A/N: I wanted to give you guys a heads up that there's a time skip at the end and the point of view changes from first-person to third-person for the end of the story. It's not a lot, so please do not turn away or be negative because of the switch between first to third. I switched because it helps to make the story tie together better.
This story was written as an entry for A Drop of Romeo's Star-Crossed June contest. The photo used for this story was entitled "Running".
Star-Cross'd Awards is the bi-annual writing contest of ADoR. There will be one from January to June, then another from July to December.
For each round, there is a set of prompts. You may choose from any prompt. For each prompt, there is one winner. Honorable mention will be awarded when there are sufficient submissions.
The requirements are:
Must be the specified story type (either multi-chaptered or one-shot)
Reference to Romeo and Juliet (this does not have to be a MAJOR reference. For example, your narrator could walk past a poster advertising a nearby showing of R&J)
Must have been written after the contest begun
The purpose of Star-Cross'd is to give you enough time to start and finish something you can edit until you're satisfied. I know that when I try writing for a prompt, I tend to not have enough time to finish my response. One month goes by like that. Star-Cross'd gives you five to six months to complete your entry.
All authors who submit their work shall receive a review from me AS LONG AS YOU FULFILL THE REQUIREMENTS! The winner of each round will receive a banner.
Easier to Run
The sun was beginning to peek up above the buildings as I ran down the street, past the hotel and other multi-colored buildings that lined the street with neat looking cars parked outside of them. I hadn't been planning, exactly, on running or else I would have chosen something else to wear. The white t-shirt with the blue jean jacket that I'd cut the arms out of didn't exactly keep me warm and the black jeans with motorcycle boots didn't allow me to run at my full potential, but I pushed on. I had to or else they were going to catch up with me.
There were three of them following me on foot, having seen me while they were on their break. Police drove me nuts because they thought they knew all and were on top, able to get away with everything because they were supposed to keep the people safe or whatever. I just didn't understand why they couldn't be lenient on one little screw up. Okay, so maybe I had more than one screw up, but they were supposed to be forgiving people.
There was an intersection ahead and I knew that going to the left was going to lead them straight to the others and that was the number one rule at the compound. So, I turned right and darted through a series of side streets to try and lose them, but it was a plan that failed because soon I heard the sirens in the distance.
I felt like a caged animal, having nowhere to go and no way out of it. There was no way that I was going to get out of this and there was no way that I was going to go to jail. Would I even go to jail? I wasn't sure, I was just a few days shy of my eighteenth birthday so I was pretty sure that I would if they caught up to me.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket, dialing as I ran. If they caught me, then I was going to throw it against one of the buildings and hoped that it broke because I couldn't have them find her, the red haired girl that was currently sitting in a high school cafeteria.
"What do you want, Holt?" the girl asked once she answered the phone.
"What, no hello?" I questioned as I glanced wearily over my shoulder at my pursuers.
"Hello, Holt, now what do you want?" the girl asked, huffing into the phone.
"Well . . . Tarah, do you remember how I said that it was getting about time for us and our little friends to leave the city?" I clambered over a fence and landed smoothly on the balls of my feet before running again. "Well . . . They found me when I was getting some air and now I'm being followed. I need you to walk out the front doors of your school and into your car and then come to the city mall because I'm going to need a getaway car."
"What? Holt, I—," she started, but I cut her off.
"Tarah, I'm not asking anymore, I'm telling you. I need your help and I can't bring everyone else into this, so, please, come and help me!" I hissed into the phone before hanging up as I ran across the road and into the mall parking lot.
The sirens were growing closer as I ran through the main entrance of the mall, shoving my way past everyone. In the center of the mall was a water fountain and that was the place I planned to ditch my phone and keep going. By now, the police had filled the mall security in on what was happening and I could hear them shouting at me, but the fountain was right in front of me. Three steps more and I flung my phone into the fountain and kept going.
I was almost out the other side whenever I was tackled to the ground. The cool metal of handcuffs snapped around my wrists before someone pulled me to my feet and I found myself looking into the eyes of a man that was the spitting image of me, although his nostrils were flaring. I had never noticed that he did that when he was mad and I had also never noticed the grey streaks appearing in his dark hair.
"Holt Sheffels, you are a hard boy to catch," my father said as he gasped for breath. I flashed him a cocky smile and remained silent because I knew that was what was coming next. He closed his eyes for a brief moment before he turned from a father into a cop. "Holt Sheffles, you have the right to remain silent . . . ." And then my mind was elsewhere.
People always call police station chairs orange and plastic, but the one that I was placed in an hour previously was made of a cold, gray metal. It wasn't very comfortable, either, to be honest. I fidgeted, knowing that they were watching me from the other side of the glass that was supposed to be a one way type of deal, but you always knew that there was someone behind it, watching you. The cuffs were starting to dig into my wrists and made me keep trying to move my arms to get some relief.
My father had been gone ever since they'd put me into that room, which was freezing cold, as a matter of fact. I was starting to get anxious and it was sending my thoughts every which way. I wasn't sure if Tarah had managed to get away unnoticed. I hoped that my phone had died in that fountain. I prayed the others hadn't been found. I knew I was screwed if my dad was the one to question me. The faces of the twenty-one dead, and somewhat innocent people filled my mind. Oh, but the money, the money made a smile spread across my face.
"You realize that you look like a crazy person, correct?" a deep voice asked, pulling me away from my erratic thoughts. My father looked at me and shook his head while a woman stepped into the room. That was not my lawyer, I knew that, but I did not know who this woman was. "You know Alice Cooper, correct, Holt?" I tilted my head to the side silently as I inspected this newcomer. "Your step-mother? Of course not. If you hadn't ran away and gotten yourself into this mess, then you would have known that you now have a step-mother and two new siblings."
"How is this relevant?" I questioned finally. He ran a hand over his face, which really brought out the wrinkles, and sat down across from me.
"Alright, then, if you want to skip the catch up, then we'll begin," he replied as Alice Cooper sat down next to him. "Can you state your name?" He peered at me over his reading glasses, waiting for an answer. "Holt?"
"I have the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent, which I will do so until I have an attorney," I stated with a smirk on my face. He closed his eyes briefly and rubbed his temples.
"Fine, we'll find you an attorney," he said, nodding at Alice Cooper. She glanced at me before she stood and slipped out the door and into the unknown depths of the station. My father was still staring at me, though, and it was beginning to creep me out. "Where did I even go wrong with you?" I sat back in the chair, or at least all the more the cuffs would allow me to, and studied him.
"Whenever my mother died," I told him, "that was where everything went wrong." I glanced at the tape recorder he had laid out on the table earlier and then back at him. "That's all you get from me, Officer." His eyes followed my path to the tape recorder and he sighed.
"I can't help you if you don't let me," he said as he pulled the tape out of the recorder. I shrugged.
"I never asked for help," I said and watched as he paused slightly in his actions.
"You've killed twenty-one innocent people with your little band of criminals!" my father hissed. He wanted me to break; I knew that's why he was doing this. While his new wife went to find me an attorney, he was trying to break me. "Don't you at least feel a little remorse about that?" I pursed my lips as I thought that over.
"Alright, fine, I'll give you a little information to help with this little case," I said finally. "All those people? Not innocent." He frowned at me.
"Why are you lying to me, Holt?" he asked. I simply raised my shoulders and then lowered them. He wasn't getting anything else out of me.
I was escorted to a holding cell a few hours later after Alice was unable to locate an attorney on such short notice. It was bigger than I'd expected it to be, the holding cell, but it wasn't any nicer than the one in the next city over. It would do, though, considering that I wasn't planning to stay there long. They would be after me within a short matter of time, as they always were, and then we would leave.
It had been an idiotic move for me to return to my hometown with them. Of course, it'd been idiotic of me not to say anything, but where was the fun in that? I stretched my arms above my head and flopped down onto the cold and uncomfortable bed—that was if you wanted to call it a bed, a mattress over a hard steel surface was not a bed in my opinion.
I was an idiot, a fun idiot, though. No one could stay mad at fun, idiot Holt for long, except for Ted, maybe.
Footsteps in the hallway drew me from my thoughts as a blonde girl appeared wearing a cop's uniform and swinging a key chain. I pushed myself up onto my elbows and shook my head as she leaned dramatically on the bars.
"Oh, Holt Sheffels, isn't this a sight?" she asked.
"Just get me out of here, Liv," I said with a sigh.
"And why would I do that? I liked this town, Holt, it was . . . homey," she replied. I rolled my eyes and stalked across the small area, snatching the keys out of her hands. "Feisty. How's little Tarah going to feel whenever I tell her that you aren't only a killer, but also a thief?"
"I'm not a killer," I stated as I unlocked the cell door and thrust the keys back at her. "And, I'm not the thief in this case, either."
"You normally are, though," she replied, skipping down the hallway as I ran. "Who else is the grand mastermind that steals everything we need? Food, water, weapons, even?"
"Do me a favor, Liv, and just shut up," I hissed as we walked out the back door, passing several guards that she had either knocked out or killed. I didn't stop to look.
An ordinary white house stood in front of me and was decorated with green shutters, a wooden porch swing, hanging flowers, and was all too familiar to me as I stood on the sidewalk. I pulled up my hood and shoved my hands into my hoodie pocket, wondering why I had returned. The smart aleck Holt had disappeared once Liv had broken me out of the police station and had been replaced by the normal Holt. It had been, once again, a stupid move to return to my childhood home, which I could now see my father and his new family moving about inside. He had moved on and I should of too, but I still remained rooted to that spot, just watching them interact with each other.
This was my last chance to try and make things right for my father before my friends and I left town for good. Was he even going to miss me? I doubted it; most parents tended not to miss their runaway children that were also murderers, especially when they believed them to be guilty. I hadn't lied to him that morning, though. Everyone that had been murdered was guilty.
There was a father who abused his wife and children. There was a mother who had killed her husband and newborn child. There was a boy who robbed a bank and failed to tell his family. They all had reasons to be dead. No one else saw this, though.
I forced my feet to move as I walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. Stepping back, I ran a hand over my face as I thought about what the possible outcomes would be. They could open me with open arms. Or they could also have me arrested on the spot.
I didn't have much time to think about it much because my father pulled the door open and stared at me. "Holt?"
"Dad," I said, shifting from foot to foot. He crossed his arms over his chest and studied me.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. "How did you even get out of . . . You know what? Don't answer that."
"I just wanted to let you know that I'm leaving town tomorrow. So . . . you can call all your little cop buddies off and stop wasting time looking for me," I said in a monotone voice. He dropped his gaze and leaned against the doorframe. "You aren't going to arrest me, are you?" He sighed softly before he looked at me.
"No, Holt, Alice and I are not going to arrest you," he replied in a defeated voice. "I looked into some of those people that you murdered and, to much surprise, you were right about them not being innocent. Some of them were, though, you realize." I shrugged.
"Every battle has innocent people being killed, doesn't it?" I asked, giving him a wry grin.
"Holt . . . I don't want you to come back here," Ted said as he met my eyes. The grin slowly faded off my face. "You're not welcome here anymore. I have my new family to think about and I can't have your influence in my house, never mind the fact that I would lose my job."
"I wasn't planning to come back," I replied as I stepped back to lean against the porch railing. "I came to say goodbye, that's the only reason that I'm here."
Ted glanced over his shoulder and into the house before he stepped onto the porch and closed the door softly behind him. "I do want to know one thing, though, before you leave. How did you do it? The first murder that you committed, I mean, how did you do it?" I pursed my lips slightly as I looked at him, trying to decide if he was really curious or if he was stalling and had lied to be about not arresting me.
"It was Christmas Eve," I said finally, "and it wasn't as hard as you might think." It was then that the memory of that night came rushing back to me in full force.
Tarah and I walked out of the theater hand in hand after the special showing of Romeo and Juliet. The car sat idling on the curb as Luke leaned against it, his thumbs dancing across the keyboard of his phone and Liv sat inside the car with the music blasting. Tarah smiled and hugged her brother in greeting while I opened up the back door and climbed inside, pulling out the pistol from beneath the seat. Tarah climbed in moments later and looked at the gun with a frown. With a shaky breath, she turned away and stared out the window as Luke and Liv joined us in the car and he pulled away from the curb.
I'd met Luke whenever I'd started high school. He had been a senior and I had just been a freshman. At the age of sixteen, he remained my idol. My father had always been busy with work and my mother was dead, so he was about the only person that I ever had to look up to. Somehow, I wasn't sure how, he had managed to talk me into helping him and his small group of misfits with their "project". Of course, whenever he had explained to me that they were doing it for the greater good; he made it sound as though it was a good thing. It wasn't until his younger sister had explained just what it would involve me doing that I realized that it wasn't such a good thing. Still, I didn't back out. For some reason, I stayed with him because I trusted him.
As he drove, the city gave way from skyscrapers and apartment complexes to run down houses and rougher neighborhoods. Even though it was Christmas Eve, people still loitered on the street, hollering profane things at each other. In my hand, I grasp the gun even tighter, trying to tell myself that this was right, that this all needed to be done. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, I wondered if it really was necessary to rip a family apart on Christmas.
Luke pulled over to the curb and turned around to look at me, holding out a black piece of clothing in his hand. I looked at it before I reached out and snatched it up. After I pulled the ski mask on, I pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt and looked at Luke, waiting for him to explain the process again, but he didn't. He simply held up the picture of a dark haired teenage boy to the light that came from the street lamp and said four simple words:
"Go get it done."
With that, I pushed the door to the car open and stepped out onto the sidewalk. I walked quickly around the block and stood in the shadows outside of the white house. It was one of the better houses on the block, but that wasn't really saying anything. Light from a TV lit up a window and the light to the kitchen was on, revealing the very boy I was after standing at the sink. A blonde girl leaned against the counter next to him, staring blankly out the window.
Flipping the safety off, I cocked the gun, and moved forward, keeping to the shadows as I did so. Whenever I got into firing range, I knelt down and wrapped both hands around the gun tightly, pointing right at the back of the boys head. I sucked in deep breaths to try and calm myself so the gun would stop shaking in my hands. I had one chance and I couldn't mess it up because it was hard to tell what Luke would do to me if I did.
Just as I was about to pull the trigger, the blonde girl moved behind the boy and wrapped her arms around his waist as she rested her head on his shoulder. I had a decent aim, but it wasn't good enough to manage to hit the boy and not the girl. She wasn't the objective, although I was sure that Luke wouldn't be too mad if there were two dead out of this. At least, I hoped he wouldn't be.
A rustling to my left captured my attention and pulled me away from the couple in the window. A dark haired girl that looked to be about ten stood there, staring at me with wide brown eyes. Her eyes flittered to the window and then back to me before they filled with tears.
"Don't kill my brother," she whispered before she turned and ran to the house, screaming at the top of her lungs. I remained crouched down, just frozen from her four words.
Gathering my courage, I watched as she ran into the house and the boy picked her up in his arms, soothing her. That was when he turned and looked out the window, meeting my eyes. I didn't look away and neither did he until I finally stood and turned away, walking from the hiding place.
I stopped telling my story and stared at my father, although I didn't really see him. He had wanted to know how I'd committed my first murder and I had just given him a story that he couldn't do anything with. His brows were furrowing as he tried to figure out why I had just told him what I'd told him all of that.
"You didn't kill him, then?" Ted asked finally. I stuffed my hands into my pockets and just shrugged, not telling him otherwise. "Why? I mean, why didn't you and why were you supposed to kill him?"
"Luke was testing me," I replied after a moment, a cold mask appearing on my face. "He was seeing rather or not I'd do it or not."
"And you didn't."
"You're a smart man, Ted. Maybe that's why you're a cop," I said with a sly smile on my face. "But, then again, you aren't so smart after all."
"What do you mean?" Ted asked, still frowning at me. I turned away from him and looked out over the street.
"You'll figure it out."
"Why don't you just tell me?" I closed my eyes for a brief moment before I turned and walked towards the steps.
"Because you already know the answer," I told him as I walked away.
Whenever I walked back to the car, I found the other three waiting for me. Luke had his arms crossed over his chest with a disapproving look on his face while Liv and Tarah stared at their feet a few steps away, looking like a puppy that had just been scolded by its owner. I, however, lifted my gaze to Luke's unflinchingly without removing the ski mask. He thought that he had a lot of power over everyone when he didn't. At least, he didn't have the hold over me that he thought he did.
"I'm disappointed with you, Holt," Luke said once I'd stopped walking in front of him. "I thought for sure that you had it in you to finish this."
"Guess you thought wrong," I replied, glancing at Tarah and then back at him. He pushed off the car and uncrossed his arms.
"I'm not going to give you another chance, Holt. I've told you since the beginning that I don't give people second chances." As he spoke, the distance between us slowly closed until he was less than two feet from me. "You know what the consequence for your actions will be, right?" Once again, my eyes slid over to Tarah's tear-filled eyes and then back to Luke.
"Yeah, I know," I said.
One the eve of Christmas, a shot rang out through crowded neighborhood.
Two Years Later
A red haired girl walked down the spotless white hallway, her heels clicking off the floor as she approached her destination. The door was shut, as always, offering a familiar sight. It was who he was, she thought, and he was never going to change. She wasn't expecting him to change, either, because she had long ago accepted that this was merely his way and no one was going to change him.
She pushed open the wooden door, wincing as the hinges screeched. The dark haired boy sat on the windowsill, looking out over the city with his knees drawn up to his chest. He didn't turn to look at her when she stepped inside because he knew it was her. She came to visit him every day at the same time.
Tarah paused by his bed for a moment, looking at him and trying to find the boy that she once knew. Who he was now was not the boy she had fallen in love with. He had not been this fragile, emotionless, skinny kid. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't his fault, so how was this fair? Luke had turned him into this boy, had pushed Holt over the edge whenever Holt had pulled the trigger and murdered her brother.
"Holt," Tarah whispered, moving to step closer, but, like always, he flinched away and pushed himself up against the glass of the window in an attempt to get as far away from her as possible. Her heart ached, wanting him to at least allow her to hold him.
"He was like that whenever I left," a man's voice said behind her. She turned around to find an older version of Holt behind her. Ted Cooper stood in the doorframe, looking at his son. "He's been like that for two years."
Tarah's eyes drifted back to Holt, wondering how it was that for the past two years, she had crossed paths with his father within the hospital. She had seen him a few times around town, but that had been all.
"They said you were the one that brought him here. Why?" she questioned. Ted put his hands into his pockets and stepped farther into the room, sitting down on the neatly made bed. He looked at his son as he spoke.
"He came to see me one night, after your friends broke him out of jail," he said softly.
"They aren't my friends," Tarah told him with a cool tone to her voice. He looked at her for a moment before back at Holt.
"I know. That was apparent," he said with a sigh. "I thought he had left, so I went back into the house. A few minutes later, someone was pounding on the door once again and screaming, just screaming at the top of their lungs without mercy. I went to make whoever it was stop, but when I opened the door, it was Holt. At first, his yelling's were understandable, he disliked me because he thought I shouldn't have remarried after his mother's death, he said that everything that had happened in his life was my fault. I looked at my son, Tarah, and I just felt defeated, all of the fight to try and help him had left me. What was I supposed to do?"
"You did the right thing, in my opinion," she said softly, sitting down next to him. He looked at her once more, a sad look on his face.
"Did I? My son hasn't spoken for two years, how did I do the right thing? I bet he's so full of drugs that he can't even think," Ted said angrily. "How is that the right thing?"
"He was going to hurt more people. One of them might have been himself."
Ted was silent as he watched Holt, who seemed to have relaxed a little more than when they had both walked into the room. Tarah wrapped her arms around her waist and stood, silently leaving the room because she couldn't take seeing Holt's life being spent in a hospital, away from everyone and away from himself.
She walked outside after retrieving her personal items and stood in the pouring rain, allowing for tears to stream down her face and mix with the rain drops. Her chest heaved with the sobs that escaped her lips. Who she was crying for, she wasn't sure, but when she had finished, she felt a lot better than before.
Holt lay in bed, staring at the ceiling with a sad smile on his face. His father didn't know if he had made the right choice, but Holt knew he did. What was happening to Holt at that moment was the exact same thing that had killed his mother. He had been heading down the same path as his mother very quickly and he had been on the brink of having the same fate as her.
He rolled over onto his side and stared at the wall. Ted and Tarah believed that Holt wasn't the same person that they knew, that he was too doped up and hidden within himself that they would not see him again, but that wasn't exactly true. Holt heard and knew everything that they said; it was his own choice to behave the way he did. It was easier, he thought, to allow them to think that instead of bombarding him with questions or telling him that everything was going to be alright when it wasn't, at least not for a long time.
Holt knew that if he would allow people to talk with him and interact with him then he could be out of the hospital. He was only twenty years old and the way he was acting at that very moment was going to ensure that he was going to remain where he was, but he wasn't sure if where he was actually was that bad of a place to be. He was safe there, safe from himself and safe from harming others.
The thought entered his mind and sent it reeling to a completely different place. He himself had pulled the trigger that stopped the beating of Luke's heart. Luke, who had been Tarah's brother, was dead at his hand. He didn't feel guilty, not one bit. Luke had been just moments away from killing Holt when Holt had pulled that trigger. No one could pin him for that one death, however, except for Liv and Tarah because they were the only ones that knew the identity of the man beneath the mask.
Luke's death may have been the first at the hands of Holt, but it had not been the last. No, many other people had died because of Holt and the group of people he joined after that night. His father, he knew, was merely blaming it on Holt's illness, but Holt wasn't so sure that was it. Deep down, he knew that he got some twisted and sick thrill from watching the life of others drain from their eyes.
He reached for the picture he had hidden beneath his pillow and looked at the red haired girl that smiled back at him. Why Tarah had chosen to stay with him was beyond him. After everything that she had seen him do, he was certain that she would have left him, but she hadn't. She had remained by his side through it all and that was one of the main reasons that he loved her.
He held the picture to his chest. He loved her. It was funny; he thought, that he had not actually told Tarah that he had loved her. Why? He wasn't sure, maybe it was because he had always just assumed that she knew it.
Rather or not she did, he wasn't certain at that moment in time. He held the picture to his heart and closed his eyes. One day, one day she and he would grow old together, he would get out of the hospital on his own will, and they would just grow old together.
With that final thought, Holt drifted off into the world of unconsciousness, a world where nothing could physically hurt him and a world that was sometimes, not always, filled with happiness.
Easier to Run – Linkin Park
Addicted – Kelly Clarkson
Beautiful – Eminem
Beautiful Pain – Eminem
Grace of God – Katy Perry
Dance with the Devil – Breaking Benjamin
Fix You – Coldplay
Hysteria – Muse
Escape – Muse
7 Minutes in Heaven – Fall Out Boy
I'm Not Okay (I Promise) – My Chemical Romace
Marilyn Monroe – Sophie Callahan cover (Originally performed by Nicki Minaj)
Nobody's Listening – Linkin Park
Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey