She doesn't even know

(Part 1 from 2)

She stood up, stepping out of the taxi, straightening her dress as she turned to look towards the source of the sound. The evening was warm without being a single degree to hot and it carried the mash of sounds easily from the well lit and well presented house that was crawling with its young guests. The house seemed almost alive as people danced across the windows and their silhouetteís casting pantomimes across the carpet like grass. And the smell, the smell thatís been toasting her nostrils all summer filled her euphoric anticipation for yet another night of complete and total satisfaction.

Her friends finished exiting the car and like a magnet had been switched on they all converged around her, around her like a star, Catherine Bella. The Taxi driver stole a glance at her and her exotic figure before slowly pulling away and out of existence.

She doesnít even know.

Like a finely skilled and choreographed Broadway production the four giddy friends laughed and tipped up the path and pushed through the front door and as If signaling for the mash of mixed sounds to consume them the volume heightened and swallowed them through the grand double doors and into the house.

The real host was toasting his journey into technical adulthood and as is required at such occasions his greater friend base and others who slipped by without solicitation were in the throws of ensuring two things; Firstly that the host was sensationally and undeniably intoxicated and secondly by only a margin, they followed in achieving identical intoxication. Many of the original party goers made way for the quartet through the corridors and hallways in the house like a channel forming in the great sea many moons ago. Many of these party goers too, impressed by brilliance of these girls stole more than just simple glances and lingered with nothing but shy desire.

And yet she still doesnít know.

*****

At this precise point in time, crossing the city, heading on a magnetic bearing of 1250 mils a man is being chased, being chased like an animal being hunted. Behind him fractured cobwebs of red laser lights spasm in search for him. Behind the red laser lights the harsh white light of torches scour the darkening bush land as they search to find him. There are many of them, they are calling out to him, they are reaching out to get him but this is not what concerns him. He is not flailing, not running like a duck on dry land. He is not panting, nor stumbling and not even looking over his shoulder.

His face is cemented with a look of nothing more than pure and intense determination. He knows his path, itís his job to know his path, he knows where she is and he knows that the people behind him know that he knows this. His camouflaged military uniform somehow still seems pressed and clean despite the appearance of his face. Bleeding bruised and in parts starting to swell he has already pushed past these inflictions as they do not concern him.

He needs to find her. Itís a good thing that she doesnít know.

His arms do not hurt when he skims past trees spewing bark into the scrub, his chest doesnít hurt despite pushing his lungs to their capacity. But thatís ok, he knows exactly what his own limits are and he knows that this is when he functions the best, his mind is clearest and his body is responsive and ready. He is running upright, tall and proud. Arms pumping like pistons directly connected to his legs to deliver powerful strides time and time again. His core not tense, not knotted but relaxed and strong.

His fellow men, soldiers suffering the conflicts of battle, he has no time to mourn them now. It is unfortunate that they were not aware like he was. Not prepared and as is always the case, not as gifted with a grace of luck to enable them the same fortunate as he. Upon escape he did not bother with weapons nor survival equipment, he sprinted past the packets of provisions, boxes of flares and other communication devices with the same look he wears now and without even a glance back.

A boxed shape shadow indicates the military light service vehicle is exactly where it should be and as he rips himself through the open door the keys are exactly where they are required to be. In the ignition. The car explodes with life as the foot is planted, the wheels shred the gravel and spray debris back as the 4wd propels forward, speeding towards the city.

He cares not for red traffic light signals, nor for red octagonal stop signs. He doesnít slow to give way and he doesnít blink when some familyís favorite pet cat wishes it had a greater sense of time or reflexes as itís head and neck are snapped back into itís spine by the front wheel. By the time the rear wheel rips the torso from the rest of itís body the car is already dead and ruing wasting itís prior 8 lives.

He uses the curb frequently, the oncoming traffic lanes if required and doesnít hesitate to give a speed camera nothing more than a reactive glance to the flash as he maneuvers the vehicle with precision and control into the increasingly more urban surroundings. He takes a second and nothing more to hope that he finds her first, that he is able to get to her before they do. There is a lot at stake. He reminds himself itís a good thing she doesnít know but heís not sure if heís trying to convince himself or reassure himself. Then heís mind is blank and clear.

*****

In the main living room, the largest one, one of three apparent living rooms in the house, our Bella is like a butterfly bouncing between conversations with old friends, new friends, people she wishes werenít her friends and those other friends that you only ever see at parties like these. Always standing, too restless to sit, too much life to live, people to meet and things to share to sit down. No, this is her night, and she is total bliss fulfilling her youth with the people that make her happy.

Around her the music from, somewhere, consumes her and her amicoís with the right level of beat to keep their bodyís in motion, tapping, nodding, bouncing around. Next to her there is a long couch and like all couches at parties like this new love is being shared round and found between itís inhabitants, along the wall groups are talking and laughing. Laughing at something funny enough to warrant raised palms and reciprocated slaps. In the doorway, girls dressed in their best since their high school ball are shyly trying to be coy and naive to the advances of young males learning to prowl, who have much to learn if they plan to enjoy the spoils of a successful hunt.

But the chase to the casual observer is amusing enough to occupy the remainder of her drink. Sheís savoring the taste before swallowing. Slowly closes her eyes and breathes in deeply through her nose filling her lungs with life. She begins to raise her arms and spin herself around to the music, her head swaying and her face is covered with her gorgeous smile.

She picks up the pace, starts to send the dance into her legs and continues to smile with her eyes so shut but her mind so open. Her head is clear, filled with nothing but the moment as she lets herself fall onto the couch, a little too close for our newly acquainted lovers trying to play tug of war on second base. But sheís too pre-occupied to care, and even if our young cupids expressed concern she doesnít care, she doesnít even know.

*****

A small moth mistakes itís path for a safe one as it gets swept by the air flow and sucked over the surface of the speeding carís bonnet before itís whisked up the face of the windshield and erupted behind the car to be caught firstly in the smog of the sick carís exhaust and finally being finished off by the following carís radiator.

The mothís final moments did not even register for our man in green, driving a car of green through the dark streets lit only by the occasional set of streetlights and the moon. The full moon. Like a beacon showing the way.

The car screams to a halt at the back of a neighborly house. There are cars parked everywhere, people skirting about all over the place, but none of this concerns him. His boots make hard thumps as he exits the car and races across the lawn to the houses back door. He doesnít shut the door, doesnít even turn the engine off, in fact if the house hadnít been on a hill he wouldnít of even put the hand brake on.

This time the party goers do not part like the great sea, they have no chance to react as he brutally moves through the house with nothing more than a sense to total purpose and objective. These kids bounce far quicker than they can move, even the bigger kids stealing all the partyís local lasses donít question the manís momentum and avoid as much of the oncoming crashes as they can.

He pauses for an infinitesimal period of time and takes a breath, a real breath as he lays his eyes on her, on the couch, laughing empty drink in hand. The people are all staring; the bloodied, sweaty man more than 12 inches taller than all of them and easily double their girth somehow attracts no screams, no shouts of concern or requests to leave. His entrance has had the exact effect required. Shock, and shock is flexing itís muscles as it grips all the room, all the house encountered.

*****

She opens her eyes and follows her friends gaze, all her friends gaze, the whole houses gaze, even the gaze of the house itself. To him. Standing in the doorway, tall, strong and broad. Sheís confused, badly confused. How did he know I was here, why isnít he away this weekend, what happened to his face, why didnít he tell me he was coming, why didnít I know he was coming? Why donít I know? She was torn between jumping up to greet him and continue their kiss that was torn apart by time the last time they met. Something by the way he stood, the way he looked the way he looked at her made her nervous, made her scared. Very scared.

The Music never stopped while the earth stood still in that living room. And when he spoke it was like a whisper that echoed louder than thunder from a storm directly overhead.

We need to go

Was all he said and he extended his hand palm up towards her. She didnít do it herself, she didnít want to take his hand but she did, her hand raised itself and placed itself into his palm, it was hot, humid, and clammy. He helped raise her off the couch and she got to her feet not sure whether to check her outfit or be ashamed for being responsible, somehow, for this intruder.

We need to go now


It was almost a question, but Catherine could tell that it was more of a question of do you want to come or am I going to have to take you. She did not want to be taken, not here, not like this, not amongst her friends. As young ladies do they often fantasize about being randomly taken by their man but now that the moment had arrived she was so far from it she was unsure to be herself.

And then she was being led, not by him, but by her legs, swept through the house, the guests well and truly out of the way this time. Some still nursing their own wounds and bruises inflicted by their own poor luck or timing and colliding with a man on a mission.

He led her not back to the Army vehicle with the engine running and door still open, but instead to a standard small Japanese import. Watching in disbelief as itís owners, assumably, were thrown some distance from the car before being offered the passenger seat. The door was shut firmly before she somehow managed to even be in the car and before she knew what was happening they were speeding away from the house of life and laughter.

Blurred red tail-lights came and whizzed by in a streaked flash. Some cars honked but the majority didnít, or at least she didnít notice. A million questions erupted from her along with tidal waves of emotion. It all came out at once in a giant vomit of questions driven by both anger and fear.

Where are we going

Why did we leave the party

Whatís happened?

Why are we in such a rush

What happened to your face?

It was with this last question that he turned his head and gave a smile. A smile of reassurance, ease and peace. For a moment they just looked at each other, into each other, not saying a word, his eyes just staring into her sensational brown irisí controlling her fear with nothing more than a look. He still managed to drive, sliding in and out between traffic. The dashes of white division line that halved the road seemed a solid band that almost pulled them along independently like it was a slot car track. When he spoke he was calm and articulate.

Iím here to keep you safe, to protect you.

With hesitation and reservation she decided that she really did want to know

Safe from what? What are you protecting me from?

Without intention her voice indicated it was heading to self defense, she still didnít know, and was clearly denying the need for protection. Something that she had fought for on more than this occasion.

He took a breath and resigned himself to accepting that this was the time she needed to be told.

Some people, some very bad people are after you.
They want to use you, to hurt you and use you. Thereís a lot to know.

Her silence indicated her approval to continue.

You were chosen, at random, to be a part of someoneís sick game. These internationals wanted to prove to the world that they were unstoppable. In 1992 this group declared to the world leaders that they could pick anyone at random and have them killed in front of the whole world before they reached the last day of being 21. You were chosen, picked selected for their demonstration.

She cut through in a desperate cry

But Iíve never heard of this, people would of said something, my parents, the news you hear everything through the news.

She was sobbing now
He put a comforting hand on her warm thigh

Think Catherine, Do you think itís chance that your father quit his job and started studying your exact same course at your exact university? No, heís not being overprotective, heís trying to legitimately protect you.

Do you think itís chance that we met? No, you became my mission. Iíve been tasked to ensure that you survived and we could prove to terrorism that they will not rule us, they donít control us and we will not fear them. It was all staged, that night at the pub when we met. Even my friend, kept trying to throw condom packets at us. He was trying to tell you that I was there to protect you. Protect you from the very people that did this to my face, did worse to my friends and will do even worse to you if they catch us.

Even that bout of Glandular fever you had last year was not glandular fever and your doctor is no normal GP. You were lucky to survive the chemical poisons that were only partly absorbed into your body. That was their first real attack on you. It wonít be the last.

He paused and looked back at her. Analysing her, watching for her reaction.

Do you see now?

It was like a final piece of the puzzle clicked in to reveal the Mona Lisaís smile. And the Kaleidoscope of what was Catherine Bellaís life chimed into perfect focus. The clarity overwhelmed her and she slowly nodded as her eyes stared off into space. Her mind was recapping everything from the last 21 years of her life at the speed of a bullet train.

Everything made sense.

She snapped back to reality and looked at him. Calmer now, composed.

So where are we going?

I have a safe house thatís been prepared for us, weíll be safe there. I canít tell you where it is as we donít know whoís listening.

Two pairs of motorcycles pulled into their street ahead of them and with military precision made a path for the speeding rice burner and itís two occupants. The motorcade went across the city with unprecedented speed and disregard for the roads, streets and highways other drones.

They pulled up the driveway and through towering gates that could only remind her of Jurassic park. She even let herself wonder if he could arrange all that she had seen so far maybe he had also arranged a couple of prehistoric killers to be manufactured for additional protection. She lost count of the guards with some sort of heavy weaponry and typical earpieces although their presence didnít give her anywhere near the sense of security that he did. She reached over and took his hand in between both of hers and pulled it to her lap. Almost out of nervousness she stroked the back of his hand with her thumb and wondered what this safe house was going to offer.

He lead her by the hand through the houses grand entrance, down the hall with the high ceilings, twisting left then right, up some stairs then right and right again. On the pristine white walls hung large and abstract art. Different sizes and shapes, shades textures. A carved wooden head on a stand stared back at her with frightening life-like features. It was only when she glanced back again after sheíd passed it that she was shocked to realize it was her, an incredible full size exact copy of her. They were all of her, a shrine, dedicated to her life over the last seven and a half thousand days of her life.

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