Aaron’s movements and thoughts were slow. Whenever he felt a stab of doubt, another part of his mind calmed him down and assured him this was right; and so, he kept moving in spite of his reservations.
Siobhan whispered for him to go get the key from the other room. “Just pretend you’re one of them. They won’t know. There might not be anyone in there at all.”
Aaron took a deep breath, opened the door a crack, and stuck his head in. He nearly screamed and flew back from the door when he saw a man who seemed to be roaring at him.
It took Aaron five frantic seconds of stumbling, but he got back on his feet and walked in there, ready to excuse himself. Then he realised that he wasn’t roaring. The heavy-set man’s chin was resting on his chest, and he was breathing slowly, rhythmically. His roaring was snoring. Aaron wondered how he didn’t hear it in the other room. The man didn’t even stir when Aaron walked up to the table.
Aaron’s heartbeat sounded as loud as thunder to his own ears, but he managed to control his breathing long enough to grab a set of keys from the table in the middle of the room. Then he darted out of there. He closed the door softly and leaned against it for a moment, listening for the sound of the man’s snoring. Still going at it. It was almost too easy.
Siobhan and Nate waited eagerly for him, standing by the bars with big smiles as he rifled through the keys. Siobhan flung herself at him immediately when he opened her door, burying her face at his neck.
“Thank the Sisters you’re safe,” she muttered, clinging to his shirt. “I was so worried.”
Nate was more reserved, but he patted Aaron’s shoulder like he always used to. He was the one who finally reminded them that they had to get out of there, and possibly go back to Siobhan’s place for a change of clothes. It wasn’t a long walk.
After a frantic walk to her house, they made it to her place. Aaron had thought they would stay for a while, but they quickly herded him out of there after changing.
“We can’t stay in town, Aaron,” Siobhan said to his quizzical look. “We’re going to go to the school on the edge of town and call a taxi from there. They might still be here – we can’t risk running into them.”
The sun had almost set by the time they arrived at Durnin Valley School. The night air was heavy with the scent of flowers, and the sky was a surreal purple colour with a smattering of stars just peeking out.
Aaron calmed his breathing after the walk, while Siobhan and Nate talked in hushed voices, ignoring his existence except to tell him that they would be out of here soon. They then continued their conversation, dropping names and words he had never heard of.
Every time he tried to ask what they were talking about, one of them told him that they would tell him everything once they were safe.
Meanwhile, he stood still, staring out over Durnin Valley. Would he really have to leave? They said it would be too risky to stay here – they would be found. He struggled to understand them. Surely, they could just call the actual police and he could stay. After all, he had lived here his whole life.
“Aaron, come here.”
He turned and obeyed Siobhan without a minute’s thought. She took his hands in his and smiled. “There’ll be a taxi here soon, but until then we really need you to tell us something.”
She didn’t reply. Instead, she drew him near and put her hands on his face. Her lips were centimetres from his and his entire body was alive with desire for her. She whispered in his ear:
“Back at university, you had a group of friends. Tim, Greg, John. Remember them – from your dorm?”
Aaron frowned and pulled away. “My university friends? I haven’t seen them in years.”
“They’re in danger,” she said, dragging him back. “Just like you. They and their families. Those people back there have been looking for them.”
Being so close to her was distracting. The feeling of her hands on his face, her scent around him, all drew him in, but at the same time he tried to pull away. She wouldn’t let him and instead drew him closer while still talking about his old friends.
“Aaron, we need to know where they are. Their families? Their mothers? They’re in danger as well, so if you could just-”
Something snapped inside Aaron’s mind, and he pushed her away hard.
“I haven’t seen them in years. What is up with you?”
“Siobhan…” Nate said, his tone sounding like a warning.
She ignored him. “I told you that those people want them dead, too. We’re here to help you.”
“No, that doesn’t make sense.”
He took a step back when she reached for him. The look in her eyes was unpleasant, in a way he couldn’t place.
What am I doing here? Why did I do this?
Aaron kept backing away from the two of them while his brain was screaming for him to run. “Because if you wanted to help me, you would just call the police. Those other people, the ones who were at my house were imitating officers and that’s illegal. All we need to do-”
“Right, that’s it.” A foreboding click sounded from Nate and he turned to see him, once again, holding a gun. “I fucking told you, Siobhan. We’ve tried doing things your way, and it doesn’t work.”
Idiot. I’m an idiot.
He stepped away from his friends, ready to run for it. Wondering how good Nate’s aim was. But then he felt a pressure, pushing his body down, forcing him to his knees. None of them even touched him, but Nate’s other hand, the one without the gun, was raised.
Just like Milena when she had used her power.
Aaron tried struggling against it, but while he was incapacitated, Siobhan grabbed him and forced him to the ground. She twisted his arm around his back.
“Fine,” she snarled. “Read his damn mind and let’s get it over with.”
Nate sat down by the fountain, rolling his eyes. He pulled a small vial of liquid from his pocket and drank the contents. “Fine. Aaron, tell us all about your buddies and we’ll send you on your way.”
Aaron just shook his head, determined not to say anything. Siobhan grabbed a fistful of his hair and pulled.
“I don’t know anything!” he screamed. “I don’t know! I haven’t seen any of them in ages.”
“Tell us everything. What do you remember?”
Tears were running down Aaron’s cheeks and his scalp was burning from Siobhan’s grasp. His hands were scraped and dirty. “N-nothing. I only met their families once… Tim was an only child. Greg has a sister. John has… two brothers.”
She silenced him with another tug at his hair. Nate looked at her and shook his head.
“Come on, Aaron. You’ve got to know more than that.”
He waved the gun in Aaron’s face.
Aaron cried. “Wh-what can I tell you?”
“Anything, just do it.”
“Just spill and we’ll let you go home,” Siobhan said, but though her voice was kind, she still twisted his arm a bit further, making him whimper.
“T-Tim and Greg’s parents were divorced. John… I don’t know. Greg, he… majored in t-technology and he’s big in robotics now.”
Nate looked bored, but Aaron did as he said. He talked and talked of all the stupid, inane details he could think of while a splitting headache tried to tear his head in two: “John’s dad wore a sweater with the same pattern as mine. Greg’s mother spilled champagne on her trousers…”
It felt like hours passed, and Nate didn’t look happy at all. Siobhan didn’t say a word, she stayed still with a knee pressed against his back and his arm twisted painfully up. He soon stopped caring that tears and snot were streaming down his face.
“This is pointless,” Nate snarled just as Aaron finished explaining how Tim’s dad had too much to drink.
“You’re not getting anything?” Siobhan asked.
“Nothing we didn’t know. As far as we know, the bitch didn’t show up there more than once.” He got up from the ground and pointed his gun at Aaron’s forehead. “I guess we’re done here.”
His finger moved in slow-motion on the trigger.
After all this, Aaron wasn’t so sure he minded. It would be quick, and he would be free from the pain in his head. He closed his eyes and wondered if it would hurt. How long it would hurt. How death would feel.
But just as Aaron lay wondering how his employees and his partners would react, the world seemed to stand still. Milena Hartfield’s voice rang in the night air:
“Stop. Right now.”
Author’s note: HI GUYS! I’m back and I’m feeling better than I have in a long time because I only went and got my driver’s license! I can’t believe I actually made it. Now I can relax and destress before uni begins in September and, of course, write lots and lots of the Talented!
Hope y’all are doing great as well – cheers! 😀