Darkness breaks, p.24
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       Darkness Breaks, p.24

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 24

 

  Suddenly, the vampires are jerked off me, one by one, and a hand snakes its way inside the mob. I grab on, not caring who it is, and they heave me out.

  The vampires immediately encase us, the blood in their eyes drizzling like a rainstorm.

  “What the hell are you doing!” I yell at Sylas, positioning the sword at the vamps.

  We huddle back to back, moving in a circle.

  “Saving your ass,” he jokes over his shoulder, but he’s tense and nervous.

  “Why? You ran off the last time this happened. ” I swipe the sword at a vampire, but miss by a long shot. “What? Did you get knocked over the head with a stupid stick sometime between then and now?”

  “Witty banter during a fight,” he flips around and bares his fangs, “it’s like we’re made for each other. ”

  I sigh and attempt a Roundhouse kick, like I used to do at Bellator practice all the time. But my leg buckles at the knee and I drop to the ground hard. Sylas instantly pulls me up, steals the sword from me, and brings it down hard on the back of a rotting vampire’s neck, beheading it. It breaks into ash and the others shriek with murder.

  Everything goes downhill from there. They mob us and trample us to the ground. I can’t spot Sylas through the dust and fleshless legs, but I catch sight of the hill. My heart drops. Vampires line the peak of the cliff, eyeing Greyson, Cedrix, Aiden, and Maci, who are barreling down the hill, arms flying. One of the vampires flings from the ledge, landing behind Cedrix. He takes him to the ground and I let out a scream as I’m yanked back by my ankle. I fumble through decaying bodies for the sword and find Sylas’ soaked hand instead. I shove a vampire back and dive over to him.

  His hand’s draped over his stomach and blood splatters his torn shirt.

  “Where’s it coming from. ” I scan him over and reach for his arm. “Sylas, are you bit?”

  He clamps down on my hand, puts his finger to my lips, and places the sword into my hand. Then his eyes shut and I’m not sure if he’s dead or unconscious. Rage blisters my veins. I bound to my feet and ram my elbow into the nearest vampire’s head over and over again. I don’t stop, even when its mouth spurts blood. I keep going until it’s on the ground and surge the sword through its heart. It shifts to bones and ash. I whirl, ready for the next one.

  Instead, I get a moment that will alter my life forever. Vampires swathe the land. They are everywhere. Sylas is down on the ground, bleeding to death. Cedrix is missing and Maci, Aiden, and Greyson are trapped on a thin lip of the cliff. Smoke streams from the cave and the sky shows no sign of morning.

  I always planned to make my decision carefully. After spending most of my life doing what someone else desired, I wanted to make sure that becoming a Day Taker was what I wanted. But it was no longer about that. It was about what was right. And standing by, watching everyone get eaten or infected isn’t something I can live with.

  Running to a small gap, I kneel down. My hand shakes as I reach into my pocket and take out the vial and syringe. Irreversibly, I bite the cap off the needle, stab it into the vial, and extract the black liquid. The thought never crossed my mind, when I found the vial, that it might not be the right medicine. But there’s no time for a test experiment. I breathe through my nose and thrust the needle into my forearm. The medicine heats through my blood and my heartbeat’s solid. Thump, thump. Thump, thump.

  My eyes round and my lungs expand as the medicine courses up my body. I pant, ragged breaths that suffocating me. My skin feels like it’s melting. My mind shorts out. I fall to the ground, the vial slipping from my hand. I lie in the sand immobile, watching the bloodshed.

  Then I die.

  Chapter 19

  “Kayla, just breathe” Aiden whispers, his honey eyes filled with worry. Chains bind him to the blood-stained wall. “You can do it, just breathe. ”

  I lie on my back, my body pumped full of various medicines. Needles implant my skin and every muscle in my body screams. I’m burning up, my skin as hot as fire. I shut my eyes, panting, wanting to get up, but the pain constraints me to the concrete floor.

  “I want to die,” I murmur. There’s a knife by Aiden’s ankle. “I can’t take this anymore. Aiden, please just kill me. ”

  He shakes his head and kicks the knife to the side. “I won’t do it Kayla. I love you too much. ”

  I cough up blood and it drowns my lungs. Tears slip down my cheeks as the medicine eats away at my heart, my mind, my skin. It’s been going on for days, maybe even weeks, a test which we’re failing. “Aiden, I can’t take it anymore. Please. ”

  He slides onto his stomach until the chains reach the end. He extends his hand and his fingers brush the tips of mine. “I won’t let you go,” he whispers. “I love you too much. ”

  I feel his love burning through his blood and at that moment, part of me loves him back. But part of me hates him for loving me so much that he’d rather see me suffer then let me go. And for a brief second, I wish he was Sylas. Because Sylas wouldn’t watch me suffer.

  ***

  I hear my heart die. I feel my breath leave me. My wounds fasten up and a shiver of change engulfs me. Fangs slip from my mouth and my body is not my own. It belongs to death.

  My eyes shoot open and the darkness no longer renders me. I see everything, feel it in my bones. The night is part of me. My arms stretch upward, and I break the metal cuff from my wrists. I incline my body to stand and walk through the ravaged vampires, my eyes lined with the sword. A vampire smashes into me, but my feet stay planted, secured to the ground by my inhuman strength. I meet its blood soaked eyes, spring my knee up, and hook kick it. My boot crushes into its back and sends it to the ground. Placing my heel on its chest and restricting it down, I scoop up the sword, lift it above my head, and drive it into the vampire’s chest. It squeals at the night and combust into ash. I tug out the sword, the handle aligning perfectly in the palm of my hand. I march to where the vampires crowd Sylas. With a spin on my heel, I stick out the sword and they pile powerlessly to the ground. I move like I’m invisible, slaying each one straight in the heart. By the time I’m done, a thick ring of ash encircles me.

  Sylas lies in the sand, the blood from his stomach ceasing. His eyes are black coals as he watches me with a mixture of astonishment and exhilaration.

  “What did you do?” he asks, pressing down on his wound.

  I lean above him, my hair curtaining my face. “I did what I had to do. ” I bust the silver cuffs from his wrist, disregarding the silver burning my skin.

  His eyes don’t leave me as I help him to his feet. I focus on the hill where Aiden, Maci, and Greyson are trapped by a long row of vampires. Cedrix is gone; I smell his death in the air. It hurts my unbeating heart, but I don’t have time to grieve. I have three others to save.

  Sylas blinks and fixates on the slain vampires that are nothing more than ash. Then his eyes focus to the flat land, where more vampires are heading for us, looking for something to eat in a desert scarce with food.

  “Did you get bit?” My eyes do a quick sweep of his body.

  He moves his hand away and the wound in his chest is shrinking, sealing back up. “No, I was just stabbed. That’s all. ”

  “Then help me,” I say, pointing to the others, imprisoned on the ledge. “Help me save them. ”

  He motions at the hill. “Lead the way. ”

  We dash into the darkness, side-by-side, and it’s the most natural thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m aware of every bush, leaf, and creature, the way my body flows together, the way my legs carry me up the hill. It’s better than when I was a Bellator. I’m strong, faster, more graceful.

  The slipping rocks don’t stand a chance against my feet as I surge upward, past the smoky cave and to the ledge. I stop just short of the cliff and face Sylas.

  “I’ll distract them,” I say. “And you get them out of here. Go up on the side and take them out of here—find the nearest cave and hide. ”


  He glances down at the land, and for a moment, he deliberates bolting, running back to his city—saving himself.

  “Sylas. ” I draw him back to me. “They need your help. Save them. ”

  He nods and we part. I hike to the left, the sword hanging loosely in my hand. My eyes never waver from the vampires, who stalk closer to Aiden, Maci, and Greyson. Maci is terrified, clutching onto Aiden’s hand for dear life. Greyson trembles as he debates if he’d rather fall off the cliff or be bit.

  Sylas creeps around the side and ducks under the lip of the cliff. I speed up, my arms surging to the side of me, my feet hardly touching the ground. I tip my head down and barrel for the vampires. They don’t see me coming. There is no hesitation as I give a springing leap and submerge into the midst of them. As I’m airborne, I side kick the nearest vampire in the head. Its bones crack against the force and it shrieks, creating frenzy amongst the rest. They turn from Aiden and the others, looking for me. But when they smell my scent, they reverse their attention back. I raise the sword back and sling it forward, through the back of a vampire, straight through the heart, and out the other side.

  It poofs into dust and I move to the next one. It takes a swipe at my face, no longer desiring to eat me, only protect itself. I swing my arm up and block it, our flesh connecting. Its teeth drip blood and spit. We circle each other and it yelps at me. I hiss back, barring my fangs. Behind it, Sylas sneaks to the ledge and lowers Maci to the ground. Aiden watches me through the madness, longing to run to me. Sylas peeks over and tugs on his pant leg. They argue momentarily and then shaking his head, Aiden disappears over the edge. Once Greyson is gone, I jump into action because the vampires have figured out their food is getting away.

  I stab the one in front of me and shove my way through the rest, pushing out of the mass. I jump on the flat section of the cliff, putting myself between the vampires. If they want to chase them, they are going to have to get through me first. Unsure what I am, they test me, smelling the air, stepping forward and backwards. Their fangs quiver with hunger, their eyes bleeding to hunt. One finally dares to inch forward with its hands skinned to bone and half of its face demolished by the disease. Its head spasms, then deciding it’s going to take me out, it charges. The rest follow. I swing, gaining momentum and slice at the vampire. It dodges back, the tip of the knife barely missing it. I don’t miss a beat. I curl my fist around and uppercut its withered jaw. Its fangs clank together and stunned, it stumbles. I stab the knife in its heart and it wilts to ash. Seeing I’m a threat to their species, the rest attack. I move like the wind, kicking, swinging, spinning, spearing them in the heart. They flutter to the ground, pieces of ash mixing with the sand.

  I pause, realizing that my slaying is only bringing more, like they want to sacrifice themselves, like they are begging me to put them out of their misery.

  I glance at the sky, which is shifting to morning grey. Why aren’t they bailing? They cover the cliff and some sneak in from behind. I veer the sword to the left and the right, taking two more out. Then it happens. The sky attains the point where greyness possesses the earth. It spans the sand like a giant wave, drifting across the vampires, who burst into flames that sizzle at the sky. Their shrieks fill the air, painful and tormented. As the line of morning grows closer I run, descending off the ledge, and slide underneath a small square of shade.