Chapter Twenty-Two

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Knockknockknock… …Martin’s eyelids slowly lifted halfway, his eyes staring at the ceiling through narrow slits. Confusion fogged his thoughts while he wondered where the sudden noise was coming from, wondering what the bloody hel...

Knockknockknock…

…Martin’s eyelids slowly lifted halfway, his eyes staring at the ceiling through narrow slits. Confusion fogged his thoughts while he wondered where the sudden noise was coming from, wondering what the bloody hell woke him up. Or who. Either way, it contributed to the throbbing in his head as he struggled to rise into a sitting position on the couch. Between his Ginny binge and the bright lights, Martin only wished to shake his brain back to normal to alleviate the hangover. But since the solution would cause irreversible damage, he decided to just lie down again and close his eyes to shield them from the blinding light.

KNOCKKNOCKKNOCKKNOCK

Martin opened his eyes reluctantly and turned his attention to the door. He reached over to the table and slid the tips of his fingers across its surface, searching for his phone without looking away from the door. After his fingers landed on his phone, he lifted it and glanced at the time before sighing heavily. Twelve o’two a.m. Who the fuck was banging in his door at…

He steadily slid up into the sitting position, staring at the door guardedly as a wave of anxiety rushed into his stomach. Aside from the occasional sound of footsteps and distant laughter, his complex was usually dead at this hour. Even if there were anyone banging on doors, very rarely was it his.

Martin swallowed while lowering his bare feet onto the cool wooden floor. He moved to the edge of the cushion and slowly rose from the spot, wincing with pain caused by dehydration and another round of desperate knocks. He then moved around the coffee table and walked towards the door, his eyes finally adjusting to the bright lighting surrounding his living room.

He leaned on the door frame while peeking through the peep hole into the hallway. In the middle of the tiny circle of glass was the long distorted face of a man with brown hair that stopped at his neck, his green eye staring back into Martin’s before he stepped away, his entire body shrinking as he stood in the hallway with his hands tucked into the pockets of his track jacket.

“Who is it?” Martin inquired through the thick door, monitoring the stranger through the peep hole.

“Hello in there,” the man greeted innocently, his tone calm and cheerful. It’s Mitchell, one of your neighbors. How are you, Mate?”

“I’m alright,” Martin replied cautiously. “Is there something you need?”

“Well,” Mitchell started with an awkward chuckle, “my cell’s dying and my charger’s being shitty. I—I was wondering if I could use yours? I’ve tried everybody else on the floor, but no one’s opening up so you’re the only game in town, it seems.”

Martin felt himself relaxing a touch. Granted, it was an odd request given the hour. Nonetheless, what was the harm in helping the guy? All he had to do was yank a charger from his assortment of chargers, let this Mitchell guy take it and get on with his night. Plus, he’d rather deal with a neighbor cursed with a shitty charger than the damn Yard.

Martin backed away from the peephole, sighing tiredly. “Sure…I guess. Hold on a minute.” He then punched in the security code and turned the door knob.

The door had barely opened a crack before it was shoved open, pushing Martin back hastily. As he tumbled onto the floor, Mitchell and a young man with loose black locks hurried into his flat. While his accomplice slammed the door shut, Mitchell stared down at Martin intensely while pointing a gun directly at his face.

“Thank you, Friend,” the gunman said icily. “I appreciate your hospitality.”

“Shit.” Martin noticed that the guy’s British accent switched into a Hungarian one, the harshness of his dialect matching his demeanor.

“Good evening to you, too.” He quickly nudged his head towards Martin’s room, spitting commands to his partner in his native language. Without hesitation, the black haired stranger headed towards the other room.

“Whoa—get of my ro—“

Martin was interrupted by a harsh kick against the side of his face. He yelled in pain as he hit the floor, his hand flying to his nose as he immediately felt blood gushing from his nostrils, squeezing his eyes shut while the scent of wet iron clung to his hands. The fact that he could still smell was an indicator that the blow didn’t break his nose, but he felt two of his teeth roll out of his mouth while thick strings of blood stained his tongue.

Martin heard Mitchell shuffling around him before he was abruptly yanked up by the arm. “We’ll do as we please,” the man hissed into Martin’s ear. “So, if I were you, I’d shut the fuck up and make myself comfortable. Or I’ll plant a bullet through your brain. Do you understand? Nod your head.”

Martin opened his eyes and glared at the man, but nodded slowly.

The gunman moved back, a sly grin snaking across his lips as he rose, standing over Martin. “I’m glad we understand one another.”

 

“Fucktoc,” Lianna swore under her breath when the intruders charged into the hoonii’s quarters, their movements overwhelming her host. She watched as one slammed the door behind them while the other pointed his bizarre wand at the one called Martin.

Lianna’s attention turned to his closet, where he kept the majority of his garments and array of unused devices. She recalled their prior conversation about her evacuating to something called a vent if adversity ever ensued. Sword in hand, Lianna immediately turned from the door and sped towards the closet while mentally formulating a strategy to defend herself.

She had just slipped through the crack of the closet door. when she heard the entrance to the hoonii’s chambers crash against the wall, the impact vibrating through the barriers. “Hol vagy?” she heard the man spit, his muffled tone low yet aggressive. “Nem kell minden éjjel.”

The intruder’s language was unrecognizable and impossible for Lianna to understand. Was this man a demoh in the form of a human, speaking in tongues before shedding his flesh to unleash the dusky cords that incinerated her skin? If so, did the darkness sense her presence, its malevolence as pungent as the incensed spirit of the hoonii who searched for her?

Lianna submerged herself within the darkness, adjusting her eye sight to locate the vent the human spoke of. It was not long before she spotted a perfectly shaped opening carved into the wall with the metal cover lying in front of it. Lianna hurried towards the vent, moving past suit carriers and piles of footwear. She turned while she placed her sword in her mouth, gripping the thin weapon with her teeth. She then lowered herself towards the floor and carefully placed one leg into the vent, then the other before inching backwards into the tight space while lifting the cover to fit it over the opening.

"Hol vagy, te kibaszott kurva?!” the intruder snapped, his rage piercing the walls.

The sound of furnishings colliding with the floor and shattered glass invaded the closet, the vibrations jarring Lianna as she lay still on her side in the cramped space. She knew the human would eventually enter this closet to hunt. As predicted, the entrance to the closet was suddenly pulled completely open, allowing light to illuminate the space. The intruder’s footwear soon appeared inside the closet, streams of light following his light steps.

The intruder’s feet shifted from one part of the closet to the next as he tore through boxes and shoved machines off the top level to find her. Her ears abruptly caught the screeching of hangers scraping against the steel branch from which they hung and she winced at the irritating sound. Lianna followed his every movement intensely, tightening the grip on her sword as her hands flew to her ears. If he continued to dig through this closet, the human would eventually discover this opening and attempt to apprehend her.

Finally the intruder’s feet and legs ceased all movement, his footwear stilled as if frozen. They soon turned towards the vent and started forward with one, two steps…then stopped once again. Lianna waited quietly, her heart drumming against her chest, through her limbs, through her veins while she anticipated the human’s tactic.

Lianna slid further into the hole when the human suddenly descended to the floor of the closet and centered his cold stare onto her. The black cores of his eyes resembled the shade of the locks that crowned his head, nearly eclipsing the green of his eyes as they adjusted to the darkness.

A soft, unnerving smile curled the man’s lips. “There you are, you little csótány,” the hoonii greeted, the tone of his voice simulating friendliness. “I’ve looked everywhere for you. Come out of the vent. Now.”

The urge to lunge forward and penetrate one of his eyes with her sword reeled inside Lianna’s mind. In fact, she could easily pierce a fatal point before escaping. However, the intruder could also have a wand similar to that of his fellow tribesman and could not only end her with such a weapon but slay her host—which she would not allow.

The intruder’s smile faded and transmuted into a remorseless frown. “I will not ask you again,” he warned coldly.

Lianna resumed her position, glowering at the stranger who hunted her. At this moment, only two choices were available: The first involved engaging in combat by battling with the hoonii searching for her, risking her life and that of the one called Martin Keating. The alternative was possibly more perilous simply due to the uncertainty of the outcome. If executed correctly, however…

“Very well, Human,” she finally said, her own glare linked with eyes attempting to paralyze with intimidation. “I will leave with you peacefully—you have my truest word.”

The intruder moved backwards slightly before steadily pushed himself up, the footwear replacing his icy gaze. Lianna inched towards the metal cover and lightly kicked it onto the floor before sliding out of her hiding place.

At she headed towards the closet door, Lianna licked the dryness off her lips while mentally praying to Gooktai, her ancestors and Thro. She would require both their guidance and protection in order to survive what would soon transpire.

 

 

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