Darkness breaks, p.18
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       Darkness Breaks, p.18

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 18

 

  “I have a map!” Dominic screams. “It will lead you right to the tunnel. ”

  Sylas reverses down the hall. “Where’s the map?”

  “Not until you let me out. ” He pounds on the locker and the metal bulges out. “Then I’ll give it to you. ”

  “What’s a map?” I ask Sylas.

  He ignores me and storms in the room. “If I let you out, you better not try anything. ”

  “What’s a map?” I repeat, but he just hands me the lantern and knife.

  “I won’t,” Dominic says innocently. “I promise. ”

  Sylas reaches for the circular lock, but pauses and scoops up a long metal pipe. He checks that I still have the knife in my hand. “Be ready. ” He clicks the lock, holding the door shut with his foot. “And if you do try something, I’ll snap your neck. ”

  Sylas isn’t lying, and I’m glad. Knowing I can’t protect myself very well, it’s comforting to know that he is capable of doing so. But I envy him.

  Sylas jerks his foot from the locker and then backs up until he’s towering in front of me. My heart beats madly as I watch the locker from over his shoulder. The door jiggles and then it swings open, hitting the concrete with a clank. A head peaks out and my gag reflexes threaten to take over.

  There are patches of hair on his mutilated head. One of his eyes has been stabbed out and part of his face is covered in teeth marks. It only gets worse as he stands up. His neck is thrashed with claw marks and his arms and legs have been gnawed. In some spots there is no flesh, revealing his bones.

  “Good God,” Sylas whispers in revulsion. “It’s like the red door all over again. ”

  In the memories that took place behind the red door, I once witness a torn little boy eating his own arm. “Did you do that to yourself?” I ask Dominic.

  He steps out of the locker and his skin oozes blood and pus. “I got hungry. ”

  Suddenly, Sylas bashes him on the side of the head with a pipe. Dominic covers his head with his arms and lets out a growl, his one eye glowering.

  “That was your warning to be on your best behavior. ” Sylas steps aside and gestures at the door. “Now lead the way to the map. ”

  Dominic rubs his head and waddles between us. His feet leave a trail of green pus and blood as he leads us up the hall. Sylas holds the pipe and the lantern. I’m at the back with the knife. Dominic’s unsettling because I can’t read him. There’s no indication of a lie, but no evidence of truth either. He is a mystery.

  We reach the end of the hall and Dominic shakes his head vigorously. His tongue slithers out of his mouth as he speaks. “This way. ” His shoulders slouch over and he meanders into the silver-lined room. Then he shrinks back, shivering and shaking.

  “I can’t go in,” he moans. “There’s silver in the walls. ”

  I take the lantern from Sylas. “Where’s the map?” I ask Dominic.

  “In the cabinet. ” He points his bony finger at a scraped cabinet in the back corner. “In the top drawer. ”

  I tiptoe inside, the knife gripped tightly in my hand. The walls reflect luminously against the glow of the lantern. There’s a chair smashed in the corner and a set of chains piled to the side. When I reach the cabinet, I position the lantern on the floor and try the top drawer. ”

  “It’s locked,” I call out, giving the drawer a good hard tug.

  “Break it open then,” Sylas replies, annoyed with my incompetence.

  Using the knife, I slip the blade in the crack. After a lot of grunting and sweating, the wood finally splits apart. The drawer shoots open and I shine the lantern inside. There are a stack of papers, penned with red ink. I pick one up and stare at the multi-colored lines, weaving a path across it.

  I turn to Dominic and hold the lantern to the paper. “Is this a map?”

  “Yes,” he hisses and I don’t like the zeal in his tone. “That’s it. That’s what you need. ”

  I fold it up and start to shut the drawer, when a glass vial rolls forward, along with a few syringes. The vial is filled with black liquid; the medicine that will transform me into a Day Taker. I left my vial back at the Day Takers’ hideout. I don’t know why I do it. But the back of my mind convinces me to take it. I quickly stuff it in my back pocket, along with a syringe.

  “Kayla, what are you doing in there?” Sylas hollers. “Hurry up. ”

  “I’m coming,” I shout and hustle to the door. I present Sylas with the map, but Dominic robs it from my hand.

  “Watch it,” Sylas warns, intimidating the pipe at him. “You’re walking on thin ice here. ”

  Dominic hastily unfolds the map with quivering fingers. “I’m sorry, I was just trying to show you where the tunnels are. ” He smoothes it out on the ground and points to a large brown spot near the border. “This is where we are right now. ” He slides his finger to the center. “And this is your entrance to the tunnels. ”

  Sylas angles his head over the map and his expression falls. “Of course it is. ”

  I lean over. “Where is it?”

  Sylas studies the map, running his finger along a square of green. “It’s in the center of the park. ”

  I stare at the shapes and words that I don’t understand. “In the park from my memory. ”

  Sylas frowns. “Yep, that would be the one. ”

  “What’s so bad about it?” I ask. “You seem uneasy about going there. ”

  He meets my eyes. “First off, I’m never uneasy. I’m just not particularly fond of this park. And second of all…” His eyes dart down the hall. “Where the hell did Dominic go?” He jumps to his feet, his fangs already gliding out.

  I fold up the map and stuff it in my pocket. “He’s probably trying to bolt. ”

  “He’ll never make it up that pipe…” He races up the hallway with the pipe gripped in his hands. The vial nearly burns in my pocket as I stay behind him.

  When we barrel into the main entrance, I spotlight the lantern at the floor. “Look,” I point at a route of blood and pus, “he’s been through here. ”

  Sylas holds up his finger, indicating me to stay put. He sidles toward the staircase, his footsteps light as air. He reaches the steps and peers up, his night vision skimming the upstairs. Then he climbs up to the top and slinks for the door.

  I feel the breeze before the impact. But there’s no time to react. I’m slammed to the floor. The weighty force knocks the wind out of me. I roll on my back, gasping as I peer up at Dominic.

  “What are you doing?” I press his face back as his fangs nip at me. “Get the hell off me. ” I force my knees between our bodies and launch him through the air.

  He hits the wall loudly and his eyes roll in his head. I start for him, poising my knife for the kill. His bones begin to crack, his body shakes, and his mouth salivates. I think about running, but my feet won’t budge.

  Dominic’s skin splits apart. He rises, his knees and elbows bending the wrong way. He’s grown three times his size in a matter of seconds. As his body settles into its new form, his eye no longer holds any source of humanity.

  I back away, keeping my knife in front of me. But the creature sees me as a challenge and prowls after me, its knees popping more and allowing it to loom over me.

  “Dominic,” I try to reason with the animal. “Just settle. . . ”

  It shrieks, sending spit everywhere. The lantern singes out, smothering the surroundings with darkness. I turn to run, but my boot catches the leg of a table. I fall to the ground and smack my head on the concrete. My ears ring, but I push through and flip over, plunging my knife at the animal. The blade grazes its chest. Unfazed, it leaps for me. I jump to my feet, but I slam into a solid figure.

  A bright red light flickers on above our head and a siren rings to life. Sylas twirls me behind him and roars. The beast fangs sharpen from his shedding lips; it declines on all fours, and bounds the floor with its eyes on Sylas. They circle each other, Sylas fixing his arms behind him t
o protect me, his black eyes locked on the beast.

  “I’ll rip your heart out,” he growls, his chest heaving, the glow of the siren lighting up his eyes. “You’re not making it out of this alive. ”

  I move to hand Sylas the knife, but he lunges for the beat. Weaponless, he uses his fangs, tearing into the animals flesh. It lets out a cry and chomps down on Sylas’ neck. Blood is everywhere, spurting on floor. They slam into the wall and Sylas retreats, only to charge right back at it. Their bodies barrel together and clatter against a table. The beast nicks Sylas’ leg and Sylas winces as his knee buckles.

  Glancing at the knife in my hand, I tell myself I’m no different. That I’m still the same Kayla who has one hell of an aim. Jerking my hand back, I breathe deep until my hand is steady. I shut one eye and focus through the tumbling, growling, and screaming of the siren until I target the beast’s heart.

  “Please,” I whisper and toss the knife. It flips through the air, the blade glinting, and the tip punctures into the beast’s chest. But it’s not quite in the heart. It throws its head back in pain and its eye glows red. Its pointy teeth move for Sylas’ head. But Sylas slips his hand around and yanks out the knife. He slides it inches over and jams in straight into the beast’s heart. Its body jerks violently and slams against the wall, pinning Sylas there. I feel Sylas’ pain as his body is crushed. I race over and wrap my arms around the beast. Blood and yellow pus runs down my skin as I try to free Sylas. But it weighs a ton. Sylas meets my eyes. His fear washes through me; he fears he’s going to die right then and there and I’ll never be able to truly know what really happened between us.

  “Then tell me,” I start.

  Abruptly, the beast limbs go slack. Under its deadened weight, I’m hauled to the floor. Sylas squeezes through and maneuvers me out.

  I wipe the blood from my face. “I hope it’s not contagious. ”

  Sylas lifts up the hem of his shirt. Beneath it, blood seeps from teeth marks etched in his skin. “It would sure suck if it was. ”

  “How do we know…” My eyes travel to the dead beast.

  “If I’ll turn into one?” Sylas finishes and shrugs. “I guess if my skin starts to leak blood and pus and I start gnawing away at my own arm. ” He smirks, acting like his old self. He’s put back the wall, obstructing his feelings.

  He takes the knife out of the beast, wipes it on his jeans, reaches up and bashes the handle into the red-blinking siren. The light dims out and the room relaxes into silence.

  “We better get going. ” He takes my hand and leads us for the stairs. “If we’re gone any longer, Aiden will think I ate you. ”

  I give one last glance at the silhouette of the beast. It’s lying on its back, eyes open, feet and arms limp, blood dripping from the wounds. It’s unlike a vampire, still keeping shape after it dies. I wonder what created it. And if there are more out there.

  Chapter 15

  Outside, Sylas tucks his head back under his hood. He has a slight limp to his walk, his black jeans are split, and blood stains his shirt, hands, and face. As we hike past the hillside, I spot a bottle of water in the midst of the charred wood and garbage. Unscrewing the cap, I smell the water inside. Its silver free and I draw Sylas back.