Another Victim6 mins 198 6 mins 198
“Just give him a little bit of space,”
Yes. That’s what he needs. Some space and some time to think. To register the fact that his parents, Bob and Alice Murray, are dead.
William Murray sat on the wooden chair, staring at his white converse sneakers that were just about torn. His hands, sweaty and damp, gripped his knees. Beads of sweat ran down his neck, forming splotches on his yellow t-shirt.
“Did you forget I already have a foster kid? I know what I’m dealing with,”
“Yes, but he’s rather delicate,”
William, better known as Liam, snapped his head up and looked at his agent. She had blonde hair tightly wrapped in a bun and always wore a pantsuit. Her mouth was always pressed into a thin line.
“I’ll be fine,” he said, trying not to let his voice shake.
“I don’t doubt it, dear,” said his agent, giving him one of her fake smiles.
“Just get the paperwork done already,” grunted the man next to Liam. He was huge and wore a flowery shirt with shorts which should be termed illegal. His face was unshaven and gave a very unpleasant smell. His hair was shoulder length and matted. His overall appearance was very unbecoming.
And Liam was going to live with this man.
No, he was going to work for this man. He just didn’t know it yet.
Liam sat on the tiny bed where he could barely lie down without curling himself into a pretzel and looked at his equally tiny room.
“This cannot be happening,” he whispered, burying his head in his hands, his fingers brushing his curly black locks.
Liam jumped up and banged his head against the low ceiling. A small girl of about seven years stared at him, her head popping out from the trap door he had come up moments ago. She had straight red hair which had been cut choppily. Her cinnamon-colored eyes seemed to stare into his soul.
“Hi,” breathed Liam, rubbing his head.
“Will you be my big brother?” she asked, scrambling up and sitting on the bed. Her face looked up seriously at Liam, who was too astonished by this little girl to laugh.
“I’ll try,” said Liam, stammering a little. He sat next to her.
“What’s your name?” she asked, smiling at him.
“William, but my friends call me Liam,” yeah, the friends he left behind to come to this dump.
“But I’m your sister. I can’t call you Liam,” said the girl thoughtfully.
“Isn’t a sister a kind of friend?” asked Liam, the first smile in weeks creeping onto his face.
“No. A sister is a special person. I’ll call you Will,” she announced.
“And what do I call you?” asked Liam, his mouth twisted into a grin.
“Sarah. You can’t give me a nickname, though. Sarah is such a terrible name,” she said morosely.
“It’s not too bad,” said Liam, still smiling.
“Yes, it is.”
“BOTH OF YOU GET YOUR SORRY BEHINDS DOWN RIGHT NOW!!!” roared a voice, unmistakably Liam’s new foster dad.
Liam was about to ask something when he saw the look on Sarah’s face. It was pure terror and fear. She was scared of this man. It made him wonder if he should be, too.
“You okay?” asked Liam.
“Don’t let him hurt me,” she whispered, clutching his hand.
“Hurt you? Has he hurt you before?” asked Liam, furious at the fact that a grown man would hurt such a vulnerable sweet girl.
“Promise you won’t let him hurt me,” she repeated, shaking his arm.
“Okay! I promise,” he said, taking in the look of fear on her face. Then and there he vowed he would not anyone hurt this girl.
The two of them climbed down the trap door one by one into a medium-sized room with a bed covering most of the space. The rest of the space was occupied by Liam’s foster dad, Chad. He had an apron tied around him and had swapped his eye-burning outfit with normal trousers and a white button-down shirt which was stained with what Liam hoped was coffee.
“Shop opens in ten minutes. Get sweeping,” he grunted, thrusting a broom and an apron at Liam, who stood confused.
“You want me to work?” asked Liam, looking at the grimy apron in distaste.
“What do you think?” sneered Chad.
“All right, I guess,” said Liam, his nose still wrinkled at the apron.
“And you,” snarled Chad, pointing at Sarah. She whimpered and hid behind Liam, who clutched her arm and stared at Chad, silently daring him to even touch her.
“Wash the dishes,” he sneered, throwing her a dish towel which landed at Liam’s feet.
“She’s seven!” cried Liam.
“Old enough. And don’t break anything. Remember what happened last time,” that he turned and went into the kitchen.
Sarah picked up the dish towel and followed him to the kitchen, shaking and trembling. Liam put on the apron and went out front to the coffee shop Chad owned. Unlike the rest of the house, the actual shop was very chic, furnished with modern style. With a sigh Liam got sweeping.
The door of the shop opened and a young man of about twenty walked in, grabbed an apron, and the broom Liam was holding.
“Hey!” said Liam in protest.
“Hi,” said the guy, giving him a grin before starting to sweep.
“I was doing that,” Liam huffed. He didn’t know why he was angry he didn’t want to sweep anyway.
“And now I am,”
“Who are you?”
“Zachery. Zac for short,” he said, finishing sweeping and keeping the broom away.
“You work here?”
“That’s right, little dude.” He said, patting Liam’s head.
“Don’t do that,” said Liam, swatting his arm away.
“What about you? Trying to earn for a field trip?”
“I don’t work here,” muttered Liam.
“Then- oh,” Zac’s easy-going face hardened.
“Another victim,” sighed Zac, shaking his head.
“What?” repeated Liam.
“Chad keeps taking foster children, makes them work their butt off, occasionally hurts them, and throws them somewhere else,” said Zac, taking a rag and rubbing the tables.
“Are you deaf?”
“No. I just- hurt?” asked Liam, a little scared.
“Yup. So don’t mess up.” Said Zac.
Liam stood still. So he was a slave? No way. No freaking way. And what did Zac mean by hurt? How will he hurt? Should he be scared? Should he run?
“Hey, don’t freak out,” said Zac, turning to see Liam frozen in spot.
“I’m not freaking out,” said Liam quickly, his voice high. Zac raised an eyebrow. Liam cleared his throat.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you mess up,” laughed Zac, punching Liam’s shoulder lightly, who eyed him.
“You - you promise?” asked Liam, stammering a little.
Zac realized that this boy was scared. Of course, he was scared. He probably recently lost his parents and now he’s going to slave away at a coffee shop.
Zac smiled, “Promise,”
Feeling a little at ease, Liam smiled back at the red-haired boy.
“Here, wipe the countertops,” said Zac, tossing him the rag.
“So why are you here?” asked Liam, scrubbing a particularly stubborn stain.
“Someone’s gotta pay for my college,” laughed Zac.
“But there’s a lot of jobs. Why here?”
“This is the most popular hang for the teenagers, and the drinks aren’t too bad,” said Zac, looking outside the window.
“Who makes them? I find it hard to believe Chad could make anything edible,”
“Chad doesn’t make them. Fiona does,” his face lit up as a girl about his age walked in the shop. She wasn’t very remarkable to look at, actually. Her hair was brown and lay straight behind her shoulders. Her honey brown eyes had a little sparkle in them, though, and her smile was contagious. Her thin face was flushed as she had just run a mile. Liam suddenly understood that this girl was Fiona, the one who made the smoothies and the reason Chad works in the shop.