Darkness breaks, p.17
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       Darkness Breaks, p.17

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 17

 

  I loop the handle onto his fingers and he moves it up to the vent. The light trickles through and the creature inside goes mad, banging, rocking, and shrieking. Smoke hisses from the vent and Sylas leaps back as the locker tumbles to the ground.

  “It’s got a vampire in it,” he states, leaning over the locker. “But I don’t think it’s the same breed as the ones we know. ”

  “The cry is different. ” I point at the locker as it flips over. “It sounds almost human. ”

  The locker stills. Sylas and I look at one another and I say lightly, “Hello. ”

  We tense and wait for the unidentified beast to respond. Sweat trickles down my skin as I sense no fear inside the locker.

  “Hello,” a creature echoes in a shriveled voice.

  Sylas seats the lantern next to the locker and the yellow light orbs the cemented room. “Who are you?”

  “Who are you?” the voice wheezes back.

  “We’re… from The Colony,” I say. Sylas shoots me a look and I shrug. “You gotta better answer?”

  He rolls his eyes. “We’re the ones you have to win over in order for us to let you out of your cage. ”

  “Clever boy. ” The creature rocks the locker. “I used to be clever too, until I was turned into the beastly creature that goes against nature. ”

  My jaw drops. “Dominic, is that you?”

  The locker subdues. I reach for the door handle, but Sylas smacks my hand back.

  “Don’t even think about it. ” He raps his fist on the locker, hard hits that splinter the air and dent the metal. “Tell us who you are or we’re going to leave. ”

  When the voice doesn’t answer, Sylas departs for the door. “Let’s go, Kayla. This is a waste of time. ”

  “Wait, it’s me,” a beady voice calls out. “It’s Dominic. ”

  “Where are the others?” I ask sharply. “Did you lock yourself up after you handed them over to the Highers to be burned?”

  “I thought I was doing what was right,” he chokes. “But the Highers… it was a massacre. They killed everyone with their bare hands. ”

  I shift my weight and my shoe squashes a vial. “So that’s where the blood came from. They weren’t burned. ”

  “No, they were burned,” he replies. “They’re always burned afterward as a precaution. . . ”

  “What are you talking about?” Sylas asks. “Humans are burned as a precaution to prevent what?”

  “You have it wrong. I’m not talking about humans. ” He coughs as he bangs on the locker. “I’m talking about vampires. ”

  “You mean everyone was infected with the vampire disease. ” I force the lump down my throat. “Before they were burned. ”

  “It was their punishment, and mine, for not doing everything the way the Highers wanted it,” he snaps. “But I won’t tell you more until you let me out of here. ”

  “You’re not human anymore,” I say, because he has no pulse. “What are you exactly? Human? Vampire? Higher?”

  “That’s like the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it?” He clicks his teeth together. “And no, I’m not a Higher…I did get bit, though. ”

  Shocked, I step away from the locker and run into Sylas. “A vampire bit you. But how can you still be talking?”

  “No, a vampire didn’t bite me. ” He gives a deliberate pause. “A Higher did. ”

  Sylas looks as baffled as me. He holds a finger up, signaling me to be quiet. “You say a Higher bit you,” he speaks calmly. “But that doesn’t really explain much, because the Highers we know don’t bite. Well, humans anyway. ”

  “Yes they do! Yes they do!” he rattles on, slamming against the inside of the locker. “They bite people all the time, but no one can remember it. ”

  I absentmindedly touch my neck. It’s like glass prickles at my brain. “I think one bit me once. ”

  “Huh?” Sylas picks up the lantern and shoves it in my face. His eyes are all over me, checking my neck, my arms, my legs. “A Higher bit you? When? Back in the street?”

  “Not in the street… before that. ” I put a finger to my lips. “Shh, just a second. I’m trying to remember. ”

  ***

  I stand in the center of the training room mat. Bellators circle me. Garret, my trainer, is secretly glad to see me going up against a Higher; he fears my strength and wants me gone.

  Gabrielle moves in on my like a predator, his white robe dragging behind him. A small girl, with curly blonde hair, named Lina winces as I take a swing at Gabrielle. My arm makes contact with his neck and there’s a loud pop. His bone breaks and protrudes from the skin. Blood pours out and drips on me, staining my hands and arms.

  His white robe is dripping red. He covers his wound with his hand. Then his fangs slither out and he lunges at me. His teeth sink into my skin and he devours me whole, almost drinking me dry. When he steps away, I’m lightheaded. I cup my hand to the wound on the neck and gaze around at the horrified Bellators’ faces. Some are backing against the wall. Others gape, their jaws slack with shock, their faces screwed with disgust. Fear tornadoes the air. Gabrielle’s own fears mixed with it because I’m still standing, fully embodied.

  “I told you my name already,” I say. “It’s Kayla. Kayla Juniper. ”

  He drops me to the ground. “You’re supposed to be dead. ” He whirls, swishing his robe. “Monarch will pay for this. Secrets are the worst offence. ”

  ***

  “A Higher bit me,” I say with confidence. “Back in The Colony, during Bellator practice. But the bite didn’t affect me at all. In fact, it only scared Gabrielle off when he realized it didn’t do anything to me. ”

  Sylas shoots me a doubtful look. “Are you sure you saw it right? Because I can’t picture the Highers being scared. ”

  “Yes, she saw it right. And it’s because you’re different, Kayla. ” Dominic’s fingers slip through the vent at the top of the locker. “It’s because you’re special. You’re the one they fear—the one they want gone. The one that can change everything. ”

  I pull a face at his rotted fingers. “The last time you saw me you said I was a Higher and then you threw me in with one to prove your point. ”

  “I thought you were one then, but I realized later that you were something different. ”

  “Is that when you decided to give up everyone’s location?”

  “I deeply regret what I did,” he says mournfully. “I was in some trouble and I looked to the wrong solution to get me out. But I-I didn’t know they’d infect and kill everyone. ”

  “You say they infected first. ” I shift my weight to the side, remembering Gabrielle feeding off the vampire in the street. “But why infect them, just to kill them. ”

  “Because they needed them that way first. ” Gagging noises escape through the vent. “Please let me out. I’m dying. ”

  “Why do the Highers need them as vampires?” I press. “Because they enjoy torturing them? Or because they need to feed from them?”

  Sylas gapes horrendously at me. “Feed off a vampire. Okay, now you’ve really lost it. ”

  I tap his head. “Remember the street, Sylas. The Highers chased one down and drained its blood dry. ”

  He struggles to grasp the concept. “Maybe it was for kicks and giggles. You know how the Higher’s love torture. ”

  I shake my head slowly. “No, there was hunger in Gabrielle’s eyes that night. I saw it. ” I turn back to Dominic. “Is that what it was? Do they need to feed off… vampires?”

  He doesn’t answer and his fingers vanish through the vent.

  “Dominic. ” I cautiously lean forward. “Are you okay?”

  His fingers shoot upward, missing my nose by a sliver of space. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I did that. ”

  Sylas takes the knife from me. “That’s it, I’m chopping off his fingers. ”

  “No, please,” Dominic begs, waggling his fingers. “I have answers. I can help you, but I need something
in return. ”

  “Let me guess,” Sylas says in a mocking tone. “If we let you out, you’ll tell us everything we want to know. ”

  A pause. “Well, yes. That’s exactly what I was going to say. How did you know?”

  Sylas rolls his eyes. “And let me guess again. You promise not to hurt us if we do. ”

  “I’m not a monster, Sylas,” he says in a saddened tone. “I’m just hideous on the outside. ”

  “Maybe if you told us what you are,” I say. “Then we could come to some kind of agreement. ”

  “I’m a half-breed,” he breathes. “I’m an abomination. ”

  “No, you’re not,” Sylas argues with a shake of his head. “I’m a half-breed and I’m not mutated like you. ”

  “I’m not the same as you,” Dominic says. “I’m half-human, half-vampire. You aren’t. ”

  “Yes, I am. ” Sylas runs his tongue along his sharp teeth.

  “No, you’re not,” Dominic contends. “And if you let me out, I’ll explain it to you. ”

  “Nah,” Sylas shrugs him off. “I’m not that eager to find out. ” He nods his head at the door. “Let’s get of here. He’s getting on my nerves. ” When I hesitate, he surges me with a warning look. “You want to stand around all day talking to someone who sounds pretty insane if you ask me? Or do you want to go find your tunnel and glass room?”

  I blow out a breath, my bangs fluffing from my face, and turn for the door. “Yeah, let’s go. This is useless. ”

  “Tunnel?” Dominic breathes through the locker. “I know where these tunnels are. ”

  Sylas rolls his eyes and ducks through the doorway. “This guy doesn’t give up, does he?”

  “I have a map,” he screams pleadingly. “Please, don’t leave me here. I can tell you how to get to Cell 7 and the tunnels. ”

  “Cell 7,” I mouth. “That’s the place with the glass cages. ”

  The lantern sways in Sylas’ hand, making yellow light flicker eerily across his face and shadows dance along the walls. “How do you know about Cell 7?”

  “I was one of the doctors there. ” The locker shakes violently. “I know everything that went on inside. I even know that’s where the virus was created. ”

  “Which one?” I say. “Because from what I’ve seen, there might be more than one. ”

  “Let me out!” He shouts, slamming and rocking the locker. “Or no more answers. ”

  Sylas starts down the hall, heading for the main room. “Then I guess it’s no more answers. ”

  I don’t budge, crossing my arms and leaning against the doorway. I’m torn. I want to know what Dominic knows, yet I don’t want to let him out.