“Marlin? Where are you?”
I see a shape on the ground in the dark alleyway. No. I’m too late.
They cough, blood splattered on their lips. Their hair is damp from the puddle their head rests in, and I don’t want to think about if it’s blood or not. “Qu-Quinn? That you?”
“Marlin.” I whisper, my eyes filling with tears as I fall to my knees beside them. Their shirt has been slashed, and it’s stained red at their side, beneath their hand, the dark stain creeping farther and farther. “What happened?”
“Wolf. Slashed me.” They groan, fingers digging into their side. “I didn’t see it coming.”
“You’re-You’re okay, right? You’ll be okay? We can go get help, you’ll be okay.”
They give me a small, sad smile, and my heart sinks. “I don’t-I don’t think so.”
“What? N-No, you have to be.” Tears spill down my cheeks, hitting their chest, my fingers gripping their free hand.
“Hey. You’ll-” They cough again, their body trembling with each movement. “You’ll be okay. Without me.”
“No I won’t. I can’t lose you, Marlin, I can’t. Please, I need you here.”
“I’ll alway be-” Their voice is ragged, and their eyes flutter open and closed. They’re trying to stay awake. “I’ll always be with you, okay? Just don’t-don’t give up. Find Karlen. Tell him I say hi.”
“I need you, Marlin. You can’t leave me.”
“I love you, Quinn.” They say, cupping the side of my face gently. “Be safe. You need to go now, before they get back. The boat is already at the dock. Go.”
“Marlin, no. I can’t-”
“Go. Please. I’ll be okay. I love you, Quinn.”
“N-No. Keep your eyes open, it’s okay.” But they don’t. “Marlin. Marlin!”
My hands tremble, and I try to feel for a pulse. But I find nothing. I’m crying hard, and I pull my blood soaked hands away from them.
I can hear growls and snarls in the distance, and stagger to my feet, pulling their bag with me. I have to go. I don’t want to leave them, but I won’t survive here.
So I run.
I run through the empty streets, holding the bag with all of their things close to me. The wind bites at my skin as I do, and I can’t stop crying.
I don’t. I keep going, almost there, almost free, then I trip.
I manage to get back up, my pants ripped at the knees, and I stagger forward, but my lead is gone. They’re so close, and I don’t think I can make it.
But I try.
Miraculously, I make it to the dock. I fish around in my pocket, searching for the handkerchief. I throw it out into the water, and it unfolds into the rowboat. I have to jump to reach it, and I leap off the
I land in the boat hard, and scrabble for the oars. I can hear hooves pounding on the ground behind me as I start rowing, then I block it out.
I love you, Quinn. I’ll always be with you.
I can’t hear anything, can’t see anything, but I keep moving. I’m crying, but I row and row and row until I’m far enough. Then I bury my face in my hands, and cry.