Cinder x, p.5
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       Cinder X, p.5

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 5

 

  Then there’s my best friend, Raven, who I wouldn’t put it passed to be part of the murders also, at least her possessed, alter ego side. She’s actually been ignoring me, which I both like and hate because she’s evil at the moment, yet I miss my friend. We pass by each other in the college hallways like ghosts, neither acknowledging that we see each other. It makes me want to find that damn book that was stolen so I can translate what it said on those pages about freeing pure souls.

  I lie quietly in my bed for a while, the stillness absorbing into my skin as the loneliness weighs me down. The sun is sparkling through my window, the sky a clear blue and there’s a bird chirping from the branches. Thankfully, it’s not a raven; otherwise, I’d think it was Cameron.

  I decide what to do next for the day because if I don’t find something to keep me distracted, the hours are going to drag. I could write maybe, but I’m worried what might come out of me; my darkest desires I don’t want to admit, how I briefly loved the taste of Cameron’s life, the darkness living inside him. Even though it was just a dream, it frightens me.

  Sighing, I reach for one of my textbooks on the nightstand beside my bed, choosing to catch up on schoolwork since it’s the one thing I have left in my life that’s not centered by death, angels and Reapers. But as my fingers grasp the edge of the book, I catch sight of my arm and jerk my hand back.

  Lines vine up and down my skin and wind around my wrist in black ink, like a tattoo. My thoughts flash back to my dream and I can taste the feeling of Cameron’s life again, burning at the tip of my tongue.

  “No, it was a dream,” I whisper in horror as I grip my forearm, rotating my arm around to examine it. “It didn’t really happen… it couldn’t have. ”

  I don’t think you really believe that; do you, princess? The voice in my head appears again. This time its way clearer and louder. It’s now to the point where I recognize it perfectly.

  “Shit. ” I frown. “This can’t be happening… it had to be a dream… there’s no way you can really be inside my head. ”

  Nope, it’s really happening. I’m in your thoughts now, even more so than last night when I compelled you to go to that club, so I could trick you into drinking my life, he says with amusement in his tone. Besides, deep down, you wanted to give in to me. Just like when you took my life… I bet you loved it.

  I don’t react because it will give him a sense of satisfaction that I don’t want him to have. “It could still be a dream,” I say in denial. “Maybe that’s all it is. Maybe I’m really still asleep, maybe you and I and my room and this conversation aren’t really happening. Or maybe the Anamotti are making me think this is happening. ”

  You know it’s real, he says. You know you went there last night just like you know the black lines on your arms are from you devouring my life, tasting it and loving it.

  I wince at the partial truth of his accusation. “Leave me alone, Cameron. I don’t want you here. And you can’t stay here if I don’t want you to. ”

  Things don’t work like that anymore, he says. Especially after you took some of my life.

  Shit. I knew there was a stipulation; a reason why he wanted me to do that.

  Aggravated, I throw the blankets off my body and climb out of bed, trudging towards the dresser.

  Nice pajamas, he jokes.

  As I glance down at my black shorts and thin purple tank top, he laughs at me and I shake my head and yank a dresser drawer open.

  “About what you said last night; do you really know something about my father or was that just one of your games?”

  I can’t tell you that yet.

  I rummage through the drawer for a clean shirt and a pair of jeans. “Please, Cameron, this is important to me. ” I hate the fact that it seems like I’m begging.

  There’s a long pause and I hold my breath, waiting for his answer, thinking for a moment that he might actually give one to me.

  But then he says, I might tell you in time, but not right now. In fact, you’re not ready right now. Plus, I have to get what I want first; you have to give in before I give up my secrets.

  Fury ignites inside me as I snatch up a shirt, jeans, and a pair of fingerless gloves to hide the lines on my arms before slamming the drawer shut, then I start for the closet. As I stomp towards it, I catch sight of the poem Cameron wrote on the wall weeks ago. It reminds me what his mission is in all of this.

  In separate fields of black feathers, the birds fly.

  Four wings, two hearts, but only one soul.

  They connect in the middle, though 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 one dares to fly across the line and steal the other’s light

  To 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

  “You know, I’m never going to give in to you,” I tell him, drawing the closet curtain back as I duck inside. “I’m going to figure this out, so you might as well just leave my mind alone. ”

  You really think you will? He questions. Because I think you’re more lost now than you were a few days ago. I think with each day you grow weaker, more desperate. Lonelier. More willing to stand here and listen to me talk to you inside your head because I’m the only one you have to talk to anymore.

  He’s painfully right. I’ve been feeling lost and lonely a lot lately. I want—need—some sort of connection again, like I had with Asher. I want to be touched and touch someone else without death screaming in my thoughts, haunting me and letting me see things I don’t want to see. With each passing day, I can feel myself slipping into the darkness, into the insanity, and ultimately, into the Reapers’ world.

  I miss Asher.

  No, you don’t, Cameron snaps harshly. You just think you do.

  “No, I really do. ” I ball up the black sheer shirt and jeans I took out of my dresser and grab a red undershirt hanging up inside my closet. “And just so you know,” I say, descending further into the closet, knowing it’s pointless to try and hide out, since Cameron seems to be everywhere, but still it’s dark towards the back and hopefully he can’t see me when I undress. “I hated the taste of it. ”

  His laughter fills my head again, a low chuckle that causes goosebumps to sprout all over my skin. The taste of what, princess?

  “Your life. ”

  If that’s what you need to tell yourself, he says. Then I’ll let you, but deep down, we both know you’re lying.

  I stop talking, quickly changing my clothes as I attempt not to think about the fact that he could be watching me undress, although I’m not sure how exactly it works; if he can see what I’m seeing or if he’s a ghost, watching me.

  After I get dressed, I slip on a pair of black boots, pull my hair up, and leave the quietness of my room to go check my emails. There’s nothing other than junk in there so I heavy-heartedly go into the kitchen and eat some breakfast.

  I’m relieved that I haven’t heard a word from Cameron since I stepped into the closet, but at the same time, I’m slightly disappointed because I want answers. Not just about my father, but how he’s managed to enter my head.

  I attempt to talk to him a few times, but he stays silent, so I pour myself a bowl of cereal, trying to ignore how my skin is starting to burn beneath my gloves, knowing it’s coming from the lines, reminding me of what I did the other night with Cameron. It’s early afternoon and the house is quiet and untouched from last night. Ian never came home and I have no idea where he is, or who he’s with. It’s torture, but all I
can do is keep calling him and leaving voicemails.

  I’m running a little late this morning and should be getting ready to go to class, but I’m considering skipping today, mainly because I don’t feel like seeing Raven. Plus, I’ve got these nasty lines on my arms and the last thing I need is for the town to think there’s something wrong with me; other than the fact that they think I’m a murderer, of course.

  I finish off my cereal, reading the headlines of the local newspaper. My attention zeros in on article in particular, a headshot of Mackenzie; blonde hair, blue eyes and a smile on her face. Beside her is a picture of her mother and father holding onto each other, and above it the headline reads: New Mayor elected. Edmund Barker, winning despite his daughter’s disappearance.

  I shake my head. Great. Mackenzie’s father is the mayor now, a man who’s responsible for the death of his daughter.

  Hollows Grove has actually always had a high death count, but there have been a lot of deaths over the last two weeks, including three girls around my age. And I’m guessing it’s either the Anamotti’s doing it or unfortunately the new mayor.

  The reporters have been saying we have a serial killer on our hands and I’m pretty sure I know who the police think it is since they’re continuously parked out in front of my house, watching me day in and day out. The whole town has been acting even more terrified of me and a lot of my neighbors scurry into their houses whenever I’m around.

  God, I’m so alone.

  As the painful truth starts to get to me, I get up, rinse out my bowl, and then place it in the sink. I put the cereal box away then turn around and lean against the counter. As I’m standing there, trying to figure out where to go next, I get the strangest feeling that someone is watching me, like that night the book was stolen. I glance around the empty kitchen, that’s filled with dishes that need to be washed, empty boxes of food, and overdue bills, normal stuff. I go to the doorway and peek into the living room then make a round through the foyer, but there’s no one but me in the house.

  Sighing at my craziness, I return to the kitchen and start to clean up. “You say that you’ll only tell me about my father when you get what you want from me,” I try to speak to Cameron again as I scrub down the countertops with a dish rag. “But what exactly do you want from me?”

  I wait for him to answer, but he never does and the silence only adds emptiness to the house. Deciding I need to hear an actual living person’s voice, I cross the kitchen and collect my cellphone from the table. Then I go over to the note beside the sink and get the phone number to the clinic my mom’s at. I dial the number and the secretary answers after three rings.

  “Hi, can I speak to Rose Lawson,” I ask, sitting down at the table.

  “And who may I ask is calling?” she responds in an automated tone.

  “Ember Edwards,” I tell her and then, since we don’t have the same last name, I add, “her daughter. ”

  She pauses and I hear keyboard keys clicking. “Just one moment, please. ”

  There’s a ringing in the background, overlapped by the sound of voices, as I silently wait. Moments later, the secretary says, “I’m sorry, but Rose Lawson checked out last Friday. ”