Darkness breaks, p.16
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       Darkness Breaks, p.16

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 16

 

  Sylas picks up a can of food and shakes it. “They say they’re out of food, but only because they’re too scared to look for it. ”

  “That’s not all they’re afraid of. ” I inch closer to him and drop my voice. “The closer we get to the cave, the more fear I feel from Aiden. ”

  “And you’re sharing this with me because…”

  “Because I need your help with something. ”

  He considers this with amusement. “And you think I’d help you because…”

  My hand twitches, thinking of the days when I didn’t have to ask for help. “Because I asked you nicely. ”

  He presses back a grin and chucks the can of food to the side. “Well, I’m not nice and I don’t do things just because someone asks… although, if you were a Day Taker, you’d be strong enough that if I refused, you could make me do it. ”

  “You are such a—”

  He covers my mouth with his hand and holds up a finger. “I’ll make you a deal. Promise you’ll come back to the city with me, once you figure out what my brother’s hiding and then I’ll help you. ” He drops his hand.

  “And what about my memories?” I grit my teeth. “The one’s Aiden has are the important ones. And we can’t get them without Ryder’s help. ”

  “Leave Ryder to me,” he says with a conniving smile.

  I don’t ask him what his plan is because I don’t want to know. I proceed past the silver-laced water that blocks the pipe to the underground hideout. I breeze by it, but something pulls me back.

  “What’s up?” Sylas is by my side. “You wanna go in?”

  Most of the water has evaporated, but a shallow pool still touches the pipe. “The water’s laced with silver. ”

  He shrugs. “And your point is…”

  “You can’t go in. ” I hover at the shore of the water. “But this is where Dominic lived and I never did search it myself after the… killings. ”

  “But what’s your sudden interest in Dominic?”

  “I just wonder why he would do it. Why he would turn over everyone to the Highers so he could go back to The Colony? Besides, he worked with Monarch and knew about the experiments that went on. Maybe there’s something in there that could lead us to the truth. Maybe he has something that will lead us to the glass cages. ”

  “What would that old man know that could possibly be important? All he did was sit here and tell people what to do. ”

  “He had a Higher in there,” I tell him, swirling the water with my boot. “And he put me up against it to find out if I was one. ”

  “He had a Higher?” he asks. “What, like as a pet or something?”

  I roll my eyes. “An experimental Higher that still had humanity. He knew me and told me I was going to save the world. ”

  Sylas runs his tongue along his teeth. “And what happened to this Higher? Did you kill it?”

  “A Higher can only be killed by another Higher. ”

  “I know. ” A pause. “So did you kill it?”

  “He killed himself. ” I wade into the water and stop when it hits my knees. “Have you ever been in here before?”

  He stares blankly at me. “As soon as I woke up from The Gathering, I put the needle in me and changed. ”

  “That quick huh?” The water soaks higher on my jeans.

  “I didn’t have a choice,” he says, watching me become drenched in the silver-laced water. “Aiden wasn’t the only one Monarch messed up. I just chose to do something about it—I chose to live. ” Before I can respond, he takes a giant leap and flies over the water, arriving in a crouch on the pipe.

  “You know there’s water running down that pipe right?” I stride further into the water and peer down the dark pipe. There’s a thin stream flowing to the bottom. “How intolerant to silver are you exactly?”

  Sylas gets on his hands and knees, and drops his head down into the pipe. “I’ll be fine. ” Then, like a lizard, he shimmies into the pipe. Clutching onto the roof, he scuttles down. Dressed in black, he blends with the dark.

  “You make it look so easy,” I mutter and dip myself in. My feet give out instantly and I fall on my butt, cracking my tailbone against the metal. The wet surface carries me down to the pool of water at the end, which whirlwinds like a drain and is cluttered with leaves, dirt, cacti, and blood.

  Sylas materializes on the platform above and grasps my arm right as I’m about to submerge in the water. He swerves me around until my feet touch the platform.

  “You okay?” he cocks an eyebrow at my hands clutching the bottom of his shirt.

  My knuckles are brushing his rock hard stomach and my breathing’s erratic. I furrow my eyebrows at my reaction and back away, dropping my hands.

  “I’m fine,” I say defensively. “Are you okay?”

  “Absolutely. ” He turns to the barred door with no handle.

  “It’s a one way door. ” I run my fingers along the outline of the door. “Who the hell shut this?”

  Clasping the knife, Sylas puts his ear to the door, listening for noise.

  “Hear anything. ” I press my own ear to the door. “It sounds quiet to me. ”

  Sylas shoves the knife in the crack between the doorframe and the trim of the door. He works the handle from side to side. Under his enormous strength, the wall and door pry away. The lock bends and then snaps apart.

  “Stand back,” Sylas orders, pushing me back. He heaves on the door and the metal squeaks and breaks from the frame. He chucks the broken door into the whirlpool of water and puts his hands on his hips, staring inside.

  I crane my neck to look inside. “You wouldn’t by chance have a light on you?”

  “Lights are for humans. ” He lightly touches a finger to his eye. “These things are much better lights. ”

  “Maybe for you. ” I squint at the dark.

  Ignoring me, he steps inside. I follow, darkness immediately overtaking me as soon as my foot crosses the threshold.

  I feel my way through the dark, letting my fingers trail against the wall. “Sylas,” I whisper. “Where are you?”

  Silence.

  “Sylas,” I say with another small step.

  His breath feathers my ear. “Relax, I’m right behind you. ”

  Startled, I reel and propel my fist at the dark. He hinders my punch with his hand and laughs.

  “That wasn’t funny,” I say. “You…”

  “I what?” He inquiries, lowering his hand and releasing mine. “I scared you?”

  Hating to admit it, I turn and continue through the dark. My feet clank against the metal-linked floor and my breathing is uncharacteristically loud.

  “Everything about you is changing,” Sylas says, right behind me. “You’re even starting to feel fear now. ”

  “I know,” I admit truthfully. “And I hate it. ”

  “Then stop it. ” He whisks past me and clicks on a lantern, lighting the way to the spiral stairway. “Stop fighting who you really are. Either you keep suffering as a human and hate yourself. Or you change to a Day Taker, become the Kayla I know, and save the world. ”

  “But how can I know what’s me and what’s not?” I take the lantern from him. “How do I know that who I’m changing into right now, isn’t who I used to be before the experiments? What if this is really me?”

  “It’s not about who you used to be. ” Sylas trots down the stairs. “It’s about who you want to be. Aiden wanted to be human, wanted life, wanted to be what he considers free, even if it means dying. And he thinks the path I chose was the wrong one. That I did it because I feared death; feared being a human. But it wasn’t about that. ” He stops abruptly at the bottom and I almost run into him.

  “Then what was it about? If it wasn’t about the fear of death?” I spotlight the lantern through the room. “How did you make the choice without any hesitation?”

  He picks up a cup from the table and smells what’s inside it. “Maybe one day you’ll get lucky
enough that I’ll tell you. ”

  I shake my head and slip by him, heading for the back hall. Cups and food scatter the floor. Tables are knocked over and pieces of chairs clutter the room. There’s blood on the walls and the ceiling.

  “What happened here?” I ask. “If they were supposedly burned, then what the hell’s all this. ”

  Sylas chips some blood off a table and smells it. “It’s like the vamps got in and went to town. ”

  “Then why did Maci say they burned everyone. ” I pick up a cup and pour the contents onto the floor. “It’s blood,” I say. “In the cups. ”

  “I know. ” Sylas steals the lantern and heads down the hallway. “There’s blood everywhere in here—I can smell it all over the place. ” He skulks with the knife pointed in front of him.

  My boots crunch the loose gravel as I trail behind him, continuously checking behind me. The glow of the lantern highlights the bloody handprints staining the walls. There’s a warning buzzing through the air that makes the hairs on my arms stand on end.

  “I wish I had a knife,” I comment with bitterness in my voice. “But someone stole mine. ”

  Sylas puts his finger to his lips and halts in front of a shut door, ears perking, lips curling. “There’s someone in there. ”

  “Someone or something?” I whisper, watching the doorknob.

  He hands me the lantern, but hangs on to the knife. “Step back a little. ”

  I shake my head. “What if it’s a vamp in there?”

  “It’s not. ” He sniffs the air. “It’s something different—something I’ve never smelt before. ”

  Dropping his hand, I stifle my breath. He crushes the knob and tosses the broken ball of metal on the floor. His hand presses the door, and with a glitch of reluctance, he opens it. He’s ready for battle in an instant, the knife slicing into the open air.

  The room is pitch black and reeks of blood and rotted earth. Sylas steps inside and I hurry after him. The lantern shakes in my hand and that’s when I realize the nervous energy bubbling through me.

  “Calm down,” Sylas hisses. “You’re fine. ”

  Irritated with my arm, I force it steady with my other hand and shine the light around the room. It’s trashed, just like the entrance: papers, glass, and boxes chewed to pieces and strewn about.

  I pick up a piece of cardboard and run my finger along the teeth marks. “What kind of animal did this?”

  Sylas watches the back of the room. “I’m not sure. ” He gives me the knife and creeps for a metal locker, decorated with scratches. He puts his ear to the vent at the top and jumps when the metal bangs back.

  I skittered beside him and my nostrils are blasted by the foul smell of cooked flesh. “What the heck is that smell?” I gag. “That’s not a vampire. ”

  He extends his hand. “Give me the lantern. ”