We are now more than halfway through! Yay! Sorry it's so late, but it's still Monday for another hour. And you still have a whole week to read this until part 10 is posted. If you missed the beginning, fear not! You can find it right here.
“Where is she?” His voice thundered through the halls. Even the floors could be felt shuddering beneath his wrath. Rebekah cowered in a shadow behind the door she had just slipped in. She didn’t want to come back, but where was she to go? She had not been expecting a hunting party. The painted man had brought his posse, and they were scouring the house for her.
“She’s a beast, I tell you! A beast!” His voice screeched with an inhuman passion. A short man behind him laid a hand on his back.
“Calm down. We’ll find her.”
“The world needs to know what she is!” he wasn’t listening. He was drunk with rage.
“Why?” said a small man in the back of the crowd. The room went silent. Every head turned to stare at the questioner.
“Because they deserve the truth!” he yelled into the man’s face. “The truth is that she is not what she seems. She is a horrid, ugly creature. And I will not let her deceive them into thinking she is worthy.”
The painted man was not used to feeling out of control. He was not used to having his reputation in danger. But the face the girl now bore could destroy his pretense of having everything every man ever wanted, and he could not let that happen.
“She must have run away,” the short man offered. The painted man gathered his emotions.
“Ok,” he breathed. “Let’s go.”
Rebekah crawled along the floor, clutching against the wall for support, until she could summon the energy to lift herself. She rested there a moment, leaning against the wall. She could feel tears welling, but she did not worry, for none had ever ventured past her masks. She moved into her bedroom.
But something wet dripped down her cheek. She reached up her hand to feel if the moisture was real. Sure enough, her earlier conversation had broken the pieces around her eyes, and the tears were pushing through.
Oh no! Oh no, no, no, no, no! This could not be happening. All that she had tried so hard to keep inside, Charlie was pulling it out. How could he do that? How could he have so much power over her? And how deep could he go before he no longer wanted her?
Rebekah was at a loss for what to do. Should she stay here while the men searched outside? Should she take her belongings and leave the city for good? Leave Charlie? Should she go find Charlie? She did not even know where to begin.
She sat on her bed and pondered her life for several minutes. There seemed no obvious option, no absolute answer. How did people ever decide on a path when there was so much uncertainty to any one of them?
“I need help,” she gulped. She sniffed as snot started to drip out of her nose. She brushed it away with her hand.
“I need help.” The tears were flowing freely now. She sat on the bed another minute, waiting for the energy to lift herself.
Setting her resolve, Rebekah got up from the bed. She rubbed her eyes red against the new sweater Charlie had bought her, not noticing the bits of plastic scattered across her arm, and looked in her closet. There was nothing of value.
“Time to start all over again, I guess.” Finding a coat, she slipped from the house into the dark alleyway. She placed a black hat over her hair to hide the color, and set off. Every few paces she stopped to listen for the painted man and his posse. She heard nothing.
She didn’t know which way she was going. All she knew was that she needed help, and there was none to be found in the painted man’s house. But somebody else had to be out there. Somebody had to be able to help her. Somebody had to be willing.
“This is all your fault!” Mrs. Peers relished the opportunity to scold Charlie. “They’re gone because of you!”
“Alright ma’am, try to calm down.” A police officer stood on the porch of the house one block past Doppler Street, serving as mediator between the young man and the middle-aged woman.
“I’m so sorry,” Charlie was crying. “I told them to stay here.”
“They went out after you!” Mrs. Peers yelled. “They went out to go on an adventure! What kind of a horrible idea is that? Where do you think they would have gotten such a hair-brained idea? Certainly not from me!” She glared at him and pointed fiercely. “From you!”
“We have men out looking for them, ma’am,” the officer reassured her.
“Ugh, why do I have to deal with all this trouble?” She was talking to herself now. “Why? Why couldn’t they just have been given to somebody else? Somebody else would have to worry about them. Somebody else would have to get called in the middle of her day to find out they’re gone!” She grunted, full of her own frustrations, and walked into the house.
“Perhaps…” Charlie started. He paused. The officer looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Perhaps I could…” he paused again. “Adopt them?”
The officer smiled. “I’m sure the lady would have no problem with that. But the paperwork would take years. It’s a tough process.”
“That’s ok,” Charlie smiled as well. “I think I will. Somebody should give them a good home. Somebody’s got to care for them. I’ll work on that as soon as I get home.”
“Well, we’ve got to find them first,” the officer reminded him.