Cinder x, p.14
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       Cinder X, p.14

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 14


  “What did you say?” he asks, stiffening. “He needs to kill to survive and gain power?”

  I nod. “That’s what I felt when I drank some of his life… death. It’s weird because usually my gift doesn’t work like that—usually I only see the person’s death. But I felt the death’s on him and his need for deaths. ”

  He brushes strands of his hair out of his eyes, with a pucker in his brow. “That doesn’t sound like the leader of the Anamotti at all,” he says, staring off into empty space.

  “I think it does,” I disagree, remembering how the detective tried to kill Raven with no remorse at all. “A guy who’s killing innocent girls to feed his sick urge to take people’s lives. ”

  “It’s not just an urge,” he says. “It’s a need—a need that the leader of the Reapers has. ”

  “You think the leader of the Anamotti is the leader of the Reapers?” I ask incredulously. “You think Alton is Altarius Vinceton. ” I pause as I say it, my poetry forming mind sifting through the letters. “Take the first two letters of Altarius and the last three of Vinceton and you have Alton. ”

  The color drains from Cameron’s face. “This is very bad,” he says, his gaze elevating to me and for a fleeting instant I see fear. “Not only because he’s the mayor of the town, but it also means that the leader of the Reapers is now rebelling with the Anamotti and torturing Grim Angels, which means there’s no control left in my world. Anything can happen to anyone, including me. ”

  “So many innocent people are dying. ” I shake my head, wishing I didn’t believe him. But I do. “He’s killing off people to thrive… God and I’ve seen what he’s planning to do… all those lives. ” Anger burst through me and Cameron seems to get kicks off it, leaning closer to me as if he’s going to kiss me. “Could you give me some space, please?” I ask, pressing my head back against the pillow.

  He remains still for a moment then reclines back, looking too composed as he fleetingly glances around my room, his gaze landing on a poem that I wrote on my wall. He reads it aloud, “Beneath the weakened structure lies something more. Something softer, yet stronger. It may appear brittle and unstable, like desert dust. But it’s as sturdy as steal. It carries itself. Flourishes like flowers. Breathes and thrives. It’s life to the very core. ” He pauses when he finishes then looks back at me. “You know, you’re very talented. ”

  I don’t respond. Despite the fact that I despise him, Cameron is a very talented poet himself and he’s kind of complimenting me. We stare at each other for a moment then finally he sits up straight and so do I.

  “Goddamn, my head hurts. ” I wince from the pain as the memories of everything I did at the bowling alley come back to me.

  “Yeah, sorry about the headache,” he says, but doesn’t seem very remorseful. “I accidentally lost control of your body for a moment. I think Alton may have some controlling power of his own, although I don’t get how? Grim Angels are supposed to be protected from Reapers’ possession since they have Reapers’ blood in them. ”

  “Perhaps he did the same thing as you. ”

  “Trust me; he didn’t do the same thing. I’m guessing it might have something to do with him being the leader and having more power… plus he’s feeding off the energy of souls by killing people…” He trails off, looking confused. “God, I could feel his power… it was amazing, to say the least. ” He glances down at my arms that are covered with gloves. “He could have very easily taken over, if I hadn’t stepped up. ”

  It takes me a second to catch on. I quickly tug off one of my gloves and curse at the sight of the darkened lines. “That’s why you wanted me to take your life. ” I grimace, tracing my finger over the lines. “So you could control me. God, I should have seen that coming. ”

  “How could you ever begin to understand enough about Reapers and death to know that?” He tilts his head to the side, folding his arms over his chest, looking as though he wants to touch me. “There’s still so much you don’t understand. ”

  “Like what a Torva is?” I ask, putting my gloves back on, not wanting to look at the painful reminder of what I did.

  He shrugs me off. “That’s just another term for our leader, a term used amongst Reapers. I could tell it unsettled Alton when you—well—I, said it; like you might understand more than what the Anamotti want you to. ”

  “I hardly understand anything,” I say. “Like the town being built on a battlefield… I’ve never heard of that before. ”

  “That’s because the war wasn’t properly recorded, at least in human recordings” he tells me, shifting his weight uncomfortably. “The battle between Reapers and Angels. ”

  I point out the window at the town and mountains around the house. “I can’t believe that battle took place in little old Hollows Grove. It seems impossible. ”

  “Why?” he asks. “With all the Anamotti running around, it shouldn’t be that surprising. We’re drawn to the place this all started, where our lives here on earth began and the place where Grim Angels were created. ”

  “So, is it just a coincidence that I’m here… that I was born here in the town the battle took place in and where Grim Angels were first created?”

  He looks at me like I’m a moron. “What do you think?” He scoots towards me and places a hand on my knee. “You know, for such a small town, Hollows Grove has a very high Grim Angel population, or used to anyway. They’re connected to this place—your connected to this place, whether you like it or not. ”

  “Like my father was connected to this place. ” I slip my knee out from under his hand.

  “Does it matter, since your father’s dead?" he says with a complete lack of compassion.

  I glare at him. “Yeah, but is he dead?” I watch his reaction closely. “You never did tell me what you knew about his death that day you showed up to warn me; only that you knew he was going to die soon. ”

  He glances around to the open window where the moon is shining just outside. His expression is haunting, and if I look closely, I can see anguish in his eyes. Then he sighs, looking back at me, and the look is gone. “I have to go. ” He starts to get up, but I snag the sleeve of his shirt, stopping him.

  “Cameron, if you know anything about my dad, please just tell me and stop messing with my head,” I say with a plea in my voice. “You said you want my trust. Well, if you tell me, then maybe I’ll trust you more. ”

  He stares down at me, and for the briefest second, he almost looks human, yet it quickly vanishes as he pulls his arm away. “Until next time, princess. ”

  As he then starts to walk away, I spring from my bed, but I’m slammed right back down by an invisible force, landing on the bed.

  Wait until tomorrow and I’ll tell you more.

  Before I can respond, his cape materializes out of thin air. Standing in the center of my room, he wraps the black fabric around his body then he’s folding up, shrinking into a ball; his arms sliding in, bending, twisting, his legs kinking. Wings sprout from his side, black feathers, a beak. There’s a poof and then suddenly I’m not in a room with a Reaper but with a raven.

  “Cameron, come back!” I shout out at him as he circles around my head and then flies out the open window into the night, disappearing in the moonlight. Frustrated, I flop down on the bed and shut my eyes. I’m not sure what to do. Stay here? Am I even safe anymore? I’m not even certain how I got out of the bowling alley alive. I worry that the Anamotti are going to come bursting through my door at any moment. And that Edmund Baker—Alton—who ever the hell he is will be with them, ready to take control over me again and make me feel those God awful things.

  I need to make a plan. One that will make Cameron fess up to what he knows. A way to get these lines off my arm. A way to strengthen my mind. A way to figure out where my mother is. I need a plan for a lot of things, like how to save the town, which might be possible if I could get the words back on the pages of the book and find out how to free innocent sou

  I think about Elliot and how I was supposed to call him, but can I trust him? He tossed the book into my bag with the pages all erased… Maybe it was a warning. That he’s been watching me. That he’s the shadow who stole it that night.

  Can I trust anyone?

  Sighing, I take my phone from my pocket along with Elliot’s number. I unfold it and set it down on the bed beside me. As I swipe my finger across the screen of my cellphone, I notice that I have a missed call and a voicemail. I press the button to listen to it, putting the phone up to my ear while I find myself hoping it’s from my mother.

  But it’s Elliot’s voice that appears on the other end. “Hey Ember, it’s a quarter after five… I’m a little worried about you since you were supposed to call at four. ” I can hear voices in the background. “Please give me a call when you can. There are some things I need to discuss with you in private about that book I gave you… I know you’re probably wondering why the pages are all blank, why I have it, why I gave it to you… I know you must think I’m the one that stole it from you…. But I just need you to know that everything I did was to protect the book from falling into the wrong hands. ” Someone whispers something in the background and the message ends.

  I hang up, unsure of what to do, whether I can trust him. Whether I should just hold onto the book until I can figure out what’s going on. My dad’s words of wisdom echo in my head. Emmy, if there’s one thing you need to know about life, it’s to never, ever trust anyone or anything. Life is a freaking mind game and you and I are the pawns.

  My mind is racing a million miles a minute as I attempt to sort through everything going on, however it’s like a maze and I have no idea how to get to the end, or if there’s even an end. Still, I call Professor Morgan, if only to question him about how he got the book, but it goes straight to his voicemail again.

  Not knowing what else to do, I climb off my bed and hide the book in an old antique trunk my grandmother gave me for my fourth birthday that has a hidden bottom. Then I lie down on my bed and stare up at the ceiling, trying to block everything out; all the noise, thoughts, worries, and fears. I manage to tune most of it out when exhaustion gets to me, but I don’t feel any better.

  Because the quietness is just as unsettling as the noise.

  Chapter 8

  I’m not sure how much time drifts before I fall asleep or how I even manage to fall asleep, although somehow I do. I don’t dream at all, at least from what I can remember, and I’m relieved because it gives me time to calm down.

  Then I start to hear voices. Not in my head, but coming from downstairs. At first I think it’s probably Ian and disregard the noise, yet then this loud banging starts to happen over and over again. I open my eyes to my dark room, the moon shining through my window, and the branches of the tree just outside dancing with the soft breeze.