Being startled by the man, Wyatt and I turned around quickly. The man was clean-shaven and dapper, but with a filthy blazer and brown corduroy slacks. He was hunched over slightly, and his breathing was heavy. He certainly didn’t seem like he was from Old Tenebris, but the dirt on his clothes said otherwise.
The man caught up to us and began to gasp for air. He slouched down and clutched his knees, squeezing the ligaments.
“Please, do you have some money? My wife kicked me out a week and a half ago and I haven’t had a roof over my head in ages! I just want a bit to get out of this town and see my wife again,” he panted, but gathered energy to stand up straight again to beg.
The sad thing is, we were running out of money too. Mrs. Sands specifically told us not to give out any more money to strangers. Still, something in the back of my head was telling me to avoid some inevitable conflict. He was an emotional wreck, and he hadn’t been out of the twilight for a week and a half. There was a high chance that he was in fact, a Dweller.
“I’m sorry,” answered Wyatt, abruptly shaking me from my conscience, “We don’t have any money to give.”
The man’s lips began to quiver, and his eyes started to water. Wyatt tried to console the man, “I hope—”
It felt like an instant, a break within time. I didn’t even feel my muscles move for that short moment. However, somewhere between the chaos, the man’s fist settled within my hand, like I had caught a baseball with my bare hands. A couple inches more and his fist would have connected with Wyatt’s nose.
“I know you have money!” the man slumped down as I let go of his fist, “Please!” he cried again, but Wyatt and I were already running from him.
We were a couple blocks away by now when I broke our stride, “I had a feeling he was a Dweller.”
“And you didn’t say anything?”
“How could I!? It’s not like we could have given him money and been done with it. You know how Dwellers are.”
“Still, Grandma said not to give any more money to anyone, Dweller or not. Now let’s get going before we miss the bell.”
“So now you’re just going to wave off what I just did? No explanation?”
“You’ve done it before, that last time we dealt with a Dweller.” I stared at him, confused from his indifference, “What? I can’t ask for answers from someone who doesn’t have them.”
I couldn’t fight that logic.
We jogged a little farther and a little faster to make up for lost time. Soon, we would be at the school. Wyatt, however, stopped another block down and turned to me, smiling, “Maybe you should try catching a bullet next time.”
I was ready to make a witty reply when the school bell began to ring.