What do you think?
Ben strode quickly through moonlight and shadow accompanied by dwindling music. Goose bumps raised the hair on his arms and neck. He stopped startled and looked around, then up at the twin circles of Beyl and Rella, their red and blue faces peeking through tattered clouds. He hated when Rella was full. The blue light made his skin itch; on blue nights, sometimes whispering woke him, but no one was ever there. Shivering, he set off toward Reia’s house running from shadow to shadow, avoiding the light, leaving behind the laughter and music.
A girl’s scream cut through the night echoing off the sleeping houses. “That was Claire!” said, Ben. A man yelled back at her. Rendy looked at Ben, his eyes wide and set of at a run roughly in the direction of Reia’s house. Ben followed close behind. The narrow street opened onto a large lawn. Close cropped grass ended at a large, stream fed pond. A large water wheel turned slowly – the wheel pond. Near the edge of the water, two people struggled.
“There she is,” said Rendy, skidding to a stop.
The smaller of the struggling figures kicked the other in the knee. A man’s voice cursed. He recognized that kick. He had received many of them growing up. “Claire,” Ben shouted.
“Ben,” she yelled, looking at him. He watched horrified as the man struck her across the face, knocking her to the ground next to a crumpled heap he hadn’t noticed before. Ben’s breath caught, Reia.
Rendy shouted and charged
Caught in red light, Ben stood motionless. Reia lay there, lifeless. Cold washed through him. Rage washed away the cold. Red clouded his mind and vision, warm and wet. An animal yell reverberated from deep inside him.
Feet gouging the soft grass, he got there just as Rendy punched the stranger in the face. All three went down in a pile of twisted arms and legs. After some scuffling and muffled curse, Rendy stood up. Ben stayed down on the ground, the man’s head trapped in the crook of his arm; his legs wrapped around the man’s middle. The man’s pulse beat prey fast against his arm.
“Ben, stop. You’ll kill him,” said Rendy.
He growled through a red haze and admired the darkening color of the stranger’s face.
“Ben,” Rendy shook his arm gently. Ben showed him his teeth.
“He. Killed. Reia,” said Ben; his tight clenched teeth added to the pressure in his head.
“No, Ben. She’s alive.”
Out the corner of his eye, Ben saw Claire help Reia sit up.
“Let me go . . . you fool,” the man gasped. “I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s all a . . . misunderstanding . . . I can’t breathe.”
The pulse beat erratically. No! He didn’t want to let him go. He wanted him to hurt. He wanted to hurt him. What? Confusion pushed back the cloud. What just happened? The stranger jerked against his arm, struggling to breathe. Red flowed over the confusion.
“Ben,” said Reia in a trembling voice, crying.
Ben closed his eyes and took a deep breathe. This isn’t me. Reluctantly, he released his hold and lay on his back panting. The night air blew cold on his damp shirt and clammy skin.
The man scrambled to his feet and moved away from them, close to the water’s edge. The big, water wheel groaned and creaked behind him. “We are not done here. Not by any means,” he said.
Ben climbed shakily to his feet and reached out. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me…”
The stranger jerked back. “Get away from me,” he snapped.
Ben’s face hardened, he recognizes the man’s clothes, they are similar to the merchants in the bar. “What happened,” he asked, looking at Claire and Reia.
Claire looked at him, eyes big, and took a small step back. “He wished us merry Revel and wanted to talk, so we stopped. He says he’s from Pria, part of the merchant party we saw. At first he was nice - he offered Reia a spring wreath,” she glanced sides ways at Reia who was sniffling softly. “She took his wreath and his kiss. He wanted more, but she told him no. Then, he grabbed her arm and tried to drag her way. He hit her a couple of times when she fought back. That’s when I kicked him.” Claire glared at the man. He stopped rubbing his neck to glare back.