Darkness breaks, p.30
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       Darkness Breaks, p.30

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 30

 

  “It could be the other Day Takers,” Sylas mulls over the thought. “But I don’t think it could be the Highers. From what I understand, Highers can’t be in the light either. ”

  I lower my knife. “How’d you come to that conclusion?”

  “Something Gabrielle said about the smoke protecting and concealing them. ” He flicks a burning barrel with his fingers. “So I started considering what it could be protecting them from. If they have vampire in them, I’m guessing it’s the sun. ”

  My gaze elevates to the sky, hidden in smoke and ash. “You think they have the fires burning to keep the sun out?”

  “I think that’s one reason,” he says. “But I’m guessing there’s more to it than that. ”

  I replay Gabrielle’s words in my mind. “He said it’s the fires that protected them from the others. He couldn’t be talking about the vampires, could he? I mean, what good would it be to block the sun out when vampires hate it too?’

  He cocks an eyebrow thoughtfully. “Perhaps he meant it protects them from the other Highers. ”

  “Like from other Colonies,” I say. “Could that be possible?”

  “The hillside turned out to be one,” he replies. “Who’s to say there’s not more of them?”

  I eye the nearest barrel and it’s like he can read my mind. He strides to the curb and kicks it over. I guide Tristan in front of me and urge him forward as we walk quickly up the street, knocking barrels to the ground. Some of the flames sneak into the street.

  “We might start the whole city on fire,” I say.

  “Then we start the whole city on fire. ” Sylas shrugs and slams a barrel to the ground. “I was never that fond of it anyway. ”

  When we brink the end of the road, I glance back, taking in the damage. The barrels are tipped and dented, but the fires still burn bright.

  “I don’t think it did much,” I frown, disappointed. “In order to really get anything accomplished, we’d have to steal all the barrels from the city and hide them in the desert. ”

  “They’d find another way. ” Sylas glances up at a tree covered with brown leaves and dead branches. “But if we did it quick enough maybe there’d be enough of a gap that we could get the sun to come out… briefly. ”

  I shut my eyes, recollecting the warmth of the sun I felt against my skin when I was a child.

  “If you want to temporarily get rid of the fires, you could always stop the Highers who come out and relight them,” Tristan says. Sylas and I stare skeptically at him. He shrugs. “What do you think they were doing that night I found you?”

  “Turning you loose to kill me,” I angle the tip of the knife at him.

  “Well, yeah, there was that,” he says nervously. “But they also were checking on their fires. They do it every night. ”

  “Then why have I never seen them out before?” Sylas stalks in front of Tristan. “I’ve lived in the city for a while and that night was the first time I’ve ever seen Highers out of The Colony. ”

  Tristan trips back, sweat dewing his skin. “I’m not sure. I-I just know they do. ”

  “He’s telling the truth,” I inform Sylas. “I can tell. ”

  Sylas nods, stepping away. “Well, I guess will have to investigate it. But for now, let’s get to the park. ”

  Tristan follows begrudgingly. I pause, looking back at the streets. If the Highers need the fires to come out of The Colony, then that means there’s a way to keep them underground. That means there’s a way to lock them up.

  ***

  The park isn’t how I remember it. The green grass is a sheet of ash and the trees are charred pieces of wood, striving to stay in the soil. The sky is dark and the air as quiet as death.

  “It’s different than I remember,” Sylas remarks with a sweep of his gaze. “But far less depressing. ”

  I spot the swing where Sylas gave me the flower and the corners of my lips tilt up.

  “Care to share what’s so amusing?” Sylas asks as he ducks through the swings.

  “I was just thinking about stuff. ” I touch my palm, recalling how the red flower felt against my skin.

  He grins knowingly, but doesn’t say anything.

  I turn in a circle, examining the area. “How do you think we get to the tunnels?”

  Sylas shrugs. “I still can’t remember, but the map says they are below us. ”

  Our gazes travel to the ground. Then we walk up the path and stop in front of the brown brick structure. The door is missing and plastic sheets and papers blow in the breeze.

  “The tent’s gone,” he notes with a wary smile. “I guess that’s a good sign everyone’s cleared out. ”

  I flip the knife out of my pocket. It’s small and the blade is dull, but with enough force it’ll get the job done.

  “Everyone stays behind me,” I order. “And Sylas walk behind Tristan and keep an eye on him. ”

  Tristan sighs tiredly as I walk through the doorway. Glass crunches under my boots. I swish from side to side, eyes scanning the dark hall. There are doorways, but no doors. Each room is littered with bits of wall and ceiling. Walls are caved in and there are large holes in the ceiling. At the end of the hall, a piece of plastic hangs down. I lift it to the side, knife poised in front of me as I step underneath it.

  The room is small and bare. Boards overlap the floor and the farthest wall is crumbling. The floor is marked with blood and handprints smudge the plastic curtain draping the middle of the room.

  A dark figure dashes across the room and around the corner.

  I hold up my hand. “Stay back for a second. ” I prowl into the room and to the corner. Gripping the knife, I carefully peer around. Fangs take a bite at my face and my fist impulsively slams upward, colliding with the vampire’s jaw. The beast roars deafeningly and leaps at me. I quickly jump out of the way and it lands past me. My leg snaps up and I slam my boot into the side of its head. I twirl around swiftly and recoil it in the chest, cracking its rotting skin down the center. Blood spurts everywhere. I wipe my face and jab the knife into its hollow chest. Ash combusts in the air and flakes to the floor. With the bottom of my shirt, I wash the blood off my face.

  “That’s a good look for you. ” Sylas approaches me, hands tucked in his pocket, a bit of a limp to his walk.

  Tristan refuses to leave the doorway, gaping at the vampire with wide eyes, like he’s never seen one before.

  I clean my hands on my jeans. “It’s a good thing I’m immune. ”

  “Their blood has to get in an open wound,” Sylas explains. “The virus can only be transferred from blood to blood. ”

  “Which makes me wonder how it spread so easily. ”

  Sylas gestures at the hall. “Let’s see if we can find out. ”

  Tristan scrambles by the ash and blood and squirms his way between Sylas and I. Fear leaks off him and weighs heavy in the air.

  “Would you calm down?” I peek my head inside a room. “Your fear is very distracting at the moment. ”

  “It’s the first time I’ve seen one,” Tristan says with a tremble. “It’s alarming, you know. And really disgusting. ”

  “And this is the guy the Highers sent to track you down. ” Sylas raises his eyebrows.

  We reach a door. The steel is dented and bowed at the bottom. A small black box with a flashing red light and buttons is mounted on the wall.

  “Do you remember this?” I ask Sylas. “Have you ever been here before?”

  Sylas stares at the door with a sickening look that makes my gut churn. “This is where the glass cages are. ” He points up to numbers and letters on the wall. “This is Cell 7. ”

  “I don’t remember this side of the door. ” I drop flat on my stomach and peer underneath where the bottom of the door bends up. Lights flicker across a dusty floor. There are footprints tracking through the dust, along with fragments of glass and thin trails of blood and puss. I sniff the air, detecting a faint hint of decaying fle
sh.

  I start to push up when feet whiz across the other side of the door. My fingers tighten around the knife and I slowly point it at the door.

  “What are you looking at?” Sylas asks, getting down on his hands and knees.

  “Just a second. ” My vision moves with the motions of the feet as it dashes left and right, running its way back and forth. There’s a slight pause and then the monster reveals, a massive face pressing against the gap between the door and the floor. It’s fleshless hand darts forward and its jaw snaps violently.

  “Is it a vampire?” Tristan asks fearfully. “What is it?”

  “Nope, not a vamp. ” I meet the monsters vacant eyes and jerk the knife over my shoulder. I flip it hard, darting it at the beasts face. The blade stabs between its eyes and it cowers back, shrieking.

  “I think we might have another breed like Dominic on our hands. ” I push to my feet and grip the handle of the door. “Stand back. ” The metal gripes against my strength and I rip the door from the frame. Down on all fours, with the knife stuck in its forehead, the monster springs for me. I force back and jump kick, slamming my foot into its chest.

  It staggers backward with its misshapen legs and I bound forward, wrenching the knife from its head. Wanting to kill me, its arm sideswipes my leg and I flip back, slamming to the concrete floor. I roll over, leap up, and stab the knife into its chest. The monster falls to the floor, panting its last breath.

  Sylas circles it. “It’s the same breed as Dominic. ”

  “I know. ” I turn, taking in the familiarity of the room. Glass cells form the walls, just like I remember. But each cell is empty and at the end, there is no red door. Papers flutter the air as I proceed past the cages. “Where did the red door go?”

  “What is this place?” Tristan asks in awe as he stares at the inside of a cell.

  “Be grateful you don’t know. ” Sylas glances inside a cabinet drawer. There’s a tremor to his hand and he pulls back, flexing it at his side.

  “Are you okay?” I take his hand and his skin is clammy.

  He tugs it away and dries it on the front of his jacket. “The light’s been getting to me, but I’ll be fine. ” He avoids my eyes and clicks the cabinet door open. I run my fingers along the edge of the cabinet. It’s just like the one in the hospital wing at The Colony. Something about it tugs at my brain. Without even knowing why, I tip the structure over. We scatter to the side as the glass and wood shatters.

  “What the hell was that for?” Sylas ask.

  I point to the wall at a small square of silver. Sylas rips the rounded lock from it and the door swings open.

  “Papers. ” Sylas takes the stack of papers out and stares at the words neither of us can read. He sifts through them, his eyebrows knitting together. “You knew these were here?”

  I shake my head and pick up the top paper. I turn it around and wonder which way is up and which way is down. “Any chance you suddenly remembered how to read?” I ask Sylas with a hopeful look.