Fourteen year old Mathew McCoy sat on the cold ground of fallen leaves stroking his little sister's short, striaight black hair. She had been sleeping soundly for the past six hours. Mathew had counted them himself. He was supposed to wake May-Beth over an hour earlier, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. she'd had a rough week, and she was only eight after all. He felt it was too much to put on a little kid's shoulders to have to watch in the dark while he slept. He knew even if he woke her, he wouldn't be able to sleep. So he continued to let May-Beth sleep. Besides he didn't have to deal with the fact that he was a FOURTH child. Because that's what May-Beth had to deal with. Mathew was only a second child.
In their country, only two children were permited to a family. The government blamed the other third children for the famine, and any caught would be torutred and/ or killed. Mathew needn't worry, but he cared too much for his sister. He'd already lost his younger brother to the population police. He couldn't bare to lose her, too. May-Beth hadn't even known her older brother Mark. He had lived with their grandmother. Whom also recieved the same punishment for giving aid to a third child.
When the Population Police raided their home after arresting their brother and grandmother, Mathew had done something that scared him more than anything. He didn't mean to do it, but he acted on impulse of protecting May-Beth. But he still did it. He had killed a man. May-Beth thought of him as a hero for it. He felt like a monster.
His spine chilled at the thought of what might be done to his little sister if she were caught. He had heard terrible stories of what happened to third children. So a fourth was just too much for him to handle. He didn't want to think about it, but it wouldn't leave his thoughts. He needed a new topic to think about. The harder he tried to erase the terrifying image, the more it melted into his brain.
Before he could come up with a new topic to think about, little May-Beth awoke. "Bubby?" her words were hoarse and barely audible.
"Yeah sissy?" he whispered back to her, stroking her oily, gnarled hair.
"Bubby, someone's here." her words were softer than the first time, but they seemed to echo off the massive tree trunks.
Mathew scanned his surroundings quickly. There didn't appear to be anyone in the endless darkness, but he wasn't sure of his own judgement. He'd been forcing his eyes open all night. So he wasn't sure if his mind was playing tricks on him or not. Then he saw it. A movement, a small movement, but something changed in the background none the less. Slowly, a figure came into view. He was tall, slender, and appeared to be wearing a long cloke of some kind.
Mathew looked down at May-Beth and pretended he hadn't seen the figure. He was sending plans through his mind to attack when the man was close enough. His boney fingers traced the knife that was strapped to his waist. He didn't want to kill another man. The memory of the first was life changing enough. But he was going to prtect his sister no matter the cost.
May-Beth continued to lay quietly on the hard ground, but Mathew saw she was holding back her cries. He looked up again at the shadow and nearly screamed when he came face-to-face with the strange man. Fortunatley for him though, the figure slammed his hand over his mouth and his head against the tree before Mathew could make a sound. He had snuck up on Mathew so fast and silently. It was almost as if he teleprted.
The man looked to be young, twenty to twenty-five, he seemed calm, but Mathew saw a look of sympathy in his eyes. He noticed that he had only small weapons. A bow and arrows that were hooked around his chest, and three hand knives strapped to his waist on his belt. Each a different size and shape.
He leaned in close to May-Beth and Mathew before whispering. "Come with me. Come now or regret it."
His hand released Mathew and he stood tall. From up close, he looked to be about 5'9". About five inches taller than Mathew.
Mathew threw the statement around in his brain. He wanted to trust this man. But something just wasn't right. His heart was ounding in his chest. What would the best course of action be? After a few moments, he stood up and lifted May-Beth up with him. The man nodded, then turned and walked away, while Mathew continued to debate whether or not he should follow him. Finally he made his decision.
Mathew took May-Beth's hand and raced off into the opposite direction of the caped stranger. The man instantly turned around and pulled his bow and an arrow out of its holder. He drew back the string and released it with little effort of aiming. The arrow spirraled into Mathew's back. Peircing his rapidly beating heart.