Part Two: The Royal Life
Thirteen years ago
I woke up with a start, tears falling as the echo's of the memory left me. I wiped a irritated hand over my cheeks and stood up. Leaving the sunken sofa and the blankets I'd been able to find to glance out the window. Most of the glass was smashed outwards, indicating someone tried to jump out, but since there no body or stain below, they hadn't managed it. The faded curtains billowed against the wind and I wondered wistfully if there was some sense to the idea. Jumping out the window. Then I shook her head. To throw away what Thomas had given me would be stupid and ungrateful. A little drizzle was falling outside, making the pavement shine. A few distant street lights were wavering desperately. Still trying to shine their light when no humans were there to maintain them. I heard a loud crash from below and lent against the windowsill, keeping a watchful gaze on the hole in the floor. Maybe I'd have to jump down afterall. No more sounds rose up but I felt too spoked. The things didn't usually wonder about at night so I chose to take the risk and climb back down the wall and away from my hidey hole. I headed to one of the various parks, knowing there were better hiding places in amongst the ruins on the other side of the city.
Bombs that had been dropped to drive us from our houses. But in the crumbling ruins it was easy for us survivors to sneak about. I assumed there were other survivors anyway. I kept walking, ignoring the chill coming over my body as I pulled my arms around me. Grateful I'd raided that shop before that brute found me and got myself a jumper. I doubt I'd be so grateful for it's warmth if he'd caught me though. I keep my eyes ahead, making myself ignore every noise that reached my ears as I walked. If I thought too hard about every sound I'd start to panic. Humans did dumb things when they panicked. And I needed to-
“Ow,” I murmured as I propped myself up on my elbows. I guess I should've watched my feet more, stupid branch.
“Do you mind?” A voice said and I jumped up fast, realising it hadn't been a branch, but a boy.
“Sorry!” I yelled, trying to hide my relief at finding someone else. In the darkness I couldn't make out his features very well, but from his voice I could tell English wasn't his first language.
I heard movement as he sat up, signing loudly.
“I was having a decent dream too,” He murmured. He was taller, and most likely a few years older than me. I decided that was a good thing, I wouldn't be able to look after a younger child. Then he moved out of the shade of the tree and the moonlight hit him. I gave a split second to feel shock then I turned. But I'd hesitated and my wrist was easily grabbed before I made three steps. I closed my eyes and waited for what I was sure was pain.
“I'm not going to hurt you, idiot,” He muttered angrily. Releasing my wrist and walking ahead of me.
“W-what?” I ask, my voice barely a whisper.
“I called you an idiot,” he threw over his shoulder and I glowered a little at that.
“Well at least I'm not an evil alien,” I replied.
“Am I attacking you?” he asked.
“Not yet...” I trailed off uncertainly.
“I won't. I don't think it's right. Now are you going to follow me or go off on your own?” He didn't beat around the bush much.
“I didn't realise going with you was an option,” I said, studying him. I'd seen the monsters before, but never up close and certainly not long enough to drink in the scaled skin and lizard eyes in detail.
“You seemed kind of happy to have found someone, so I just figured. But I don't care,” He replied, turning away. This conversation was weirding me out. He was acting so...human-like. So much so I could tell his last words were complete lies.
“Well, since you made the offer,” I said, ignoring the part that was scared. Or more alarming, the part was starting to trust.
“I'm Arik,” He said when I started walking in step with him.
“Erika,” I replied, trying not to stutter. Arik paused mid-step to contemplate the name.
“I'll call you Erie,” He said then he started walking again.
“Ermm...what?” I asked, crossing my arms in slight annoyance, he'd just met me and he was nicknaming me?
“I'm still pretty bad at your tongue, if I say your proper name it'll sound too much like saying my own. So I'll call you Erie,” He explained with a shrug, still walking. I watched his back with a mix of curiosity and confusion and then continued walking. Trying to figure out how this boy was the same as the monsters that chased me in the dark and in me nightmares.