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Thirteen.

Hunter.

Hunter opened his eyes to see Alex·s face hovering in front of his own. He smiled, ´He there buddy, what·s up?µ ´I·m hungry.µ He sat up and looked around, realizing ² not for the first time ² how strange it was to wake up in different, unfamiliar surroundings each morning. He longed to wake in his own bed, in his own bedroom and for everything to go back to the way it was; when he was able to drowsily stagger down the stairs to the sound of his mother·s singing to the radio and the smell of slightly burnt toast, crispy bacon and eggs. He wished he could go back to a time when he didn·t have to constantly look over his shoulder at every turn, jump at every slight noise and watch every person that passed with unwarranted suspicion. But the only small respite from the nightmare in which he now lived was Wren. He was glad that, if all the people who could have survived that night, it w as her. ´Where·s your sister?µ he watched Alex happily flick through the channels on the small portable TV looking for some cartoons. He jumped up; with energy Hunter envied for so early in the morning, and picked up a small piece of paper. Handing it to Hunter he said, ´Gone.µ Hunter unfolded the page, the only writing on it was a mobile number and the message ´I had to do this.µ A flood of dread surged through him and he grabbed the phone, nearly falling off the bed as he did so. He quickly punched in the number she·d written down ² already picturing the worst. On the second ring, she answered and he began talking before she could get even a word in, ´Wren, where are you? Are you ok?µ ´This is nurse Brodie speaking, who might you be?µ Hunter thought back to all of the crime shows he·d seen on TV and all the detective thrillers he·d read, remembering that, in all of them, they would only let a family member in to see her. ´I·m her brother.µ He lied, ´Is she ok?µ ´She·s been through a lot, but she·s stable now.µ ´Can I come and see her?µ ´Of course you can, sweetie. She·s not awake yet, but you·re welcome to wait a while.µ The nurse gave him directions to the hospital and instructions on how to get to her room. He thanked the woman, then hung up. ´Where we going?µ Alex asked, watching wide-eyed at the doctors who were rushing around the reception. ´To find your sister.µ Hunter nervously approached the desk, ´Um, I·m looking for Wren, Wren Wylde.µ The elderly woman looked up at him over her half-moon glasses, ´Are you a relative?µ ´I·m her brother.µ He lied again. Well, I·m not technically lying, I mean« Her brother is here« I·m just not him. ´Wylde« Room one-oh-three ² down the corridor and two to the left. You can·t miss it.µ So in other words, I·ll walk past it at least six times before I get there« He nodded his thanks and followed the directions. Hunter opened the door and Alex immediately let go of his hand in order to jump on to the bed. A surge of rage sparked up inside him ² there was no mistaking who was sitting next to the bed. It was the same face that had been haunting him in the darkest hours of the night. ´What the hell are you doing here?µ he growled. The man·s head shot up, his eyes widening briefly, as if he hadn·t heard them come in the room, then they narrowed. ´What do you want?µ he asked, as if he hadn·t heard Hunter·s question.

Hunter couldn·t believe what he was hearing. This murderer wanted to know what I want? ´So, you·ve come to finish the job?µ ´What job? What are you talking about?µ ´Well, you didn·t kill us that night in Tay Vale, but then she practically offered herself to you ² and you couldn·t help but take your opportunity.µ ´I didn·t do this. I called the ambulance ² I saved her life.µ ´You expect me to believe you?µ Then Hunter realized, ´You did save her.µ ´Yes.µ The man looked slightly shocked that he·d come to that conclusion so quick, but didn·t question it. ´You did this to her, then phoned the ambulance. I mean, why look for us, when we could come to you?µ ´What? No! I didn·t do this« I didn·t want this«µ Hunter·s vision clouded over as the murderer tried to look him in the eye and lie about what he·d done. He raised his arm as his hand balled up into a fist ² then he punched him. He·d aimed for the nose, but the man had turned slightly as the door opened, so he caught his cheek instead. Better than nothing. He thought. ´What·s going on here?µ ´Nothing.µ They both answered in unison. The woman was dressed in full police gear, she looked at Hunter, ´You just assaulted this man.µ She accused. Before Hunter could say anything, the man cut in. ´It was just a misunderstanding.µ She turned to look at him, staring at the darkening mark on his left cheek for a minute, ´Mr. Howler, will you be pressing charges?µ Hunter was stunned when Mr. Howler said that no, he wasn·t. ´Ok. Mr. Dagan Howler, you are under arrest for suspicion of attempted mur ²µ ´What? This is a load of ²µ He interrupted, but she continued speaking as if he hadn·t said a thing. ´² anything you do say will be given as evidence in a court of law.µ She finished, stepping aside for the male officer to pass through in order to lead Dagan out of the room. Hunter watched as Mr. Dagan Howler was led out of the room by the male officer then he sat on the end of Wren·s bed. ´Who are you?µ the female officer asked, eyeing him suspiciously ² not that Hunter could blame her, he had just assaulter another person in front of her after all. ´I·m Hunter« A good friend of Wren·s. I·m keeping an eye on her brother.µ ´Where·s her parents?µ ´Her mother died a few days ago« Her dad·s working. He said he·d get over here as soon as possible.µ God only knows what they·d do if they found the truth. He could almost see them all in separate care homes already. Anyway, he chastised himself, I promised I wouldn·t say anyone. ´Do you know what happened here?µ She asked, crossing the room to take the seat that Dagan had previously occupied. ´He did it.µ Hunter replied immediately, there wasn·t even a small possibility in his mind that he could be wrong. ´You saw this?µ ´No, he·s a psycho. He stabbed her. Who else could have done it?µ ´Mr. Howler said that she stabbed herself.µ Hunter felt as if he·d just been stabbed in the face, ´W-well of course he·d say that. Anyway, there·s no way she·d do that«µ He trailed off, trying to get the images of Wren stabbing herself out of his mind, No, she·s the strong one. He did this, and now it·s down to me to make sure he pays.

The officer regarded him for a moment then, ´We·ll be in touch.µ Then she left the room. Wren shifted slightly, but otherwise, was still.