Cinder x, p.11
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       Cinder X, p.11

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 11

 

  “Made who leave?” I work to stay upright as Cameron ungracefully controls my legs.

  She grins as she rounds the back of her silver car. “The cops. ” She unlocks the door, smiling to herself. “I know they’ve been watching you. ”

  I swallow hard as my arm stretches out and my fingers wrap around the door handle. I give it a tug and the door swings open. Then, bumping my head on the ceiling, I climb in. Raven gets in too and starts up the car.

  “They think you killed all those girls,” she says as she starts the engine while I buckle my seatbelt.

  See, I care about you, Cameron says as he forces me to buckle it.

  Yeah, I’m sure you do. And that’s why you’ve made me get into a car with a

  girl that’s possessed by the Anamotti and is probably leading me straight into a trap.

  Just trust me. That’s what we want.

  I already told you that you have to earn trust and this isn’t the way.

  “So, this should be fun,” Raven says as she backs down the driveway and turns onto the street.

  “Yeah, I guess,” I mutter.

  What do you mean this is what we want? How are you doing this, Cameron? How are you controlling me? I thought the Anamotti couldn’t control me like they control part of the humans.

  I already told you that I’m not part of the Anamotti.

  Yeah, but you weren’t able to do this before… make me move like this and talk inside my head. So what’s changed?

  You.

  What do you mean?

  I sit quietly in the passenger seat of Raven’s car, waiting for an answer, however he offers me none. I rack my brain for something that might have changed over the last few days, but I draw up a blank other than the fact that I’ve gotten lonelier.

  Is that how you’re doing it? I ask. Because I’m lonely and vulnerable.

  He stays silent and I wonder if he’s still inside me. I’ve gotten less cold and the hollowness is starting to fill again. Perhaps he lost his hold over me. How can I find out for sure, though? I glance at Raven and then at the door handle, deciding to give it a try. I wait for her to slow down at the stop sign at the end of the road and then I focus on moving my hand towards the handle to jump out of the car, but it won’t budge—nothing will. Not my legs. My feet. My arms. Dammit!

  I sit up straight in the seat with my hands on my lap, doing the only thing I can do. Nothing. Raven has the air conditioning cranked up even though it’s cold outside with frost glazing the leaves and sidewalks and everyone walking up and down the sidewalk is wearing jackets. I didn’t even think to grab mine, but then again, I wasn’t really thinking on my own when I left the house.

  Relax, you look beautiful, Cameron assures me. You always do.

  “Oh, shut up,” I say and Raven shoots me a stunned look.

  “Excuse me?” She says, turning down the radio with one hand while she grips onto the steering wheel with the other.

  “It’s nothing. ” I sigh and rotate towards the window, knowing there’s probably a very slim chance that I’m just going bowling. Cameron starts laughing in my head again while Raven mutters something under her breath about me losing my mind. I need to calm down. Get myself together. Yes, Cameron has control of my body, but he doesn’t have control of my mind. I start creating poetry, putting letters and words together.

  Wings of freedom

  Eyes of light

  Touch that stills me

  And Comforts

  Like rays of sunshine

  Instead of shadows

  I start to relax, but then Cameron’s and my thoughts mingle, and he takes over my internal poetry.

  Through the whispers of the willows,

  One leaf strives to survive

  But endangered from the wind and branches,

  It slowly starts to die

  Though maybe that’s what’s better for it;

  To give up, surrender, and make peace

  Then perhaps it will taste the powerful freedom

  Of the wind.

  The darkness.

  Surrender and give in.

  I keep my thoughts to myself, pretending that Cameron isn’t inside my head, that this isn’t happening, but he chortles, reminding me that he’s there.

  “So how’s school, Emmy?” Raven asks as she merges the car onto the highway. She’s using my nickname to get to me. She knows that’s what my dad used to call me and that it hurts whenever I hear it.

  “Schools great,” I lie with a tight smile, wondering if she knows what’s been going on there. “I haven’t seen you around much, though. ”

  “That’s because I spend most of my time in the art room. ” She beams from ear to ear.

  “That’s good. ” I keep my tone light. “I’m sure you’ve been very happy then. ”

  “Oh superbly happily,” she says. “In fact, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the art Professor. ”

  “You’ve been spending time with Professor Morgan?” I question in doubt. How can that be if he’s good?

  Raven nods while she checks her reflection in the mirror as we drive over the bridge. “I have. In fact, we meet up every day after his last class. ”

  See I told you, Cameron says. Don’t trust anyone.

  Just because he’s spending time with her, doesn’t mean he’s bad.

  Do you really believe that?

  I’m not sure. And that’s the painful truth. I thought it was a little weird to begin with that Asher’s uncle abruptly approached me and handed all that information to me on a silver platter. Not to mention that he then gave me the blank book that doesn’t make any sense.

  “He’s super hot, too, just like Asher,” Raven says, interrupting my thoughts.

  My heart tightens in my chest at the mention of Asher. God, I miss him, more than I allow myself to. I wish he was here with me, filling me with the quiet and fulfillment his touch brings whenever he feels me, kisses me—

  Wow, living in your head is kind of disturbing. Cameron sounds annoyed.

  “You know, you never did explain to me where Asher went,” Raven says, adjusting her mirror. “After that whole fiasco in the cemetery. ”

  My mouth moves on its own. “I think he died. ”

  “What?” Raven gapes at me, genuinely stunned.

  “Yeah, back in the cemetery. ” I have no control anymore.

  She seems unconvinced, shooting me a doubtful look. “You don’t seem that upset about it. ”

  “I guess it’s because I was really in love with Cameron. ” I try to shake my head at Cameron, but fail.

  What? He asks innocently. Weren’t you in love with him?

  I’m not sure… just like I’m not sure why I’m talking to you about this.

  Raven gapes at me in disbelief for a moment before she returns her attention back to the road, grabbing her sunglasses from the cup holder between us and putting them on. I watch Hollows Grove blur by; Phil’s Shenanigans and Fun, the bar Asher and I had our first date in, the outdated buildings that make up Main Street, an auto shop, and the trailer park. Finally, at the end of it—near the mouth of the canyon—we pull up in front of Dina’s Bowling Alley. An open sign flashes in neon pink from the window and there are groups of people hanging around by the front door.

  “Wow, there are a lot of people here,” she remarks as she puts the car into park and turns off the engine. “This should be fun. ”

  “I guess so. ” Even though I don’t want to, my fingers find the buckle of the seat belt and unfasten it. Then I get out of the car and meet Raven at the front, hyperaware that there are a lot of eyes focused on me. Things only get stranger when we enter the building and it’s packed. Everyone looks really happy, too; too happy. Laughing. Chatting. Smiles. Drinks. It’s not like at the college, yet there’s still something off about it; like I’ve stepped into a 1950s sitcom where everyone is eerily cheery.

  The walls are splashed with rainbow
patterns and there are arcade games to my left, flashing florescent colors and making loud noises. A 1970s something song plays from the speakers and it seems like a lot of the people around know the lyrics as they mutter them under their breath and sway their hips to the beat. To my right, there’s a very long waiting line to get shoes and to pay for a lane. I search their faces, looking for signs that their eyes are glowing; that they’re possessed.

  “Wait here,” Raven tells me, taking her sunglasses off and putting them on top of her head. Then she skips to the front counter, swinging her arms while guys check out her ass.

  My body reclines against the wall beside the door and waits to find out what she’s up to. Probably something bad, I’m sure, but I need to figure out what the Anamotti have got up their sleeve.

  Relax, I won’t let anything hurt you. His voice fills my head. It sounds like he’s being sincere, too.

  Why are you doing this? And how? How can you suddenly control me?

  That’s not important right now. All I need from you at this moment is to do what I tell you to do. Then, hopefully, this will go smoothly.

  What’s going to go smoothly? Please just tell me something! I start to get worked up again, fighting to regain control of my body; attempting to bend my knees, my elbow, even blink on my own.

  Keep calm. You’re standing in a room full of the Anamotti.

  My jaw wants to drop as my gaze swiftly sweeps around the room, and the truth slaps me in the head as I realize that everyone around me has an X carved into their forehead or on their arm, their eye… Garrick, the guy who tormented me the first time Raven was possessed.

  He looks just how I remember him; ridiculous sideburns, a leather jacket and the X over his eye like it’s an eye patch. He recognizes me, too. I can see it on his face as he stares at me through the crowd, leaning against the wall with a knowing smile on his face. Yet, he turns away like nothing happened between us, like he didn’t try to kill me. As if he doesn’t want to.

  Don’t panic. I won’t let anything happen to you, Cameron promises. Trust me, princess. I might not always do things that are good, but when it comes to you, I do.

  I laugh aloud and a sturdy guy carrying a soda shoots me a suspicious look. I clear my throat and pretend to have a fascination with a small space of floor in front of my feet, worried that if I look up, they’ll all attack me. I’m practically in a shark pit, and yet, no one is taking a bite. It’s not the same as at the college. The people there were in a trance state, however these people seem very alert. Very alive.

  That’s because they’re Anamotti, Cameron says. Not humans with possessed souls.

  Then why aren’t they coming after me?

  Because they have a plan.

  What sort of plan? I ask, but he doesn’t respond. Cameron, why did you bring me here? What’s the point, other than to get me to walk straight into the enemy’s hands?

  To find out something important… something that might help you stop that death omen from happening, or at least help us figure out more about it.

  I’m not sure if he’s telling the truth, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now. I look over at the counter where Raven is laughing at something the cash register guy says. He’s got an X on his forehead, too, and Raven has one on her forearm. They both look happy, but in a really creepy, possessed way.