Read to find out.
Steal money, run. Steal money, run.
I kept chanting those three words in my head, over and over again. The demon, my cousins ‘father’, had sent me out to steal another bag of money. Not just any random bag, no. No, this bag had belonged to what was a gang then. The Masqueraded Rogues. From what I’ve heard previously, is that they were settled in just a few states but in small towns. Their locations isolated and very well kept hidden. How he knew where they would be dealing and what was in the bag? I had no idea. Yet.
Not only did I have to steal, I also had done things I knew would come back and haunt me. Those things have been so vividly remembered that they were just considered nightmares. I regretted every second of those choices. My decisions were not all my own at the time. Being forced to do things, having to go against my will, having being involved was what made my innocence disappear, rapidly. My innocence stripped, the positivity replaced by negativity. Dragged and left in the darkness to fend for myself, the light gone completely and shut off. The real world around me no longer shielded behind those once bright eyes but revealed to those now dull, dark eyes. I had no choice but to compel, even if it was against my better judgement, my will. No longer hoping for the better but hoping and expecting the worst. Faith replaced by despair. No longer waiting for the good to be restored but the bad to take its place.
The last few times where the demon had sent me out to take the money. I never did. I couldn’t. What if it had come back to bite me in the ass? What then? I would of been screwed more so than I already was. I would have put my siblings and cousins in danger. I always backed out of it and the end result? Me, getting my ass handed to me and beaten until I was black and blue.
He'd hit so hard at times that I'd practically pass out right on the spot. I'd have cuts from where my skin tore open from either his pocket knife or from his hits. He had always used violence on my. Nothing but hard punches hoping he'd knock some sense into me. He always made sure to injure me where no one could see. Covered and invisible to the naked eye.
I couldn't hit back. I was always so weak, always at my low. His violent behavior was always used on me, against me. But he never laid a hand on the others. I made sure of it. That's why I always did these stupid and idiotic ‘orders’. Putting myself in danger even if it meant keeping the others safe. And that's why I had always found my ass in situations I had certainly been in countless of times. Like this one.
I was trying my best to hide behind a small pile of useless junk. A old mattress laid beneath a pile of trash that had been settled near me. Gross. There was a street light across the street but there was still a shadow casted down the dark alley between two apartment buildings. My back had been leaning against the wall behind me, the lower half of my body going numb because I'd been here for about half an hour, sitting. I had thought about leaving again but today was different. I had planned something that didn't have any common sense whatsoever.
My dumbass self had decided to stand up and stretched. I yawned but when I did, I choked on my own saliva. How? I don't know. I just did. I had tried covering my mouth to stuffel the noise but obviously that didn't work. When I was done with my little coughing fit, I immediately knew someone was behind me. Although they couldn't see me properly, I felt their gaze or shall I say gazes, as if they were staring right at me.
Ah fuck, I thought. I'm screwed now. Change in plans I guess. Again.
I took my sweet time and turned around slowly. But what I saw, wasn’t what I had expected to see. It was two kids. Dudes. And not only that, they had looked around my age or maybe a year older than me by the looks of it. I couldn’t see their facial features because they had their backs facing the little light that had been provided from the street lamp across the street. Only their silhouette could be seen and that was okay. It was only then that I had noticed one of the boys had been carrying a bag. The bag.
You've got to be shitting me, I thought.
How in the hell am I going to get it now? I was hoping it was like in some of the movies. Where they drop of the bag, hide it, and another person comes...no? Okay. And they knew I was there. I screwed it up big time.
Fuck it, I thought. I'm out of here.
The alley still went down further and around the apartment building. Just trying to walk silently around back and leave but nope. That didn't happen. Instead a felt a hand clamp down, roughly, on my shoulder. At that moment, I thought I was going to die. No mercy, the demon always said.
Considering I was about to pass out then and there at the time from the fear so when the person shoved me forward a bit, I ended up stumbling and tripped over my own footing and that caused me to fall my knees and hands. The person grabbed my arm with a hard grip and practically dragged me towards the two boys. When I was standing I front of them, I had casted my eyes downwards, not wanting to look at any of them. The man let go of me and I remained put, rooted to the spot. I was afraid to move. But since my eyes were casted down I followed the movements of his feet as best as I could. The man gently grabbed the bag from the boy's hand. He had gently set the bag so it was leaning up against the apartments exterior wall to our right
“So you're the one who's been following us?” The man asks, calmly.
I hadn't answered. Silence was my best friend. I had learned that from experience prior. The man crouched down as if he trying to get me to suddenly look at him. But it had only made me close my eyes. My arms were basically glued to my sides. I was tense, just waiting for something to happen at any moment.
“Okay….What's your name? How old are you?” His questions were out of the blue but he still sounded calm for someone who should of been pissed.
It wasn't until then that I realized that it was a setup. It was a setup for the demon. It had been a setup for me. I wasn't afraid. I wasn't mad. If anything I felt...relief. I was tired of the hiding. The constant fear. The stress. They wanted to know who had been at their sites...I was their answer.
“My family calls me Marc and I'm fourteen.” I hadn't realized why I answered. But it was a good I had.
“Okay….Ma-you can open your eyes you know.” He had sounded a bit surprised at first but then he sounded calm, soft even. Against my better judgement, I did open my eyes but I didn't dare look up.
“So you’re telling me...that you’re actually...fourteen.” He meant it to be a question but instead it came as a statement. I was going to respond but then I felt my phone vibrate in my front pocket. It was a message from my cousin.
He’s gone crazy. Where are you?
Come home. QUICK!
I no longer cared for what these people would do to me. I needed to get home.
Screw the bag. Screw the demon. Screw everything. My family needed me, I thought.
I ran around the man and sprinted my ass out of that alley. I heard them move behind me but I hadn’t cared. They couldn’t have yelled since it was past eleven in the night. It was dark but the street lamps have off the light. I didn't look back, not once. They were right behind me but not once had they yelled out or tried to stop me. And for that I was beyond grateful.
It didn't take long for me to get home that time. It was about six blocks down from where I was previously. I skidded to a stop in front of the alley and ran down there. I had told my family to hide out away from here if anything were to happen. Between the two apartment buildings was a narrow alley and in the back of the buildings was the parking lot and then the woods.
There was a spot I had found in the woods that was hard to get to, especially in the dark. It was isolated and very well hidden. It looked like just a pile of big branches that were piled up on a fallen tree. But there was a hole that was big enough for them to hide into. There was a black thick curtain that I had taken from home and used that to block the hole from being seen but before putting it up I had made sure to dirty it and make it look like it was just thrown there. It was very hard to spot it especially in the dark. When I had shown my family the hiding place they named it something corny, The Hut. And knowing that demon for years, he would've followed and chased after them. I was proven to be correct.
“COME OUT YOU FUCKERS!” The demon bellowed.
Shit! Shit! Shit!
That was the only thing that was running through my head. The panic. The fear. It started to set in. Having no source of light but having to memorize the path to The Hut, I made sure to keep my balance while running blind.
“COME OUT I SAID!”
He wasn't even close to where they were. He lost them. Good. But then I heard a thud. I stopped. The others stopped behind me. I felt someone's hand on my shoulder and when I was about to shrug it off but then I felt something being pushed into my right hand. A knife. Or more accurately, a Karambit. I could tell just by the handle and the curve of the blade.
The neighbor, Samuel but I called him Sam, down the hall collected knives. Two years ago I saw him doing tricks with a pocket knife. I had come up to him to ask if he could show me a trick and he did teach me more than one trick. He met Cris almost a year after I did and he hadn't met my family until only a few months ago so they weren't as fond of him as I was, seeing as I'd met him long before they had. Nevertheless he was nice whenever he saw my family and me but he wasn't nice to the fucker. Whenever he was out, Sam let us stay at his place. My family was never taught how to use a knife but I was. After being taught a few tricks he showed me the many knives he had. It wasn't a lot at the time but I sure was in awe. Learning about the different types of knives, the names, tricks, advantages and disadvantages of them. Every once in a while he would buy a different knife for me or the same type but just in a different color or size. I never took the knives home with me, instead Sam made me a little chest and put my given knives in there. He also taught me how to kickbox, but then I wasn’t good at it like I am now. Sam was more of a father to me than my own flesh and blood.
Hearing someone shuffle in the distance, I tensed up. My grip on the ergonomic handle, tight. Suddenly a light was flashed in my face.
“Marc?” It had been Sam. He flashed the light upwards away from my face and so I was able to see his face a little bit.
“....Yeah.” I fidgeted with the point of the blade, having made sure not to cut myself on either side of the curved blade.
“Marc could you go get the others and come back here. Please. And be careful okay?” Sam asked me in a soft, gentle tone. One of the guys from behind handed me a flashlight.
“Okay.” I had gone over to Sam and placed it by his feet and waited. He nodded at me and that’s when I had ran off again further into the woods.
It was maybe about half an hour of running that I’ve finally reached The Hut.
“Cris? Jose? Ri? Roy?” I called out softly.
Cautiously that black cloth was pulled back and the first person I saw was Roy. The littlest of the group. When she saw it was me she ran and hugged me tight embrace. Cris and the other two came out. Ri, the only boy, came to my side and grabbed my hand. Jose stayed by Cris’ side. Cris and me were both close to age but a year apart, we were only cousins. Jose is only a year younger than Cris, they're sisters. My twin siblings, Ri and Roy are two years younger than me. Ri being older than her sister by ten minutes.
“Come on. We gotta head back now.” I was about to turn around to head back but Ri tugged at my hand.
“We can't head back. It's dangerous.” Cris said clearly irritated. She thought I had gone crazy.
“It's okay now. Sam's there waiting for us.” Again Ri tugged at my hand.
“Are you sure we can trust him? I may have not known him as long as you have but-”
Jose was cut off by someone. Sam. He'd been calling my name. We had taken to long so he had came in search for us.
“Marc! Where are you?!” He yelled, he was closer this time.
“Sam!” I called out his name a few times before he finally found us.
“What's taking you so long? Let's go.” Sam motioned he his hand for us to follow him.
“Sorry. We're coming.” Cris answered.
The younger ones were hesitant but followed close behind us. Since we walked it took longer for us to get back. Instead of going back to the spot where we came from, we walked out of the woods. Sam took us back to his apartment. We lived in a rough part of town, the apartment building looking old and run down. Having gone up the steps to the third floor, all the way to the end of the hall, Sam opened the door and the others were greeted by the man from the alley for the first time. The two boys weren't their anymore.
“Jose, why don't you and the others go back to the apartment and pack while I talk to Marc and Cris?” He spoke gently because he knew she wasn’t familiar with him. She looked from her sister to me. We had both nodded and with that the three of them left to pack.
“Where’s he at?” Cris asked. I honestly forgot about that demon and I frankly didn’t care.
“Just asking. What are you going to do with him? What now?”
“Well for one, my partner and I will take care of him. As for you guys...what do you guys want to do?”
I want to go with you, I thought.
“I...don't know….Marc?” I looked over at Cris but she wouldn't look at me.
I didn't say my answer out loud. But something about my expression gave it away, when I looked at Sam. All he did was nod his head at me and gave me a small smile.
“Go pack girls. I'll meet you guys in the parking lot.” Cris left and closed the door gently behind her. I left soon after she did and packed what I needed.
I grabbed my black duffle and put in a week worth of clothes. Four pair of sweatpants, two oversized pullover hoodies, three shirts and my other clothing like my sport bras and other needed clothing. I grabbed my book bag and packed what I wanted most. My sketch book, notebook, my small box filled with art supplies, and my guitar pick and a pair of drumsticks. I also had put in a couple of books: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
I went into the room that I had avoided my entire life. The room that had belonged to that man. I searched his room for anything. It didn't take as long as I thought it would. He had three sets of hiding places. A box was placed under his bed, a safe placed under a flimsy floorboard-the password was written on the bottom- and another box was in the back of the closet. The first box contained cash, the safe had our important papers, and the last box had contained a glock 43 with amo and...
...My body felt heavy, my heart rate spiked, my blood flowing through my veins felt cold…
And my first ever pocket knife that...Sam gave me from his personal collection. I didn't understand. I never bought home a knife that was ever given to me but yet here was this one.
I hadn't thought much of it then. All I knew was that I needed my family and they needed me. I needed Sam as well. He was and always will be considered my family, my father. I made sure to check everywhere for anything and checked I had everything I needed that was both necessary and what I wanted to bring along. Without looking back I had left and went with my family.
It wasn’t until later that I found out why. After finding that, everything was a blur. My memory was fading, no longer vivid but vague. Life for me was different than it was now. I chose a path that wasn’t meant for me yet I was content. Sam was the one who saved us, saved me. I was always and forever be grateful. Never had I taken things for granted. I grew into a person that I never thought I’d be. My family is what kept me sane all those years. Keeping me grounded when I needed it.
Well you’ll soon see.