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The Underworld, Page 18

Jessica Sorensen

Page 18

 

  “Because I just can’t, okay?” I got to my feet, dusting off the back of my legs. “If you’re really hungry, I can go into the kitchen and get you something. ”

  “What I want is to go out with you. ” His tone was light, but his eyes were determined.

  “Look,” I said, losing patience. “I really want to get this done because the longer it takes you to train me, the longer my mom’s stuck in that godforsaken place. ”

  For a brief second, and I mean a very brief second, I thought I saw the mischievous sparkle leave his eyes, like he actually understood my pain. But it happened so swiftly, I wasn’t even sure it happened.

  “Fine. ” He leaned back on his elbows, looking at me mischievously again. “We can eat here. Besides its better that we eat here anyway. That way we get more alone time. Just you and me and this quiet, empty room. ”

  I shook my head and, without saying another word, I left the room to go get him something to eat.

  In the kitchen, I found Laylen standing at the counter, chopping onions on a chopping board. When he caught sight of me, he stopped, mid chop. “Wow. You look really annoyed. ”

  I went over beside him and dropped my head on the counter. “Nicholas is driving me crazy. He just keeps asking questions, and then when we finally get to the part where we should start practicing, he says he’s hungry, and we should go out and get something to eat. ”

  Laylen gave a soft laugh and started chopping onions again. “Yeah, that sounds like Nicholas. He’s always been a little…”

  I lifted my head up. “Annoying?”

  Laylen laughed again. “I was going to say difficult, but yeah, annoying works. When he was younger, he went through this faze where he would answer every question with a question. ”

  “That sounds fun,” I said sarcastically.

  Laylen shrugged, cutting the onion again. “He can’t really help it—it’s a faerie thing. They have this way about them, where they can trick you into doing things—or saying things that you shouldn’t. That’s why you should be very careful around him. ”

  “Yeah, Alex warned me about that. ” I fanned the front of my nose as Laylen dumped the chopped pieces of onions into a skillet, and the smell over took me. “And he told me not to take my necklace off. ”

  Laylen scooted the onions around in the pan with a spatula. “This is probably the only time where I’m going to have to agree with Alex. You should be careful around him. ” He lowered his voice. “You can’t let Nicholas know about the star. ”

  I nodded. “I won’t. ”

  The pan sizzled and it reminded me I was supposed to be getting Nicholas something to eat. “So…what do faeries eat?”

  Laylen busted up laughing.

  I gave him a mystified look. “What’s so funny?”

  It took him a second to gather himself. “Sorry. But it’s just so funny. ” He laughed again. “What do faeries eat?”

  “Hey, I don’t know much about this stuff,” I said, half joking and half defensive. “I mean for all I know they could eat leaves or something. ”

  He cocked an eyebrow at me. “Leaves?”

  I shrugged. “They live in forests, don’t they?” At least in most of the faerie theme books I had read they did.

  Still laughing, he wiped a few stray tears from his eyes. “Leaves. ”

  “Oh, shut up. ” I gave him a playful shove. He continued to laugh, so I changed the subject. “How did Aislin take it when you told her about Alex having to go to the City of Crystal?”

  That stopped his laughing. “I haven’t told her yet. ” I opened my mouth to say that he probably should—that it would be worse the longer he kept it from her, but before I could say anything, he said. “I’ll tell her. I promise, just as soon as she’s done helping Adessa with her store. I think it’ll be better if I tell her when no one else is around. ”

  “Okay, well, I guess I’ll get back to my training. ” I turned to leave.

  “Don’t forget your leaves,” Laylen called out with a chuckle.

  I ended up making Nicholas and myself a sandwich. We didn’t really speak to each other while we sat on the floor and ate, and I had a feeling something was bothering him, but didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask him. Besides even if I did, he probably wouldn’t tell me. At least tell me the truth, anyway.

  When we were finished eating and had slid our plates out of the way, Nicholas put the crystal ball back between us.

  “So, the first thing that’s going to happen is I’m going to go into a vision with you,” Nicholas explained, spinning the crystal ball like a top. I wondered how he could touch it and not be pulled in. “What we want is for you to eventually be able to go into a controlled vision by yourself, gracefully and without any bumps. ”

  What did he mean by gracefully—without any trips or injuries? “Okay, so how do we get me to be able to do that?”

  “With practice. ” he shrugged. “Seeing visions is like riding a bike. The more you practice the better you get. ”

  But I didn’t know how to ride a bike. At least I don’t think I did. No resurfacing memories had contained me riding a bike. “Okay, well how much practice is it going to take for me to be able to be graceful and bump free?”

  His mouth curved up into a smile. “Well if I had my way, it would take a very, very long time. But in all actuality, with you being as powerful as you are, it shouldn’t take that long. ”

  Thank God. “So where do we begin?”

  He held out his hand. “First, give me your hand so we can go in together. ” With reluctance, I took his hand, his skin clammy and cold against mine. “Now we need a simple vision to go into. I think it would probably be best if you just thought of a memory. Maybe something from your childhood. ”

  That was not simple by any means. “Does it have to be from my childhood?”

  He shook his head. “As long as it’s simple, it doesn’t really matter. ”

  “Okay…. ” I searched for something simple to picture, but all I could see was the madness that filled up my life throughout the years.

  “Gemma, place your hand on the crystal ball,” Nicholas instructed.

  My heart raced as I tried to think of a memory—any memory—that was simple.

  “Gemma,” Nicholas repeated. “Put your hand on the crystal. ”

  I was still searching as I reached out and placed my hand on top of the crystal ball. A brief glimpse of me and my mother sitting in a field flashed through my mind, and I thought I had it.

  Then I was yanked in, falling down the tunnel, toward the light, Nicholas still holding my hand. When I reached the bottom—and very ungracefully I might add—I realized I hadn’t had the memory like I’d thought. In fact, if there was a complete opposite of where I was supposed to be taking us, this would be it.

  The vision I was standing in was not of my past, but of the future. And not my future, but the worlds future. How did I know this? Because I was standing on the main street of Vegas, beside the massive pirate ship I remembered seeing during my first drive into the busy city. But the busy city was no longer a busy city. It was dead quiet. Not a single soul was in sight. Even more disturbing was the layer of ice that covered everything. Just as if a million Death Walkers had marched through here and breathed their Chill of Death on everything in sight.

  Just like they would if the portal opened up.

  Chapter 13

  I stood there silent in the empty streets that had once been packed with buzzing cars and people. The air was as cold as death, my breath puffed out in a cloud. I was shivering and shaking, but I wasn’t sure if that was from the cold or from my nerves. My stomach felt like it had been punched; the wind knocked out of me. Shock was seeping in, and I’m pretty sure I would have stood there in silence forever if Nicholas hadn’t brought me back to reality.

  “Gemma. ” His voice was soft—cautious—as if he could sense something was up.

  I glanced do
wn at his hand still holding mine, and then I looked up at him. “What?”

  “Are you okay?” he asked. “You’ve been standing there staring at whatever it is you’re seeing for over five minutes now. ”

  I swallowed hard. “I…um…” I didn’t know what to say to him.

  “What is it?” Nicholas glanced around, even though he couldn’t see anything. It is a rule of seeing visions: only the seer can see the vision. To Nicholas everything looked blank and empty.

  Lucky him.

  I wanted to erase what I was looking at from my mind. Wipe it away forever.

  Even though it was day, the sky was gray, and blanketed by a frosty sheet of ice. A gust of wind swept up, chilling the back of my legs. I turned around, staring at the frozen, vacant streets. There were no cars. No people. No nothing. It was as if everyone had known what was coming and had tried to take cover somewhere.

  “Gemma?” Nicholas said. I’d almost forgotten he was there. “What’s going on?”

  I shook my head, trying to pull myself together. Nicholas could not know what I was seeing, that was for sure. “It’s nothing. ”

  He raised his eyebrows at me. “If it’s nothing, then why do you look like you just saw someone die?”

  I swallowed the lump in my throat, taking my hand out of his. “No. It’s nothing like that. It’s just that…,” Think, Gemma, think, “It’s just that there’s nothing here. We’re just in the middle of the desert, so I don’t get it. ”

  “Well, I told you to think of something simple, didn’t I? So I guess it worked”

  I gave a shrug. “I guess, but I thought—”

  A loud shriek shattered the air and cut me off. The sound echoed through the empty streets, vibrating the ice like an earthquake. Every limb in my body seized up as I became aware of what that shriek belonged to. And as the fog crept out from a nearby building, swirling its way toward me, I started to panic, even though I knew I couldn’t be seen by them.

  “I-I think we should go,” I stuttered.

  Nicholas frowned at me. “Gemma, where did you take us?”

  “I-I already told you,” I stammered, my eyes locked on the fog crawling toward my feet, “we’re in the middle of the desert. ”

  “No, we’re not,” he said, following my gaze. “What do you see?”

  “Nothing. ” I said as a cluster of Death Walkers emerged from the glass doors of a nearby building. Stay calm. Stay calm. “Can we just go back to the house? Please. ”

  Nicholas watched me, the weight of his sandy eyes nearly burning into my skin. “You know whatever’s out there can’t harm you, right?”

  I looked at the Death Walkers, the glow of their yellow eyes reflecting across the ice like fireflies, their black cloaks trailing along behind them with a swoosh. “Yeah…I know, but I…”

  “You what?”

  The Death Walkers were so close now that I could make out their faces—the rotting flesh, the bits of and pieces of bone showing through their skin like a corpse. The sight almost made me gag.