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September 2012

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Heartless CHAPTER 8



It was a stupid thing to do.

Graham took Stone back to the station and closed him in with his sons, left the leather roll on his desk with a note for Regina, changed his pants and bandaged up his thigh.

He should have gone to the hospital to let the wound be checked out. Instead he went to the cemetery, to the Mills Crypt. It took some effort to push the coffin aside. He limped down the steps and came face to face with a strange wall of some kind of cases Looking at those his heart rate spiked up for some reason. Maybe it was just blood-loss.

His eyes wandered over the wall and then zeroed in on one case. He didn't know why. He needed to touch that case. It spoke to him with a buzzing sound, it resonated in his whole body.  He stepped forward like he was sleepwalking.

He simply knew that when (if) he touches that case something would change irreverisibly. He stopped in front of the case, with his hand raised and hesitated. He was breathing heavily and dark dots danced in front of his eyes. He knew he was hyperventilating.  His fingers moved in slow motion and then they came in contact with the case.

It was like lightning struck him. He shuddered, his knees buckled and fell, hitting his head on the marble floor but he didn't feel anything of that.  He saw himself in leather and fur. He heard his wolf-brother's howling. He felt the freedom of the forest. He felt the pain of his heart being ripped out.

Then he blacked out.

When he came to, he was lying on the floor, trembling and knew that he had to leave this place. Regina (the Queen) could never find out that he was here. She would kill him (turn his heart into ashes). He felt new blood on his thigh and he felt weak but not had felt worse before. He remembered that too. He remembered everything.

He pushed himself up, tore a piece of his shirt and cleaned up the blood from the floor and then left the crypt as fast as he could.

***

The boy was sitting just outside the room, his knees pulled to his chest and he was sobbing despairingly. The Huntsman crouched in front of him and put a tentative hand on the narrow shoulder.

“It will be all right, John, but we have to go now” he said, but the boy only looked at him with fearful eyes and continued sobbing.

In the end he had the Huntsman had to pick up the boy and carry him out of the castle.

The child was skinny but still he wasn’t a baby anymore and the Huntsman’s back hurt more and more as they got deeper into the forest. His steps wavered once in a while and he felt himself limping harder now. John stopped sobbing some time ago and his trembling eased too.

“You can put me down now” the boy said suddenly in a hoarse voice.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

He put John on his feet and looked him over. The child’s eyes were red and puffy, but he wasn’t crying anymore and he stood steady. The Huntsman gave his canteen over and the boy drank eagerly.

“I’ve heard about this blind witch” he said after he gave the water back. “He eats children. She’s going to eat me” he said in a hollow voice.

“No, she won’t” the Huntsman said.

“You can’t know that.”

“I can. Because we’re not going there” he said and pulled the small mirror from his belt and threw it against a tree trunk with full force. An inhuman shriek could be heard as the glass exploded into hundreds of pieces.

He crouched immediately in front of the child and spoke quickly.

“Listen to me, because we don’t have much time. We are one mile south from a village where good people live. Go on in that direction” he pointed out where “and you will find them. Tell them what happened and they will help you.”

“What about you?” the boy asked with wild round eyes.

“Don’t worry about me, just run” he said and pushed John for good measure.

John looked at him for one more second, then turned and started to run in the direction that was pointed out to him.

The Huntsman took a shuddering breath. At least he saved one child even if the Queen would find another one to send. By that time he probably won’t be in a position to help.

Only seconds later pain exploded in his chest the same way the mirror did on the tree-trunk. He cried out and fell to the knees and then to his side in the grass. He thought that it couldn’t be worse but the pain built and built and he couldn’t do anything else but scream.

His last thought before he blacked out was that at least he would be free after death.

***
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