Darkness breaks, p.25
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       Darkness Breaks, p.25

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 25


  The entire land roars in fire, smoke, and cries. It goes on forever, irrevocably silencing. I relax against the jagged cliff and set the knife on the ground. I twist my hair up in a knot, my skin drenched in sweat and blood. That’s when it hits me. I’m the walking dead. I no longer have a pulse or breath, and I drink blood.

  I tuck my fangs into my mouth. I can no longer walk outside during the day without harming myself or hiding beneath a jacket.

  “You are different, Kayla,” Monarch whispers. “I broke all the rules with you, so never assume anything. You are my Day Walker. ”

  My gaze flickers to the left and the right. With attentiveness, I edge my hand out until my fingertips brush the light. My skin warms to a natural temperature and I let my hand stay there. Grabbing the sword, I push out and stand with the greyness of morning covering my body.

  I glance over my shoulder at the sand stained with ash. Then I start down the hill, the one and only Day Walker. I walk alone.

  Chapter 20

  They aren’t difficult to track. They leave a scent so potent it travels for miles. I hook the sword through my belt loop and trek across the sand and sage brush. I go straight to their hideout, a small cave tucked between two sandy mounds and a row of fiery red rocks. I journey from rock to rock and stand in front of the entrance. A massive red boulder is shoved against the arc of the cave. Fear leaks through the cracks and enters my body. It’s then I realize how numb I’ve been. During battle, I was like a machine. And even now, my emotions are at a steady vacancy.

  I sit on a flat rock, needing a minute to gather the numbness that is overcoming me. Maybe this is why Aiden didn’t want me to change. However, if I hadn’t, they wouldn’t be hiding in the cave. I deicide I won’t regret the choice I made.

  I push up and heave the rock out of the way. Aiden, Greyson, and Maci are curled in the back of the cave. When the light hits them, they blink frantically. Maci starts to get up, eager to run to me, but Aiden puts an arm in front of her.

  “Kayla, are you okay?” She blinks.

  “She’s fine,” Aiden says with aggravation. He looks at Greyson. “You ready to go? If we’re going to find a place before dark, we should get started now. ”

  I remain beneath the archway, half in the light, half out. “Where’s Sylas?”

  On cue, Sylas strides around the corner, leaning in my face, one hand gripping onto the arch above our heads, the other resting on his side. His hair hangs in his dark eyes.

  His gaze notes the golden land just behind me. “So you can walk in the light,” he says with a bit of envy.

  I nod and tip to the side, aiming my attention at Aiden. “You can let Maci go. I’m not going to hurt her. ”

  He glowers at me. “I’m not taking any chances with you. ”

  Shaking my head, I stomp over to him. My sudden closeness surprises him and he shuffles back.

  I hold out my hand. “Come with me for a minute. ”

  “No thanks. ” He’s afraid of me.

  I wrap my hand around his, entwining our fingers, and pull him to his feet. He tries hard to stay mad as I escort him to archway, but his skin touching mine chips away at his fury. Sylas shoots us a dirty look before skulking back into the shadows. When we step into the greyness, his fear diminishes. Seeing me in the light brings him a sense of peace.

  I drop his hand and we travel over the rocks. I hop from one to the other. With effort, he keeps up with me. I bound from the last one and sit in the sand. He takes a seat next to me and we stare at the sky.

  “So you’re one of them now,” he says softly. “You’re a Day Taker. ”

  “A Day Walker,” I clarify. “I’m not completely the same as them. ”

  He hesitates. “Why did you do it, Juniper? Why did you have to change?”

  “I didn’t change. I’m still the same person,” I lie. “And I did it because you guys would have died if I didn’t. ”

  “Cedrix died,” he breathes quietly, his chest trembling as he fights back the tears.

  “I know. ”

  He inhales, sucking back the tears. “You know he was the one who found me after The Gathering. I was trapped in the body bag and couldn’t get out. I probably would have died if he hadn’t shown up. And then, to make matters worse, there was a flood and the land was soaked. It took us ages to get to the hillside—so long that night hit. ”

  “If Cedrix wouldn’t have shown up,” my voice holds carefulness, “would you have done it? Would you have changed to survive?”

  He swallows hard. “No, I never wanted to be one of them. It’s who I am. ”

  “Behind the red door, you wouldn’t kill me, even though I was suffering. ” I shut my eyes, recalling the memory. “You wouldn’t let me go even to spare me pain. ”

  “You remember that?” he asks. “I thought Monarch would have put that one in my head. ”

  I tilt my head at him, my hair slipping from the knot and covering my shoulders. “You don’t know everything he put in there?”

  He shakes his head. “Sometimes I can grasp them, like when I’m sleeping, or when I’m close to you. But not everything. ”

  “So if I want to remember everything,” I say. “I need Ryder. ”

  “Ryder’s gone. ” His jaw tightens. “We’re going to have to do without her. ”

  “No, she’s not gone. Just detained,” I say. “And I’m going to get her back. ”

  He presses his shoulder into mine, wanting to touch me, even though he fears me. “She doesn’t deserve to be free. She made her choice and bailed on the rest of us. ”

  “Oh, I’m not doing it for her,” I tell him. “I only want her for my memories. That’s all. Then, if you want, we can let the Day Takers have her. ”

  His expression is pained. “I don’t want her to suffer. Just like I didn’t want you to suffer. I don’t want anyone I love to suffer. ” His eyes line with my lips and he wants to kiss me. But knowing what I am holds him back. He gets to his feet and dusts the dirt from his jeans. “We should get a plan going and figure out what we’re going to do next. ”

  “Is there still a we?” I wonder aloud.

  He pauses, his muscles tensing. “I’ll always be there for you, Kayla, whether you’re human or not. That’s one thing no one can take away. ”

  “Aiden,” I start, about to ask him why he won’t save himself. He knows he’ll die if he doesn’t become a Day Taker. But I stop, not wanting to feel the emotions trying to sneak up on me. “Never mind. ”

  He nods and ascents over the rocks, fading inside the cave. I sit for a while, staring at the sky, feeling the alteration in my body. Every nerve-ending is connected, working my body as one. My mind is alive and determined, but there is deadness in it, something I’ve never felt before. Eventually, I get up and head back to the cave, ready to move on, ready to start saving the world.

  Chapter 21

  Sylas is waiting for me in the cave. He’s inclined back, with his legs blocking the entrance. His gaze bores into me. “Did you two have a nice chat?” he asks with a sly smile. “Did he forgive you for your horrendous decision?”

  “I didn’t apologize for what I did,” I inform him. “I only apologize for the things I’m sorry for and this isn’t one of them. ”

  He bites at his lip, slightly taken back. “You don’t regret that you’re now the living undead?” He moves in front of me. “That you don’t have a pulse or a breath? That you’re no longer human?”

  “Do you regret the decision?” I confront him with a lift of my chin.

  He stares blankly at me. “There wasn’t a decision to make. Either I did it, or I died. ”

  “Not necessarily,” I say. “Humans can survive if they’re careful. ”

  He leans in, putting his mouth up to my ear. “I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Aiden and I are the same. Monarch created both of us and broke both of us. The only way out was to choose death. ” He leans back, wavering his hand
in front of him. “Well, life and death since I’m technically both. ”

  I glance at Aiden. “How long does he have before he… dies?”

  “Only Monarch knows that. ” Sylas shrugs. “Now can we move on from death and get onto life. You still have the map, right?”

  “Who says we’re going to the tunnel next?”

  “You were just about to announce it, weren’t you?” He taunts me with an all-knowing grin.

  “Yes, but—”

  “But nothing,” he talks over me. “Now go give your little speech about our next big plan to save the world. ”

  I frown. “You’re referring to me like I’m the leader?”

  “You have everything that can save us, so yeah, you’re the leader now. ”

  Am I a leader now? I walk to the back of the cave with Sylas at my heels. Greyson, Maci, and Aiden are huddled together underneath an indented section of the cave wall. Maci’s eyes are red and her forehead has a gash across it. A piece of a torn shirt cloaks her hand and she’s missing a shoe. Greyson is dotted with bruises, his red hair stained a dark red from the blood of an open wound. Aiden is scratched, bruised, and there’s a thin red line tracing above his eyebrow, a mark which might end up healing into a scar, just like he used to have.

  Even though I spent countless days in the hospital with Monarch, these are unknown injuries, ones I wish I could fix, but can’t without the aid of Monarch’s healing injections.

  “I need to know what you guys want to do?” I ask. “I’m going—”

  “We’re going,” Sylas interjects.

  “We’re going to the tunnels to search for some answers and maybe even a cure if we’re lucky. I’m actually hoping that I might be right and that Cell 7 has another entrance into The Colony. Maybe we could sneak in from there. ”

  “How the hell do you know how to get there?” Aiden asks in a near panic. “Did you remember it on your own or something? Because even I can’t remember it. ”

  I quickly explain what happened during Sylas and mine’s detour to the underground hideout, where we found Dominic and the map. But omit some of the more gory details.

  “Dominic isn’t a vampire,” Aiden says. “He can’t be. ”

  “I never said he was,” I remind him, not bothering to point out that he’s dead and no longer is anything. “He was some kind of crossbreed. ”

  “But who created the crossbreed?” Aiden rubs the back of his neck. “And you said the Highers are feeding off vampires… why?”

  “That’s another question to add to our endless list,” I shrug and pause. “Everyone thought Dominic was helping everyone, when really he was running his own little Colony. ”

  “I guess, in a way, he wasn’t really that bad. ” Sylas rests his hand on the wall behind me. “He didn’t completely listen to the Highers and kept them in the dark… for a while. ”