The evanescence, p.3
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       The Evanescence, p.3

         Part #2 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 3

 

  I nod and inch around him so my boots are stationed near Laylen’s head. “I’m ready, now go. ”

  He targets his attention back at the horrified-looking Laylen. “Laylen, if you can hear me, I’m sorry buddy. . . but as for you, Alexander, I don’t really give a crap, so get ready for some pain. ”

  Laylen’s body starts to tremble, quaking with the vibrations of a thousand earthquakes. The stones below his head begin to rupture, cracking down the center and pieces chip away as his head cracks against them. Evan’s gaze intensifies, kindling with power. It’s like someone has struck a match inside each pupil, his normally black eyes now fill with rays of scorching red. He positions a hand on each side of Laylen’s head and secures it between his palms as he stares directly into his eyes. Seconds later, Laylen’s body stills and his arms fall slack to the side of him.

  “Okay,” Evan says, panting and sounding exhausted. “Go ahead. ”

  “Laylen,” I say, crouching down beside him. “I need to know how to save Gemma… I need to know how to get Helena out of her without killing her. ”

  Laylen’s lips part and his voice is slurred, like he’s intoxicated. “D’ya think yeeer gonna save her?” he asks. “My beautiful Helena can never be beetin’. ” He tries to laugh as he says it, but it turns into a strangled cry as Evan’s grip constricts on his face, his nails prodding deeper into Laylen’s cheekbones, so deep the skin splits open and blood drips out.

  “You know, I was starting off easy on you,” Evan growls. “But I’ve changed my mind. ” Flames burst from his eyes, raging, and flare towards Laylen’s face.

  Laylen lets out a high-pitched squeal, his head tipping back, and his eyes roll into the back of his head. “No…”

  “Careful, Evan, we don’t want to kill him,” I warn, leaning back on my heels to get out of the path of the flames.

  The flames retreat back to Evan, sucking back into his eyes, and Laylen stills again. “Try again,” Evan orders, his gaze fixed on Laylen.

  I let out a breath, praying to God that this will work. “Laylen, I need to know how to get Helena out of Gemma’s body. Can you tell me how?” There is no response and I worry that we may have pushed too far. “Laylen,” I repeat, “We have to save Gemma… you know Gemma… the girl you…” It kills me to say it, but I need to because making the emotional connection is important. Emotions carry so much significance to memories and the things we do. I need to make Laylen connect back to what he felt for Gemma. “The girl you care for. ” There’s a flicker of a movement that ripples across Laylen and sweat drips down Laylen’s forehead. I’m getting worried about how much longer either of them can continue without killing themselves or each other.

  “Alex,” Laylen whispers in his natural voice as his eyelids lift. The blue shade has returned and replaced the darkness that has been in his eyes for the last few days. “Can you hear me?”

  I inch closer to him. “Yeah, I can hear you. ”

  “You can save Gemma. ” He gasps each word through ragged breaths as his skin coats in sweat.

  “Thank God. ” I exhale, releasing the tension from my chest. “How, though? How do we do it without killing her?”

  “The loophole. . . Annabel…” His eyelids slip shut as his body goes limp, his arms and legs falling to the floor in a motionless slump.

  “Laylen, what about the loophole?” Grabbing his shoulders, I give a rough shake. “What about Annabella?” I glance at Evan who has released Laylen from his grip.

  “Crap. ” Evan moves away from Laylen, stepping back, his eyes widen as he stares down at Laylen. “I don’t… I don’t think he made it. ”

  “What do you mean; you don’t think he made it?” I rise to my feet, the storm inside my chest building, raging and panicking. “Shit. He’s not…” I jerk my fingers through my hair as I stare down at Laylen, pale skin, bluish lips, and a slackened body. “Did it kill him?”

  Evan releases a slow breath and then nods his head once. I feel guilt. I feel anger. I feel pain. I feel a lot of things that I don’t like and I know it’s only going to get worse if I don’t fix this somehow.

  Evan turns away and heads towards the door. I’d call him back because I might need his help, but he looks exhausted and horrified; sweaty skin, his head hanging low, and his shoulders slouched inward.

  I let him leave the room and then look down at Laylen. I rub my hand across my face and then crouch down, nudging him with my hand. “Hey, can you hear me?” I hold my breath, waiting for whoever’s voice to answer, wondering if it’ll be Laylen, Alexander, or Laylen and Alexander.

  But it’s silence, which is way worse than any of the voices combined. Guilt starts to plague me, foul and heavy, and it’s messing with my head. Not knowing what else to do, I take the keys out of my pocket and free Laylen from the chains. He doesn’t move and deep down I know he’s dead, and leaving him… his body cuffed to the wall, doesn’t seem right.

  None of this does.

  “Dammit,” I curse under my breath and jump to my feet, running out of the room after Evan.

  I catch up with him on the spiral stairway that leads to the foyer. “How do you know he’s dead? Can’t he just be pretending?”

  Without looking at me, he continues to walk down the stairs, shaking his head. “I… I accidentally entered the mind of the Lost Soul inside him. ”

  “Alexander?”

  “No, there’s also a Lost Soul in him. ”

  I trot down the steps to the side of him. “Okay, but what’s the difference between entering Laylen’s mind, Alexander’s mind, or the Lost Soul’s mind? Either way, you’re entering someone’s mind. ”

  “Entering the Lost Soul’s mind is dangerous to the body of the person they’re possessing,” he says with a loud exhale and guilt creeps into his voice. “I didn’t know it would happen. ” When we reach the bottom of the stairway, we stop beneath the chandelier and Evan finally looks at me. Remorse and blame flood from his eyes. “I’m sorry. ” His head falls forward as he balls his hands into fists. He stands silently for a moment and then he lifts his hand and slams his fist into the banister. “Dammit, Alex!” He kicks the bottom step and then rushes over to the wall and hammers his fist into it, leaving a hole behind. “I didn’t come here to kill anyone!”

  I feel like the world’s biggest douche. I feel like a jerk. I feel guilty. I feel too many things and I can’t stand it. For a moment I wish I could go back to how I was pre-Gemma and turn it off. I stand in the foyer, unmoving, with a bunch of thoughts and emotions jumbled into my head. Pain. That one stands out amongst the rest because, despite everything, only one thing really matters at the moment.

  I just killed one of my friends.

  Chapter 2

  Alex

  After we each have our breakdown, we head back into the living room. I sink down into the sofa and drop my head into my hands while Evan stands by the window, observing the outside, lost in his guilt. A cluster of Sprites giggle from outside and the sounds are overlapped by the wind. It’s annoying as hell and I have to fight down the urge to run out there and kick them all into the lake.

  “It was my idea. ” My emotions overwhelm me and my voice shakes a little as I raise my head up. “If anyone’s responsible, Evan, it’s me. I made you do it. ”

  Evan turns from the window and there’s determination in his eyes, which is a little weird and unfitting for the situation. “No, it’s Helena’s fault… All of this crap happened because of her. ” He blows out a breath. “She’s going to pay for this. ”

  “Yeah…” I’m a little stunned by his shift in attitude. “But we need to come up with a better plan. I’m not going to let what happened to Laylen happen to Gemma… I can’t… I can’t lose her. ” I sound weak and pathetic—which I hate—but it is what it is because I mean what I say.

  “Helena can’t control the world, Alex. While I was in Alexander’s head I saw glimpses of what they hope will happen… and it
s bad… really bad. ” He pauses, recollecting the images, with his eyes enlarged. “And as a Keeper, I know you understand that sometimes a few people have to die in order for a bunch to be saved. It’s called sacrifice. ” He pauses, frowning. “I’m sorry about Laylen and I don’t want to risk Gemma’s life, either, but we need to try and get rid of Helena, either by sending her back or killing her, whatever it takes. ” He gestures towards the window at the Sprites dancing in the sun. “Because this is minor in comparison to what whatll happen if Lost Souls take over. " His hand falls to the side. “We won’t even know who’s real and who’s possessed. ”

  Enfolding my fingers inward, I stab my nails into my palms. The Keeper in me knows he’s right. It’s what I’ve been taught since I spoke my first word. Sacrifices sometimes have to be made. Nevertheless, some of the Keepers’ rules are bullshit, along with the man—my father—who put most of the rules into order. I love Gemma and there’s no way in hell I’m going to sacrifice her life for anything, even if it means the world has to suffer.

  “What if we try to bluff Helena?” I ask, standing to my feet, cracking my knuckles. I hate how I’m feeling right now—out-of-control and unable to concentrate. “That could help us get some answers. ”

  Evan cocks his head to the side. “What do you mean?”

  I head to the china cabinet and open the top drawer that’s lined with small knives. “Laylen said there was a loophole and that it has something to do with Annabella. ” I select a silver-handled knife and run my finger down the rough, golden blade. “What if we tell Helena that we know about the loophole—that we know about Annabella?”

  “And then what? Hope she divulges every detail about it?”

  I rotate the knife in my hand. “It’s worth a shot. ” I back towards the door. “Sometimes, when people are really afraid, they say and do really stupid things. ” Like accidentally kill their friend. My chest tightens, but I ignore it; focusing on the problem because, as long as I focus on something else, I won’t have to feel the emotions struggling to surface.

  He looks skeptical as he follows me. “Okay we can try it, but if I sense that it’s not working, I’m going to do whatever it takes to send Helena out of Gemma’s body, even if I have to use mind-bending. ” He tracks his finger down a twisted knot marking the back of his hand. “I’m not going to let what I saw happen… I’m not going to let Helena reign over the world and let a bunch of innocent people suffer. It’s against the Code of the Omnia. ”

  I nod, pretending like I agree, but really I don’t care about any of the codes. Deep down I know what I’ll end up doing if things go wrong. I need the plan to work because, when it all comes down to it, I love Gemma too much to let anything happen to her and I’ll sacrifice anything to save her. Even if I have to sacrifice myself.