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Arabella

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She had already woken up before the sun reached the entrance of the cave. Usually she would have laid in her bed until the sun rose but today she felt like making a decision, maybe she’ll finally leave this shelter; she had been staying there far too long, after all she was running.
She stood up to begin a silent walk to the cravings wall, her hand wandered to her right pocket on her torn trousers by instinct. She pulled out a knife-like tool made from deer antler, she used to use bone but she recently found that it lasted longer and was even stronger.
“Leave” She commanded to the intruder, a tiny raccoon. Its little stomps resounded in the cave as he walked forward warily.
“Mom?”
“No, leave”.
“Where’s mom? Mommy?”
“She’s not here, leave now”.
Why didn’t it leave? Usually twice was enough. Her cave was empty except for the animal corpses she used as blankets and the put out pit she kept at the side of her bed. It wouldn’t find its mom there or anywhere she knew of.
“Mommy? Where are you? I’m hungry mommy”. Its little voice echoed in the cave as he whined to its mom, right before it walked to a wall and she understood. Animals were always quiet by instinct in unknown territory but its steps were careless, all the other raccoons she knew of were stealthy as a cat, but this little one was loud. Animals can’t be loud, that’s a luxury. If a predator hears you, you’re dead.
But this tiny creature couldn’t help it because it’s blind.
“What’s your name, raccoon?”
“I’m Himaru, where’s mommy?”
She walked towards him decisively; he flinched away from her colliding with the cave wall behind him again as she calmly squatted and stoked the fur on his head softly and sighed to deliver the bad news with the softest voice she could do.
“Himaru, I…your mommy left you because you can’t see, so you endanger her and her cubs” She continued petting him in silence for a second.” I can get you some food and after that you can stay in this cave, but I won’t give you more food, ok?”
“What is “endanger”? “
“You’ll have to get yourself food after that, alright?” Animals were usually really slow, repeating twice with a firm voice does the trick, and also keeping it simple helps deliver the message. They are hard to deal with because once something gets into their head it’s impossible to get it out. She had raised a mocking bird once because she fed it and he kept calling her mom (it was too cute to let him go and she felt kind of lonely anyways). “I’m gonna get you some food now, Himaru.”
She exited the cave then, looking at her carving wall. It had 57 markings, one for every day she had slept there, where she will leave one last mark before leaving. Himaru isn’t going to live long, hell, she’d be surprise if he lived another week as loud as he is. Just like her little bird a predator will kill him when she’s not looking.
Animals move by instinct so they have simple minds: shelter, food, pack. They aren’t great company (she hasn’t found one that could hold a decent conversation) but she didn’t really have anyone else.
As daylight warmed her skin she stretched her arms and back, knife still in hand. Step by step she moved through the forest without much sound, getting closer to the hanging tree, where she kept her handbag that she now used to keep spare food away from the camp. You can’t keep it close to your shelter because it will attract predators, and that’s… not good.
Climbing a straight tree wasn’t easy but she had done it enough times to ignore the pain in her fingertips as she pushed herself up to a steady branch. Climbing was always messy, she had to use her arms to hang on the tree to push her feet up and then move her arms while her legs supported her. Because it also happened very fast, she’d fall to the ground if she didn’t coordinate her limbs appropriately.
Standing at the top of tree always makes her feel kind of proud, watching the forest around her in silence as she stands above everything else; she felt powerful, like a predator. Her handbag was on the higher branches, hidden behind foliage. She stretched her arm towards it tip-toeing a little because she wasn’t very tall. Bad, bad, bad, fucking bad-Something went very wrong and in a second she flinched backwards trying to put some distance between her and the food.
She had expected a cougar eating from it, a big predator that could tear her apart even if she had her knife between her teeth in case she needed to defend herself, but then something collided with her and that was worse. She had fucking gotten herself on some big fucking bird territory and she was going to break her fucking head in the fucking fall.
Thankfully her body caught up faster that her mind and managed to grab onto the branch with both hands. Fuck yeah. Her heartbeat was loud in her ears when she breathed a relieved sigh and tried to push herself up onto the branches. Shit, shit, shit. Nothing had crashed into her, something was grabbing her shirt and she didn’t need to look to know that it was human, but she did anyways. Fuck, she would have preferred a claw digging into her skin, shit. An amused eye met her own and her heartbeat drowned her thoughts. So like, her mind went to shit.
Everything happened in a blur. Her left foot tried to meet his eye as he yanked towards himself, stronger than her; she wasn’t going to be able to keep her hands on the branch for much longer. Somehow he managed to avoid the quick kick, but his pull weakened so she regained her grip as her other foot followed his face. Her head started clearing, she had to be smart about this even if she couldn’t hit him maybe she could make him lose balance an fall of the tree.
She kept twisting around, hitting air and trying to make him move, make him trip off the branch or whatever miracle but he didn’t fall. He jumped around without a care, maybe even gracefully but she didn’t really notice because she was fucking kicking for her life. At some point of the mess of limbs he just grabbed her left leg and along with the grip on her shirt pulled her out of her embrace. She didn’t even have a second to struggle or to feel pain in her hands, there was some kind of rope around her hands and feet she was placed against a firm shoulder and they were already moving through the trees.
Traveling so fast and upside down was already making her gag. She tried to think, time was running against her and she could do nothing about it.
Fuck, she was really going to get raped, wasn’t she?
His arm was on her waist keeping her in place and reminding her that he was stronger; he was also faster than her, it wasn’t hard to tell. He was even wearing a mask for fucks sake, he didn’t want his face being recognized like that’s not a red flag. She hated so so much that she was going to be that girl who got raped in the woods and then killed so there wasn’t a trace to follow or a face to recognize. She didn’t even have anyone who would look for her if she disappeared.
Fuck, she really was the perfect victim. Shit, fuck, shit, shit.
He stopped and they were on the ground. She didn’t know when or how but they were also in the middle of what looked like a fucking camp and there were more people around. Mask Man said something in a foreign language and they started approaching her.
What, what could she even do? She couldn’t run, she couldn’t hide, couldn’t struggle anymore. She was being moved, her back found support on a truck and her head span a little, accompanied by blurry vision. She closed her eyes for a second and realized they itched, but she had to force them open again as she felt someone getting closer to her, they began talking to her.
This time it was a different man, he had bandages on his face and looked somewhat friendlier, she didn’t trust it anyways. She still didn’t recognize what he was saying, probably a question since he stopped talking, waiting for an answer that didn’t come.
She kept her eyes away from his, her arms as close to her body as the ropes allowed her to, so she would look smaller and she bared her neck just a little. She did her best to appear as small and submissive as possible but her mind kept searching a way out. She hoped she didn’t look as pathetic as she felt.
Looking above his shoulder she could count two, no, three more people counting the man who captured her. She realized that they were all wearing some kind of uniform. What to do? How? When? She couldn’t escape.
She was going to leave today! I f only that little raccoon didn’t slow her down she would have been just fine. He was going to die in no time she shouldn’t have even bothered to get him food, shit. That’s what happens when you’re a compassionate loser, you get caught by fucking humans that are going to fucking rape her if not kill her or just sell her to sex trafficking. Not a big deal.
He started talking again. This time, a little more demanding. She shifted, baring her neck a little more. She really wished it had been a cougar, shit; she’d rather take a fucking bear.
After a few demanding words from someone else, the man in front of her moved. Discreetly, she shifted so she wasn’t baring her neck anymore. Her eyes stayed on the ground and her head still felt heavy, she found that she had to blink a couple times to keep the itchiness of her eyes away. She felt so fucking weak.
Nothing, nothing she could do to escape. As long as no one touched her she would be fine. She also noted that her antler knife had fallen off her mouth at some point of the struggling. They were really hard to make, motherfucker .She still had another one on her right pocket that she could use to cut the ropes, the problem was getting it unnoticed. She needed a big distraction. Just a few seconds, all she needed. Time, timing. Okay, logically she couldn’t do it; something else had to catch their attention for a few seconds. A noise, a fight, a scream, a motherfucking meteor or whatever. Well, it was starting to sound like a plan.
She could use that, okay. An external distraction- No need to be nervous she, has been through worse; giving up now would be like disrespecting those experiences. Besides, at the end of the day she was always fine. Sort of. Functional? Whatever, she wasn’t going to give up. She was going to be calm about it, think things through. Calm and collected. Why wasn’t her heart listening to her? It was beating so fast, it’s so hard to focus. Breathing. Yeah, four in, hold for seven, exhale slowly…Again. And again. Ignore those men’s gazes, just calm down and wait.
Her eyes blinked slowly as she watched her surroundings, careful to not move her head a centimeter. She was in some sort of clearing, three tents to the left, one to the right. She knew she had been there at some point walking in the woods, when? Hard to know, she didn’t exactly keep a diary.
Tension left her body and she signed, the adrenaline was wearing off and her shoulders felt specially affected by the struggle. They were whispering, about her probably, they didn’t look taken aback or wary, not even bothered, they didn’t look like they felt anything and that pissed her off. What was going on their heads? It didn’t look like a very serious conversation or a casual one. What is it? Which one? It made her nervous and that made her angry, like she had no control over this situation, and she didn’t. Shit, shit she was going to die.