Darkness falls, p.25
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       Darkness Falls, p.25

         Part #1 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 25

 

  I take a deep breath and look back out. Vampires. Everywhere. Shrieking and biting at each other. Their eyes bleed, lifeless corpses of flesh, so desperate for hunger that they’ll sometimes feed off themselves. I think I’m starting to get his point.

  “We can go back,” I say and he nods, darting for the back door.

  “So I’d be like the vampires?” I ask. “That’s the price I have to pay. ”

  “You wouldn’t look like one. ” He locks the back door, checking it twice. “But you’d be like them, always looking for the next kill. And you don’t have to pay the price,” he says. “You can choose to just be you. ”

  “It’s time for you to just be Kayla. ” One of Monarch’s last words before he died.

  “So Bernard’s one of them now?” I ask. “Or were you lying about that too. ”

  “No, he took the medicine. ” His voice is venomous. “He made the choice. ”

  “But he didn’t know what he was doing,” I say. “We should have tried to help him. ”

  “We did,” he says. “Where do you think those scratch marks came form on the hillside. ”

  “He’s there,” I say, relieved.

  “Was there. ” Aiden leans against the door. “We had to turn him loose. ”

  I shake my head. “So he’s dead. ”

  “It depends,” he replies, standing up straight. “If the others found him,” he pauses, “It had to be done—he would have hurt someone, Kayla. ” He takes my arm, but I shrug it off.

  “Does The Colony know about all this?” I ask. “About these half breeds?”

  He shakes his head. “I think that everyone just assumes we’re all dead. ”

  “Even the Highers?”

  “Especially the Highers. ” He motions for me to follow him back to our pathetic little fire where we sit down on the rotted floorboards. “I think the Highers want us all dead for some reason—that’s why we end up in body bags,” he says. “I think that that’s what’s really supposed to happen at The Gathering. Were supposed to be killed, thrown into body bags, and tossed into the infirmary. ”

  “Then why doesn’t it happen?” I ask, thinking of how Maci spoke of Angels. “Do you think someone’s intervening?”

  He nods, the fire glowing against his honey eyes. “I think someone makes it look like we’ve died, so they can toss us in the desert and we can be on our way to go on living how we want. ”

  “Maci said something about seeing an Angel,” I say. “She said it was what gave her the vials. ” A pause. “Do you know what or who it is?”

  “I already told you I didn’t. ”

  I eye him over. “I was just double-checking. ”

  He sighs, reaching for his bag. “Well, I really don’t know. ”

  “She also said the Angel helped Taggart,” I say. “Do you think he has something to doing with it? My last day he was freaking out because I didn’t stay locked up in the hospital. ”

  “Taggart?” Aiden questions “You think Taggart could be the one making us all look like we’re dead?”

  “He could be the one taking us out into the desert, though,” I say. “But I’m not sure he knows enough about death to make us look like we’re dead. ” There’s only one person in The Colony who I know who could do something like that. “I’d say it was Monarch, but he was. . . He died right before The Gathering. ”

  He props his back pack against the wall and leans back. “Are you sure about that? Because if he is the one who was making us look dead, then maybe he did it to himself. ”

  I don’t answer, remember all the feelings I felt when I found out he was dead. But it was never really said if he was. Yes, Gabrielle implied it, but I never actually saw any proof. Why hadn’t I gotten proof, instead of just accepting?

  “What would you do,” I say. “If I did turn into one of those half-breeds? If I chose to die? Would you hate me?”

  “You won’t,” he says with confidence. “I know you and I know you wouldn’t choose to be like them. ”

  “But what if I didn’t have a choice?” I’m not really talking about the half-breeds anymore, but about a Higher. “What if I turned into something horrible and I couldn’t help it? Would you hate me then?”

  “As long as you don’t put the medicine into you, you’ll be fine. ” He puts his arms behind his head and rests back against his bag. “We should try to get some rest. Do you want me to take first watch?”

  “No, I got it,” I say, stirring the fire with the tip of my knife.

  He yawns. “Are you sure? Because I can—”

  “I’m fine,” I assure him. “I’m not even tired. ”

  It doesn’t take him long to doze off and I relax against the wall, letting the vampire screams drown out my thoughts.

  Chapter 31

  I don’t fall asleep. I stay up all night listening to the sounds of screams. At one point, I take the vial and stare at the black liquid, bubbling inside the glass. The only person I know of who could create such a medicine is Monarch. He had to be the one who gave them to The Gathering members—he just had to be. Maybe he did fake his own death for some reason. But then where is he now?

  When Aiden starts to stir, I quickly shove the vial back into the bag.

  He sits up, his eyes blurred over with early morning confusion. He stretches his legs, pops his neck, and glances around. “You let me sleep the whole night?” He yawns.

  “I wasn’t tired. ” I stand up and stretch. “Besides, it kept pretty quiet all night,” I lie.

  He stands and kicks out his legs. “You know I can tell when you’re lying. ”

  “No, you can’t,” I argue. “And I’m not lying. ”

  “Yeah, I can. ” He pauses, considering carefully. “You used to tell me things that didn’t seem correct and after a while, I started to think you were a liar. So I began paying attention when you spoke to me—the little things you would do. And I noticed sometimes you scratch at your wrist. It took me a while, but I realized it’s like a nervous itch or something, when you’re not telling the truth. ”

  “I don’t do that. ” I drop my hands to my side. “And I’m never nervous. ”

  His eyes sparkle as he balls his jacket up and stuffs it inside his backpack. “Is that so?”

  “Yes. ” I self-consciously tug the sleeves of my shirt over my wrists. “I can promise you I’ve never been nervous. ”

  “But you can’t promise me you’ve never lied before. ” He swings his bag over his shoulder.

  “You’ve lied too. ” I pick up my bag and secure it on my back. “So don’t stand there and be all self-righteous. ”

  “I’m not. ” He walks over, reaches around me, and grabs the straps of my backpack. “I’m trying to make a point. ” He clips the straps together.

  “And what point is that?” I adjust the bag so it’s comfortable.

  “That we’ve lied to each other. ” He steps back, dark bangs falling across his forehead. “And I think we should just forgive each other right now and move on. No more lies. Only the truth from now. ” He sticks out his hand to shake on it.

  I feel like I’m five years-old as I take his hand. “This is kind of ridiculous, don’t you think?”

  “I promise to tell the truth from now on,” he says, discounting my remark.

  We shake hands and he waits for me to say it back.

  “I promise too,” I say, but like usual, my words are fake and I know it. Because there’s so much I still haven’t told him, and I don’t plan on telling him any time soon.

  He seems satisfied, though, and we drop hands. Then we sneak out the back door and step onto the ashen streets of the city.

  “So these half-breeds or whatever you call them,” I say. “Can they only come out at night?”

  “I try to not call them anything. ” He starts down the road. “However, they like to call themselves the Day Takers. ”

  My eyes examine the windows and doors of the buildings
as we pass them. “So they can come out during day. ”

  “No,” he says “They can come out in the shadows of the day. ” He gazes up at the smoky sky, spreading his arms out to the side of him. “But standing out here … they’d burn alive, just like the vamps would. ”

  “Well, then their nickname is a little misleading,” I say, gaze lifting to the roofs.

  He hooks his hands on the straps of his backpack. “You have to think of them as everything that’s in between. They can walk in the shadows of day, they thirst for blood, but don’t frenzy for it. ”

  Blood. Blood everywhere. My mind flashes back to the red door, where the broken child sits in the corner feeding off his own arm.

  “Do they ever eat themselves?” I ask, sidestepping a pothole.

  He shoots me a disgusted look. “Eat themselves?”

  “Yeah, like the vampires do. ”

  “No, they’re more human than that. ” He pauses, gaze finding mine. “Why?”

  I bite at my lip, my eyes seeing red everywhere I look. “Do you remember a red door in The Colony?” As soon as I say it, I want to take it back—it feels forbidden somehow.

  He gradually slows, like all the energy is draining from his body. “That’s what you saw when you took the minte? You saw what was behind the door?”

  Slowly, I nod. “I saw a child. He was all torn up, like he was part vampire or something. ”

  Aiden faces me and all the color has drained from his skin. “And what else?”

  “Monarch caught me snooping,” I say. “And so he erased it from my mind. ”

  “And that’s all you remember?”

  “So far, yes. ”

  He scratches at his wrist, tugging the sleeve of his shirt down. “That place,” he says, “is something you might not want to remember. ”

  “Did Monarch …” I swallow hard, thinking of how Dominic and Gabrielle spoke of experiments. “Did Monarch do that to that child?”

  He turns his back on me and makes a right onto a wider road, packed with more cars. The buildings also stretch higher to the sky, obstructing more light.

  “Don’t start judging things,” he says, “until you remember everything. Some of the things might be bad, but some are good. ”

  I don’t say anything, worried about what could be locked up inside my head.

  “Did you hear that?” Aiden suddenly stops, his eyebrows dipping together. He glances up at a tall, skinny building with a rounded top that looks like a bubble.

  I’m so distracted by my thoughts it takes me a second to understand what he said. “What did you hear?”

  “I thought…” His body tenses. “Shit. ” He grabs my hand and races for the bubble building. I vaguely remember seeing it from time to time while raiding the streets as Bellator, but I’ve never been inside—I’ve never been inside most buildings.

 
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