Continued from ‘Caged Animal‘
“Where’s my brother?” he demands again, his voice growing louder.
“I don’t know,” Arabella answers, her words shaking.
The boy throws his head about, glancing at the two children again, then the door. His icy eyes flicker to Arabella standing just before the opening before he runs.
I jump away. My back slams into the wall behind me. My fingers press into the cold stone.
Arabella lunges for him, but her foot catches on one of the blankets. She slips. Her body collides with the floor with a loud thud while the boy jumps over her.
“Clara, grab him!”
I gasp in surprise. What?! She wants me to grab him?
He races into the hallway, pausing a moment. He looks back and forth. His eyes are wide again, frantic.
Like a caged animal.
My heart thunders in my chest at the idea of trying to stop him. He’ll eat me alive! I press further against the wall.
With just another moment’s hesitation, he rushes for the front door.
Arabella places her hands underneath her and kicks the blankets away. She climbs to her feet. When she stands again, she glares down at me with her dark eyes. “Why didn’t you stop him?”
My jaw drops open, but no words come out. My quick breaths silence me.
“Whatever,” she heaves, throwing a hand in my direction. “Just… stay here until I get back.” Before I can respond, she races out the front door after the boy, leaving me in the room with the two other children.
They remain as silent as myself with wide eyes and blankets drawn up over their mouths. Only their eyes poke out. I see my own fear reflected back to me, but I have no sympathy for them. I don’t care about them. I can only care about myself and my pounding heart as it weakens my legs.
Gracelessly, I drop to the floor with a thud. I stare at the other wall. My heart still pounds even though I’m no longer in danger, even though the boy is no longer here to attack me.
But he’s not why I’m afraid. The mob is. They’re rushing forward. They scream at me. They yell at me. They curse at me. Their fists shake in my direction. The ground quakes under me.
I glance down at it, trying to get it to stop, wishing it would stop. My hands press into the dirt in the hopes that it will stop the shaking, but blood drips from my hands. I gasp. Drawing my hands up in front of me, the blood slides down my arm in thick lines like fingers crawling over my skin.
My breath catches at the sight. I wipe my hand on my pants, leaving a trail of hot, red blood over the cloth, but still the blood clings to my hands. It won’t stop. It won’t go away. It keeps running, spreading across my pants now where I tried to wipe it away.
Gasping, I scrape my hands along the ground. I swipe them back and forth through the dirt, but the dust doesn’t cling to my hands and the blood doesn’t come off. Even as I point my hands down, the blood moves up. It continues unnaturally up my arm, swallowing my elbow and moving towards my shoulder.
Panic grips me. I pinch my eyes closed and press against the wall. My hands push into the ground as I try to steady my now shaking arms, try to will away the image, but it doesn’t work. Heat slides up my arms as the blood envelops me.
Tears pierce my eyes before sliding down my cheeks and a sob spills from my mouth, loud and scary. My breathing turns into gasps. My sobs shake my whole body, slamming my back against the wall each time.
Something touches my hand.
I jerk away. My eyes open in surprise, needing to know what is next to me, what is about to attack me.
A young girl crouches next to me. Her grey eyes look like two storm clouds, wide and confused.
What’s she doing here? She needs to run! There’s too much blood! I gasp once more. The blood. I don’t know why, but I glance to my hands. I don’t want to see the blood. I don’t want to watch it swallow me up, but I look anyway. But there’s no blood.
Confusion eases my fear.
The girl still crouches in front of me, her arms wrapped around her knees, which are drawn up to her chest. She tips her head to the side. Yet, her grey eyes continue to watch me. “Are you okay?”
Am I okay? I glance around behind her to the small room and the other child cowering there. There’s no blood. There’s no mob. There’s no caged animals… but why was I so scared? Why do I keep seeing the blood when it’s not there?
Tears slide down my cheeks. I brush them away with the back of my hand and look to the girl again. “I… I don’t know.”
The girl smiles. I don’t know why, but she smiles and she moves to sit next to me. She presses her back to the wall and leans against my shoulder.
Too confused to resist, I let her. I watch her as she keeps her legs curled up to her chest. “It’s okay,” she whispers. “I don’t know if I am either, but… maybe… maybe we can figure it out together.”
Next Installment: Everyone’s Scared