Chapter Eighteen: Puppet Master
Could you die of a broken heart?
Up until now, I've always scoffed at the ludacris idea. Hearts could not break—at least not literally. They were nothing more than organ that pumped blood through the body. I'd paid enough attention to my teachers in school to learn that much. Despite this, countless poems and novels still claimed that it was possible.
Now, I finally had my answer.
No, you could not die of a broken heart, but you could certainly wish that you could.
I sat with my legs drawn up to my chest, arms encircling my knees. The uneven grooves on the tree trunk pressed through the thin material of my shirt, digging into my skin. Rays of sunlight were beginning to filter down through the trees above, casting shadows in the forest floor. I had no doubt that leaves and twigs were knotted into my hair, but I was too far gone to care.
Nibs' form rested a few meters away, his eyes downcast, staring at nothing. I could tell by the dark circles under his eyes that he hadn't slept a wink last night. Curly was curled up on his lap, whimpering in his sleep. The rest of the Lost Boys were spread out around us, eyes shut, snoring softly.
"When they wake up, we're going to head back to the hideout," he said without looking at me. His words sounded raw, like the inside of his throat had turned to sandpaper. "If there is anything left, like food or blankets, we'll take it. And then we'll try to disappear for a while, just in case Hook changes his mind. I know of an empty cave on the other side of the island, behind the waterfall. We'll go there, hide out for a few days. Plan what we're going to do next."
And that was exactly what we did. We woke the rest of the boys, and slowly made our way back to the hideout in silence. It became apparent after only a few minutes of being there that there was nothing left. We climbed over fractured tree trunks and furniture, looking for anything saveable. The only things we took with us were a length of fraying rope and a few blankets.
When I entered Peter's destroyed bedroom, I couldn't stop the tears that burned the back of my eyes, and I gripped the wall to stop my shaking knees from giving way. His mattress had slipped from the bedframe, half of it resting on the floor. The dirty mirror that had sat against the wall now lay in a shattered heap.
And that was when it hit me.
He would never stand in this space. His bed would never again be warm. He was gone—forever.
But I couldn't dwell on that at the moment. I had to be strong. If not for me, than for the boys. Once they were safe in the cave, then I'd slip out and allow myself to breakdown. I'd wail and scream and kick. For the moment, I had to hold it in, for their sake.
So, I wiped my cheeks dry and left the room, leaving part of my heart behind.
Wendy stood just out of reach, hands fastened behind her back, hair whipping found her face in the howling wind. Her mouth was a straight slash, her body perfectly still. Her baggy shirt hung off one shoulder, showing her birdlike neck and protruding collarbone. Her eyes were what killed me. They were the colour of stomped out fire. Too weak to even flicker.
I tried to run to her, but me feet were shackled to the deck of the ship by my fear. My arms refused to move from my sides. I was powerless to reach her.
A shadow appeared, stepping out of the darkness, and my heart climbed over my ribs, becoming lodged in my throat. He stopped behind her, his metal hand catching the light cast from the full moon. She didn't make a sound when his hook brushed her cheek in a light caress, nor did she flinch when it travelled down her neck, stopping at her jugular. Her dead eyes stared into mine, unyielding, her face expressionless.
Hook's remaining hand rose to grip her shoulder before trailing his fingertips down her arm, smiling callously. "Such pretty skin," he said. "Don't you agree, Peter? It's just so…unblemished."
I tried to lunge towards them, but could do little more than twitch my hand. "Don't touch her!"
"Wendy doesn't seem to be objecting. Are you, darling?" His hand moved to grip her chin, forcing her to shake her head. Wendy remained limp as a puppet, completely at his mercy. "See, she likes it."
"You're sick," I spat, desperation filling me. "What have you done to her?"
He raised a dark brow, feigning confusion, but his oceanic eyes were filled with malice. "Done to her? Why, I haven't done anything. Not yet, at least."
I strained against the invisible binds to know avail, sweat forming on my brow and lip. I had to get to her. I had to. My bare toes pushed against the timber boards until they screamed and bled. The veins in my neck bulged. Pressure formed behind my eyes.
Hook watched on, unimpressed. "You're only wasting you're strength and getting blood on my clean desk. The crew's not going to like you very much when I tell them they have to clean it again."
All my strength left me in one gust, and my head dropped forward. Sweat dripped off the edge of my chin, falling to the deck. Trying to fight against it was useless. "Please," I begged, voice hoarse. "Please, don't hurt her."
"I'm not going to hurt her."
My shoulders sagged with relief, but it was short-lived.
"I can't be responsible for what she does to herself, thought."
My head shot up, eyebrows pulling together, in time to see him pull a dagger from the inside of his coat, the razor-sharp edge glowing. I didn't understand what he meant until he pressed the blade into her palm, wrapping her fingers around the handle.
My heart froze. Stopped. Restarted.
It pounded in my ear as I screamed, trying to thrash, break free, do something—anything. "No, no. Don't. Please. Don't! I'm begging you. Please!"
Hook ignored my desperate pleas and bent down until his lips lingered just beside her ear. "Go ahead, Wendy." A hand on her back gave her a gentle push, and she took a slow step towards me, then another. He moved with her, bringing her closer to me. "And don't hide anything."
The puppet master stepped back, giving her space, and horror filled me when she nodded, the movement little more than a jerk of her chin. The dagger rose, along with her other hand, until they were being held at chest height, the tip dangling above her palm, steady. Her gaze held mine, and there was no warmth in it. No kindness. No understanding. No emotion. Bile rose in the back of my throat. My stomach dropped.
"Wendy, don't. Please, don't do it!" I cried.
She ignored me.
The moment the tip of the dagger sliced her palm, her blank expression shattered. It fell to the floor in broken shards. The scream that pierced the air made me want to tear my ears off or stitch them shut. Anything to rid them of the sound. Her head tipped back and I felt my heart rip apart in my chest. Still, she pushed the dagger deeper. Red blood pooled in her hand, dripping off her fingers, running down her arm. Her eyes squeezed shut and her lower lip trembled. Her top half collapsed, and she drew into herself.
She screamed again as the knife travelled up the inside of her forearm, and tears burned trails down her cheeks. My own filled my eyes, distorting my vision.
"Peter, please," she howled. "Make it stop. Make my stop."
Her voice shredded me. Her knees gave out and she dropped to the deck. Her eyes met mine, and they were no longer dead. Now, they were red and swollen and tormented. "Save me, Peter. You promised you'd save me! Why won't you save me?"
But I couldn't. The tears drenched my face as I cried. Jagged, ugly sobs escaped my chest. I couldn't draw air into my lungs. I couldn't do anything but stand there and watch. "Wendy. Wendy, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Her back bowed and her face pressed into her shoulder as she screech. The blade kept travelling upwards. In the background, Hook laughed and laughed...
I shot upright, gasping for breath, calling her name, searching for her around me in the darkness, palms scratching against the rocks. But she wasn't there. None of them were. My entire body trembled, and my clothes stuck to my skin with sweat. My pulse jackhammered in my ears.
A splash startled me, and I whipped around to find Tallulah studying me from the waters edge. Her chin was resting on her hands, and her silver eyes glowed, reminding me of the dagger that had been in Wendy's had Her dark tail moved lethargically in the water behind her, and her black hair fell forward over her shoulders in thick, wet tendrils, covering her bare chest.
"Who's Wendy," she asked, voice like silk.
I know it's been a while and I'm sorry. Please don't hate me. I'm on holidays now so hopefully I'll be able to update sooner. I'm juggling a lot of stuff at the moment, so I can't make promises to when that will be.
That said, I would just like to thank everyone who follows/favs/reviews. Thank you all so much. I love reading the reviews and hearing what you think. What keeps me writing is knowing that people are enjoying this story. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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