“Hurry! I think I saw something moving!” a man shouted to the group of people trailing behind him. Hastily, but as quiet as they could, the others ran up to their leader, the sound of dead leaves being crushed by the mens’ boots being the only sound they made. Everybody had a rifle held in their hands except for a few people in the back of the group, carrying supplies instead. “Be quiet, I think it went east,” their leader whispered to the few people in the front of the party, who relayed the message to the back.

These men were one of the hunting parties of their town. They, along with four other groups, gathered food to nourish the people of their town. There were some farmers, but nobody was able to farm enough food for anymore than their own family. If they could, then they would. This town was one of the few towns that actually had a united community. Most towns required every family to fend for themselves. Everyone was on their own. That's how it had been for nearly a century.

“What went to the east? A man questioned the leader.

“A Kamyra. If we can catch one then we should have enough food to return home,” the leader answered. Kamyras are a rare animal. Their origin is unknown, but they are extremely valuable due to a certain properties they have. They heal amazingly fast. If you cut off a slab of flesh from it, the wound would heal in half a minute, and within a few hours, the flesh would have grown back completely. They also have large amounts of bone marrow so they can regain lost blood easily. This allows them to provide lots of food, but they are very hard to find and even harder to capture, but the men needed to take it alive. “Tell the supply carriers to hand out cross-launchers,” The man obeyed and cross launchers, or guns that shot nets instead of bullets, were given to the people in the middle.

“What’s our plan?” Another man asked the leader. “We've only seen a Kamyra once before.”

“Them things’re smart. We’ll have ta’ send half of the group in with guns to draw it out towards the other half of the group to hopefully snag it in one of them cross-launcher nets,” the leader answered. Everyone was able to hear him. “Okay, front half, enter on my command!” They front half of the group readied themselves. “Three, two, one, CHARGE!” The front half of the group dashed in the clearing in front of them, seeing an animal with a similar structure to a moose. Instead of antlers, it had red horns that matched its crimson fur. The group circled the Kamyra and pulled their rifles up to it from all directions. The Kamyra looked at all of the hunters and had a bored look. It then compressed its hind legs and sprung into the sky.

“Holy crap,” everyone said in unison as they watched the animal soar through the air. The hunters tried to shoot its legs while it descended, but failed to do so. Fortunately, the moose had leapt to the west; the exact place that the second half of the hunting party was stationed. It was immediately ambushed by the hunters and within seconds was encased in a cocoon of thick nets. “YEAH!!!!” Everybody cheered. This was the second Kamyra they had ever caught, of course it was a time to celebrate. It would mean that for a long time, they wouldn't need to hunt as much food and would still be able to survive. Less people in the town would starve. Their screams of joy reverberated across the thick forest. The only one who wasn't cheering was the party’s leader.

“C'mon, Elrod, you're always so stiff and emotionless. Show some joy once in a while!” one man told his leader.

“How would that benefit the town?” the leader named Elrod responded.

“It’d make all of us happier!”

“Everybody, let's move out. Supplies, carry the net.”

“Okay!” the supply carriers shouted, still high fiving everyone else in joy. They loaded up the restrained Kamyra, strengthened by the knowledge that they were carrying such a rare, valuable reward for the town.

“You must be happy with yourselves,” a voice suddenly echoed across the forest. Everyone turned around and looked for the source of the sound, but then dismissed it. They probably just heard an animal or something. There wasn't really anyone out there. The party continued to trek back to the village. If they rested at 9:00 PM and woke at 3:00 AM then they could reach the town by dawn.

“Just ignore that sound, and hurry up! We’re wasting time!” the leader shouted. Nobody dared to disobey Elrod. He never showed emotion, even in front of his wife and child. He seemed to be completely heartless. Because if this, everyone feared him. He was given control of the top hunting party in Miganshina town, after all. The party returned to formation and walked. Lots of time passed, and nothing happened. But at about 8:00 PM, the mysterious voice returned.

“I don't appreciate it when people ignore me.” Some people grew afraid, while others pulled out their rifles and rotated, looking for the stalker/prankster. But still, there was no sign of a single person in the vicinity.

“What did I say about ignoring that stupid voice!” Elrod yelled. Everyone calmed down once again and the party continued their trek. Leaves and twigs crunched under the feet of the moving party. The sky began to change from a bright blue to an array of dark reds and purple as the sun began to lower in the sky. “Set up camp now!” Elrod commanded. Immediately, everyone stopped and laid out blankets in a grid in a clearing.

“You people don't seem to like listening to me.” That voice again. It shook up the party even more so this time than the previous occurrences.

“I SAID IGNORE THAT VOICE!!!” Elrod screamed at the top of his lungs, likely scaring away any wildlife in a one mile radius.

“Don't tell us what to do!” One person retaliated. Everyone stared at him like he had just jumped in front of a murderer’s gun. Nobody ever questioned Elrod’s orders. “Whoever’s voice that is, he has been following us and may try to kill us! I'm not going to sit down and take orders to just ignore this person! I have a family at home that I'd like to see again!” Elrod pulled his rifle up to this man’s chest.

“I suggest you don't try that again. I won't waste a bullet on you yet, but don't count on me making the same decision again,” Elrod quietly told the man. A chill went down everyone’s spine as they watched this scene.The entire party was thinking the exact same thing, but nobody had the guys to speak against Elrod.

“I can see you are having a… scene here. I'll give you sixty seconds before my arrival. Good luck everybody!” The same voice. It sounded less deep and stern and much more laid back and pleasant this time.

“You heard him! Prepare of flee!” The man who just retaliated warned.

“It is just some person with a very sick sense of humor! We will remain calm!” But this time, Elrod’s words didn't penetrate the terror of his party. They readied their guns and had them loaded. Elrod gave up and did the same. A few hunters drew the cross-launchers and aimed them in all directions. The party was ready for any threat. Or at least they thought they were.

“It seems you've taken heed of my warning. Psh, like that'll help!” A figure stepped out of the trees. This person was completely shrouded in a black mantle and appeared to be unarmed. It seemed as if all the remaining light in the sky was sucked away upon this man’s entry. He was a medium height and was fairly thin. His figure seemed very normal. “Have all of you lived happy lives? Oh, wait, of course not. This world sucks. I guess I’ll remove you from it for you. I'll even do it for free, how does that sound?” This man seemed like he was a charming and social person, yet he was threatening the party’s life. Everyone pointed their rifles at him. “I take it I'm an uninvited guest then?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Elrod answered quietly. His finger was ready to pull on the trigger at any time.

“You all aren't very nice, I've been wandering the forest all day! Surely you could let me join you, sure?” the man in the mantle said charmingly. Elrod’s finger squeezed the lever on his rifle, setting off an explosion of gunpowder. A bullet was propelled out of the barrel and flew forward towards the man in the mantle. But something incredible happened. The mysterious man didn't even flinch. The bullet flew towards him until it was about half way to him, and then completely changed directions. It turned ninety degrees and flew into a tree. Everybody gaped at him. “Oh, so that's how it is,” the man mumbled in a dark voice. Out from under his cloak, five guns flew out and levitated, forming an arc above his head. He pointed all five guns at Elrod. “Bye bye!” the man shouted. All the guns fired at the same time. Streams of bullets flew out of the barrels and pierced all the way through Elrod’s body, who collapsed to the ground, although the life had already left his eyes before he began to descend towards the ground. All of the other bullets flew around and reached their targets of the hunters’ hearts. Each and every person fell to the ground defeated by this man in the mantle.

“I lied, you don't get to leave this world yet.” The man knelt onto the ground and stared at nothing. At least, it looked like nothing to everyone except for him. “Oh, it's wonderful! All of these wonderful things! And only I can see them! Splendid! Splendid!” What this man could see was small, light blue, organic shaped objects, looking similar to a wisp, but only a small fragment of one.

This man raised his arms into the air. These small wisp-like objects began to float towards him, and within a few seconds, passed into his body. “The power coursing through me, oh, it's so amazing! It's so easy to kill people, with humanity in anarchy! Splendid! Splendid!”

Chapter 1

My name is Kajeka. I live in the small town of Miganshina with my mother, Karla, and my twin sister, Charlotte. There are lots of towns like the one I live in nearby, but we are the strongest(which isn't saying much since Miganshina and all the nearby towns are fairly poor). After the world was sent into anarchy ninety-eight years ago, thousands of towns like this one had to be formed.

This word isn't a chaotic anarchy like what stories tell about, it was fairly peaceful. Ninety-eight years ago, the economy of the U.S, China, Russia, and many others countries fell. Wars began and caused lots of technology to be lost. Things that would be impossible now were used every day before the world’s economy fell. Almost everyone had a flat box that could be used to watch moving pictures broadcasted throughout the world, and a small device you could fit in your pocket could be used to communicate with anybody in the entire world. Now, the only technology that comes even close to what they had long ago is our guns. We had to keep that knowledge.

After wars ended, peace returned to the world, but nobody was able to recover. Not a single country rose up and became a big enough economic force to restore world order. No government has been able to be formed. We just try to survive.

“Kajeka! Pick up the pace! We need to gather more firewood!” I looked around, I guess I was daydreaming.

“Sorry Charlotte!” I answered. We were on the outskirts of a forest close to our house, gathering sticks for a fire. Today, the hunting parties were supposed to return to the city, so everyone needed to gather enough materials to cook the meat they bring. There was going to be a large feast, like there always was when they returned. Charlotte already had a large pile of sticks, while I had been slacking off and had only a dozen twigs. I hastily ran around to pick up whatever sticks I could find. Charlotte began to laugh.

“It looks hilarious when you start suddenly working really hard.” She walked behind a tree and picked up a second pile of sticks that she had made. “Take it, don't tell mom I did your work,” she told me. I smiled.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I responded.

“Don't think I'm doing this for free, I'm gonna want some of your food at the feast tonight, alright?” Charlotte told me. I groaned.

“What do you want?” I asked sadly.

“That depends, what's your favorite food?”

“The venison that they baked wrapped in pig skin last time was really good, I guess that,” I answered. “Why?”

“Okay, I'll take all of that then!” Charlotte answered condescendingly.

“You're so nice, you know that?” I told her sarcastically.

“Of course I am, I did your work for you!” We both started laughing.

“Fine then. Let's head back, mom’s probably waiting for us at home.” We picked up our piles of firewood and began to carry them back home, which was about a mile away. “Charlotte?” I started.

“What?” She asked.

“Do you ever wish that you could have been born before the economy fell?” Charlotte looked at me.

“In some ways, yes. But there is so many terrible things that happened in the 2100s before the fall that make me despise that time. Wars began because people couldn't agree on which religion is right. Children being sold to others just to be abused. So much crime. It was pretty obvious that the world would eventually lose power. The human race was little more than just a bunch of idiots.”

“But what about all of the technology that they had? Communication from thousands of miles away! Machines that carry hundreds of people through the skies! Even into space! They had so many wonderful luxuries! Wouldn't you want to live there?” But Charlotte’s face twisted into an angry expression. She was usually so easy going and it was rare to ever see her angry.

“Is it worth it to live in a world where what happened to dad happens every day?!” Charlotte shouted. Her words surprised me. Nobody ever spoke about our dad. We were only two years old when it happened.

Mom and dad had a wonderful relationship. They were always happy together and never fought. They lived in a small hut, the same one we live in now. On that day, they had some friends at their house and were playing cards, drinking beer, it was just a fun day for everyone.

“Honey, I’ve got something for you outside. Just stay here and I'll get it for you, I know you'll love it.” Dad always liked to buy gifts for mom, it was just how he was. He loved giving presents to everyone, he always did.

“Okay, but you better get right back in here because the wait always kills me when I don’t know what it is.”

“I'll make sure to be quick then.” They kissed each other and parted. Of course, they didn't know that it would be their last. Dad walked out of the entrance to the hut and out of everyone's view. But suddenly, there was a blast followed by a scream. Everybody rushed out of the house.

“Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay,” mom thought. But when everyone got outside, there was a scene too gruesome for words. A body was laid out on the ground, although it didn't look like a body at all. It looked like a mound of blood and meat, completely mutilated beyond recognition. Mom started to cry. She screamed out in total anguish at the sight of her murdered husband. Charlotte and I were sitting in a crib inside the hut. I was fast asleep, but Charlotte was wide awake. She climbed out of the crib and clumsily walked outside to see what all of the commotion was about. The sight of her dead father was burned into her mind forever. Even when she was two years old, she knew what had happened. Her father, her kind, loving father, had just been murdered. Nobody ever knew who did it, or how they did so much damage to his body so quickly. I never went through pain like Charlotte had then. I wasn't aware if anything happening.

When Charlotte saw the scene, there was something odd that happened, though. She said she remembered a small, blue, puff floating near the bloody corpse. It's a secret between the two of us, and we still don't know what it was.

“I'm sorry,” I told her. “I'm sorry that I couldn't go through that pain with you. I'm sorry that you had to deal with it alone.”

“Back before the fall, murders like that weren't rare like they are now. Across the world, there were hundreds, no, thousands of murders each day. Thousands of families had to deal with our grief every day. How could that be a world you want to live in?” Charlotte asked in a calmed voice. I couldn't answer the question. I just stared at her silently. “Well, now were even more late thanks to you, great job!” she commented sarcastically, but happily. We headed back to our house. When we arrived at the entrance of our hut, I pushed on the door to find it to be locked.

“Mom! It's us!” I shouted. Light footsteps approached the door on the other side and lifted up a plank of wood hinged to the wall. The door opened revealing a small, nice looking woman.

“Kajeka, Charlotte! What took you so long?” Our mother asked.

“We got lost in a conversation is all,”’Charlotte answered quickly. Mom looked at us and our piles of wood we were carrying.

“Kajeka fell asleep and you did all his work, didn't you Charlotte?” Mom asked Charlotte.

“Exactly right!” Charlotte answered.

“Dang it, you're not getting any if my food tonight!” I yelled.

“I'll take half of your venison wraps ‘cause I did all your work,” Charlotte proposed. I sighed.

“Deal.” Charlotte smiled.

“You kind of brought this on yourself, when do you ever have as big of a pile of wood as I do?” It was true, I always just wanted to slack off and do nothing all day.

“The feast’s in an hour, I'll carry your fire wood there, make sure you arrive in time, kids!” Mom told us.

“Will do, bye mom!” I answered.

“See you in an hour!” She took the piles of firewood out of our hands and carried them out the doorway, waving as she closed the door.

“What should we do in the mean time? We've still got an hour,” Charlotte asked.

“I dunno, go hang out with Kyle and Sarissa?” I suggested.

“Whatever,” Charlotte answered. “Otherwise I'd just sit here bored. You know where they are right now?” She asked.

“Kyle’s probably at home, and Sarissa’s usually practicing shooting her rifle at this time, she'll be in the woods now.” I answered. “Let's head out.” I took a canister from Charlotte’s hands and brought it into the small room we shared. We had both emptied our water canisters while we were collecting wood. I set them down on our bed and stepped back out. We both walked out the door (which I almost ingeniously locked behind us) and began the walk back to the forest. As I walked, I watched multicolored leaves soar through the air, almost as plentiful as snowflakes during a winter storm.

“The skies look beautiful tonight, don't they?” Charlotte asked me. I didn't hear her though, I was lost in also marveling at the sky. “Kajeka, Kajeka!” I fell out of my stupor.

“What, who there?” I asked stupidly. Charlotte laughed.

“Seriously, though, you need to stop daydreaming so much.” We continued to walk towards the forest. When we arrived there, leaves completely covered the ground on the outskirts. An explosion pierced the air which most certainly belonged to Sarissa’s gun. “Hurry, Kajeka!” Charlotte shouted. I followed her through the woods since I could never remember where Sarissa’s base was in these woods. After a few minutes of walking we reached a large tree with a small platform at the top. Hanging over the side of the platform, a rifle’s barrel sat, aiming for a piece of white bark nailed to a tree. Holding this rifle was Sarissa, a tall, blonde haired girl who spent lots of time perfecting her ability with the rifle she held. Her rifle had been given to her be her grandfather ten years ago, when she was only five.

I noticed an animal rustling in a small bush nearby, so I turned around to see what it was. Unfortunately, on my way to the bush, I walked straight in front of the makeshift target that Sarissa was aiming at. I saw a muzzle flash and watched a bullet zooming through the air. An explosion pierced the silence of the forest and the projectile launched by this explosion struck the tree after grazing my right temple. Startled and scared, I jumped back and fell onto the ground. A gasp came from the tree stand and the gun mounted on it was removed. The owner quickly descended the branches of the tree and ran towards me. “Oh my god, I'm so sorry Kajeka, are you alright?” Sarissa asked me in a firm but concerned voice.

“I… I'm fine, don't worry about me,” I answered. Sarissa offered her hand to help me up, but I didn't accept it. “Really, I'm fine. You should be mad at me for wasting one of your bullets.”

“Really? How heartless do you think I am?” Sarissa asked angrily.

“Um, I didn’t mean that,” I answered awkwardly. I pushed myself up off of the ground and brushed my fingers against the side of my head where the bullet struck. Blood was dripping down from the point of impact. “All I've got is a small cut.”

“So, Sarissa. How's your training been? It's been a week since I saw you!” Charlotte asked.

“Apparently I need to work on being aware of my surroundings.” She said as she glanced at me. “But my aim has improved a lot recently.” Sarissa continued.

“That's great! Are you planning on attending the marksman contest coming up?” Charlotte questioned.

“I think I'm finally good enough to participate now, although It'll be difficult being the only child there. I have to keep practicing,” Sarissa answered.

“We were planning on finding Kyle and hanging out, you wanna come?” I asked Sarissa.

“Kyle? We’re… um, not exactly on great terms right now,” she answered.

“What happened?” Charlotte asked.

“He knocked an entire box of bullets into the river. But that's okay, I'll come with you. Just avoiding each other isn't going to solve our conflict.” Sarissa climbed back up her tree and set her rifle under the platform, held up with a few nails. The bottom of the platform was covered up by branches, so it concealed the rifle perfectly. She had to hide the rifle well, it was the most important thing she owned. If it were stolen, she would really kill the person who stole it.

“HEY!!! SARISSA!!!” A loud shout pierced the air. Running through the woods, a red haired boy crushed branches and nearly tripped over exposed roots. “SARISSA!!!” The boy shouted again. He appeared in front of us and tripped a few feet away, dropping a medium sized box he held in his hands.

“What on Earth are you doing here, Kyle?” Sarissa yelled.

“I felt bad about losing your bullets, so I bought you a new box of them at the market!” he answered. “It's on the ground right next to me, now can you please help me up?”

“Alright, man you're clumsy!” Sarissa reached out her hand to the fallen Kyle, who unlike me, grabbed on to the offered hand. She pulled Kyle up, along with the box which opened during Kyle’s tumble.

“I'll help you pick them up, sorry!” Kyle shouted. He got back onto his knees and began to gather the scattered bullets.

“No, that's okay, you don't have to help me. Thanks for the bullets, I forgive you,” Sarissa told him.

“Thanks!” Kyle yelled.

“What do you keep yelling for? You're right next to me.”

“Sorry, Sarissa,” Kyle apologized.

“You don't need to apologize! I can never understand you, Kyle.”

“Kyle, we’re here too,” I told him.

“Oh, I didn't notice you. Hey Kajeka, hi. Charlotte,” Kyle greeted us.

“Hey, Kyle!” Charlotte said. “You're coming to the feast tonight, right?” she asked.

“Of course! My dad’s part of the elite hunting party, he'd kill me if I missed it, and I also really like the food.”

“We've only got about thirty minutes before it starts, so we'd better depart now,” Sarissa suggested. We began to walk again, only this time we were all four waking together. Sarissa led us all, since she knew the forest better than all of us. We were able to get out in just two minutes. From there, we walked all the way across town and arrived fifteen minutes early.

“Mom!” I shouted. “We’re here!” A man turned around and glared at me.

“How could you be so cheerful and full of glee? How could you be so joyful at this scene?” The man snarled.

“What are you talking about?” Charlotte asked him. “What’s your problem anyways? We just arrived here! What’s going on anyways?” she defended.

“Oh, you don't know yet, you all can pass in front of me and see what's happening here,” he told us in a grim voice. Charlotte and I made eye contact before slipping through the crowd, Sarissa and Kyle following close behind. The scene that we saw was horrific, too terrible for words to even describe it.

In the center of the crowd, where tables were laid and fire pits were dug, fifty corpses sat on the grass. Each one had a hole in the exact center of their heart. Charlotte, Sarissa and I all had terrified faces, but that was nothing compared to Kyle’s expression.

“Which pastry is that?! Please don't let it be party A! Dad! Dad! DAD!!!” Kyle cried out. Tears were forming in his eyes. He looked around the array of corpses until he stopped moving. He was paralyzed with fear and sadness when his eyes reached the corpse of his father. The dam broke in his head and tears poured down his face. Charlotte, Sarissa and I were crying too, but nothing like how Kyle was crying. He cried out in utter anguish.

A priest walked down into the center of the crowd. He began to speak. “Tonight was supposed to be a night of celebration. A night where the entire community joins together to cook and eat a wonderful meal, and thank the hunters who gave us the food. But, due to a terrible turn of events, all fifty members of hunting party A have been murdered. The hunters were all killed by gunshots to the heart.” Kyle started crying even more.

“Could you shut up, kid? He's trying to give a speech to honor these fallen hunters!” A man commanded him.

“Shut up! His father is one of those corpses in the center of the crowd!” Sarissa retaliated.

“A lot of people lost loved ones today, that doesn't give us the right for a teenager to cry like a baby during the priests speech!” The man shouted. Sarissa snapped. She kicked the man right in the crotch. The man fell to the ground, seeing Sarissa’s outraged expression. She turned back around to the priest.

“Let’s have a moment of silence for these fallen hunters.” Kyle calmed down as much as he could, but was still gasping for air and nearly hyperventilating. “Thank you. I can assure you all that justice will be served to the people who carried out such a heinous crime! These hunters did so much great for us!” He pulled over a net which contained a Kamyra. Everyone gasped. “It's such a shame that such great people who did so much for us.” A tear rolled down his eye. “The feast will be canceled for this month, and may be rescheduled. If not, all the food will be redistributed.” Nobody groaned. It was too was of a day to groan or show any emotion. “I'll kill them,” Kyle whispered.

“What?” I asked.

“I said I'll kill them,” he repeated.

“Kyle, you just need to get some rest. You’ll be okay,” Charlotte reassured him, but even she knew these words were completely empty.

“I’LL KILL THEM!” Kyle screamed. He ran through the crowd to his father’s corpse and grabbed the rifle that was laid next to him. “I’LL MURDER HIM IN AS GRUESOME A WAY AS I CAN! I WILL SEND HIN TO HELL!!!” Kyle ran through the other side of the crowd into the forest on the side of town we were on.

“KYLE!” Sarissa shouted. We knew he was serious. He was going to try to find and kill the man who killed his father. But if he did find him, he would just be murdered.

“Sarissa, Kajeka, we've got to find him!” Charlotte yelled.

“Alright, Sarissa, grab a rifle! You're the only one who's any good with one so you can defend us!” I told her.

“Okay!” We all ran through the crowd, Sarissa picked up a rifle, and we chased after Kyle into the woods.

Chapter 2

“Go faster!” I shouted. Kyle was usually really clumsy, but if he didn't fall, he ran fast. He was still out of our view.

“Sarissa,” Charlotte whispered. “I know this is cruel, but shoot a bullet at a tree. He may think it’s the murderer and he'll stop.” Sarissa looked at her.

“I can't make him that afraid, after all he's been through,” Sarissa responded.

“It's either make him afraid, or risk him being killed by the real murderer. Pick one.” Sarissa sighed, and pointed her gun into the air. Her finger pushed on the trigger, triggering a bullet to be launched into the air. The recoil of shooting into the air nearly knocked Sarissa down. “Keep running!” Charlotte commanded. Our only guide was the trampled flowers and grass that looked like it was made from one person running. “Shoot again!” Sarissa pointed her gun at the ground this time and fired. The recoil had less of an affect on her since she was sort of used to it.

“You're gonna die,” I heard Kyle say. “Whoever you are, you're gonna die!!!” We were close to him. He had stopped moving.

“Kajeka! Take my gun and shield yourself with it!” Sarissa shouted. “Kyle may shoot you if he thinks you are the murderer!” A rifle went flying through the air and landed safely into my hands. I held it vertically in front of my chest and head; the two places he was most likely to shoot at. We could see Kyle standing in a small clearing. I ran in, Sarissa’s gun held in front of me. As I emerged from the trees and into the clearing, I head an explosion and felt a strong force press against my arms and gun that made me drop it. Kyle realized who I was a few moments later. He began to cry.

“I'm sorry! I'm sorry I ran away from you and I'm sorry I went berserk, I'm sorry I shot at you!” Kyle cried in anguish. Charlotte and Sarissa revealed themselves from behind the trees a few moments later. We all surrounded Kyle and hugged him.

“It's alright. What you are going through is really difficult, we know.” Charlotte told him. “You don't have to apologize for anything you've done.” We stayed there for three hours, letting Kyle release all of his tears and anger. Charlotte and. I didn't really know what he was going through. We were only two years old when it happened, Kyle is fourteen. The fun loving, clumsy, easy to befriend Kyle had experienced much worse than we had, no, than. I had. Charlotte knew what was happening even when she was two years old. I was too stupid.

“You should have been more careful, Kyle! You could've gotten yourself killed!” Sarissa told him. Kyle just looked at Sarissa for a second.

“I think that might have been why I ran into these woods, not to serve justice, but to die.” He said.

“No, you can't ever commit suicide, not ever! You have too much to live for and you're not going to throw it all away. I won't let you!” Sarissa shouted. Kyle smiled.

“Thanks everyone. Thank you for saving my life. I can't ever make it up to you,” he told us.

“Well, there's this really expensive chocolate cake that they sell in a town nearby, soooo…” Charlotte joked.

“We'd better get out of here, I'm sure our parents are looking for…” I started, realizing the mistake of what I had just said.

“You're fine,” Kyle told me. I sighed with relief, thankful that Kyle didn't explode at me. I'd never seen that before, and I definitely didn't want to see it either. “We'd better be careful, though. They could think that were the murderers, like I did.” We, once again, all followed behind Sarissa and got out of the forest, although it took a long time. By the time we arrived back outside the forest, it was almost pitch black outside, the night only being illuminated by the small sliver of the moon that was visible. Charlotte and I were the first to emerge from the forest, and when we did, two hundred guns were pointed directly at us.

“Who are you two?” One man who seemed to be the leader of hunting party B interrogated.

“We are two kids from this town who you just made the most skillful hunters in the city again hundreds of guns at, does that satisfy you?” Charlotte answered.

“Charlotte, sarcasm with the hunting parties could get you shot to death. After all, the murderer could be standing in this crowd right now,” Sarissa told Charlotte. Everybody silenced.

“You think that one of us committed that terrible crime?!” The leader of party B screamed.

“Probably not. There's not much of a chance that anyone escaped from formation and was able to shoot fifty people and kill them all in one shot, but maybe there were other methods of killing. Maybe, poison gas? Shooting each of them after death could make it harder to find the murderer, and a supplies carrier could smuggle in a tank of gas. But still, it's pretty unlikely,” Sarissa answered.

“Are you insane? Who, out of us, would ever commit such a crime?”

“Sarissa, please, stop stirring up trouble,” Kyle pleaded. Sarissa's eyes softened. She probably hurt from saying that one of the members if a hunting party would do something as horrible as that.

“Okay, I'll stop,” she told them. “And the answer to your question, probably.” Sarissa strolled through the entire group of two hundred hunters. Charlotte, Kyle and I followed a little ways behind her.

“I'm sorry about her, so sorry,” Kyle apologized to the hunters. When we escaped from the crowd, we all just realized the magnitude of what Sarissa had just done.

“Sarissa, are you insane?!” I shouted at her.

“I thought I already answered that question back there,” she answered.

“Sarissa, you can't just say things like that,” Kyle told Sarissa.

“I think I just did,” she responded.

“Why are you acting like this, Sarissa? This isn't like you, you're usually quiet and reserved unless you're defending one of us. Why?” Charlotte questioned. “Please tell me!” She pleaded. Sarissa continued to walk in silence, ignoring Charlotte. She grabbed Sarissa and turned her body around to face Charlotte. “Why! Why are you doing all of this! Showing so much swagger, ignoring me, stirring up trouble, why would you do this? What are you trying to do?!” Sarissa just looked at Charlotte.

“I don't have to answer you,” Sarissa responded coldly. Charlotte returned the cold stare that Sarissa gave her.

“Goodbye, then,” Charlotte farewelled to her. “Kajeka, Kyle, are you staying with her or coming with me?” Kyle and I looked at both Sarissa and Charlotte.

“I guess I'll go with Charlotte,” we both answered. “Bye Sarissa, see you later,” I told her.

“See ya,” Kyle farewelled. We both followed Charlotte as she stormed across the darkened dirt paths. Kyle and I didn't say a word to her as she walked through the streets. I think I heard Sarissa’s voice crying in the distance.

Here’s your home, Kyle. Bye,” Charlotte told Kyle when they arrived.

“Charlotte, are you…”

“I'm fine, goodbye,” Charlotte cut him off.

“Bye, Charl-“ But Kyle stopped talking when he realized Charlotte had already stormed off. “See ya, Kajeka,” Kyle told me. “I guess you'll have a handful when you get home.

“Yeah, I guess so. See ya!” I told him as I broke into a run to catch up to her. I tried not to say anything as Charlotte’s feet pounded on the dirt while she walked, but I couldn't help myself. “Charlotte, talk to me, please.”

“I can't.”

“Yes you can, I'm your brother, please talk to me.” Charlotte sighed.

“Why was Sarissa being like that? She was being dishonorable and making accusations about the hunters, and wouldn't even tell me why! I don't want to be friends with her if she's going to act like that.” Charlotte finally stopped running. “But I also don't want to lose her. We've been friends for years, and I don't want to throw it away. What should I do, Kajeka! What can I do?” After that, for the second time today, someone cried on my shoulder.

“Mom! It's Kajeka and Charlotte!” I shouted at the door. Less than a second later, the door swung open quickly and we were both pulled into a big hug from our mother.

“Oh my god, I'm so glad you're home, I was so worried about you, what happened?” our mom asked us.

“Kyle’s dad, he was part of hunting party A,” I informed her. Our mom’s eyes turned to a grim expression.

“T…tell him that I said I'm sorry about his loss.” Mom told us. “I didn't even think, you must have had a really rough day. You two get some sleep.”

“Goodnight, mom!” I told her as I walked to Charlotte and I’s small room. I heard Charlotte do the same as I slipped my shoes off and laid on the mattress made of hay and cloth. Charlotte walked in to the small room and slipped into our bed. You'd think it would be really weird sharing a bed with your twin, but we had done it for our whole life, we were used to it. “Goodnight, Charlotte.”

“Goodnight, Kajeka. Thanks, you know, for earlier,” Charlotte thanked me.

“Don't mention it.” And we both laid in bed and fell asleep.

The next morning, when I woke up, I noticed that Charlotte was already out of bed. I walked out of our room and saw Charlotte standing at our wood stove with a pot full of water. Using a a pair of sticks, she fished out to round, white orbs. “I boiled you an egg,” Charlotte told me. She tossed the boiled egg through the air to me, which I unfortunately dropped. Thankfully, the boiled egg didn't split apart.

“Thanks. Why are you up so early?” I asked. “You're usually never awake this early,” I added.

“ I'm going to try and resolve things with Sarissa. If you don't mind, can you come along and help me, Kajeka?” Charlotte requested. I looked at her.

“I would like to come with you and help,” I began. “But this is your conflict. I don't really feel right helping resolve your conflicts. I think you should do this yourself.” Charlotte stared down at the ground.

“I guess so. I might be back soon, or I might take a while. I'm not really sure. Just tell mom I'm hanging out with friends if she asks.” She told me.

“Bye Charlotte!” I farewelled. I'm not sure if she heard me though, because by the time I said this, she was already out the door.

Charlotte knew that she had to resolve this fight. Even if it had just been going on for less than a day, she needed to know why Sarissa all of a sudden acted so defiantly, so full of herself! Sarissa and Charlotte had been friends since she was six years old. They met when Charlotte got lost in a the forest.

That day, she decided that she was going to try to find the berry bushes in the forest. She heard her mom talking about how much she would love to make a blackberry pie, but she'd never be able to get the ingredients. She just told her mom that she was going to hang out with Kajeka, since he was already out anyways. Charlotte wanted to surprise her mother.

When she got outside, she ran as fast as she could to the forest. She wanted to get as many berries as she could before she had to return. That would make her mother even more happy. When she arrived at the forest, she didn't notice how big it was. She had never been very deep into it, so it didn't seem very daunting. Surely she had seen some berry bushes in there, it would be easy to get some! Of course, right away, as she walked deeper and deeper into the thick undergrowth, she realized that it would not, in fact, be very easy to find these bushes. The basket that she carried around was also way to big and awkward for a six year old girl to carry around the forest.

After an hour of wandering around, she found one bush. One bush, and it was a small bush too. The amount of berries she had didn't even cover the bottom of the basket she carried. But Charlotte kept good spirits. She figured that she just hadn't walked deep enough into the forest. She kept walking in the same direction until she decided that there weren't any berries that way, and turned another direction. She was just a kid, she didn't know any better.

After three hours, Charlotte had finally found an area with a decent amount of berries. She sat there and began to pick every single blackberry that she could find. By the time she was done, the basket she brought was almost full. “Time to head back! Mom’ll be so proud of me!” Charlotte thought as she carried the heavy basket. She was tired and exhausted, but the joy of finding all of these berries for her mom was like ecstasy. She wouldn't stop moving until she returned home, or passed out from exhaustion. Although, after another hour of carrying the large basket, it seemed as though the latter would occur.

Charlotte couldn't go on much longer with the basket, but she wouldn't stop herself. The thought of her mother kept pushing her on. But eventually, even willpower reaches its limit. She at this point, she had walked for five hours. She was done. She tried as hard as she could to keep going, but couldn't. She'd just have to lay on the forest floor, and try again after resting. She closed her eyes and tried to sleep.

This was interrupted by a loud explosion. Startled, Charlotte jolted awake and looked around, trying to find the source of the blast. Followed by this, she heard the crunching of leaves. She looked around again and saw a young girl walking towards her. This girl approached Charlotte and held out her hand. “Do you need help, are you lost?” the girl asked Charlotte.

“Um… yeah. I need to find my way back home, but I got lost in the forest,” Charlotte answered. “What’s your name?” She asked.

“Sarissa, I’m seven. What’s your’s?” the girl named Sarissa asked.

“My name’s Charlotte, I'm six.” Charlotte glanced at the object that was in Sarissa’s hands. “Um, is that a real gun?” She asked.

“Why else would I keep it with me if it weren't? I’m not very good with it, but I'm alright.” Sarissa answered. “Why do you ask?”

“I… I just figured, you know, that you're a little young to carry around a rifle,” she answered.

“I just started practicing a few weeks ago. Still getting used to the recoil of it.” Sarissa held out her hand to Charlotte, which she took.

“I've got to bring these berries back home for my mom,” Charlotte said weakly. She tried to bend down and pick them up, but she didn't have the strength to.

“I'll carry them for you, it's alright,” Sarissa told Charlotte.

“Thank you, Sarissa.” Charlotte walked slowly behind Sarissa, who kept having to stop for Charlotte to catch her breath. “I'm sorry, I've been out here for five hours walking with that basket.”

“Take as much time as you need to rest. I don't exactly have anywhere to be.”

“Hey, Sarissa, I know this is a sudden question, but could we be friends?” Sarissa turned around to me.

“Why would you want to be friends with me?” She asked her. Charlotte gave her a strange look, but then she realized that she was actually being serious.

“You helped me out back there, and you seem pretty nice, so can I be your friend?” Charlotte asked again.

“I've never had a friend before. I usually don't like hanging out with other people. And my personality repulses most people. And no, I'm not nice. I just helped you this once because I didn't have anything better to do.”

“You're still not answering my question. Can we be friends?” Sarissa gave her a look that said “whatever happens, you've brought this upon yourself”.

“Okay, I'll be your friend, but I know you'll back out when you really get to know me,” Sarissa answered. Charlotte ran up to Sarissa and hugged her.

“That answer’s better than no,” Charlotte told her. Sarissa awkwardly returned the hug. They continued to walk for about fifteen minutes until they finally emerged from the forest.

“Do you want to take me to your house?” Sarissa asked Charlotte.

“If you don't mind,” she answered.

“Okay, I will.” They continues the short walk back to Charlotte’s house, with Sarissa carrying her rifle and the basket of berries. After about ten minutes, they reached the destination. Charlotte knocked at her door. The door swung open, revealing Charlotte’s mother. Her mother saw the girl standing next to Charlotte, who was holding a gun. She knelt down on her knees immediately.

“I'll give you any money we have, just don't shoot!” She wailed. Sarissa sighed.

“Mom, stop, she's not a burglar, she's my friend. I got lost in the forest and she helped me find the exit,” Charlotte informed her. Her mom opened her eyes, realizing that she clearing neglected to notice the fact that the “burglar” was seven years old and carrying a basket of blackberries. Charlotte's mom sighed.

“I'm sorry, um, what's your name?”

“Sarissa, mam.”

“You don't have to say mam when you talk to me. Thank you for finding Charlotte. And what are you holding? You know, in the basket.”

“The reason I went out in the first place was to pick berries for you, so here you go, mom!” Sarissa set the basket down on the floor and pushed it forward. The mother looked at it and thanked Charlotte and Sarissa. “Now you have to make a pie, I spent five and a half hours out there and I'm not gonna have done that for nothing!” Charlotte commanded her mother. She smiled.

“Okay then, I'll make a big pie tonight for you!” Her mom responded.

“Sarissa, you should stay here for today, you deserve to have some of the pie, you led me out of that forest!” Sarissa just stayed quiet.

“Nobody’s ever invited me to their house before. I guess I'll stay, Charlotte,” she answered.

“Yay!!! We’re going to have so much fun today!” When Charlotte shouted that, she could have sworn she saw Sarissa smile a little bit. Sarissa almost never smiles. But that meant that her smiles were worth something, that when she smiles, she really is happy.

Charlotte had to repair this friendship.

When she arrived at Sarissa’s house, Charlotte knocked at the door. A large, bulky man appeared in the doorway. “Hello, Charlotte! How’re you today?” This man, Sarissa’s father, asked Charlotte.

“I'm fine, can I see Sarissa, Mr. Vanes?” She responded.

“She's not here now. She said to tell you to meet her in your original meeting place if you came.”

“Okay, thank you.”

“Have a nice…” Sarissa’s father stopped talking when he realized that Charlotte was already gone. Charlotte ran to the woods like she did when she was picking berries. She had memorized exactly where they had met. It was too important a fact to not know. She bolted through the dense trees, wanting to reach Sarissa as fast as she could. She saw Sarissa in the forest and stopped next to her.

“I came,”’Charlotte said.

“I can see that,” Sarissa responded.

“Why?” Charlotte asked. “Why did you do what you did?”

“Before I tell you, you need to promise me that you will never tell anyone this secret of mine. No matter what I say, never disclose this to anyone. I don't care if you don't want to be friends with me after this, but promise to never tell anyone what I tell you now.”

“I promise,” Charlotte answered immediately.

“Good. You are the only person other than my parents who know about this. Now,” Sarissa began. A tear dripped down her eye. “The reason I accused the hunting parties of those murders, is because of the experience I went through when I was five years old. It was just a few days after my birthday. I was an only child. I lied when I told you I didn't have any friends. I had one. His name was Garrison. He was the only person I could talk to our hang out with. Even though we were very young, we were great friends. We were playing outside the woods when a man walked up to us. He said that he needed help with something, I don't even remember what.

He walked us into the woods and took us to a tree with a bag next to it. He asked to help him fill the bag. He picked us up and shoved us in. I realized then that it was a hunter’s backpack. He carried us with him for a whole hunting trip, and kept us quiet with death threats. I don't even know why, was it just for fun?!” Another tear slid down her eyes. “After the week was over, he gave us a small amount of food ad water. He kept us alive in a cellar for a month. He tortured us for no reason at all. After one month had passed, he gave us both pistols. “One of you shoot the other or I'll shoot you both,” he told us. I knew I couldn't shoot Garrison to death, and Garrison couldn't shoot me to death, so Garrison shot himself. “Sorry I couldn't save both of us,” he told me. Those were his last words. After that, he told my parents that I was kidnapped and demanded ransom. They paid it and got me back. I wish I had died there instead of Garrison. It should've been me.” Tears poured down her face, but Sarissa didn't whimper.

“I hate the hunting parties. They murdered someone just for fun. Who's to say they won't do it again?” Sarissa cried. This was the first time Charlotte had seen Sarissa this emotional. “I was powerless! I couldn't even protect my friend!” Charlotte hugged Sarissa.

“Garrison’s death was not your fault. It was the terrible person from the hunting party. I'm sorry I stormed off on you, I should have considered you. I'm so sorry.” Charlotte and Sarissa cried together for long time.



“Thanks for letting me be your friend.”

NOTE This is my very first story I have posted on here. Any reader input would be appreciated so please reply!

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