Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1)Jessica Sorensen
In a small room, tucked out of the sight of people, I meet a man who calls himself Cedrix. The walls of the room are concrete—not silver like the walls where the Higher is trapped. These walls deafen all noise and it relaxes me a little. Two chairs stand in the middle and a wooden cabinet curves the corner. It reminds me of the hospital a little, only less sterile and without beds.
Cedrix is a tall man, with dark skin, and brown hair cropped short. He’s also missing a hand, which doesn’t make sense. Hands aren’t supposed to be missing, people aren’t supposed to have bruises or white lines imperfecting their skin.
“That’s Cedrix’s freedom,” Aiden explains when he notices me staring at Cedrix’s missing hand.
“Your freedom seems painful,” I say to Cedrix.
Cedrix smiles softly. “Yes, but I’m happier with it gone. It reminds me of how painful things could be.” He gestures at the chair. “Whenever you’re ready, Kayla, take a seat.”
I give him a funny look. “Do I know you?”
He nods. “You do.”
“And why am I getting in the chair?”
“You want to remember, right?” He pauses, glancing at Aiden. “You haven’t explained this to her?”
“I was afraid I’d mess it up,” Aiden replies, glancing in my direction. “Because I know her.”
Cedrix shakes his head as he plops down in a chair. “Then I guess you can wait outside.”
Aiden nods quickly, seeming anxious as he turns for the door.
I catch his elbow. “Why can’t he stay?” I ask Cedrix.
“It’s better if he waits outside.” He scoots his chair forward, closer to the other chair. “He can come back when this is all over.”
I reluctantly release Aiden’s arm and he gives me an encouraging smile, before disappearing out the door.
I swallow hard and take a seat in a chair. “I feel like I’m about to be tortured.”
He takes a glass vial out of the cabinet, filled with a clear liquid. “The mind is an amazing thing, really,” he says, shaking the vial. “It really is. It stores things forever, even when we sometimes want to forget… or when outside forces force us to forget.”
“Forget me, for now,” Monarch whispers. “But remember me later, when it’s time.”
I blink. “What?”
“Outside forces, like the Highers,” He clarifies, frowning. “Are you okay? You seem different from the others that come in here.”
“You keep talking about forgetting.” I wrap my fingers around the armrests and rest back. “Are you talking about blackouts, because sometimes it seems like things are missing from life.”
“Like you wake up somewhere and can’t remember how you got there?” He asks, nodding. “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Did it happen to you a lot?”
I consider this. “I can’t remember.” But it’s a lie.
He nods, flipping my wrist over. Then he leans back and takes out another vial, one filled with a purple liquid.
“I’ve seen that before,” I tell him. “Back in The Colony’s hospital.”
“And probably many times,” he says and holds the vile up between his finger. “Because it’s what causes the little gaps in your memories.”
I almost choke. Monarch put that medicine in me. Monarch erased my mind?
“Now Kayla, I’m going to give you two options and I don’t do it for everyone, only for special cases like yourself,” he continues. “Sometimes, people come here from The Colony, just ordinary Bellators who just happen to be a talented fighter. But sometimes there are Bellators who are different—unique—and for those I offer another choice.” He flips the purple vile into the palm of his hand. “I can make you forget everything, so that you can wake up believing this has always been your life.”
“Why would you do that?” I bite at my thumbnail. “And what do you mean by unique?” I ask, wondering if he knows all my secrets.
“Unique in the sense that the things you’re going to remember are going to be painful,” he says. “But it’s your choice. Either I can inject the purple—the radieră into you and you can go on your way, thinking this is how it’s always been, or I can give you the clear—the minte and we can gradually start unwinding what’s tangled up inside your head.”
I notice the fact that the names’ of the medicines are spoken in the language of the Highers. “I won’t remember everything all at once?”
He shakes his head. “It’s a slow process, especially if your memories are painful. But like I said, you can choose to forget, if you want.”
“Were you a unique case?” I ask and he nods. “And what did you choose?”
He raises his missing hand. “I chose to remember.”
It’s like I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life and I know what I have to do, without even thinking about it. I tap the clear vial with my finger. “I want to remember.”
He presses his lips together and with a grave expression, nods. “Okay, then.” He places the purple vial back in the drawer, takes out a syringe, and stabs it into the vial. “Brace yourself, Kayla” he says and then inserts the needle into my arm.
My hands clutch onto the armrest. I suck in a breath of air as the clear medicine pumps through my veins. I wait for my memory, but I can only see red.
I can’t see through the blood.
I scream, but is it for real? Or in my head?
Pain. Pain surrounds me. My skin peels away as I claw at my own flesh.
Someone screams murder, not me, but a small child. I rock back and forth, grabbing at my hair. Lights flicker on and off, the walls rattle—there’s so much blood.
“Make it stop!” I cry.
Flashes of light, needles piercing. I can’t breathe. I don’t know who I am. Or where I am.
Then I see it: the red door. Watchers guard it. But I’m inside, not out—I’m trapped.
Help, I want to scream, but my lips are sewn together. I raise my hands, blood covering them. Not my blood. Someone else’s.
A river of blood pours down from the ceiling and I drown in it.
I’m screaming. My eyes are open, my gaze darting around the room. Cedrix. Aiden. They are both restraining me. I knock them to their backs and am on my feet before either of them can figure out what happened.
“What did you do to me?” I breath loud, a breath that is not my own—a fearful breath.
Cedrix holds up his hand. “Easy, Kayla, we’re not going to hurt you.”
I back for the door, shaking my head. “What was that?”
“Kayla.” Cedrix stands. “You need to calm down. I warned you that what you saw might not be pretty.”
“Might not be pretty.” I tug at my hair, wanting to forget whatever it was I saw.
“Kayla.” It’s Aiden who speaks, soft and soothing. “Just give me your hand. It’s all going to be okay. No one here is going to hurt you.”
I let go of my hair, realizing how bad I’m trembling. I stare at his hand for a moment, before taking it and the softness of his pulse soothes me.
He lets out a breath, flicking a glance at Cedrix. “I’m going to take her to get something to drink,” he tells him. “See if I can get her to calm down.”
Cedrix nods, but points at my arms. “Clean her up first. We don’t want anyone else to know what’s going on.”
I turn my free arm over, my jaw dropping at the blood trailing my arm. “What happened to me?”
“You did it to yourself.” Aiden leads me to the cupboard.
Cedrix stands. “Get her a drink and then come back,” he says. “I need to talk to Dominic, but I want to see her again when she’s calmed down.”
Aiden nods and then Cedrix leaves, closing the door behind him.
“I’m not thirsty,” I say as I sit down and Aiden dabs my arm with a rag.
“This drink is not for thirst,” he says. “It’s to calm you down.�
He wipes at my other arm, cleaning the blood away so that all that remains is my smooth skin, decorated with faint pink lines that are already vanishing. Then he tosses the rag into a trash bin and he pulls me to my feet and out the door. But I can feel it now: his fear. He fears I’ve done something wrong.
And so do I.