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   Chapter 8 The Hornet's Nest

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 5952

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:15


"Hey Halter, look what I found, " the man who'd taken me said as he threw me down on the mud. My hands sunk down to the wrists in the dirty water. I looked up and saw the two men who had chased me and the children out of town. The thinnest of the two, the one who'd been carrying the hunting riflewas hunched over a firegrill. From the pale yellow flames rose the acrid scent of copper and sulfur; blood and hair.

"Tell the others to let the building burn, " Halter said when he turned around and looked down at me. "It was just a distraction, wasn't it?" he smiled, when I didn't answer, he turned back to the grill. The man beside him nodded and jogged toward the towering flames in the distance. "Where'd you find her?" Halter asked.

"Sneaking 'round, trying to get to the school, " the man behind me said and wiped his runny nose with his sleeve.

"Good work, " Halter commeded. "Mother will be proud." My eyes wandered to the pile of loose limbs by his feet.

"Should we keep her? Make her work like the others?" my captor asked.

"I wouldn't wanna take the chance. This one's a fighter." Halter dug a fork into the grill and pulled out a charred-black finger. He bit off a chunk of the skin and chewed. "Hungry?" he asked, lowering the fork to me. The hunger I had been feeling now gave way to nausea. "Tie her hands, " he said, taking the fork away.

I was jolted up to my feet, the man behind me pushed his gun against the back of my head again. "Hands behind your back, " he said, shoving the barrel into my skull. I obliged. He wrapped a piece of thin but sturdy twine around my wrists.

"The guy that came here yesterday, he was from you camp?" Halter asked, carefully lifting each piece of meat from the grill with his fork and laying it down on a tray besi

A breeze passed between us, dead leaves rained from near by trees. The squad of men and women who had gone to investigate the fire now returned, their clothes stained with black soot. They gathered around me like hungry dogs encircling an injured rabbit. "Fine, " Halter said. "Your choice... Ben, Jimmy, go to the woods, little Annie and Camden are waiting." I nearly broke my neck looking up to the biggest of the two as he went traipsing off into the forest. "Tamara, take her up with the others, ask her where her camp is, don't come back here 'till you have an answer."

The woman I had seen take the blankets from the bag earlier now came up to me, her face was marked with old scars, as if parts of her cheeks had been dug out with a carrot peeler. I had never seen anything like it.

She brushed the back of her fingers against my face. "Pretty, " she said. "You didn't have to fend for yourself growing up, did you little girl?" she asked. I didn't say anything. She gripped the back of my head and closed her fingers around my hair, pulling the strands. "Did you?"

"No, " I said through a tightly clenched jaw. She flashed her broken teeth at me.

"You will tonight."

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