Darkness breaks, p.26
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       Darkness Breaks, p.26

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 26

 

  “He turned everyone over to the Highers,” Aiden snaps. “There wasn’t any good in him. ”

  “Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad,” I state to no one in particular. “No one is completely good. ”

  Aiden disagrees. “Your view on life has totally been distorted by medicine and a certain doctor. ”

  For a minute I consider hitting him.

  “There has to be cure,” I tell everyone, changing the subject. “I’m walking proof that there is. We just need to find it. And right now, everything I know points to Cell 7. It’s where this all started and I mean everything. Highers and all. ”

  “How do you know that’s where the cure is?” he asks. “Just because the virus started in Cell 7, doesn’t mean it ends there. ”

  “Do you have a better idea?” I ask.

  He shrugs, surrendering. “Do whatever you want. You’ve proved more than enough times that my opinion doesn’t matter. ”

  Sylas makes a growling sound and scratches his fingers the air. “I feel the claws coming out. ”

  “I want to go with you, Kayla. ” Maci interrupts and clings to my hand. “Please take me with you. ”

  I look to Aiden for help, but he brushes me off. “If she wants to go, then let her go. ” He pauses. “At least to the edge of the city anyway. But not in the Cell 7. It’s too dangerous. ”

  “And leave her there with the Day Takers?” I ask. “I don’t think that’s such a great idea. ”

  “No, don’t leave her with the Day Takers. ” Aiden stands and pops his neck. “I’m going with you. And I’ll watch her while you’re gone. ”

  I’m wary of the idea. “I don’t think that such a good idea. And besides, you just said you didn’t think the answers are in Cell 7. And you really don’t want to be around me anymore. ”

  “Where else are we going to go?” he asks baffled. “We have nothing left out here for us. ”

  “So instead you want to go with a Day Taker and a Day Walker?” I question. “Why am I not buying this?”

  “You know I’m not lying,” he says.

  I waver, because he’s not lying.

  He forces a smile. “What Juniper? Am I not worthy to go with you anymore?”

  I shake my head. “No, I just…worry. ”

  Sylas pats me on the back. “See you’re not completely a Day Taker. You’re perfectly capable of experiencing human emotion, something we don’t possess. ”

  I almost call out his lie, but back off because he’d only deny it. “So we’re all going, then? At least to the edge of the city?”

  We exchange agreeing looks and then our eyes dart to Greyson.

  “Greyson?” Aiden asks. “Are you coming?”

  He traces a circle in the dirt. “I’ll go, but after we bury Cedrix. He deserves that much. ”

  “Bury?” I ask, adjusting my sword in my belt. “What does that mean?”

  “It’s our way of mourning,” Aiden explains with a subdued tone. “Whenever someone died at hillside, we’d bury them in the ground to show our respect. ”

  I don’t understand what they’re feeling, but they seem to really want to bury Cedrix. “Okay, we can go back, but we need to hurry. And we’re not walking at night. That’s still a rule, as much as it’s related to The Colony. At least for you four. ”

  “Why the hell am I put in the same category as them?” Sylas asks amused and partially offended. “Let’s not forget what I am. ”

  My gaze downfalls to his abdomen. “I’m not forgetting, but I still don’t think it’s a good idea. ”

  He quickly protects the injury with his hand and pulls his hair farther over his forehead. “Yeah, but I heal,” he points out and slowly lowers his hand, showing me his smooth skin, crusted with blood. “See, healed. ”

  “Do whatever you want. ” I turn for the arch. “I can’t make you do anything. ”

  He follows me, laughing under his breath. “Maybe you could, if you really, really wanted to. ”

  I shake my head, hoping Aiden doesn’t hear him, or see the smile threatening at my lips.

  Before we leave, I make everyone empty their pockets to check what we have. “No water. No food. ” I count down on my fingers. “One knife, a sword, and an empty bottle. A pocket watch, matches and the map. A flashlight and a…” I collect the spool. “And a thing of wire. ”

  Greyson shrugs, with his hands in his pockets. “It might come in handy. You never know. Besides, Maci told me to put it in my pocket before the fire started. ”

  “That’s it. ” I rub my temples. “That’s all we have. ”

  Maci runs up and adds a glass vial to the pile. “And this too!”

  Sylas and I trade inquisitive glances and I pick up the vial. “Does anyone know what this is?”

  We all lean over and peer at the vial resting in the palm of my hand.

  “What color is that?” Greyson asks. “White?”

  Aiden plucks the vial from my hand. “It’s more like clear, with a swirl of different colors. ”

  “Like a rainbow,” Maci states proudly.

  “What’s a rainbow?” We ask simultaneously.

  She points at the sky and curves her finger in the air. “Its the color that arches across the sky after it rains. Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon. ”

  I take the vial from Aiden and hold it between my finger and thumb. “Maci, where did you get this?”

  “The Higher gave it to me when he came to the cave. ” She skips around the rock.

  Out of the corner of my eye, Aiden moves to swat the vial out of my hand. I react quickly, closing my hand.

  “Aiden, calm down,” I say. “We don’t even know what it is. ”

  “It’s from the Highers,” he snaps, his honey eyes burning golden. “And we don’t even know what it is. ”

  “Gabrielle said it would help me through the fire,” Maci beams. She’s taken off her shoe and dips her toes in the sand. “But I didn’t take it because I knew Kayla would save us. ”

  “What else do you know Maci?” I constrict my fingers around the vial.

  “I can’t tell you yet. ” She cups her hand around her mouth and whispers, “Not until the time is right. ”

  She sounds just like Monarch.

  “When will the right time be?” I set the vial on the rock.

  “Soon, Kayla. ” She hops on a rock. “Very, very soon. ”

  “She’s so weird,” Greyson mutters. “It’s like she can tell what’s going to happen before it happens, yet she won’t tell you unless she wants to. ”

  “It’s because I can’t,” Maci sings-songs. “Not until I know for sure that what I’m seeing is going to happen. Sometimes it changes. ” She ducks under a tunnel, burrowing through the rock.

  Putting my boot on the vial, I press down, shattering it in pieces. All their attention centers on me.

  “You’re right,” I say. “If it’s from the Highers, it’s probably not a good thing. But I would like to know why Gabrielle gave it to Maci to help her through the fire. If he wanted to save her, why didn’t he just take her with him?”

  “That’s an answer she might know. ” Sylas crosses his arms and indicates his head at Maci. “Now whether you can get her to tell you or not, is a whole other story. ”

  Apprehension rises in me as I take another glimpse at our small pile of stuff. “How are we going to survive?”

  “We’ll be fine,” Sylas makes a point. He picks a twig off his black, torn shirt and flicks it to the ground. “We don’t have to eat, just drink. And there are plenty of ways to get around that. ”

  Aiden gapes at him. “You’re not drinking blood?”

  “Oh, we still drink blood. ” He licks his lips, eyes glued to me.

  I frown at him, knowing what he’s referring to. I saw it a few times during my stay with the Day Takers. They feed off each other. I find it weird and unnatural and I hope Monarch made sure to include a blood-free thirst in me
. But only time will tell.

  I want to tell them that we need to skip the burial, but the looks on their faces stops me. So we pack up our knife, flashlight, and wire and descend over the hills onto the land. Aiden carries Maci on his back, because her legs are tired, and Greyson barely utters a word.

  When we reach the spot where Cedrix was last seen, we only find bare dirt.

  Aiden looks up at the top of the hill and then down at the bottom. “This is where we saw him… where he died. ” He scratches his head.

  “Sometimes when vampires attack, there isn’t anything left. ” Sylas squats down to inspect the ground.

  “There has to be something left,” Greyson says, marching up the hill with determination. “He can’t be gone completely. ”

  Sylas furrows his eyebrows at the ground and then his gaze travels downward.

  “What is it?” I ask. “Do you see something?”

  He gives me a pressing look and that’s when I hear it. A heart beating, only it’s broken, offbeat and too slow for it to be human. I nod at Sylas, understanding what he’s thinking.

  “Get them up to the top of the hill,” I instruct “And I’ll go check it out. ”

  We head our separate ways, but I grasp his hand and lure him back. “And don’t tell them,” I say. “Not until I know for sure. ”

  He nods, understanding. He slips his hand from mine and climbs up the hill. I head for the cave, aware that what I’m about to walk into isn’t going to be pretty. I lower myself over a ridge and drop down in front of the mouth of the cave. The fire has stifled, only a small path of smoke lingers. A pulse rhythms inside, skipping beats and thudding an occasional extra one.

  Thump…thump. Thump, thump, thump…thump

  Gliding my sword from my belt loop, I cross the line into the dark. “Cedrix,” I call out. “Are you in here?”

  The pulse statics. A bang and then a figure zips across the cave.

  Raising the sword, I walk to the center. The walls, ceiling, and crates are charred. The floor is singed black and the air is hot.

  “Cedrix,” I step vigilantly. “It’s Kayla. Are you okay?”

  In a flash, he pounces from the shadows, but a small sliver of light catches his shedding skin and he lurches back. “Kayla,” he gasps. “It’s Cedrix. ”

  “I know. ” I carry the sword to the side of me and proceed into the shadows. He’s hunched against the cave wall, shuddering at the sight of his torn skin.

  “I think I was bit,” he says. “I think I might be changing. ”

  I take in the sight of him, hungry eyes, bones exposing through his bloody skin, fangs stabbing out from his mangled lips. “Cedrix, tell me how I can help. There’s Day Taker medicine back at the underground hideout. Would that help? Could you still change?”