Something sinister is about to happen in this assignation. Welcome to part 4 of our romantic series. If you missed the previous part, check here.
Sophia When I see Alexander again, I want to laugh. He’s dressed in some kind of military outfit. The somewhat intense look on his face stops me. “Are you ok? Have some wine,” I say, pouring him a glass.
I watch him pause and try to compose himself. He accepts the glass of wine and drinks it in two long draughts. I exhale. It is done.
“Sorry, I just got a call from my editor,” Alexander speaks. “I need some air. Let’s go for a walk.”
“Luckily, I wore flats,” I hear myself say chirpily.
“You’ll love it. It’s a beautiful walk. I used to play hide and seek in the Maze when I was a kid.”
“Oh.” I say.
He looks at me expectantly, like I’m supposed to have more of a reaction to that. Normally I might. Grounds, a maze – I feel like I’m in a Jane Austen novel. The time for that has passed though. I can almost taste the opportunity. I’m almost salivating.
“I can’t wait to see it,” I say, forcing some excitement into my voice.
Alexander She notices the crossbow. A shadow of doubt darkens her eyes.
“I thought we might do some target practice on the walk,” I say, “It’s really fun.”
She looks slightly underwhelmed.
“I picked a lighter one in case you wanted to have a go,” I say, trying to assuage her fears.
She half-smiles. I feel my knees go wobbly. I banish the thoughts of any reprieves. The show must go on. We head into the maze. 5 paces, 10 paces, 15 paces. Showtime, but I’m feeling a bit heavy headed. I almost miss the starting point.
“Stop,” I say, trying to focus my eyes, but they won’t cooperate. My hands twitch, the tremors starting up.
She’s walking ahead of me, looking at the flowers, making sounds of interest. She turns around to look at me. I’ve shouldered the crossbow.
She laughs. “What are you doing, Alexander?”
I squint, and fire an arrow in her direction, exhaling as I do so. She squeaks. A small feeling of satisfaction courses through me.
“If you do exactly what I say, you will survive this,” I lie. It’s a lie because no one has ever survived this. I always win the Hunt, and I actually don’t know what I’d do if she escaped the maze. I think I’d have to kill her anyway. Wouldn’t make any sense for her to go free.
I look at her. Three years ago, the target pissed himself. He wore a pair of khaki jeans and I enjoyed watching the hot tears roll down his cheeks as the dark shame spread across the khaki fabric.
There are no accidents here. She looks at me calmly. Like she’s waiting for something. I’m finding it harder to stay awake; she needs to get moving.
“Go,” I bark.
“No.” She says plainly.
I fire another bolt at her shoulder. She grunts as it grazes her.
“The next one will be true,” I say. I don’t feel as confident. Damn that wine. It’s gone straight to my head.
She doesn’t move. A small bud of blood blooms on her shoulder, and she instinctively rubs it away. “What the hell, Alexander? What are you doing?”
She doesn’t sound panicked, only disappointed. I can barely stand now. I’m rocking like one of those round-bottomed skittles my father used to play with as a child.
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way, dammit.” I realise I’ve spoken, said the words out loud, I’m babbling like a child.
“Tell me Alexander, how was it supposed to be?”
Her voice sounds harder and harsher. Through my swimming vision, I see her and she looks an entirely different person from the wall-flower I’ve been chatting with since January.
“Don’t try to fight it,” she says in a gentle tone that only serves to mock me. “I’ve given you enough sedative to knock out two 1-ton geldings.”
I grunt with rage – how dare she! – and fire a couple of bolts. She doesn’t squeal, doesn’t make a sound this time, but she raises her arm instinctively to protect herself.
Find out what happens to this duo in next week’s episode of this romantic series.