Darkness falls, p.29
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       Darkness Falls, p.29

         Part #1 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 29

 

  Aiden takes my face in my hands. “Out here, we get to make our own choices about what we want to be. No one can control us. And I promise you we’ll figure out what’s in your head, but the right way. ” His eyes burn with the truth.

  The door bursts open and Ryder storms in, her eyes widening when she takes in the sight of me. There’s a cut across her nose and one of her knuckles is bleeding.

  “You look like shit,” she tells me.

  “Gee thanks,” I say sarcastically.

  She shrugs. “Sorry, but you do. ”

  I wipe the blood from my face the best that I can, but it’s so thick on my skin and in my hair, it doesn’t do any good.

  “We need to get as far away from here as we can, before they wake up,” Ryder says, scared out of her mind that we won’t make it.

  We run, but I feel like I’m leaving something behind. An unfinished memory perhaps? Or maybe a piece of myself? We race down the stairwell, the air growing light with each step. At the bottom, I spot Greyson first, red hair like fire, the purple bruise marking where I hit him. Cedrix stands next to him, watching the doorway, his one hand clutching around a small silver ball.

  “Did you get the other three?” Aiden asks breathless and red faced.

  Cedrix shakes his head. “There are still two wandering around. The one asshole saw me coming and bailed before the grenade exploded. ” He steps out the door, the silver ball gripped tightly in his hand, which trembles slightly with the fear that we won’t make it out of here alive.

  The building stays silent, our five heartbeats the only noise.

  “Maybe we should just go,” Ryder whispers, moving for the door.

  Aiden nods and they swarm for the door all at once, knocking into each other as they try to squeeze through. I trail behind, still feeling like I’m doing something wrong—like I need to go back to him. I hear a rustle behind me. I glance up and see two sets of boots, moving lightly down the stairs. Instinctively, like my hands are not my own, I rip the grenade from Cedrix’s hand, throw it, and wait for the silver smoke to fill and pollute the air. But the smoke never comes. The boots do, though, stampeding closer and closer.

  “You idiot,” Ryder hisses at me. “You didn’t pull the tab. ”

  Aiden and Ryder exchange a glance and then they all start to run for their lives, but I’ve seen how fast the Day Takers are, at least Sylas, and I know that we’re in trouble. I slink under the stairway as they reach the bottom, holding my breath, waiting.

  “Nice try with the silver grenade and everything,” one says with a sharp snap of his fang. “But next time you might want to make sure it works. ”

  I search for a weapon and spot a pipe by my foot. I pick it up, knowing I’m not as strong as I once was, but I have to try. I jump out from behind the stairwell and smack the pipe hard into the back of one’s head. He screams, but doesn’t fall. He turns around and my heart stutters.

  “Bernard?”

  His moppy hair hangs in his eyes and he wears the same condescending smile as the last time I saw him. “Kayla, pleasure seeing you again. ” Then he lunges for me.

  I smack him in the face with the pipe and his jaw cracks, but he pops it back in place. I try again, but he knocks the pipe away.

  “Sucks doesn’t it?” he says. “Bet you were wishing you’d taken the medicine. ”

  I swing the pipe for his face again, but he hits it away and lunges for me, falling on top of me as we ram to the ground. My head cracks and smoke sputters the room. Five seconds later, his heavy, unconscious body is pinning me to the ground.

  Aiden throws him off with a grunt and helps me to my feet. “No more playing hero until you get used to being human, okay?”

  I nod and they all pile out the door. But I pause, looking at Bernard, wondering if this is the right choice. Aiden slips his hand into mine and nods his head. “We need to go. ”

  I nod and we sprint after them, bursting out the front door of the building. I’m relieved to see that darkness hasn’t settled over the city yet. At least they have that going for them.

  The five of us take off down the ash-covered street, fires roaring beside us, and we never look back. But part of me wants to look and find out what’s behind me.

  Chapter 35

  “We should just sleep through the night and then walk the rest of the way in the morning. ” Ryder paces in front of us, her matted hair pulled up in high ponytail. Her ears are strange. They have these large holes in them, which she’s filled with black buttons that have red dots in the center.

  After we left the bubble-top building, and the Day Takers, we ran until we reached the land where the red rocks start. There, we found a place to rest, because everyone, including myself, was getting tired.

  Aiden’s bandaging up my wrist with a piece of his shirt that he ripped off. But I can still feel everything; every burn, every sting, every pain. It hurts and I hate it. I feel like everything’s spinning out of control and I can’t stop it.

  “Hey,” Aiden says, drawing me back to reality. “You’re going to be okay. Everything’s going to heal. ”

  “Except for the scars,” I say.

  The corners of his mouth quirk and he touches his eye where the scar used to be. “Yeah, maybe. ” He touches his cheek where there’s a fresh new cut. “Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get a new one. ”

  I forge a small smile, feeling like I don’t belong out here, like I’m supposed to be doing something else—something more important. “Wait. Who’s watching Maci?” I ask Ryder.

  She stops pacing and her voice comes out small and guilty. “Umm… Dominic. ”

  “What!” Aiden and I shout together.

  “What’s wrong with you, Ryder?” Aiden says. “I told you to keep Dominic away from her. ”

  She looks like he’s slapped her. “There was no one else, okay? I did what I had to do to save your stupid ass, which I might add, I told you was going to happen. ”

  Aiden calms down a little. “How’d you even know we needed help? Or where to find us? Or anything for that matter?”

  She fiddles with her ear piece. “Maci told me that you guys might run into some problems. ”

  “How would she know?” He asks, wiping the sweat from his face with his shirt.

  Ryder bites on her lip, glancing at me. “I’m not sure. ”

  “Because she knows things,” I explain with a sigh. “Even before they happen. Which is why she shouldn’t be with Dominic. ”

  “Dominic told me that she’d be fine with him,” Ryder says, like that means something. She hops on a rock and crosses her legs. “And I didn’t tell him about her little seeing gift. ”

  Whether he knows or not, I don’t trust Dominic the least little bit. And getting back to the hillside suddenly seems like my top priority.

  We hide out for the night, in the shelter of an empty cave. Before anyone entered, I snuck in to check things out and make sure it was unoccupied. Then we all squished inside and sealed it with a large pile of rocks, locking away the outside, but smothering us with darkness.

  I didn’t mind the dark, but the others seemed a little restless. Cedrix, thankfully, has a tiny light, that clicks on and off with the flip of a button. He placed it on the ground and we all laid around it, wordlessly listening to their shrieks fill up the night.

  The sounds of heavy breathing fill the cave as everyone starts to doze into dreamland. That’s when it all comes rushing back to me, when I have nothing else to distract me. I was created. Monarch is a Higher. I need to save him and the world, but I don’t know how. And I’ve left his pocket watch with Sylas.

  “God, I can’t believe this,” I mumble to myself.

  “So what did Sylas tell you?” Aiden’s voice rises through my thoughts. He lies beside me, arms crossed, eyes shut.

  “I thought you were asleep. ” I stare up at the ceiling of the cave.

  His eyes open and he rolls onto his side. “
I have too much going on in my mind to sleep. ”

  “I know the feeling. ” I roll on my side too and there’s a disturbing silence choking between us. “Why didn’t you just tell me about the Day Takers? It would have saved us a whole lot of problems. ”

  He shrugs. “Out of fear I guess. I was afraid after you learned what you were, you’d take the medicine and join them. ”

  “But to go to the extent of dragging me out into the city to find a man who was dead? It just doesn’t make any sense. ”

  “You know what, you’re right. It doesn’t make sense. ” He rolls over so he’s on top of me and can look me in the eye. “I might not agree with what the Day Takers are doing—after a life spent in a lab, the last thing I want to do is sentence myself to a life I don’t want. But it’s not just about what I think is right, it’s about you getting yourself killed. We all had these little gifts, because of the experiments,” he says. “But yours … you ended up with something that everyone is going to want—to be the one who the vampires fear. It’s going to get you killed. Or worse, back in the lab. ” He rolls off of me and sits up. “Look what Dominic did to you. ”

  “He tried to kill me because he thought I was going to turn into a Higher,” I say. “Not because I can walk with the vampires. ”

  “You’re not a Higher, Kayla,” he says. “And I think Dominic knew that … he was just afraid of you. ”

  “But I killed the Higher,” I say. “It took my hands and plunged the knife into its chest. ”

  “Then he killed with your hands—he killed himself. ” He runs his hand through his dark, sweaty hair. “You’re not a Higher. ” But he’s not fully convinced; I can feel the slight hint of fear on him.

  He lies back down, playing with my hair as he falls asleep. I watch his chest rise and fall with his breathing. I think about staying awake all night, just keeping my eyes open, like I used to do all the time.

  But those times are gone. And after a while it becomes too much and I let my eyes shut.

  Chapter 36

  At the first sign of morning, we set out for the hillside. The land is a light grey, but the air is exceptionally smoky. We walk quickly, so we’re certain to make it before dark. There’s a lot of chattering going on, and it starts to wear on me. I’m getting tired, hungry, aggravated, and it escalates with every second that drips by. Don’t they understand we’re probably being hunted? Or that Maci might be in trouble? Or that there are a million different problems?

  I move up in front, putting some distance between the five of them and myself, knowing I’m being ridiculous, but I can’t seem to help it—all my energy is draining away and all that’s left is irritation.

  After a while, Aiden jogs up to me and touches my arm, inching me close to him. “Are you okay?”

  “Yeah. ” I point over my shoulder at the rest of them. “I just needed a little break from all the talking. ”

  He scratches at his head. “You want me to tell them to be quiet?”

 
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