Darkness breaks, p.27
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       Darkness Breaks, p.27

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 27

 

  He shakes his head. “Once you’re bit, that’s it, Kayla. Day Taker or human, the bite affects everyone the same. Except you. ”

  “Do you know things, Cedrix?” I ask. “About me? About a cure?”

  He shutters as he drops to the ground, begging his body to grasp onto his humanity. “I was a doctor at The Colony before I became one at the hillside,” he begins. “I came in a little later than the originals, but nonetheless I knew what was going on. ”

  “The original virus?” I ask, lowering myself to the ground.

  He shakes his head slowly. “The original doctors. Only you know them as the Highers. ”

  “The Highers were once doctors?” I ask, remembering the people dressed in white-coats, watching me murder the girl in Cell 7.

  He rubs his face tensely and some of his flesh crusts away. “You have to understand that, at the time, the world was obsessed with curing everything at whatever cost. Things from diseases, to looks, to misbehavior. ”

  “Everyone wanted this?” I question. “That’s really hard to believe. ”

  “No. ” He coddles his arms to his chest. “Not everyone. Many people believed in being who they were, but there were some who didn’t agree—who wanted to make everything their way. Or as they say, they wanted the world to be perfect—controllable. ”

  I nod, understanding. “They wanted it like The Colony. ”

  He starts to smile, but hacks and blood splatters from his mouth. “That was the goal, but things didn’t end up exactly how they wanted. ” A pause as he smears the blood from his lips. “Kayla, do you know what the term vampire means?”

  I shrug, shaking my head. “Aren’t there multiple terms for them?"

  “In our world there are,” he replies softly. “But back before this all started the majority of people looked at them as one way: beautiful, perfect, invincible. Of course, there were downfalls to all that perfection, something the doctors found out when they tried to create their own line of “vampire” medicine. The first and biggest one was greed. ”

  “What’s greed?”

  He gives a soft smile, reaching for my hand, but yanking back at the sight. “It means you always want more. What started as a medicine to be shared with the world, ended up being for a handful of people. ”

  “So how did we end up in The Colony?” I ask. “And how did the vampires like… like the ones of the night come to exist if they were seeking perfection?”

  “Greed, Kayla. ” His breathing is slowing. “If you push something too hard, you might go one step to far, especially if it means saving yourself. ”

  “I still don’t understand what brought the world to what it is today,” I say. “How did the virus spread?”

  He falls to the side, eyes shutting, heart stopping. “The world isn’t what you think. But if you’re asking what started the virus, you need to go back to Cell 7. That’s where everything began. ”

  I scoot to him and gently pat his face. “Cedrix. Wake up. Stay with me. I have one more question. That day when you tried to bring back my memories and you gave me the choice: forget or remember. Why did you do that?”

  “Because you deserved the choice,” he says, his life leaving him. “The one Monarch never gave you. ”

  I gently shake his shoulders. “Cedrix. ”

  His eyes snap open and blood leaks from the corners. “Kayla, please help me. I don’t want to be one. ” His body jerks and his mouth begins to salivate. “Give me your sword and go… please. ”

  I shake my head. “Cedrix, I don’t think I can—”

  “I can’t become one,” he pleads grasping onto his last ounce of humanity. “Please…please. ”

  I press my lips together, scoot the sword beside him, but hesitate to let it go. He looks me in the eye and nods his head, letting me know it’s the right thing to do. But why is the right thing to do so hard?

  I force my body to stand. “Good-bye, Cedrix. ” I swallow hard and duck out of the cave. Then I run as the sound of his scream chases after me.

  Chapter 22

  “You couldn’t find him, then?” Aiden asks as I approach them at the top of the hill.

  I shake my head and lie like a pro, choking back the feelings of guilt and sadness. “Maybe he ran off or something. Did anyone actually see him die?”

  “No. ” Aiden glances at the others. “But we saw him get taken out by a herd of vampires. ”

  “He’s dead,” Maci suddenly says. She takes Greyson and Aiden’s hand. “But don’t worry, he’s happy. And he wants us to go before darkness comes. ”

  Sylas surfaces over the other side of the hill. “Well, no luck down there. Anywhere else you want me to look?”

  Aiden and Greyson stare at Maci and she smiles reassuringly.

  “What do you think?” Aiden asks Greyson.

  Greyson looks around and then runs his fingers through his bright red hair, tugging hard. “I guess we can go. ”

  “Are you sure you’re okay with leaving?” Aiden checks. “Because you and I can keep looking. ”

  “You’re sure he’s happy?” Greyson asks Maci and she nods. “We can go. ” He starts down the hill silently with his head bowed, trying to stifle the tears.

  Aiden sighs and follows, tripping inelegantly in the gravel as he sidesteps a large red rock. Maci takes my hand and leads me after them. Sylas walks beside me, eyes filled with curiosity.

  “So what happened in there?” He motions back at the cave.

  I kick a rock and it flings farther than I expected. “Nothing. ”

  “You sure…” Sylas raises his eyebrows questioningly.

  Maci releases my hand and chases after a lizard.

  “He was turning. ” I watch the ground. “So I helped him. ”

  He drapes his arm around my shoulder and I tense as he leans me toward him.

  “You’re definitely not a Day Taker,” he says. “There’s still too much good left in you. ”

  “You’re not bad Sylas. ” I sigh. “I’m not that different from you. ”

  He lulls me with a spurt of calmness that numbs my heart. “Do you prefer it this way?” he asks and then takes it away, letting my pain gloss through. “Or this way?”

  I swallow hard, feeling the remorse, but not reacting to it. “It’s not the same,” I tell him. “I can feel emotions, yet at the same time, I can’t. ”

  “Yeah, but which way do you prefer it? Do you prefer the numb or the pain?”

  I shrug, undecided. “I’m not sure. ”

  “Well, when you do decide, you’ll know. ” He picks up the pace, leaving me behind.

  “Know what!” I yell after him.

  “Whether you still have some humanity left in you or not. ” He pauses. “Whether you’re still you or you’re like me. ”

  ***

  When darkness starts to arrive, we sprint for the nearest cave. It’s low to the ground and concealed by a round boulder. We set up for night, which doesn’t require anything because we have no food, no water, nothing. The flashlight balances in the middle, speckling a narrow ray of light where the ceiling bows.

  “I’m hungry,” Maci whines and curls in a ball in the crook of the cave. “And thirsty. ”

  Aiden rests back, exhaling. “Sorry, but there’s not much we can do about that. ”

  Greyson stomach rumbles as he balls up his jacket and supports his head on it. “There’s not much we can do about anything. ”

  The water and food situation needs to be dealt with. It’s night, though, and there’s only one solution. I march over to Sylas’ resting place, the darkest part of the cave where the roof slopes downward.

  “Sylas. ” I nudge his foot gently. “I need to borrow your knife for a minute. ”

  His eyes are shut, his arms folded across his stomach, his boots kicked up on a rock. He doesn’t stir.

  I lean in. “Sylas, did you hear me?”

  A tremor of his arm muscle. I inch my fingers for
his neck to check for a pulse, but realize he wouldn’t have one anyway.

  Placing my hand on his cheek, I move closer. “Sylas, can you hear me?”

  His eyelids creak open and he whacks me with a passionate sensation of longing. “If you wanted to kiss me you could have just asked,” he says.

  Comprehending the nearness of our lips, I incline away. “I need to borrow your knife for a bit, so I can go hunting for food. ”

  He cocks an eyebrow. “Where’s your sword?”

  I pat my empty belt loop. “I gave it to…” I lower my voice. “Cedrix. ”

  He bites at his bottom lip, considering. “You want some company. ”

  “I don’t know…” I dither.

  “You don’t think I can handle it?” He sits up and his face practically converges with mine. “Do you think because you’re the one and only Day Walker now, that a Day Taker isn’t anything special?”

  “No…I’m just not sure I feel comfortable wandering around in the dark with you,” I say with moderate honesty.

  “Why? Because you’re afraid I’ll eat you?” He runs his tongue along his white, sharp teeth. “Or is it something else?”

  It’s a challenge and I rise. “No, I’m afraid that you’ll get yourself into trouble and I’ll be stuck saving your butt. ”

  “Like I saved yours?”

  “Sylas I—”

  “Whatever, Kayla,” he cuts me off. “Take my knife. Go hunting by yourself. ”

  Shame washes over me, but not enough to back down. “Where’s your knife?”

  He leans back, smiling to himself. “It’s in my pocket. And if you want it, you’ll have to get it. I’m too tired to help you out. ”

  I roll my eyes to the ceiling, exasperating a sigh. Then I reach over him and into his pocket. Careful not to let my fingers encounter anything important, I remove the knife.

  “Thanks,” I mutter and set out for the night, swiping our empty bottle from the ground. “I’m going hunting. Find a way to build a fire and I’ll be back in a while. ” Before Aiden can protest—because I can feel he’s about to—I slant the boulder and slink out into the darkness.

  I’ve never had to hunt before. That was the one perk of The Colony—there was always food on hand. From what I’ve witnessed there are snakes, lizards, and coyotes that make the desert their home. My night vision is an excellent tool. I hop from the top of the boulders, skimming the land, and discounting the vampires’ famished shrieks. Theres less out tonight, and I wonder how much the previous night’s massacre put a divot in their population.

  I scale down the rock and encounter one. Its eyes immediately bleed until it sniffs my scent and becomes aware of what I am. It hovers back, debating.

  I hiss my fangs and it retreats. With the knife in one hand, I make my way across the sand, perusing the ground for movement. An object scurries in front of my feet and slithers for the bushes. A snake, long and thin, and I sprint after it. Instincts I didn’t know I owned kick in. My legs cross under me as I track it, moving at inhuman speed. When the time is right, I strike, stomping on the snake and pinning it in place. The tail thrashes and its fangs seek to bite my leg. I reach behind its head and pinch the neck. Then I remove my foot and pick it up, grasping its neck. The skin is slimy and it makes it difficult to clutch its thrashing body. I take the knife and quickly behead it, draining its life.