The ward of castoria, p.33
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.33

           Robin Silverglate

  Chapter 13

  A Change in Duties

  Dane followed the red-haired man onto the Green Line subway and sat toward the back of the car. From there, he could keep better tabs on his Ward. He did not sense any creature in the car, so he lowered his guard for the moment and stared out the window. Dane watched the black walls of the subway tunnel rush by in quick succession and was soon mesmerized by the repetitive image.

  The darkness of the tunnel suited his mood. Memories from yesterday’s visit to the Reflection played over and over in his mind. When he took the assignment to protect the young Ward last night, he had absolutely no idea what the consequences would be. He remembered waiting for his Ward to leave her friend’s house and begin her walk home. The sarlock was pacing in a nearby driveway and Dane had to attack it almost immediately. Thankfully, the blonde Ward had rounded the corner in time and did not see the creature lunge for her. He recalled thinking he had been very lucky that night.

  As he walked down the street to go back home, he was suddenly struck by a sight that seemed to confirm how lucky he was. Bryn sat on the front steps of a house just three hundred feet away from him. She looked as beautiful as he remembered. She wore a brown silk shirt which deepened the color of her long brown hair. Bryn was all alone on the steps. He did not know why she was there since this house was nowhere near her neighborhood. Dane thought fate had brought her to the exact street where he was. How else could it be explained?

  He wondered if he should go over and talk to her. He was technically supposed to be in a different city, but he could easily come up with a plausible reason to be there. His heart thumped against his chest as he debated what to do. At last, he took a deep breath and stepped forward toward Bryn. He abruptly stopped when he saw someone else emerge from the house and join her on the porch. The boy was tall, but not taller than Dane. He exuded confidence and was clearly comfortable around Bryn. Much too comfortable, Dane thought bitterly. The boy put his arm around her and pulled Bryn close to him.

  Dane remembered thinking to himself that he should turn away and just go back home. Bryn was not his and she had every right to be with whomever she wanted. Dane found, however, that he could not tear his eyes away from her. He was forced to watch them speak quietly to each other. She looked at this blonde-haired boy in a way that he only dreamed she would look at him.

  Dane watched as Bryn smiled and excitedly hugged her companion. He even heard her say the word “love” and felt nauseous just witnessing someone else having what he wanted. Dane blindly turned around and in his haste to get out of there, knocked over a trash can sitting on the curb. He remembered how embarrassed he felt as he ran as fast as he could away from the neighborhood.

  As the subway slowed down into the well-lit station, Dane continued to stare out the window. He wondered what Bryn was doing now. Was she with him again? His mind was consumed with those thoughts when he suddenly saw the red-headed man walk toward the escalator inside the station. Damn! His Ward had left the subway car without him even being aware of it. The double doors closed and the subway began to pick up speed. Dane sprang to his feet and ran for the sealed doors. A loud, buzzing alarm sounded when he pried them open. Dane lightly jumped on to the platform just a few feet away from the ending wall of the station.

  Dane forced all negative thoughts out of his mind and focused only on the task at hand. He ran up the escalator steps and located his Ward, but he also sensed the creature at the end of the tunnel. He silently sent a message to the red-haired man in front of him. “Turn around and go out the other exit.” His Ward did a quick turn about and sighed like he had just remembered something. Dane waited to make sure his Ward turned the corner, and then he walked silently in the direction of the creature.

  It was a carrath. Its body was covered in a gray slime that glistened in the bright lights of the subway tunnel. The carrath made a wet, snarling sound as a warning to Dane to stay away. Dane took note of its thick curvy claws which it used to tear apart its prey and had no intention of getting anywhere near them. He reached for his bow and aimed for the creature who was now running at him. Dane waited until he had a clean shot and then released his arrow. A small whimper of surprise escaped the carrath’s mouth just before it fell dead to the ground.

  After Dane disposed of the creature, his thoughts returned to Bryn and the blonde boy that she preferred. He hated himself for dwelling on the sight of them hugging and the tender look of affection she had given him. Bryn had every right to love someone else. But in his innermost heart, he hoped she would somehow miss him and maybe come to appreciate him. He had secretly hoped that, someday, he would accidentally run into her while he was on an assignment, and she would change her mind about him. Seeing Bryn with that other boy, however, firmly placed all those hopeful thoughts into their true perspective. They were just farfetched dreams and they were never going to come true.
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