The Hunter's Raven - Chapter One: The Disowned

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

In a world of superhumans, Luke and Lilly Jones must find peace with their powers. In the high-tech new city of Heartania, America in 2050, a brother and sister must somehow survive its rough streets and find themselves taken on a journey through an urban landscape that will change them forever.

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM IS ACCEPTED

Thunder warned of the imminent storm soon to come, and the rain that would come down upon the city of Heartania. The sound of a small fire which barely illuminated the dark walls, that surrounded Luke Jones was still enough to give him hope, that they would stay warm for the night. Yet all that had been dispelled as he looked up to feel a raindrop plant itself upon his cheek. Feeling fierce winds from the city’s winter, Luke shivered as he gazed down and wrapped his arms, around him, hoping to gather some warmth for the night. Craning his head upwards, Luke glanced at his sister who apathetically continued to stare into the slowly yet surely dying fire in front of them.

‘Lilly,’ said Luke. His voice was the only sign of life in the dim air around them. Lilly ignored him, simply shuffling closer to the fire. Yet her shivering breaths could not lie nor hide the weakness of the flames. Her hair was down to her shoulders, messy. As was her clothes which were almost identical to Luke’s. A hoodie, a shirt, trousers and trainers. It was what they were wearing when they left, and it was what they were wearing now. Thunder boomed its final warning before the aforementioned rain fell upon the city of Heartania, prompting Lilly to only murmur something to Luke. She stumbled to her feet and started to walk out of the alleyway, with Luke closely following behind.

 

*

 

‘We need to find some food,’ warned Luke, prompting a sigh to escape Lilly’s lips. Even without his perceptive abilities, Luke could tell that his constant warnings and attempts at guidance, only frustrated Lilly further. He had spent countless hours, wondering if Lilly was starting to regret coming with him. Perhaps she was thinking of abandoning him. He wouldn’t be surprised. Honestly, he almost expected it. However when Lilly turned around, trying her best to conceal her grievances of the situation at hand, Luke was at least thankful she was trying to appear resolute, whether it be for Luke or herself.

‘Follow me,’ said Lilly wearily. Luke only nodded.  A few minutes seemingly shifted into a few hours as the familiar dull ache that could only come from traversing the shadows of Heartania, inhabited Luke’s legs once more. As they ventured past damp alleyways and rainy streets, Luke stopped for a few minutes glancing at a house, which he almost mistook for his parents, despite all logical reason that told him otherwise. Even when Lilly told him to hurry, and he did, Luke still couldn’t get the image of the house out of his mind. It made him think of his parents.

Were they doing okay? Were they regretting what they did? What if they were trying to find Luke and Lilly? Did they only miss Lilly? Luke had tried talking to Lilly once about how much he hated mom and dad. How much he loathed them, and wanted nothing to do with them anymore. He could faintly remember his surprise when Lilly turned her head, half of it being obscured in shadow yet the other half revealed in the pale moonlight of that night. As she opened her mouth and said; You don’t hate mom and dad, and I don’t think you ever will.

For the past few days he had gone back on forth on loving and loathing those words. Luke didn’t know if it was some kind of amiable advice or infamous ignorance. Whatever it was, he truly started to wonder whether he hated his parents. Either way it wouldn’t matter, Luke knew that no matter how much he thought about it, his parents would still always hate him.

Before Luke could contemplate any further, he felt Lilly’s hand stop him from walking forward, as he came to notice an odd buzz emanating from a neon sign, belonging to a small store. Turning to him, Lilly had a look of determination. Luke didn’t know whether to feel terrific or terrified at the change in Lilly’s mood.

‘Lilly, what are we doing here? We don’t have any money,’ said Luke, even though he knew it was just another annoying reminder for the moment. Lilly smiled for what seemed to be the first time in days.

‘Well you said it yourself. We need food,’ replied Lilly. Now it seemed like it was her turn to remind Luke. Taking a glance at the small store, Luke bit his lip, resisting the urge to step away. Sensing his discomfort, Lilly placed a hand on Luke’s shoulder,  ‘Look, you don’t need to do anything but just stay out here and get ready to run when I come out. You think you can do that?’ Luke nodded, before Lilly’s smile grew wider. ‘Good. I’ll be out here soon. Just be careful and keep a lookout for me.’ Lilly stepped away from Luke, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes as she mentally prepared herself. As soon as her eyes shot open, Luke instantly saw her walk hastily into the store.

Without Lilly, it almost felt like the harsh winds outside only became harsher. Luke looked around, seeing a couple of people in raincoats or jackets, more than likely rushing to their warm homes. Luke continued to shiver, starting to almost get used to the damp rainwater soaking through his clothes. As the minutes continue to pass along and the rain almost seemed to be letting up, worry began to haze Luke’s mind. He was already feeling guilty about what he felt like he had forced Lilly to do.

How else was she going to get food? Was she really just going to stand aside and let her brother starve? Luke started to toy with the idea the he should stop Lilly now, yet his thoughts were interrupted when he spotted two silhouettes, seemingly getting larger.The larger they became, the clearer they seemed. As they did so, Luke’s eyes widened as he realized what, or rather who they were.

Cops. At the worse moment, Lilly sprang out of the store, a bag clutched in one hand.

‘Come on!’ urged Lilly as she grabbed at Luke’s arm, before her eyes glanced at the two police officers, sprinting to the scene. ‘Come on!’Luke felt himself, trying his best to keep up with Lilly, who was still clutching onto his arm and rushing ahead. Despite the multiple orders from the police to‘stop’ or ‘get on the ground’.

Luke and Lilly continued in spite of everything, rushing through the rain. Lilly stopped, pushing Luke out of the way as she sent a stream of water towards the officers. However as one ducked and the other dodged, Lilly grabbed Luke again and continued to run. But by now, Lilly was almost dragging Luke, the two of them panting as Lilly skidded to a stop when they both came around a corner. Both of them saw another silhouette, down the street, which seemed to be making haste and heading in their direction. Unwilling to take any chances, Lilly seized Luke into the alleyway next to them, almost knocking Luke into the nearby dumpster. The alley’s path was obscured in darkness, unrevealing of what lied within. Yet only after a few feeble seconds, did it take for Luke and Lilly to halt in horror. Lilly let go of Luke.  The both of them continued shaking though more from fear of what they found, than the bitter cold.

‘It’s a dead end,’ murmured Luke, too tired and too frightened to talk. Lilly shook her head, ready to grab Luke and head back, until it was too late. They both saw the police officers. Tiredness overwhelmed the siblings. As soon as Luke rose his hands and Lilly dropped the bag, Luke was sure of it. This is it. This is how it’s gonna end. For me and for Lilly. Arrested. Sentenced to prison. And it’s all my fault. A screech rang through the alleyway. It was only a small movement that created the screeching sound. Lilly furrowed her brows in frustrating confusion. As did both the police officers, as they turned around, their attention divided. Yet, Luke knew what it was.

‘Get down!’ Luke pushed Lilly to the floor, closing his eyes tight as both the officers turned around, just in time as they saw the dumpster soar towards them. Unable to yell or yield to their sudden inanimate attacker, the dumpster collided with the officers, knocking both the police officers over as it knocked the breath out of them. The dumpster tumbled as it crashed onto the floor, barely missing Luke and Lilly who stuck to the ground like a moth to a flame.

‘Follow me!’ cried a strange unknown voice, and Luke looked up with Lilly as they saw a man, urging the siblings to follow him. One of the police officers groaned in pain, as they started to stir, prompting both Luke and Lilly to flee from the alley and to their strange saviour.

 

*

 

The next journey had perhaps been the strangest, not only of the night, but of Luke’s life. He never ventured into the city much, unlike Lilly. Yet from whatever glimpses he could get of Lilly’s face, as they continued running, he could deduce that her furrowed brows told more about her confusion than her anger at the situation. The journey was short thankfully. Luke doubted he could keep up any longer by the time they got there.

‘We’re here’ announced the stranger. With brown eyes that matched his dark brown hair, to his short sharp nose Luke could tell the man from was perhaps only slightly older than Lilly. He couldn’t seem to perceive anything about the stranger, except that he was definitely like them, homeless. His jacket was muddy, his trousers were scratched and scraps, and his other attire wasn’t impressive to the common eye.

Either he’s homeless or he’s not too caring about hygiene. Lilly and Luke followed the man through a broken door, barely hanging on to its hinges. The interior of wherever they were was well lit with many candles. Yet holy lights could not hide the abandonment of the building they were inside. The walls were rotting, the floor was dirty with trash, dirt and worse. Despite the presence of beds, and furniture, all of it seemed to match the theme of a broken home. It was either rotten, breaking or both. Lilly stopped. She grabbed Luke so that he too would stop as she glared at the stranger.

‘Wait, where are we? Who are you?’ questioned Lilly, as she stood closer to Luke, glaring at the man.

‘Look, I’ll explain everything once-’ started the stranger.

‘It’s okay, David. Who are these people?’ said a voice from the shadows. Luke could barely see who they were, but they seemed to sound middle-aged.

‘I never got their names but I’ve seen them around. I think they’re just like us,’ explained the stranger, now known as David. Luke glanced guiltily at the bag that Lilly still had clutched in her hand. The new stranger sighed, sparking newfound frustration in David. ‘What was I meant to do? They were being chased by the police. I couldn’t just leave them.’

‘You should have considered the possibility of them being-’ started the stranger.

‘Being what? Criminals? What could they have possibly done?’ questioned David sharply.

‘Many things. I am simply saying-’ interrupted the stranger, in a slightly more hostile tone towards David.

‘Excuse me. I’d like to know what’s going on,’ growled Lilly, glaring at both David and the stranger who seemed to sigh again.

‘Sorry err welcome. We’re just a group like you. Homeless. Disowned. In one way or another. Just trying to get by,’ explained the stranger. ‘We have nowhere else to go, so we founded a home here. There are barely any spaces in the few homeless shelters, this city has. So we banded together, and we look out for each other. Ironically we still ended up in a homeless shelter anyway. Just an abandoned one. You’re free to come here, and leave whenever you like. But we have a few empty beds, and we’d be happy for you to stay.’

‘So you just want me to believe that you just happen to be a group of the nicest homeless people, around, willing to invite people in? How do we know this isn’t just bullshit?’ asked Lilly, stepping in front of Luke. Luke glanced at Lilly and then back at the stranger.

‘You don’t. But where else is there? Do you honestly think there’s someone else in this city who’ll help you? I know. It’s hard to believe, and you have every right to call us out. But I promise you. We’re just trying to help,’ continued the man. Luke wanted to believe him. He did believe him. This could be their chance for  the new life, that he and Lilly wanted. Yet at the same time, skepticism shrouded his speculations. ‘We won't hurt you.’ Luke’s eyes widened in realization.

‘Lilly, he’s telling the truth,’ whispered Luke. Lilly’s eyes flickered, glancing at him out of the corner of her eyes as she contemplated Luke’s conclusion.

‘Say if we were to maybe just spend the night here? What’s the catch?’ questioned Lilly, still suspicious. Yet she, he trusted Luke, at least in this  because she almost wanted to believe this miracle or maybe she had no other choice.

‘There’s no catch, you can stop and stay as long as you like,’ assured the stranger. Lilly turned to Luke. ‘Trust me, I know it’s a long shot. But believe me, we didn’t all come here if we just didn’t take a chance. We’re all about to sit down for dinner. You can join us, and we’ll be happy to take you in, or you can leave, and we’ll be happy to give whatever food we can scrape together, to you. It’s your choice.’ Lilly stopped, Luke continued to look at the stranger and still see no signs he was telling a lie whatsoever.

‘Are you sure about this?’ murmured Lilly. Luke looked at Lilly right in the eyes, and simply nodded. ‘Fine. Let’s start over. My name’s Lilly, and this is my brother, Luke.’ The stranger stepped forward.

‘It’s nice to meet you, Lilly and Luke,’ greeted the stranger. ‘Welcome to our little “home for the homeless.” I sort of run things around here, and make sure everyone is safe.’

‘And who are you?’ asked Luke, stepping out from behind Lilly. The stranger held out his hand.

‘My name is Custos,’ said the stranger.


Submitted: September 24, 2015

© Copyright 2022 HK Singh. All rights reserved.

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