A small lizard ran in my direction before grinding to a halt a metre from the base of the rock where I perched before bolting in another direction. Maybe I was in his regular sunning spot? I smiled inwardly, thankful for the distraction. It was then I noticed the pattern of ants on the ground, some marching a straight line to where I sat, before shooting off in random directions. But nothing crawled inside the invisible bubble around my rock. Dread washed over me as the tiny hairs prickled along my arm. It meant one thing… one of the Hunters was close by.
Tara Oschler, the one who could compel.
My face and limbs blushed cold despite the outback heat. I prayed I was falling victim to an over-active imagination and searched for more evidence that maybe it was my ability at work in its passive state. Sadly, no flies clung to my back, and no other insects inhabited the circumference around where I sat. That would only happen if they had been compelled…
My brain sputtered to life hesitantly. Hadn’t Tara and the other Hunter run off? How could anyone find me out here? I was in the armpit of nowhere for goodness sake – they couldn’t have followed me.
I was in the middle of nowhere. Alone.
Was Tara alone? Did I have time to make a run for the car?
As if answering my question, Tara emerged from the brush, quickly followed by man.
“That’s her. That’s the bitch that got my brother murdered.” The pair of them shot intense hatred from their eyes. “Hey bitch. It’s payback time!”
I scrambled to my feet, balancing on the rocky protrusion, absently feeling for my phone. But my back pocket was empty. My one connection to help most likely sitting in the central console of the car.
Jumping down behind the boulder, at least gaining some cover and ground as the pair split, working their way to either side in attempt to cut off any escape route. My eyes quickly flicked to the ground in search of a branch, or rock, something to club with, or throw. Maybe I could temporarily blind one of them with a handful or dirt?
Realising I hadn’t said anything, I prayed there were words to buy me some time… but what could I say? It wasn’t me? You’ve got the wrong girl? Are you off your meds?
When I took a step in the direction of the car, they both stopped, crouching.
“You’re the one we can’t get to. But that’s okay there are other methods of taking down prey.” The man sneered.
“Andrew’s got pretty good aim. But don’t worry, we’re not going to kill you straight away. We have other plans for you.” The light glinted off a knife balanced in Andrew’s fingers.
What was with the storybook villain act? Seriously, who said things like that? Crouching and gnashing teeth at me was SO WRONG. This had to be a joke.
“You better back off. I’m not defenceless. Or did you forget what I did to you before?” I watched their eyes meet in consternation, yet they did not stop their slow progression to intercept any path back to my Volkswagon. “I’m not alone.”
That froze them in their tracks. It was like I could read a struggle playing out over their expressions, like they were being forced to do this. Grief makes you do some strange things. And this was just another symptom. I took the opportunity of their uncertainty. With nothing in reach. Nowhere to run to without getting tackled, and most probably stabbed. I did the only move I had left. I let the fear and stress wave through me, harnessing it with whatever mental pull from that involuntary place inside me. I hoped I was able to knock them out like before. Then I’d run like Hell itself was opening up under my feet!
But it felt vastly different this time. Almost like I had bile burning and gurgling up from inside me. Great, I was going to puke them into submission.
But just before I was about to double over and spill my guts, the air distorted around us. A gust of hot wind shot outwards. Grass caught fire. A pop and sizzle as the ends of Tara’s hair dissolved. Andrew’s pant leg turned black under an orange flame.
I must have been in shock. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened? Had I just set them on fire?
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