Holly ran behind the dark building with her companion at her side. She pressed against the edge of it as she tried to control her breathing. They were still out there. They were always out there.
"What should we do, boy?" she asked with a soft whimper.
How long had it been since this started? Days? Weeks? Or had it been months at this point? Her concept of time was gone. Instead, she was being toyed with as she was endlessly chased.
"You can't always keep running, you should give in, it will be quicker that way." The male voice was kind, but Holly wasn't fooled.
Quicker to her death maybe and Holly was not prepared to die. She waited until the footstep was about to come around to her spot and then she used the brick wall for leverage and sprung off of it and used the force to propel herself away from them. Her pet kept pace with her step for step, never falling behind. He looked back at the three that followed then looked back up at her.
"It's okay," she said to him, though she felt it wasn't going to be okay. She couldn't run forever. "I've got an idea." She scooped him up and hugged the soft warm body next to hers as she raced in a zig-zag pattern away from them.
As always they just walked after her. There was no rush in them, there never was. They knew the ending of this as well as she did. They would eventually win and she would lose.
But not yet.
She wasn't going to give up yet.
She broke into another section of buildings and scanned them. "Which one?" she demanded of her companion.
He nodded his head towards the tallest of the buildings and his ears flopped to the side as he did so. Holly smiled and planted a kiss on the top of his head. "Good choice." She hugged him tight to her once more and rushed to the entrance to it.
The doors opened for her, which she was grateful for. Like every building she ever ran into, it was abandoned. The only occupants were those that made her skin crawl, but it was still preferable than to be left out with the Chasers. She closed the doors behind her and scanned the place.
An office building perhaps? The first floor was expansive and a huge desk was set up in the corner. She wasted no time as she jogged over to it and searched the wall. Keys, great. Holly snagged them and ducked under the desk as she waited. Would they follow her right away this time? She could never be sure.
Everything in this place was strange to her. It wasn't enough that the three Chasers tracked her every step. It wasn't enough that the world was empty, as far as she'd been anyway, no. The worst part was she remembered a life before this.
She had family, she had loved ones, maybe even a boyfriend? She sighed. They would once more leave her place of haven alone. Though it's likely they would set up outside of it and wait for her to try to make an exit when she had to grab food again.
"What are we going to do?" she asked her bunny-like companion.
He didn't answer but snuggled against her side his golden eyes warm.
Funny, when she was around him she felt better. He'd been with her before all this, hadn't he? She set him on the ground and pet his long ears. "We have to come up with something more solid than running. This isn't going to always work. One day they're going to come in, you know that right?"
He hopped away from her as he hunted. She watched as he took down a giant bug and smacked his lips as he devoured it. She shuddered. "You're so gross."
His tail lashed behind him as he ignored her scoldings. He finished his meal and then hunted more, creating a pile of them. When he was finished he walked over to her and put a paw on her leg.
Holly looked at the insects then back at him. "No way."
He huffed and then went back to his pile. He picked up one of them and brought it back to her, dropping it in her lap. It's juiced oozed from where its head used to be. He sat down and stared up at her.
"No, I don't care if I starve to death. I am not eating bugs."
He yowled at her before stalking off into the dark and leaving Holly behind. Her stomach growled but she ignored it. She'd been brought various things before, bugs were a new thing though. She'd rather have the odd pinecones he had brought before. Anything but bugs.
He pranced back into view with a long tail in his mouth. Her jaw dropped as she saw the hairy body attached to it. He dropped the dead rat next to her and once more sat down and looked at her. What did this oddity expect her to do with that?
"Are you expecting me to eat a rat? It's not even cooked."
Though if she was being honest, even if it was cooked she wouldn't touch it. But he didn't know that. He slunk back into the dark and she was once more left with her thoughts. The Chasers would let her rest. They always stopped when the sun rose. She would have another day to rest and try to get away from them. She was too tired to leave yet, she needed rest first and foremost.
Her stomach growled at her again and she put a stomach on it.
And food. She needed food. She glanced once more at the tidy pile of insects. No way. She pulled the key out and got to her feet. She'd investigate the area. Maybe she could find something edible, something besides vermin for her to eat.
She didn't trust the elevator. Electricity had acted strangely in this post-Chasers world. Instead, she found the stairway and unlocked the door. She propped it open so her companion could follow her scent trail and she ascended the steps and made her way to the second floor.
She found more computers than she could count, but she ignored them. They did nothing anymore besides remind her of the time before all this. Instead, she continued to search until she found it, a small break room. Her prayers were answered, they had a fridge!
"Please, don't be moldy food," she begged as she opened the door. The decay of the rot forced her a step back and a sob escaped her. Once more promises of a decent meal were about to be stripped away. She closed the door and taking a deep breath opened the tiny freezer. Her eyes widened. It wasn't much, but a child's microwave dinner was untouched.
Her eyes started to water. Microwave. She dashed them away. No, she wasn't about to be defeated. She pulled the meal out and ripped open the box. She would just have to get creative. She looked up as her friend came back in, an even longer tail in his mouth now. One attached to a headless snake.
"Seriously?" Holly demanded. "I am not going to eat a snake, or a rat, or bugs! I am a human being, and I'm going to eat like a human being." She picked up the frozen meal and waved it around, her voice edged with hysteria. "I'm going to eat this! Somehow." She plopped down in the chair and let her head fall forward bumping into the wood. "If I can try to figure out how," she whispered.
The Chasers had kept her from good meals for so long now. Everything she found was either moldy or crawling with bugs. She had survived mainly on crackers. That was one thing that the places she went to had in abundance. Crackers and Twinkies, it's a wonder she hadn't gotten sick yet.
That was another strange thing about this world. Holly put a hand on her stomach and rubbed it. No matter what she ate, she never got sick. Had she just been lucky so far? Or was there something else going on?
She looked at the frozen meal again. The chicken strips were small and all frozen together, the corn was one giant glob, and the carrots would probably only feed her friend. He needed to eat something besides bugs and snakes and junk as well. She searched the cabinets until she had a small assortment of items.
A candle, a wire rack that used to be used to dispense condiments, a plate, and some matches. Holly had never been so excited to see a real plate. This could actually work! She set the plate on top of the metal dispenser and put the candle beneath. Her precious meal was placed on top, and she pulled out the frozen brownie. No need to waste time and energy trying to warm that thing.
Holly lit the candle and stifled a laugh as the flame leaped and burned. It would take a while but at least she wasn't going to starve today. She'd have real food in her stomach before she napped and ran away once more. The Chasers weren't going to give up easily, and eventually, she would run out of places to hide.
Her companion mewed at her and she looked down to see him nudging a plastic cover. With a grin, she plopped it on top of her plate so she could trap the heat inside and hopefully warm her meal up fast. She picked the animal up and gave the white cabbit a hug.
"Thanks, Fluffy, I don't know what I'd do without you."
Holly poked at her chicken with one finger. It looked done, but she was still worried. Closing her eyes she picked it up and took a bite. It was warm, not hot, and still a little cold exactly in the center enough that it crunched in her mouth. She wanted to vomit, but still better than bugs, rats, or snakes.Fluffy watched her and she smiled and handed one of the tenders over. "Here boy, I'm lucky I have you with me, but I'm so tired of running." The white cabbit ignored her offer and sat down at her side resting his head on her leg as she ate. She smiled and pet him before returning to her task on hand."Hello?"
"Juniper?"Holly looked around this strange land as she tried to track down the voice. Everything was foggy and misty. Nothing was solid around her. "Hello?" she called out into the dark.Had the Chasers tried a new tactic?"Juniper, I can't believe it's so easy to find you this time. Your soul is like a blazing torch." there was a soft chuckle.Whoever it was, they
Holly woke to find Eros pressed tight against her in his usual spot. He was still sleeping, his ears twitching, as he was on guard even in his sleep. She sighed and ran a hand through his soft fur as she pet him. He had kept his identity secret, but she couldn't hate him. Not after how much he had been with her."You're awake?" the woman, Lachesis, was sitting at a table nearby, her leg swinging. "I was on guard while he got some sleep.""I thought you didn't like him." Holly pointed out."He's a sin," Lachesis answered with her foot still bouncing. "But, he's been caring for you, and he turned sweet for Acacia. If I can give Tydeus a chance, I can do the same for him." She smiled over at her. "Are you hungry? I can fix you something to eat before we have to get going.""I won't eat bugs, or rats, or snakes," Holly stressed once more.Lachesis giggled. "I didn't expect you
Lachesis stepped in front of both Holly and Eros and erected a simple barrier of wind that the scythes grazed off. "Why are you after Holly?" she demanded."I haven't done anything to you," Holly added. "There's no reason for you to hunt me like this! Leave me alone and let me go back to my normal everyday life."The three hooded figures took a few steps back. The one in the middle swept back their hood and the woman revealed stared at them with her green gem-like eyes."Do not misunderstand
"So that's why you'll wait for the other Prince," Eros pointed out. "I'll have you know, ours is infinitely better than yours. You have a cruel master, but ours is capable of kindness."Quix burst into laughter. "Kindness? None of them are capable of that. They're all selfish and only do or help with things that will benefit them. You're clueless if you truly believe that yours is any different. But I'll let you prove it because there's nothing more that I love when someone is proven wrong. The shock on their faces, it's like a drug."Ruby rolled her eyes at him. "Lust, while I'm not as fanatic about it as Quix, he
Holly tensed as the fog completely covered the two of them and all contact from the others was halted."Relax," Ruby ordered her fingers moving in small circular patterns on Holly's shoulders. "Just relax.""But, the others," Holly whispered."Not important right now, I need to focus on you and see if you have magic inside, and for that, you're going to have to relax and trust me."
Holly wasn't surprised when Ruby took away the barrier or when Eros grabbed her and hugged her hard. "Don't you ever do that again," he hissed.Holly pushed at him. "I was with Ruby, it's okay, Eros. She's my friend now.""Friend?" Eros stared at the reaper. "Why in the world would you befriend her? You do remember they are our enemies right?""You're the one that suggested they stay with me, right?" Holly challenged with a smile. "That will work out much better if we're friends."
"How are we going to figure out what magic she has anyway?" Quix questioned as he walked around Holly. "It could take forever if we try it one thing at a time. Besides, I'm sure that not one person knows all the branches of magic here. Even if all of us worked together, we might not cover them all."Eros sighed. "I don't understand how Angel figured it out so easily. He should have shown up by now, or at least Tydeus." He stopped then turned on his heel. "Wait, Holly, didn't you mention something about Tydeus? While we were arguing.""Yes, he visited me in my dreams," Holly responded. "He insisted on calling me Juni