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Raea Mae Storm - Chapter 3
His name was Newt. He was nine years old and had the greenest eyes I'd ever seen. After passing out, I'd woken up in a soft bed, with dozens of quilts clinging to my overheated body. I'd woken up, meeting a pair of green eyes.
But they weren't the eyes of my saviour.
They were cat like eyes of a girl a few years younger than me.
“Who are you?” I'd demanded, my knuckles burning as I clung to the quilts, as if they could protect me from this child. It was odd seeing another child. On my journey, I had only seen adults. Never children. I had only seen children in story books. It was insane to have one sat before me.
Despite the dirty rags that she wore, she was a beautiful girl with clear, white cheeks, tiny lips and long, blonde hair that reached her waist. She was like an angel.
“My name is Rylee Miles.” She said, her voice like a lullaby.
“Where...where am I?”
“You at my house. Newt...Newt saved you!” She beamed happily, pride glowing in her green eyes when she said the name.
“He's my bigger brother!” She stands up, rushing out the room shouting, “Newt! Newt!” Over and over again.
During her absence, I take my time to look around my surroundings. I am in a tiny room (barely bigger than a cupboard) that can barely house a tiny bed that I have clearly been tucked away in. The walls are torn, with old, tattered flowery wallpaper drooping down low; the edges nearly touching the carpeted floor that is covered in so much dust that I had to quickly look away before my stomach would undoubtedly give way.
Seeing that there is nothing else to look at in this worn down, old room, I move to sit up, realising that I am wearing a long, blue nightgown that I most certainly didn't have on before.
I stare down at myself, wondering why I could possibly be wearing this. Where are my clothes?
“Your clothes were covered in blood.” A voice murmured from above me, making me jump out of my skin.
I look up to find the boy stood in the doorway. He has sandy blonde hair and those bright green eyes that are so gentle and caring. He smiles hesitantly at me, moving to sit next to me. “I'm Newt.”
“Raea Mae Snow.” I answer automatically.
He smiles wider. “That's a long name. Can I just call you Raea?”
“How are you alive Raea?”
The way he asks it is so abrupt that I feel like bursting into tears. He's right though. How am I still alive? Mommas gone, Papa's gone, so why am I still here? What makes me deserve to live and not them?
“I don't know.” Is all I can say.
“Me and Rylee are lucky. You're lucky too Raea. I'll look after you. Rylee will like that.” He nods, confirming this agreement before I even have chance to make an input of my own. But I’m not going to refuse. I'll take all the help I can get.
Just then, Rylee returns, wearing a huge smile on her face as she places a bowl of food in front of me. I eagerly dig in to the soup, not even fazed in the slightest that it's a little mouldy. I'm way too hungry to care.
Rylee hops up on the bed beside me, her close contact making me feel uncomfortable. “Is your Momma and Dada dead too?” She asks, causing me to choke on a spoonful of soup.
Newt admonishes his sister while I work to regain my breath. I turn to face her, knowing that I can't be offended by how she asked the question. She is barely five, what is to be expected? Momma used to tell me that most children had simple minds back in her days; all that mattered to them was the idea of what crayon to use next for their picture. She used to get upset when she would tell me those stories, informing me that I was never like that as a child – I was forced to grow up much too quickly in her opinion.
“They're both gone.” I answer Rylee in a hushed tone.
“My Momma and Dada are dead.” Rylee whispers, holding my hand – an odd gesture to receive from a stranger. I shift uncomfortably, but I don't push her soft skin off me. In some ways it soothes me; it reminds me of how Momma would wrap her hand around mine so she could stand over me as I closed my eyes and went to sleep.
“Everyone's dead, Rylee. You know that.” Newt answers, a bitter tone to his voice. He coughs, forcing a smile out. “But we've got Raea now.”
“Raea?” Rylee repeats. “That's a pretty name!”
“Yes it is.” Newt answers, smiling affectionately at his little sister. He glances back at me. “We've gotta leave tomorrow. Guards are coming to town. I was going to take Rylee out of here last night, but then I found you.”
His words make me remember the horrifying circumstances that happened to me. Jon. Jon. Jon. I glance down at myself, noticing for the first time that I am covered in bandages – every inch of my body is covered in white gauze, wrapped tightly around me. I reach up to touch my face, knowing that that is where he Jon cut me the most. My cheeks are covered in bandaging also, and I want to cry.
“They'll leave scars.” Newt says softly, his voice soothing like a warm blanket being thrown over my shoulders. “I'm sorry, I tried as hard as I could to stop scarring, but the one's on your face are gonna be pretty bad.”
“That's okay.” I murmur, letting my hands drop down to my sides.
“You're still b...b...pretty, Raea!” Rylee shouts, after several attempts of trying to say the word 'beautiful' she throws her arms around me, and I squeeze her tightly against me, in desperate need of comfort and love right now.
“Where are we exactly?” I ask Newt, desperate for answers now. My head feels like its caving in, as if a volcanic eruption is taking place inside my mind. I feel crazy. “How did you find me? Why were you carrying a gun? How are you guys still alive? I-I haven't seen another child on my way here.”
“Slow down, Raea.” Newt says gently, sitting close to me on my other side. I feel safe wrapped between these two strangers, and instantly relax, my body sagging slightly as I await their answer. “Me and Rylee...we lost our parents a couple of years ago. It was sad. Papa went off to fight and never came back, and Momma was murdered in the night – by a guy like the one that tried to kill you. Cannibals I think they're called. They eat people.” He pauses, closing his eyes as if he is in pain for a moment. “I find Mommas body when I went searching for her after she didn't return. It was...horrible.” He glances at his little sister and quickly moves on.
“After that, I knew that my Rylee had to be looked after, so I learnt to use a gun. Papa had always made sure that I was well trained when I was little, so I'm pretty good. I've been looking after Rylee ever since, killing any cannibals that came near.” He stops again, glancing at me. “And as for where we are, we're in the middle of the city. Someone's house; before the war I think. I'm not sure. Don't really care. We're safe here. For now at least. President Cruz will be moving his forces in any day though now-”
“What?” I interrupt, shocked.
Newt pauses, staring at me sceptically. “Do you not know anything, Raea?”
“I-I what? What do you mean President Cruz is coming? He-he can't be! No! No way!” I was growing hysterical now, gripping my hair so tightly in my fingers that I was sure I would rip clumps out of my head any second.
“Well he is.” Newt states simply, unemotionally. “Where you been Raea? He's been planning this for months. Where you been hiding?”
“I didn't live in the city. I lived in the woods, hidden away from everyone.”
“Your whole life?” Newt asks with wide eyes, as if that is something he cannot imagine. I nod, and he lets out a breath, shaking his head slightly, as a smile tugs up at the corners of his lips. His green eyes meet my silver ones, and he grins widely. “Well, you sure got a lot to see, Raea. That's if we don't die first.” He laughs but I notice that his eyes rest on Rylee and there is a hint of fear in his eyes. We were children at the time after all. Any normal child would have been riddled with fear, but fear was an emotion that children were used to in my time. It was an emotion that was embedded into us from birth; an emotion that we would be forced to carry with us until the day we died. All thanks to President Cruz. Oh how I loathed that man.
Eventually, the three of us fall to sleep, curled up around each other. I've felt alone since Momma died – since Papa left actually, seeing as Momma was just a corpse with shadowed eyes that could move for so long. It felt...nice to be curled up with two people my own age, even if I didn't know who they were.
We slept for a long time, possibly the longest I have ever slept since Papa left, taking the safety and security that came with his aura away with him. For now, Rylee and Newt can keep me safe, and in turn, I shall keep them safe. It is a vow that I make to myself as I slowly wake up, the sun beaming in through the cracks in the window, enlightening the small, cramped room, showing me that it's appearance doesn't improve anymore in the light than it did in the darkness.
I tip my head back, closing my eyes against the sun that shines on my face as I crawl closer to Newt who stirs in his sleep, murmuring something incorrigible.
I am at peace.
Until I hear the gunshot that fires from outside, taking my momentarily moment of peace away, and awakening all of us with a sudden lurch.
We glance at each other as we hear the sounds of shouts coming from outside, unsure as to who the harsh voices belong to. I don't even think their English.
It doesn't matter anyway. We can hear them crawling through the house as we just huddle together, our hearts beating as one; a terrified drum beat being beaten with such vigorous force that I am sure our chests will erupt into an earthquake at any second.
The door is ripped off it's hinges, and beside me, I hear Newt swear softly as he pushes me and his sister behind his back, bravely standing up tall and as straight as a ruler as five men walk through the door.
I don't know who they are. Cannibals? No, their eyes look normal, and they are plump, inclining that they are well fed. So what are they?
Newt answers my unspoken question.
“Cruz's guards.” He whispers, as soft as a whistle. Despite how quietly he said it, the words that are uttered from his lips hit me a lot harder than the guns that the men are holding.
Cruz's guards could only mean one thing.
Momma had spoken about them before.
They are the symbol of death.
And they have found us.