shop just outside town where I went before crossed my mind. However, as I thought about the possibility of shooting and killing any of my friends or classmates, I decided that I’d rather try my luck hiding out until the Fullmoons came to help… If they were still coming to help.
The closer I got to town, the more 1 realized that there was a very good chance that the Fullmoons would lose against the Crescents even if they did come. With this many rogues on the loose, I wasn’t sure how well even the Fullmoons would fare if they tried to fight. Would they give up on the town entirely?
The town started to come into view. I slowed down my pace and took more caution as I made my way through the woods, always on the constant lookout for rogues or Crescents. Thankfully, it was mostly quiet; until I got to town.
When I got to town, I nearly let out a yelp of surprise when a rogue walked right past the building I was about to come out from behind. I quickly clapped a hand over my mouth,
pressing my body against the wall of
the alleyway. I didn’t even breathe.
I could hear the rogue’s slow, ragged breaths. Even though I held my breath, I could still smell its fetid stench. It lingered in front of the building, sniffing the air. I couldn’t move; I could only squeeze my eyes shut and try not to cry.
The rogue lingered there for what felt like an eternity. I swore that it could hear my racing heart as it slowly began to shuffle toward me…
But then, suddenly, I heard the sound of a distant gunshot. So did the rogue, who suddenly stopped its sniffing and let out a loud, keening howl before scampering away.
I wasn’t sure who shot that gun or where they shot it from, but they may have just saved my life.
Now that the coast was clear, I finally released my breath and let out a sigh of relief before slowly poking my head out from between the buildings.
The quaint little strip of shops that I had become so accustomed to as being a safe, cozy place was now nothing but wreckage. Shop,windows were shattered, debris lined the streets, and cars were left abandoned in the middle of the road. The little town that had once been a lively place filled with voices, laughter, and music was now dead silent, save for the howling wind that blew down the street.
I gulped and slowly stepped out from between the buildings, keeping down and darting behind cars and trash cans as I crossed the street toward the abandoned convenience store. I didn’t know how long I would be waiting for the Fullmoons’ help, so I knew that I needed to gather any food and supplies I could carry.
When I entered the convenience store, it seemed to be mostly untouched. Even in the state of things, I felt a little guilty as I grabbed a backpack off of a shelf, ripped the tag off, and then began to fill it with canned food and other supplies. It felt as though I was stealing, even though I was only doing what I had to do to survive.
I was filling the bag with first aid supplies when I suddenly heard the sound of broken glass crunching underfoot. Without a moment of hesitation, I quickly darted behind a shelf and crouched down; a human was clearly approaching, but I couldn’t be certain who it was.
The footsteps stopped outside. Then, my heart leaped into my throat as I heard the door open, causing the little bell to tinkle against the glass.
I heard the footsteps begin to meander through the aisles of the little store. There was the sound of the stranger taking some things off of shelves and clearing his throat.
If this was Ronan or any other Crescent, I would have to make a run for it. They were coming closer, and my only option was to make a break for the door and run as fast as I could… But, as I shifted in my crouched position, I made the grave mistake of stepping on a plastic wrapper that sent a loud crunching sound through the shop. My heart stopped at that moment. The stranger stopped, too.
I heard the sound of a gun cocking
“Come out. I have a gun.
Wait… I knew that voice. “J-James?” I called out.
I felt my heart leap. I quickly jumped up and came out from behind the shelf, my eyes filling with tears of joy. We stood there in disbelieving silence for several moments before he lowered his gun and ran to me, throwing his arms around me.
Neither of us spoke for the longest
time. We held each other like that in
the middle of the store, swaying back
and forth as we both sobbed into each
Finally, I pulled away and took in James appearance. His face was dirty, and his clothes were a bit tattered, but he looked otherwise healthy and uninjured.
“Where have you been?” he asked
quietly, his voice shaking.
“It’s… A long story,” I replied. “Too much to tell now.”
James nodded understandingly. “I found a safe place to hole up in,” he said. “It’s not far. But it’s getting dark, so we should go now.”
I nodded, just happy to have found one of my friends. We quickly grabbed some more supplies before James poked his head out of the door, checked to see if the coast was clear, then waved for me to follow.
“Was that you who shot that gun earlier?” I asked as we walked.
James was quiet. I could tell from his somber reaction that it was, in fact, him. My mind flickered back, then, to the letter that Enzo and I found and the presentation that James apparently made at the symposium. “Have you been killing werewolves?” I asked.
“We can talk about that later,” he whispered, picking up his pace as the sun sank further behind the hills. “For now, let’s get to safety.”
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