Ember x, p.40
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       Ember X, p.40

         Part #1 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 40

 

  “Is she home right now?” I start to head toward their front door.

  He shakes his head and I stop and back up toward my house. “Nah, she went out shopping or something,” he says.

  Without saying goodbye, I sprint into my house and up to the attic door. I hammer my fist on it, but Ian doesn’t answer, so I shove the door open and burst into his studio. “Ian, are you in here?”

  The lights are on and System of a Down’s “Lonely Day” is playing from the stereo on the floor. Canvas and sketches cover the walls, paint stains the wood floor, and the oval window is covered by a black sheet. It smells like sage and something stronger… something I’ve smelt many times in Ian’s studio.

  “Dammit. ” I pick up the burning joint, squish the tip against the edge of the windowsill, and throw it in a cup of water on a stool. I turn to leave but notice a large canvas in the corner, covered with another black sheet and I tug it off, letting it float to the floor.

  It’s a picture of Raven lying in the middle of a snowy field, wearing a black cape over her head. Blood drips from her mouth and the corners of her eyes. Grasped in her hand is an empty hourglass and underneath her body is a red X. On the bottom corner of the drawing, bleeding in red, it says: Alyssa, please forgive me.

  “What the fuck is this? She’s not… No, she couldn’t be…” Shaking my head, I run down the hall and to Ian’s room. I bang on the door. “Ian, open up the door. I know you’re in there!” I hammer my fist harder against the door. “I can smell the smoke coming through the door. ” I jiggle the knob and rattle the door. “Ian, open up the door. You’re worrying me. ”

  I dash back to my room and grab a bobby pin from my dresser, before heading back to Ian’s room. I crouch down in front of the shut door and work the pin until I hear the lock click. Standing up, I push the door open and smoke instantly engulfs my face. I cough and then let out a frustrated sigh at Ian sprawled on the bed, wearing pajama bottoms and a ratty T-shirt, and there’s a photo clutched in his hand.

  Fanning the smoke from my face, I pad over to his bed. Without even looking at it, I know it’s a photo of Alyssa. Even with his eyes shut, his torture and guilt is written all over his face and Cameron’s words reply in my mind: What if I told you I could take away every ounce of pain you have and would ever feel?

  I take the photo from Ian’s hand and flip it over. Death made me do it, Alyssa, and I’m sorry. But now I have to move on to the next Angel.

  The next Angel? He can’t be talking about… No, Ian didn’t kill her. It’s not possible. I struggle not to rip the photo into pieces and set it down on the dresser, and then I give Ian a soft shake. “Wake up, Ian. We need to talk. ”

  But he’s passed out, stoned out of his mind, so I give up and run back to my room to get my phone. I need to talk to Raven and find out if she’s still here, or if the Reapers have gotten a hold of her again. But when I enter my room, something feels off, like the air is unbalanced.

  Everything looks normal, except for my window is open and a black feather is ruffled on my bed. I pick it up and my gaze lands on the wall across from me, where the ink of a fresh poem is drying.

  In separate fields of black feathers, the birds fly.

  Four wings, two hearts, but only one soul.

  They connect in the middle, but are separated by a thin line of ash.

  It’s what brings them together, yet rips their feathers apart.

  They can never truly be together as light and dark.

  Unless one makes the ultimate sacrifice.

  Blows out their candle, and joins the other in the dark.

  It’s the poem that I read on Cameron’s wall, but three extra lines have been added.

  Or if the other dares to fly across the line and steal the other’s light

  And force them to cross over the line and join the darkness of life.

  I’m not gone, princess. I will come back for you until you give in.

  —Cameron

  I blink as the ink bleeds down the wall, then back away from it and fall on my bed with the faint echo of Cameron’s laugh filling up my unstable head.

  It’s starting again—the games, the tricks, the battle for me to surrender. And, like everything in life, I’m not sure how it will all end. Or when my sanity will fly away into the sky, just like a raven.

 
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