Darkness falls, p.5
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       Darkness Falls, p.5

         Part #1 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 5

 

  I open my mouth, then clamp it shut. I’m not sure what to say to his forbidden words.

  “You should go. ” He directs his attention back to Maci. “I have things I need to get done. ”

  I slide off the bed. “I’ll see you again, though? Right?”

  “Of course,” he says.

  Even though I’m an expert liar, I can’t tell whether he’s telling the truth.

  I clasp my hand around the pocket watch, grab my jacket and head out, but pause at the door. “Bye Monarch. ”

  “Oh and Kayla, one more thing. ”

  I turn to face him and whispers of words surround me. I try to grasp on to each and every one, but I am fading away.

  I wake up, later that day, in my bed. My head hurts and instantly I want to go visit Monarch. But I have Lessons this morning, so my visit will have to wait until afterwards.

  The Gathering is in one day and there’s nervous energy buzzing in the air. I can smell it, feel it, taste it, yet just glancing around, everything seems normal. People walk the halls, smiling, chatting, happy. Being a Bellator, I’m always in the running to be chosen for The Gathering.

  Monarch told me once that Bellator meant warrior, which seems fitting. My excellent fighting skills, swift speed, and quick reflexes are why I was selected into the Bellator world. The exact details of The Gathering are a mystery. Those who are chosen find out afterward, during the final meeting with the Highers. The rest of The Colony remains in the dark and the memories of the chosen quickly get lost in the dust.

  Lessons take place in the only room that doesn’t feel like plastic. It smells of sweat and realness. It’s the only place where I feel like I can be free. I take a seat by the chipped brick wall and stretch my legs out on the mat. Bellators pour in, dressed in their black warrior clothes, ready to throw down their lives if they have to.

  Our instructor, Garrett, enters the room, his dark hair pulled back in a ponytail and he avoids looking at me, just like always. He’s afraid of me, because I’m stronger than him and he fears that one day I’ll take over his job. I hope not. The last thing I want is to be trapped in this room, teaching other people something that comes naturally to me.

  Everyone sits in a circle, waiting for Lessons to begin. It’ll be the last one with all the same people. There are two empty spots today, one belonging to Maci and one to Bernard. No one acknowledges the absence, but their spots stay vacant.

  Garrett stands in the center of the circle, on the mat, arms behind his back, ready to give his speech about the responsibility of being a Bellator, like he always does. But today he’s interrupted by two Watchers who come barging in, boots marching, noisily breathing through their masks.

  “Hold on everyone,” Garrett says and meets the Watchers at the edge of the mat. They exchange whispers and nods, and then Garrett returns to the middle of the mat, seeming extremely cheerful about something.

  He clears his throat. “Everyone, our plans have changed for the day. ” He glances around at the circle of Bellators. “One of the Highers would like to join us. ”

  It grows so silent that all I can hear is a handful of rapid heartbeats. A Higher walks in, white robe dragging on the floor as he walks onto the mat. Garrett bows his head and the rest of us follow.

  “All of you can look up,” the Higher says, his pale eyes skimming us over. I recognize his eyes because they’ve stared at me a couple of times. Gabrielle.

  He latches his hands behind his back and paces the mat. “I know it’s not normal for Highers to interact with the Bellators, but today is an exception. ” He pauses, letting his words linger with the importance he thinks they hold. “Someone has been keeping secrets from the Highers and needs to be punished. ”

  He doesn’t have to say my name. I know he’s talking about me. Just like I know, in a few minutes, I’m going to die.

  “Now, I’m sure some of you might have, at one time or another, thought you might be stronger than the Highers,” Gabrielle says. “But, I can assure you, that’s not the case. And I’m here to prove this to you and remind you all of what the consequences are if the rules are broken. ” His gaze travels to me, just like I knew it would. “Kayla, come to the center of the mat. ”

  Everyone’s eyes widen, but I remain tranquil, rising to my feet and stepping to the middle of the mat. Something dances in Gabrielle’s eyes. He’s afraid of me; he’s afraid of what I am. And what I’m not.

  “Vei muri în curând,” he whispers, moving in on me like a preadator.

  I raise my hand, preparing to protect myself. I hear a pop. A cry, but not my own. Blood. Blood everywhere, coating my skin, the mat, my eyes. Then an angelic voice rises through it all, telling me to hold on a little bit longer.

  Chapter 7

  My body feels heavy. Lights flicker, my mind’s fuzzy. I’m in the hospital, only it is bare and hollow. There’s no Monarch, no Maci, no IV’s. Even the medicine cabinet is empty. The room is blank, along with my memories of how I got here.

  Clumsily, I stumble to my feet, my normal graceful balance fleetingly gone and I stagger for the door. But it’s locked. Monarch never locks the door. Taking a deep breath, I tug on the doorknob, pulling and yanking, until the metal lock bends and snaps free. The hall is crowded, but I push past the people, moving swiftly for Monarch’s room, toward the one person I know can explain things.

  With every step, my strength returns to me. And by the time I reach his room, I feel like my old self, perhaps even stronger.

  I bang on his door. “Monarch! Open up! I think there’s something wrong with me!”

  The only answer I get is silence and the conversation that fills the halls. I glance behind me, checking if anyone’s watching. A few are, but oh well. I kick the door in and my heart sinks. All that’s left of Monarch’s disorderly room is the tattered brick walls and the frame of his bed.

  “I don’t understand. ” I mumble. “I don’t understand any of it. ”

  “Don’t understand what?” an icy voice says from over my shoulder.

  I turn to a set of pale eyes and a glare as deathly as the vampires. Gabrielle. A memory pops at my skull. Blood. Blood everywhere. Behind the red door.

  “You seem lost. ” He smiles, but it’s fake. Again he fears what I am. In fact, his fear has multiplied.

  “Where is he?” I ask, knowing I’ve crossed a line I’ll never be able to go back over.

  “Where’s who?” he questions with pretend mystification.

  I clench my hands into fists, wishing I could remember what happened at Lessons. “Where’s Monarch?”

  His mouth grinds to a frown. “I see more rules were broken than I was aware of. ” He pauses, eyes narrowing. “Good thing it’s taken care of. ” Then he turns to the nearest Watcher, lurking near the wall, giving a short thick man a zap in the back with his Taser. “Find someone to fill this room, after you’re done with him. ”

  All the calmness drains out of me. Without thinking, I reach out, snatch the back of the Highers robe, and throw him against the wall. Everyone in the hall slams to an abrupt stop, fear swarming the air like a wind storm.

  “I think you’re forgetting who you’re dealing with,” Gabrielle grits through his teeth. “Maybe you need to be reminded. ”

  “Not now, Kayla,” Monarch whispers. “Not yet. ”

  My hand trembles and I blink back the water in my eyes. Then two Watchers seize me by the arms and pull me back. I try to wiggle free, but they tighten their hold. I never take my eyes off Gabrielle as they haul me away, down the hall. The Colony members scurry to the side, fearing for my death, but no one tries to help me.

  The Watchers take me to a section of The Colony I’ve never been in before, one that weaves down, deep underground, where the sounds of traveling footsteps and voices can’t be heard. Water dribbles off the rotting ceiling, staining the brick floor brown. The lights blink in and out of consciousness.

  “Where are you takin
g me?” I ask the taller Watcher.

  His breath through his mask is my only answer. These two are afraid of nothing, boots trooping as the continue lugging me. The end of our journey is a single door, bright red, like blood. I’ve seen this door before, in my head, and somehow I know whatever’s on the other side of that door is potent. Because so much fear and chaos leaks from it, it screams inside my body.

  I shut my eyes, knowing what I do next will either save me or be the end of me. I let my weight fall slack, dragging their arms toward the ground. One of them stumbles and clips their boot on an uneven part of the ground. I quickly shift my leg around and kick his out from under him. He releases my arms as he buckles to the ground.

  The other constricts his hold on me, but I move fast, my hand dashing to his belt and robbing him of his Taser gun. I zap him right in the hip. His body goes rigid and he falls back, hitting the ground hard.

  The first scurries to his feet and takes me by the hair. I move the Taser for his neck, nicking his skin and his arms stiffen, but he doesn’t fall. I try again, this time pressing it hard into his chest. When he drops, he pulls me down by the hair with him. I have to pry his taut fingers off just to get free.

  The air stinks of burnt flesh and I take off. But something pulls me back. I need to know what’s behind that door. I pat the Watchers’ pockets, looking for a key. When I don’t find one, I decide to kick in the door. I raise my leg back, ready to kick, when the feeling slams me in the chest. Fear. Is this what my own fear feels like?

  Someone lets out a scream and I swear the door starts to bleed. But when I blink my eyes, it’s just a door.

  Still, I back up, leaving it far behind as I run away, keeping my head down until I make it to my room. I put on my black sweatshirt and pull the hood over my head. Then I pack my knife and Monarch’s pocket watch into my pocket. There’s already something inside: Bernard’s necklace. I leave it there and duck out into the hall, hoping no one notices me, the girl who just assaulted a Higher.

  I head for the infirmary. Taggart is the only other person, besides Monarch, that might know what’s going on. After all, he was the one in the Hospital when Gabrielle paid Monarch a visit.

  “Taggart!” I barge into the dark room, with walls made of ashy stone lined with rows and rows of black stoves, some lit with fires. I touch the handle of the closest one, the metal hot against my skin. I start to open it.

  “Kayla?”

  I whirl, fist out, prepared to fight, but it’s only Taggart.

  The inhumanly tall man, with a slight hunch, looks confused to see me. “What are you doing in here?” He’s glancing around fearfully, looking at all the stoves, fearing I might find out what’s in them. “You shouldn’t be here. Not today. ”

  I put down my fists. “Have you seen Monarch?”

  His expression tells me what I already suspected: Monarch’s gone. “I’m so sorry, Kayla. ”

  I stare at the stoves, at the flames inside that kill all evidence of life. I wonder if Monarch’s in one of them.

  “Kayla,” Taggart starts, but I turn for the door.