Darkness breaks, p.21
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       Darkness Breaks, p.21

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 21

 

  “I told you they exist!’ Aiden yells and drops my hand to dodge around a large bush. “But you wouldn’t listen!”

  As I glance over my shoulder, I trip over a rock. Sylas catches my elbow and shoves me in front of him. The thick trees grow closer, but so do the thud of the men’s boots. Aiden races next to me and he takes my hand again. His skin is sticky and he’s breathing hard. We all are.

  The men are close when we reach the trees and jump into the ditch. Aiden falls and smacks headfirst into a rock. His head spurts blood and he presses his hand to the lesion.

  The sounds of snapping twigs and clobbering boots parade all around us. They’re coming from the front, the back, the side, everywhere. Just in front of us is a pipe that burrows under the ground. We rush inside, tucking our legs and arms together. It’s dark, but on each side of the pipe is a trickle of light and the silhouettes of the men searching for us.

  “I told you they existed,” Aiden whispers, pointing his finger at Sylas. “This is all your fault. ”

  Sylas stays silent, watching the end of the pipe like a hawk. Aiden turns the other way and fixates at the other end of the pipe. There’s radio static and voices.

  “Hey, over here,” a masked man shouts and tucks his head inside the pipe, spotting a flashlight at us. “Hey, it’s okay. You can come out. We’re not going to hurt you. We’re here to help. ”

  “We’re kids. Not morons,” Sylas says and kicks the flashlight out of the man’s hand.

  “Why you little…” The man lunges into the pipe.

  We crawl on our hands and knees for the other end of the pipe, mud and twigs sticking to our skin.

  “Hurry!” I shout at Aiden as the man reaches for Sylas’ foot.

  As we brink the other end, another masked man waits for us. We freeze as he lifts up his mask. His eyes are a deep brown, his hair black, and there’s a long white line tracking the heart of his face.

  “Daddy!” I cry and climb over Aiden, accidently kneeing him in the abdomen.

  Aiden clutches my foot and tries to drag me back. But I claw my way forward and twist my foot out of my shoe. Aiden falls backward, clutching my Mary Jane. Mud coats my hands as I crawl the rest of the way down the tunnel and jump into my dad’s arms. He scoops me up and I throw my hands around his neck, tears dripping down my cheeks.

  “I knew you weren’t dead,” I sob. “I knew mommy was lying. ”

  He pats my head awkwardly and then hands me to a man, dressed in black, with a mask screening his face.

  “Daddy!” I reach for him, but he turns away and helps another man haul Aiden out of the pipe. Aiden’s covered in mud and his jeans are ripped across the knee. He doesn’t fight back as two men shove him toward the van. The man carrying me follows them and I reach for my dad, crying and begging.

  Sylas launches himself out of the pipe and kicks one of the men in the knee. Then man curls over, cussing, and cradling his knee. Sylas skitters around two more men as they dive for him.

  “This one’s not going easily. ” One masked man says to another. “You want me to sedate him?”

  “We’re not even supposed to take them,” a taller man says to my father. “It was only supposed to be the girl. The boys’ parents are the kind that will look for them. Not like the girl’s mother who’s a drunken whore. ”

  “It’s too late now,” my father answers, with a clenched jaw. “They’ve seen too much. ”

  The tall man nods and draws a syringe from his suit pocket. Sylas runs for us, knocking down men twice his size. He doesn’t notice the man with the syringe.

  “Sylas, look out!” I scream.

  It’s too late. The man sneaks behind him and plunges a needle in his neck. Sylas’ eyes catch mine before he falls to the ground and doesn’t get up.

  I scratch the man carrying me across the face. He grimaces, opens the van’s door, and forcibly tosses me inside. I hit my head on the wall and roll over as Aiden lands in front of me.

  Tears pour out of his eyes as the door slams shut and the lock clicks. The van smells like a hospital and there are metal boxes stacked at the back.

  “What do we do?” I ask, moving to the front of the van, which is blocked off with a link of thick steel. “How do we get out?”

  Aiden sits up and presses his face to the window. “I don’t think we can. ”

  I move to the window and check the handle of the door. “Where’s Sylas? What are they doing to him!”

  Aiden shakes his head, his chest heaving as he tries to stop crying. “I don’t know, Juniper. ”

  My father’s face materializes on the other side of the glass. “Take them to the Cell 7. ”

  “Daddy,” I whisper. “Please help me. ”

  But the man’s face changes into someone else’s. His eyes shift grey, and his hair lightens. He shucks the black jacket off and beneath is a white coat.

  “Monarch!” One of the masked men calls out. “We’re having some trouble keeping this one sedated. ”

  “Good, that means he’s strong. ” He looks through the glass, right at me, and there’s apology in his eyes. Then he goes to the back of the van.

  I flop back, sweaty and hot. “That wasn’t my dad. ”

  Aiden sighs and takes my hand. “I know, Juniper. Your dad’s dead. ”

  “But I thought he was,” I say. “He looked just like him until he changed. ”

  Aiden doesn’t say a word, even when two men climb into the front of the van and rev up the engine.

  “This is all my fault. ” I’m thrown to the side as the van bounces up the dirt road.

  “No, it’s not,” Aiden says through gritted teeth. “It’s my brothers. And I’ll never forgive him for this. ”

  Chapter 17

  I wake up to the cave’s red-arch ceiling, dirt stinging my eyes, lanterns faintly illuminating the area. My hands are cuffed together and a chain secures me to the wall. I’m not surprised. Aiden is good at locking me up.

  “So you finally saw it?” Sylas asks quietly.

  I rotate to my stomach and spot him across the cave, chained to the corner, lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. “How are you trapped? Can’t you break the chains?”

  “There’s silver in the cuffs and chains. ” He elevates his arms, showing me his charred skin beneath the cuff. “And I can’t work up enough strength to get them to break. ” He stops. “You know, I have to give them credit. They’re getting clever with their uses of silver. I didn’t see this one coming. ”

  “Are you… are you okay?” I rise on my knees, my hair knotting down my back, dirt plastering my jeans and shirt. “It doesn’t hurt, does it?”

  “Nope, it feels great actually. ” His voice drips with sarcasm. He rolls over with the chains clinking and singeing at his arms. He winces and repositions the chains. “You saw the day we were taken away. ”

  “How do you know?” I turn around and tug on the chains, testing their strength.

  “You were talking in your sleep,” Sylas says. “I picked up enough that I figured it out. ”

  I wrench on the chains and bits of rock and dirt crumble to the ground. “I saw the day we wandered off and the men in masks took us. So if that’s the day we were taken away, then yeah, I saw it. ” The chains won’t budge and I turn back to Sylas. “Are you sure you’re too weak to break them?”

  “What? You think I’ve just been sitting around here waiting for you to wake up?”

  I sigh back against the wall and let my head flop back. “How are your cuts doing? You don’t feel weird, do you?”

  He adjusts his dark hair over his forehead and tugs his shirt down, hiding both marks. “You mean do I feel like I’m changing into a pus-covered creepy old man?”

  “That’s not what I meant,” I say. “I was just wondering if you were okay. ”

  “I’m absolutely, one-hundred percent fine. ” He draws an X across his heart with his finger.

  “Where are they
?” I nod at the archway that leads to the front part of the cave.

  “Eating dinner in the front of the cave. ” Sylas glances to his left. “Like they’re one big happy family. ”

  I stare at the cuffs on my wrists. “What is he trying to solve with this?”

  “He thinks he’s going to save you from making the wrong choices. ” Sylas sits up and faces me. “He thinks he’s going to save you from turning out like me. ”

  “It’s not his choice whether I turn into a Day Taker or not. ”

  “That’s not the part of me he’s trying to save you from. ” There’s pain emitting from him, but he tries to bury it. Still, I detect a glimmer of hate directed at himself. I think of the happy little boy from my memory. Does he still exist somewhere inside?

  “I killed someone once,” I sputter suddenly, shocking both of us with my honesty.

  “I know,” he says quietly. “I remember. ”

  I dig my nails into the palms of my hands as feelings of guilt suffocating me. I keep pushing until blood drips down my hands. Sylas smells it, but doesn’t say a word. He lies on his back and shuts his eyes.

  “We’ve all done bad stuff, Kayla,” he says. “You just have to turn it off and move past it. ”

  I use to be able to turn it off, but it’s more difficult when I’m human. I sit in the quiet, trying to bury my feelings. Eventually, they fade, but it’s not from my own strength. Sylas is giving me a sense of calm. And I don’t fight it. I relax, pick up a sharp rock, and wait for someone to show up.

  ***

  Sylas falls asleep. I’ve never seen him sleep, which makes me uneasy. The silver is getting to him—and maybe even Dominic’s bite. I wonder how high the chances are of him mutating into a foul beast. I wonder how much silver it takes to kill him. I was told that silver only wounded and weakened, but never killed. But I was told a lot of things that weren’t entirely accurate.

  Finally, Maci enters our homemade dungeon. Her red hair is all over the place and her elbows are scuffed. I start to get to my feet until Ryder steps in behind her. She’s cleaned up a little, her skin less filthy and her hair semi-combed. Her black jeans and grey shirt aren’t torn.

  “This is a great place for you two,” she says, walking a line between us. “And you’re together so that should make it easier. ” Sylas pretends to be asleep and Ryder shakes her head at him. “It’s so nice to see him like this—finally in chains. ”

  Clutching the rock in my hand, I rise to my feet. “What do you have against him?”

  She kicks some dust at his face. “Other than he’s a jerk?”

  Sylas’ eyes snap open and he dives for Ryder’s leg. She hops back out of his reach and laughs.

  “Nice try,” she says. “But you’ll have to do better than that. ”

  He staggers to his feet and reaches for her neck, but the chains bind him back. She hunches over, clutching her side, laughing hysterically.