Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1), Page 16Jessica Sorensen
I’m at the top of the staircase, before they even realize I’ve moved. There’s rustling as they all scurry after me. I catch the soft flutter of Aiden’s voice, but I don’t turn back. My feet lift me down the dirt tunnel, the lanterns quivering as I brush by.
But halfway down, I suddenly stop. Maci. How can I just leave her behind? Especially after she saved me. I slow to a stop and wait. Because I know he’s following me by the sound of his pulse flowing up the tunnel.
Finally he rounds a corner. “You’re ridiculously fast,” he pants when he reaches me. “You know that?”
“Why do they want to kill me?” I ask. “Why are they all scared? And where’s Maci? No one better hurt her.”
“Maci’s fine. She’s right where you left her.” He grabs his side, winded. “And they’re afraid of you because you spoke of the Highers.”
“So you do have them around here.” I immediately turn on my defenses, looking for a weapon.
“No, we don’t have them around here,” he says. “But we know what they are. We all used to live in The Colony at one time or another.”
I stare at him, trying to remember. “How can I not remember you? Or any of you?”
“I don’t know.” He shrugs. “Too big of a place, I guess. I mean, did you know every single person that lived there?”
“No, but what’s the big deal?” I ask. “Why did they panic when I mentioned the Highers if there are none around?”
“Because,” he puffs out a frazzled breath and then sketches the white line beneath his eye with his finger. “You’re not going to make this easy, are you?”
A scream echoes from the distance. I glance up the hall, wondering where it came from.
“Kayla.” His voice brings me back to reality. “You want some answers?”
A simple question, but it stuns me. “Yes.”
He offers me his hand. “Then come with me and I’ll give them to you.”
I eye his hand with uncertainty, not sure if I can trust him, unsure of what fear I’ll feel when I touch his skin.
“You can trust me,” he says, urging his hand at me.
Reluctantly, I place my hand into his. What overwhelms me is a shock. Because I can’t sense his fear. No. When I touch Aiden, all I feel is serenity, peacefulness and calm, like this is where I belong.
But still, it makes me uneasy. Because it’s something I’ve never felt before.
We zigzag down the tunnel, passing by a few people who glower at me, still frightened about my mention of the Highers. But they don’t dare make a move because I’m with Aiden. He takes me to a ladder and we climb up and step out onto the side of a rocky hill. The giant fiery rocks still surround the scenery and so do the caves that etch them.
“Are we safe out here?” I ask, glancing at the shadowy sky. “Isn’t it a little too close to night?”
“As safe as anywhere else.” He sits down on the side of the hill, in the midst of the rocks and sand and pulls me down with him. Then he lets go of my hand. “What do you remember about The Colony?”
I shrug. “That it was a…” I trail off, uncomfortable.
“This is a safe place, Kayla. There’s no Highers lurking around, listening to our every word.” He picks up a rock and throws it onto the ground below our feet. “Were you happy when you lived there? Were you sad when you woke up from the Gathering and realized you weren’t there anymore?”
I press my lips together, knowing my answers, but not wanting to share them.
“You can tell the truth,” he says, like he knows I’m a liar—knows me. “You can tell the truth now. There’s no one stopping you.”
I want to—I desperately want to. But I can’t. “I don’t really know what I felt.”
He sighs, disappointed. “Well, I’ll tell you what I felt. At first I was in a panic, wondering how I was ever going to survive in the outside world—feared I’d die within a few hours. But after a while, and after a lot of questions were answered, I moved on.” He looks at me, his eyes burning with the passion in his words. “Because I finally realized something. Being controlled by the Highers isn’t life and in a way, I was already dead when I lived there—at least my mind was.”
Silence grasps the air as I take in his words, agreeing with him completely, but still my lips refuse to utter it aloud. He chucks another rock, this time harder, and it smacks against the ground, shooting fragments of red across the land.
“They take everything away from you that matters,” he says. “The Highers do.”
“I know.” My voice startles me.
“Who’d they take away from you?” He stares at me expectantly.
“They didn’t take anyone away from me,” I lie, not wanting to speak Monarch’s name. “I never had anyone to begin with.”
“No one at all.” He sighs, rubbing his forehead. “If that’s true, Kayla, then it’s really sad. There had to be someone.”
I think of Tristan, whose heart I broke. And of Monarch, who the Highers took away from me. I shake my head. “No, when I left, I had no one at all.”
He swallows hard. “What if I told you that you could live a better life? That you could be free and happy?
I gape at him. “How can a life like that exist?”
He stands, dusting the sand off the back of his pants. “Do you really want to know? Because some people don’t—they’d rather go on not knowing what really happened because they fear the unknown.” He extends his hand to me. “It’s your choice, though. Everything’s your choice now. It just matters whether or not you’re brave enough to want the answers. The real answers, not the fake ones.”
I’ve always considered myself brave, running out into a world where I could easily be slaughtered or turned by vampires. But this isn’t the brave he’s speaking of. This is being brave of the unknown. Like always, though, I’m not afraid.
I wanted the truth—always have. Whatever it ends up being.
I take his hand and again, I’m overcome by calmness. “Okay, give me the answers.”