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The Tale of the Un-beating Heart
Lights flashed sporadically through my blinds and illuminated my room; they were getting closer. I peeped through the one of the curtains and, to my horror, I could see the flaming torches of the villagers just on the horizon. I could actually hear the shouts of men from outside; they were getting to close now. Rather cliché, the angry mob hounds the horrendous monsters with torches and pitchforks. I’d seen it all before. I had hoped that the fake trail I had laid as a precaution would hold them of for a bit longer but to no avail. We had to leave; we had been left with no choice.
I left my room with nothing. I knew that wherever we were going what I owned now would be of little use. We’d have to start again with completely different identities, hobbies, jobs and roles. I hated leaving a part of me behind every time, but it was necessary for survival and it was the same for all of us.
I was deep in thought when I walked into the dining room; so deep in thought in fact I hadn’t noticed that one of us was missing. Not until it was too late. We were all gathered around the table in the centre of the room. I could sense the anger that the older ones were radiating and the anguish that I too felt. Thoughts flew across the room like birds. Where to now? Who this time? Why does this always happen to us? I must admit I too added my own fears to the thick blanket of desperation that was settling in the room.
Then Elijah spoke out loud to us all. ”Come now. Yes, we have indeed been revealed to the public again but we have coped well with this in the past. We are a family and family stay together; therefore I expect each and every one of you to stay with your family wherever we choose to call home next.“ He scanned the room, making sure he looked each of us in the eyes before he continued. ”They are almost upon us. We must run whilst we can. Meet at the Old Well in the woods and please, don’t get sloppy. I any one of you is followed it will spell disaster for the rest of us.“ With those final parting words he took Xyris’ hand and they walked calmly to the door before speeding off into the night toward the Old Well.
The shouts from the men outside were growing louder and louder but we all couldn’t leave at once; they’d become suspicious. I volunteered to leave last; I felt as though I need to hold on to the life I had spent so little time living just a little longer. That was the problem with being a part of our select family; you couldn’t become to attached to people or places because sometimes you had to leave to quickly.
One by one we left our home behind and went to the rendezvous at the Old Well. Some left in pairs, others in small groups but either way we left. I was just about to join them when I heard a shout that was different to the rest. It was louder and I couldn’t tell whether the pain I could hear in it was emotional, or physical but it sounded familiar.
I’d forgotten Nate.
I’d forgotten the one person here who I truly loved. How did I forget him though? Then I remembered. I forgot because he broke my un-beating heart.
Nate’s screams aroused something inside of me, I remembered the very words that Elijah had declared just minutes before. Nate and me were family, and we never left family behind. So, instead of speeding off to the Old Well like I had been told, I ran straight toward the mob of villagers and their pitchforks that glistened under the moonlight. The closer I got to them the clearer the true nature of the events that occurred became. The villagers had surrounded him, cutting off all chances of escape unless he fought his way through but the villagers had observed Nate just as well as he had observed them. Nate would never hurt anything even though we, as a race, were renowned for violence and hostility but we, as a family, just wanted to fit back into the society we had been cast from. Even as a member of our family Nate was a rarity.
I stopped, horrified to see that the humans did not share Nate’s compassion and empathy. Blood poured from him. Wooden bullets. I bit my lip to prevent myself from sobbing. They were torturing him; weakening him before they finally cast him from this world permanently. Words of taunting and jeering passed from the lips of the humans but Nate didn’t retaliate. He crumpled to the ground as though his legs were made of paper. He looked up, searching the crowd for someone to help him. Finally, his eyes met mine. He tried not to let it show but his suffering was written all over his face.
I began to cry too, crystal-like tears trickled down my face as I saw him, a shadow of the funny person that I loved. Nate was the person that brushed away the boredom of eternity and never let me forget who I was. Nate was the one I relied on and loved. I couldn’t lose him. Yes he broke my heart but I had forgiven him… I always would because that’s what you do when you’re in love.
I had to do something.
I had to distract them.
I took one last look at Nate, lying curled in his own blood, and swallowed. I continue my walk to the crowd, my anger bubbling over. I approached one of the villagers from behind, hiding in the shadow surrounding him. A feral growl escaped from my lips and he turned around, shocked. I brushed him aside and laughed at his shock when I resisted draining him of his blood there and then. I then turned back to the frightened villagers that still surrounded Nate. I frowned at their weapons, suddenly realising the foolishness of my actions. I stood for what seamed like an age simply contemplating my next move whilst my opponents quivered in their boots. Then I ran.
Well when I say ran it was more like a light jog compared to the speeds I could usually display but I didn’t want them to loose my trail and return back to Nate. That would certainly seal his fate.
I also had to stay well clear of the Well; otherwise I would be putting my whole family at risk. (For that I would never be forgiven.) Although, would I be forgiven if they knew I was risking my own existence for that of a traitor? I doubted it but I didn’t rest upon the thought for long and continued to run through the night pursued by the people I once counted among my friends.
I had to do it quickly; I didn’t want to do it at all but I saw no other option.
I had to kill.
I knew I had to. Not only for my own safety, or Nate’s but the whole family was in danger. Even if we escaped and let them live… They’d still spread the news that we were in their village. That would mean we would have to live in the mountains for a few decades, away from everyone. The whole point of the family living the way we do is so that we can integrate into society as though we were human. These villagers endangered that. I had to stop that.
I stopped running, still shocked by my steady breathing. I was certain that my position was far enough away from my family by the Well that the blood I was about to spill would not lure them to me and that what I was going to do was the right thing, but a niggling in the back of my head wanted me to reconsider.
I turned as the villagers caught up with me. They raised their pitchforks and torches over their heads, determined to do to me what they were about to do to Nate and my other family members by the Well. I sighed and raised my own arms above my head in a sign of surrender.
”Please.“ I pleaded. ”Please. We don’t want to hurt you. For how many years have we lived among you? And during that time has any one of us caused you harm? No. No we have not, because that is not how we live. Please. If you let Nate go we will leave your village, never to return.“ I sighed again. ”Its up to you but I am always true to my word.“ I shifted uncomfortably as the eyes of the villagers scanned me for any obvious signs of untruthfulness; when they could find none the mayor stepped forward.
”We agree that, although you are normally a reliable and trustworthy person, you have lied to us once and you could easily be doing it again. You act human but you aren’t human. It worked while the secret stayed secret but now it has been revealed? It won’t work. You can take my word for it. We would let you leave if we could but… It is our duty to protect the surrounding villages from your kind.“ He turned to face the rest of the villagers. ”I’m very sorry but that’s just the ways it is.“
I swallowed, my mouth suddenly dry. ”I can’t do it. You do realise that I can’t do it? I can’t kill you. You are my friends. Don’t make me do it!“ Tears filled my eyes but I refused to let them see me weak. ”Just let me take Nate and go! Please.“
The mayor turned back round to face me once again. He walked toward me until he was staring straight into my eyes, his face mere inches away from mine. I could hear women in the crowd stifling screams and the men mentally preparing to attack me.
”Listen to me. I can give you a promise on behalf of the village, how’s that?“ I nodded apprehensively. What could they be planning? ”We can let you go.“ I nodded again, waiting for the catch. ”But we keep the boy.“
I could feel the colour draining from my face. ”But… Bu-“
”No buts. Take it or leave it. You were right we have no quarrel with you but the boy tried to steal away one of our daughters. For that we shall hold him captive here until we see fit to release him. You may see him though before you leave, but don’t try to release him. If you do the deal is off.“
I nodded grimly. Nate. Nate was the only reason I risked my existence in the first place. Now I’d have to leave without him. Should I try to explain? Or would it hurt him even more if I told him? I knew one thing. I had to tell him how I felt about him. It wouldn’t feel right to just leave him after I told him but I may never see him again.
I followed the villagers back to their houses, very aware of their anger and malicious tone of voice, and waited as they dragged Nate outside. I sobbed again when I saw him. The blood may have stopped flowing but his already pale skin looked ghostly and he was shaking. I ran and hugged him.
”I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!“ I cried into his chest.
”What are you sorry about?“ He looked down into my eyes. ”It’s my fault we’re here. It’s my fault that you have to run. I’m the one who is sorry.“
”I forgive you. I’ll always forgive you Nate, no matter what you do-“
He put a finger to my lips. ”I love you. You do know that don’t you?“ I clenched my fists; I knew he loved me, but not the way I loved him. That’s how we got into this mess. ”At first I thought it was just like a sister, the sister I had to leave behind, but now I’m not so sure.“ I held my breath, praying he was going to say what I hoped he was going to say. He pulled me away for a second and continued to speak. ”What I did was stupid but that girl, that stupid girl, she begged me. I know it’s no excuse but she begged me take her away from him. Her father, he was so controlling she saw no other escape and I wanted to help her. I didn’t realise what was at stake. If you excuse the pun.“ I smiled and looked down at the floor. He lifted my chin so I was looking into his eyes. ”I know now that you aren’t my sister and that I love you more than any human I have met or ever will. I love you but I’ve put that in jeopardy.“ He wiped the tears from my cheeks. ”And now we must wait to be together again. It’ll always be you. Remember that.“
I didn’t know what to say. Tales of the heart are always so complicated; the same can be said for that of the un-beating heart also. ”I… I love you too. I always have and I believe I always will. I will wait for you Nate but how will we find each other? I can’t stay in the same place for too long-“
He put a finger to my lips. ”Tell you what. How about a game of hide and seek.“ I smiled as his eyes sparkled. ”You go hide and I’ll count the days until I find you again.“
”And I’ll count too, just to make sure you get it right.“
He smiled and leant in toward me. Then we kissed. It felt so right, like we had both waited for this moment too long and, perhaps, the prospect of years apart, made it all the more special. The pain we both shared left us as we gave in to the hunger. It was beautiful. Our little bubble surrounded us in a shimmering feeling, and it felt unreal. We were so wrapped up in the moment, in the fireworks, the sunset, the ocean and the music, that we didn’t hear the crowd begin to shout and heckle us. In fact, we were alone right up until one particularly burly man yanked us out of our little world and dragged Nate away.
He tried to resist, fighting his way back to me, but he was still too weak and it was useless. I watched as they took him away from me, I knew that if I tried to help him they’d kill him. I watched, and cried. I would just have to wait for him, no matter how long it took; for when you’re immortal there is very little worth living for.
When I turned to leave the mayor stopped me, barring my way to the Old Well where I hoped my family was waiting for me.
”Get out of my way.“ I growled. ”I’ve kept my half of the bargain. I didn’t try to stop you taking him and now I will leave never to return. I trust you too will be true to your word.“ It wasn’t a question but a statement. I was putting Nate’s life in the hands of those that wanted him dead.
The mayor nodded. ”Aye. You have done well my girl, but answer me this. Why risk it all for a boy that was willing to run away with a human maiden?“
I laughed. ”Your daughter lives in fear of you. Don’t worry about your family pride mayor. He never loved her nor she him and she certainly doesn’t love you or your suitors. If you weren’t such a tyrannical father then we would all live in harmony and Nate and I wouldn’t be facing years apart.“ I turned to leave but shouted back over my shoulder. ”If I catch wind of you causing him harm again you will regret it.“
With those parting words I sped off through the night to my awaiting family. As I ate up the meagre distance between the village and the well I could feel their minds probing mine with their questions. What took you so long? Where is he? What have they done? Why do you cry so, sister?
I replied with a simply answer. Everything will work out. Now, where must we journey to Elijah?
Lights flashed sporadically through my blinds and illuminated my room, fading, as the police sirens grew gradually quieter. I marvelled at the wonders of this time. Such technology that didn’t even exist in dreams during my childhood was now real.
The sound of knuckle against wood announced a visitor.
I turned hoping that my prayers had finally been answered. They had. There, filling up the doorway with his lanky figure was my dream. I ran to him, embracing him, kissing him. Loving him. We were together once more and it was as though we had never been apart.