Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1), Page 26Jessica Sorensen
We wait until right before day breaks, right before we know Dominic we’ll come for me. Aiden rests while we sleep, snoring away in his bed. I remain awake, though, flipping through the pages, obsessed with what it could all mean—obsessed that I could turn into a Higher.
I have to find a way to stop it.
When Aiden wakes up, we immediately find Ryder. She’s downstairs in the room with the tables and chairs, sitting by herself. Her hair is even more matted and the black stuff around her eyes is gone. After Aiden finishes explaining what’s been going on and that we plan to leave, she narrows her eyes.
“I think that’s a stupid idea,” she says. “Going out into the city to look for Xander—who’s a little crazy I might add—all because she thinks he might know a cure.”
“I think he might know of a cure,” Aiden points out. “I’m the one who suggested we go.”
“Only because of her,” she says. “And if Dominic wants her dead, I’m sure he has a good reason.”
“Hey,” I say at the same time Aiden says, “Knock it off, Ryder.”
He steps between us, as a barrier. “What Dominic did wasn’t right and you know it. It’s everything we’ve tried to break away from.” He pulls her in for a hug. “I’ll come back. I promise.”
She hesitates, before giving him a small hug back. “Please don’t go. The city is too dangerous. If you get bit or if the wrong person spots you …”
He pulls away and adjusts the handle of the backpack. “Keep an eye on things while I’m gone. And try to keep Dominic and the others out of here.”
“You know they can get in if they really want to,” she says with a heavy-hearted sigh.
He nods. “But try, okay. And if they do get in, just pretend you have no idea where we are.”
We turn to leave and she calls out, “Maybe Dominic’s right though. I mean, it’s creepy, her being able to walk with vampires. It’s unnatural.”
I pop my knuckles, giving Aiden an annoyed look.
“It’s not creepy,” Maci’s voice floats up from behind us. She looks like she’s just woken up, her red hair a mess of tangles, her eyes drooping with exhaustion.
I turn to Aiden. “I need to talk to Maci for just a minute, before we leave.” I take Maci to the farthest corner, just out of earshot and kneel down in front of her.
“You’re going somewhere,” she says, her pulse a stream of exhilaration. “Somewhere important.”
I’m relieved to be able to hear her pulse again, but frustrated I still can’t find my own. “Can you see where I’m going?” I whisper.
She nods. “To the city—to fix the world.”
“And will I?”
“I can’t see that far yet.” She frowns, disheartened.
“That’s okay. But I need you to do a couple of things for me while I’m gone.”
Her eyes light up with delight. “I will, Kayla. I promise. Just like the Angel told me to do.”
“The Angel told you to listen to me?” I ask and she nods. “Okay, well that’s the first thing I need you to do. I need you not to talk about Angels while I’m gone. And try to keep quiet about the things you sense are going to happen. People around here don’t seem to like people who are different.”
She grins. “Alright, I can do that. That’s easy.”
“Good.” I sneak a knife from out of my pocket and press it the palm of her hand. “And promise me you’ll keep this in your pocket at all times.”
“I promise.” She stuffs it inside her jacket. “I won’t let you down Kayla. I’ll keep all my promises.”
I sure hope so, because they are more for her protection than for mine. I head to leave.
“And Kayla,” she calls out in a small voice. I pause, turning back. She waves me in closer and lowers her voice. “You’re wrong,” she says. “You’re not one of them.”
I check over my shoulder, making sure that Aiden and Ryder aren’t listening. “One of what? A Higher?”
“You’re something different—something better.” She says. “That’s why you can fix it.”
God, I hope she’s right. Because the last thing I want to be is the thing I’ve spent my life resenting. I’ve always despised the Highers, at least the ones at The Colony. And if turns out I am one and there’s no cure, I don’t think I could live with myself.
“Keep that one to yourself too,” I say my final good-bye to her.
Aiden and I slink out of the hillside, sealing it shut behind us with the boulder. We head across the desert, the sky a light grey, but I know eventually it will turn black.
“Will we make it there before dark?” I hop over a rock.
Aiden sidesteps around a cactus. “No, we’ll have to travel through the night.”
“But isn’t it dangerous for you to be out when darkness falls? They’ll leave me alone, but not you.”
He tips his head down, his dark hair shielding across his eyes. “I’ll be fine Juniper, don’t worry about me.” He kicks a rock. “You know, you’re still the same as I remember. You’re completely fine with being reckless with your own life, but if it’s anyone else’s there’s no way you’ll risk it.”
I can’t help it: I love the sound of Juniper rolling off his tongue. “Tell me how well you know me.”
“You know I can’t do that,” he says. “I already explained to you that if I start telling you about your past, then you’ll only remember it how I tell you. And you want to remember things on your own. Trust me.”
Blood. Blood everywhere. “You know, Monarch always said that medicine is one of strongest things in the world. Stronger than the human mind. It really is amazing,” I say, taking out the last black vial. “Something this small can do so much damage.” I hold it between my fingers. “I mean, it was something like this that changed humans into to vampires.”
He eyes the vial. “You kept that?”
I close my hand around it. “Yeah, I was thinking that it might come in handy, you know, if we run into something that needs to die.” I make a stabbing gesture with my hand.
“Like a vampire.”
“That’s what a knife’s for,” he says, holding up his own, which is sharp and has a red jewel embedded in the handle. “You don’t even know if that stuff works on a vampire.”
“Still. You never know.” I put the vial in my pocket and take out Monarch’s watch. “What if there is a cure—to the vampires, to the Highers. What if I can really fix the world?”
“Then we better hope it’s an easy cure,” he says. “Because, right now, you’re the only person that vampires won’t touch. And how we’re going to get it to the Highers, who knows.”
He’s getting down again, and I don’t like it. I turn the pocket watch over in my hand, the gold shimmering like fire. I run my fingers along the face of the watch. “Do you know what these numbers mean?”
He smiles, his mood suddenly uplifted again. “I do. Do you want me to try and explain it to you?”
“Yes,” I say and he touches the top number with his finger.
“This is a twelve.” He glides his finger down two golden lines. “When both of these point to the twelve it means it’s either twelve o’clock at night or in the afternoon.”
“But they always point it,” I say. “They never change.”
“That’s because the batteries are dead.” He taps the back of the watch. “If it did work, then the hands would move.”
He laughs and goes into this big speech about numbers and time and what they all mean. I try and pretend I understand what he’s saying, but it’s confusing. And I start to wonder just how long he’s been out in the Old World.
I return the watch to my pocket. “So were we friends when we were young or when we were older?”
He presses his lips together, smothering a smile. It’s a pause, a hint of consideration. “I’ve known you forever,” he finally says.
crunch the sand and rocks.
“Forever can mean a lot of things.”
He stops so abruptly, I end up stepping on his toes. I take a step back and he places my face in his hands.
“Since your first day in The Colony, Juniper,” he says my name delicately, like he desperately wants me to remember him.
I think of my first day at The Colony, or how I remember it. A little girl in the street, walking amongst the vampires, toward a little boy.
“Oh my God,” I say aloud, without meaning to.
He stares at me, his honey eyes mystified. “What is it?”
“I think I… were you the little boy in the street?”
“You remember that?” He’s shocked, but thrilled. His heart stammers with elation.
“Yeah,” I say. “But not just now. I’ve remembered it forever. Monarch use to tell me that’s not how it happened though.”
“That’s how it happened,” he assures me. “Do you remember what happened after we were saved?”
“So he saved you too?” I ask. “Well, I guess you’re standing here.”
He frowns. “You didn’t get that far, did you?”
I shake my head, my cheeks still squeezed between his hands. “Sorry. The last thing I can remember is Monarch saving me.”
He sighs and starts walking. “Do you remember anything that happened after?”
I shake my head again and the wind carries on the silence for a while.
“If you want,” he finally says. “We can try the minte on you when we take a break.”
I trip over my own feet, an awkward movement for me. “You have a vial of it?”
He swings off his bag, unzips it, and shows me the small vial, full of clear liquid. It doesn’t look like anything, yet it’s everything.
“Maybe we shouldn’t get into that right now.” I gesture at the desert, at the rocks, at caves delving into the rocks. “Considering where we are.”
“We’ll make it quick.” He zips up the bag and swings it back over his shoulder. “Don’t you want to know what’s trapped in that head of yours?”
I hesitate. “It depends.”
“Hey.” He stops, smoothing my hair back. “Sometimes you have to take in the good with the bad. But trust me, it’s worth it.”
“Okay,” I say. “When we take a break, we can give it a try, I guess.”
He smiles, his honey eyes lighting up, the bangs of his hair gusting in the wind. “And remember to think of me this time.” He gives a pause. “But you might not want to focus on remembering the rest of that street thing just yet, if you’re not ready for the bad.”
We head to the right, putting the hillside so far behind us it’s like it doesn’t even exist. The sky grows greyer with each passing minute. The wind picks up, swirling the sand and the sage brush. A bug smacks into my lips and I spit it out, coughing and gagging.
“A bug flew in my mouth,” I explain when Aiden looks at me strangely.
He drags his thumb across my bottom lip, wiping the sand away, taking in my lips with great attention.
“How did you know about the kissing thing?” I ask, tucking strands of my stray hair behind me ear.
He doesn’t answer, because he can’t.
“It’s because you’ve kissed me before, isn’t it.” I touch my lip. “We’ve kissed a lot of times, haven’t we?”
His eyes burn hot with desire. “You remember?”
“No. Sorry it was just a guess.”
He brushes his hair out of his eyes and keeps his hand there to block away the blowing sand. “Don’t worry, you will.” And that’s all he says.
“Can you at least explain to me what it is?” I ask. “Because when we kiss it feels like…”
“You could feel everything about me,” he finishes for me. “It happens when you get close to someone … really close to someone.” He stuffs his hands in his pockets.
“So if I kissed someone else the same thing would happen?”
He feigns insult. “Who else are you planning on kissing?”
I smile, but a memory rushes back to me, sharp and painful, stinging my brain.
“It’s important that you practice standing alone, Kayla,” Monarch tells me. “So that when the time comes, you’ll be able to handle it.”
“But sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I just want to be normal.”
“Life is hard sometimes,” Monarch replies. “But you’ll do what you have to if it means fixing the world. It’s what you were made for.”
“Kayla, did you hear me?” Aiden’s standing in front of me. I’ve stopped walking and he looks concerned. “Is everything okay? Are you remembering things on your own again?”
“No,” I lie, shaking the memory away.
“Maybe we should take that break now,” he suggests.
I force a smile. “We’ve got darkness chasing after us.”
“We have to make it through darkness, anyway,” he says, hiking toward a cluster of red rocks. “So we might as well take a break and make sure we’re all rested and reenergized.”
I trudge along after him, parking my unenthusiastic body on top of a flat rock.
Aiden takes off his bag and pulls out two bottles of water, tossing one to me. “Here, drink up.”
I take a sip, while he pulls a bag of funny shaped flat things that look like little pieces of bread. But when I put one in my mouth, it taste so much better than bread.
“This is good.” I cover my mouth as crumbs spill out.
“You know, they really didn’t feed us very well in The Colony.” Aiden sips from the bottle. “That’s one of the first things I noticed when I was thrown out here.”
I pop another piece into my mouth. “So you really don’t know what The Gathering is?” I question. “Even after all your memories resurfaced?
“All my memories haven’t resurfaced yet,” he says, his gaze lifting to the top of the hills. “And no, I don’t know what it is, because it wasn’t an erased memory—it wasn’t a memory at all.”
I chew slowly, confused. “I’m not sure I’m following you.”
“I was unconscious.” His eyes are still on the hill line, this strange look shifting into his expression. Then he jumps to his feet, tossing everything into his bag. “We need to move. Now.” He hooks the bag over his shoulder and pulls me to my feet.
I glance back, at the hill. “What did you see?”
“I’m not sure,” he mutters, dragging me toward a cave. “But I think we might be being followed.”
“By Dominic?” I hurry with him. “Would he do that?”
“I think he might.” He stops in front of the dark cave, staring down at it. “We need a place to hide.”
I blink down at the cave, resting at the bottom of the rocks, one of the easier ones to get to. “They might be inside.”
“I should check first then.” I start for it, but he tightens his hold on my hand. “Aiden, they won’t hurt me.”
He lets out a breath, nodding, and releases my hand. “But take your knife out, just in case.”
I do and then walk to the edge, where the line rests between darkness and light, life and death.