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Darkness falls (darkness.., p.33
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       Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1), p.33

           Jessica Sorensen
 
Chapter 32

  “What do you think it’s like to live in the outside world?” I’m twelve, maybe thirteen years old, sitting on the concrete floor.

  The guy I speak to is a few years older, with dark hair, and eyes as black as ash. Sylas.

  “Better than in here,” he says, pointing at the red door. “Anything would be better than living in here.”

  A scream reverberates from the hall and I shudder. “You don’t think that’s Aiden, do you?” I ask.

  Sylas looks at me, his eyes glinting dangerously. “Do you worry about me like that? When I’m back there?”

  “Do you want me to worry about you?” I try to sound confident, but he makes me nervous.

  He smiles, leaning in. “Never. I only want you to worry about yourself.” Then he brushes his lips against mine.

  “You’re next,” Aiden says and we pull away. His arms are covered in cuts and bruises cover his face.

  I jump to my feet, leaving Sylas on the floor. “You’re not healing.” I touch his bruises.

  He covers my hand with his. “He didn’t want me to heal today.”

  I frown. “I’m sorry you’re hurt.”

  “It’s okay.” He brushes my hair back. “I’m feeling better now.”

  Sylas jumps to his feet and stomps down the hall.

  “You shouldn’t let him confuse you like that.” Aiden sits on the ground and crosses his legs. “He loves to get inside your head.”

  I sit down beside him and rest my head on his shoulder. “It’s okay. He won’t hurt me.”

  Aiden shakes his head and then rests it on top of mine. “He’ll hurt anything if it means he gets something out of it.”

  “You shouldn’t be so mean to him,” I say. “He’s you brother.”

  “Only by blood,” he whispers. “And maybe one day that will change.”

  My face rests in warm, sticky liquid that coats my hair. Blood, leaking from my neck. My eyelids flutter open and I see shoes, black with clunky soles and broken shoelaces.

  “You sure she’s not dead?” A voice says. “You dropped her pretty hard when you brought her in here.”

  “She’s not dead,” another answers. “Look, she’s still breathing. And if you listen really really hard, you can detect her tiny little heart beat.”

  “So she’s turning human,” he says. “That means Aiden wasn’t lying—she chose not to take the medicine.”

  “Well, it’s not her choice now,” the other replies. “You know Sylas will make her do it—she has to be one of us, or this won’t work.”

  I analyze my options. There are two of them and one of me. And I’m bleeding. I never bleed, which means the medicine has finally left my system, leaving me vulnerable. My heart’s also starting to come to life again and is going to take my strength away. Plus, if these guys have any of the strength Sylas has, they’ll be able to kill me with a simple snap of their fingers.

  And what if they bite like him? The bite—that’s where the blood’s coming from. God, what does that mean? That I’m infected with something? Strong or not, infected or not, I’m not one to give up. I take a deep breath and swiftly roll on my back, kicking one of them right behind the kneecap and the other one right between the legs. One collapses to the concrete ground, but the other only stumbles. I leap to my feet, but the room sways and I teeter to the side, smacking my head on a steel beam.

  One struggles to his feet, while the other charges. Both their eyes are black, but burn like a fire to kill. I try to run, one foot in front of the other. But I’m weak and I hate the feeling of no control. A hand grabs me by the shoulder, his strength cutting into my skin.

  I kick at him, but he only laughs. “Let me guess. You used to be really, really strong.” His teeth are sharp, his lips a deep red. His sandy hair chops across his head. He’s not afraid of me, not by a long shot. But the other one, the one standing behind me, fears I’ll kick him between the legs again.

  I knock my head back, trying to hit him in the face.

  “God dammit.” He grabs my hair and tugs at the roots. “Knock that crap off.”

  I try not to wince or scream in pain, but it’s hard. It hurts and I don’t know how to deal with pain. It feels like fire, hot and unnatural and it won’t go away.

  “Easy, boys,” Sylas says, emerging from the shadows of the beams. He moves like he’s commander of an army, like he knows he holds all the control in his hand. “Let her go.”

  They obey, but the blonde one shoves me forward. I blink, grabbing my head, my stomach churning as the world spins a wild color of chaos.

  “Are you stupid?” Sylas asks, his words harsh, but his voice eerily calm. “I said not to hurt her.”

  “I’m sorry,” Raymond apologizes, terror rushing through him. “But she kicked me.”

  “She can do whatever she wants,” Sylas answers, black eyes on me, taking me in like I’m something delicious he wants to sink his teeth into.

  “I’m sorry,” Raymond apologizes with a bow of his head. “It won’t happen again.”

  “No, it won’t,” Sylas says with an underlining threat in his tone.

  Raymond nods and then him and the other head for the door, locking it behind them.

  “Are you okay?” He asks me, a hint of concern lacing his voice. “They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

  I run my hand down the side of my neck, wiping the blood away. “Not as bad as your bite did.”

  “Don’t worry, I’m not contagious.” He walks the cement floor. “Do you know who I am?”

  “You’re Aiden’s brother, Sylas,” I answer, leaning back against a beam, clutching my head.

  “Yeah, but do you know who I am?” he asks. “Can you remember me at all?”

  I decide whether to lie or not, but it seems unnecessary. “You and I were behind the red door together at one time or another.”

  “That’s all you remember?” His mouth curves to a pout. “I’m heartbroken.”

  “Maybe that’s all I remember,” I say. “But maybe not. Perhaps I might be more willing to tell you stuff if you were to tell me a few things.”

  He crosses his arms, facing me, and taps his finger on his lips. “You’re exactly how I remember you.” He shakes his head, smiling to himself. “All right, what do you want to know first? What we are? Why we’re here? Go ahead and try to stump me with your questions”

  I hold his gaze steadily. “Where’s Aiden?”

  His face falls into irritation. “Aiden’s fine.”

  “That’s not what I asked? Is it?”

  He laughs, giving a soft roll of his eyes. “Aiden’s upstairs, sleeping soundly like a baby.”

  I glance around at the vacant building with steel walls, pillars, and a concrete floor. “And where are we?”

  “A safe place.” He raps one of the beams. “Where no one—or nothing—can hurt you, which is really important right now, since you’re turning human.”

  I’m defenseless and I’m missing my knife and backpack. “Where’s my stuff?”

  “In a safe place too,” he says tauntingly and pauses. “So Monarch ended up giving you his watch.”

  I scowl. “You went through my things.”

  His grin’s all wicked as he walks in front of me and traces a finger slowly down my arm. That strange nervous feeling from my memory creeps up in me.

  “You know, a while ago you wouldn’t have cared if I touched something of yours,” he breathes.

  I squirm uncomfortably, not sure how to react, yet unable to back away.

  “Easy,” he laughs softly. “I’m just messing around.” He steps back. “What’s your next question?”

  “What are you going to do with me?”

  He reflects this deeply. “I’m not sure yet.” His eyebrows incline together, like he’s confused himself. “So you remember the red door. What else do you remember?”

  “I thought I was the one asking the questions?”

  He smiles, amused. “Sorry, I forgot.”

 
I try to ignore how out-of-control he makes me feels. “What’s that place behind the red door? A lab or something?”

  My question shocks him. “You really don’t remember much, do you?” He asks and I shake my head. “Then you know if I explain it to you, you’ll only be able to remember it from my word of mouth.”

  “Be as vague as you can, then,” I say, sliding to the floor from my dizziness.

  He nods, his hand reaching for his back pocket and he takes out a knife.

  I start to scoot to my feet, but he catches me, drawing me to him by the hair.

  “Ow, what are doing?” I reach up and push my hand against his face. “Let me go.”

  He slices the blade across my wrist. Blood oozes out as he drops the knife to the floor.

  “It’s a lab,” he says, wiping the blood from my wrist away with the sleeve of his black shirt. Dotting my wrist are numbers, like the ones I saw on Cedrix’s wrist. “It’s where we were created.”