Cinder x, p.8
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       Cinder X, p.8

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 8


  I stare at him, speechless. “You were once an Angel of Death?” I finally manage to find my voice. “What…? How…? Huh?”

  “It’s a long story that doesn’t really matter. ” He glances nervously at the door as a loud bang echoes in the hallway then he tucks the book under his arm. “Besides, I’d rather not talk about here. ”

  “But, I—”

  He holds up his hand, cutting me off, still focused on the door. “Look, it’s not safe for you to be here… there are too many people possessed by the Anamotti and I have a feeling it’s going to get worse. ” When he looks at me again, he lowers his voice, “But if you want to meet somewhere more private, I can tell you more of what I know. ”

  The bang in the hallway grows louder and he flinches, jumping. I realize how nervous he is and how nervous I probably should be, considering we’re standing in the center of a building that’s swarming with Anamotti.

  “When and where?” I ask quickly.

  He hastily backs up towards his desk and retrieves a pencil before returning to me and taking the drawing from my hand. “Here’s my number,” he says, scrawling it down while he holds onto the book. “Call me after my last class ends, which is at four. ” He hands me the piece of paper. I fold it up and put it in my back pocket. “And Ember, please go straight home. I have a feeling things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. ”

  I eye the book he has tucked under his arm. I can’t tell what the title is, but it looks old. “Okay, I will. ”

  “Good,” he says and then he’s ushering me towards the door.

  I trip over my own boots and grab ahold of the doorknob to stop myself from falling as he rushes me out. I’m about to ask him what’s going on when I feel the zipper of my bag being pulled on and then something heavy lands inside it. When I glance back at Elliot, he’s already turning away from me, the book no longer in his hands.

  “It was nice talking to you, Ember,” he says very formally as he goes back to his desk and starts sifting through his papers.

  I’m baffled by his abrupt, offish attitude, but I don’t say anything and open the door, stepping out into the hallway, the book feeling like lead in my bag. I wonder why he was so weird about giving it to me. Or what it even is. I’m wondering a lot of things about what just happened as I enter the quad. Then, all of those thoughts float from my mind.

  I feel like Carrie at the prom as everyone turns to look at me. I half expect blood to splatter down from the ceiling and onto me. No blood ever shows up, but again, my head starts to pound, my lips get tingly, and my back feels like it’s on fire. I’m not sure what to do, so I start to turn back and head in the other direction when someone nudges me in the back. I throw a glance over my shoulder then stumble forward at the sight of a girl from my English class standing behind me with a hollow expression on her face and eyes glowing like nightlights. There is a line of people standing behind her, blocking the entrance to the hallway. I look back to see that people have started to line the walls of the circular quad, all of them just staring at me, and I catch the mayor of the town disappearing down the hall that the line of possessed people is leading to.

  It’s like he’s leading them straight to him, but why? So he can kill them?

  Don’t worry about that right now.

  But what if he’s going to kill everyone here?

  Even if he is—if he isn’t just a normal human and has that kind of power—you couldn’t stop him alone. So do yourself a favor and walk straight ahead, Cameron whispers in my thoughts. They won’t touch you, I promise.

  Why should I listen to you? I ask. Trust you with anything?

  Because you have no other option at the moment.

  I know he’s right and I hate it. The only thing I can really do is try to walk out of here.

  Taking a small step, I move forward, waiting for them to attack, however all they do is stand there and watch me. So I take another step and another, continuing to cross the length of the campus as the fire on my back gets hotter and hotter. Their eyes pretty much burn holes in me, but none of them make a move to touch me.

  Finally, I reach the opposite end where there’s another hallway that will take me right outside to where my car is parked. However there are two very bulky guys—football players, I think—blocking my path. I hesitate.

  Just nudge through them, Cameron says. They won’t do anything to you.

  Shaking my head and summoning a deep inhale, I do what he says and start to move between them, holding my breath as I squeeze by. My shoulders brush against them and it feels like my entire being blazes up in flames. Blackness. Pain. Good-bye. Please don’t leave me. I can’t. Everything hurts. Capes and feathers showering from the sky. All over the town. Blood filling the streets that are filled with bodies. So many bodies. So many deaths. Thousands. I can feel them pouring through me like a river of needles and the mayor is standing in the midst of it all with blood on his hands.

  Jerking myself from the painful images of death, I race by and duck down the hall, running down the hall.

  “Jesus, what the hell was that?” I whisper, pressing my hand to my chest, catching my breath as I burst out the door and onto the campus yard. As the cool air hits me, the heat starts to subside, calming down the further away from the school I get. I take long strides, hurrying for my car while looking at my feet as gazes bore into me.

  “Cameron, why did I see that…? All those deaths? Was it because that guy was possessed by the Anamotti?”

  It takes Cameron a moment to answer. I’m not even sure why I’m asking him, other than I have no one to ask. No, it wasn’t because he was Anamotti. He pauses as I unlock my car and climb into. It looks like you had your first death omen.

  “I’ve already been having death omens,” I point out as I start the engine. “For a very long time. ”

  No, you’ve been able to see death, he states. Death omens are a whole different ballgame. They apply to a large group of people. Simultaneous deaths that happen all at once from the same force can only be felt through the touch of a Reaper.

  “But I never feel them when I touch you. ”

  That’s because I care enough about you not to let you feel them.

  I’m not sure how to respond to his twisted act of kindness, so I avoid reacting at all. “So you’re saying the entire town’s going to die?” I ask, gripping onto the steering wheel, my palms coating in sweat. “And that the mayors going to do it?

  I don’t know anything except that you saw a death omen. Sorry, princess, but I can’t give you all the answers, especially when I don’t know them all. However, I will say that I think you need to steer clear of the mayor.

  “I already knew that. ” I put the shifter in reverse, ready to get as far away from here as I can; ready to forget, wishing I could forget. But I can’t. It hurts from head to toe; throbbing, burning, intoxicating. “There has to be a way to stop it,” I whisper. “All those deaths on top of all the other death’s that have happened. ”

  He laughs. How many times have I told you, Ember? You can’t stop death. Death is endless.

  “Yeah, death is endless,” I say, steering the car towards the road. “But it doesn’t mean I can’t try to stop it. ” I pause, considering if I should ask him my next question, wondering if it might be a mistake by trusting him so much, but what other option do I have. “Cameron, have you ever heard of a Reaper stealing a Grim Angel’s soul?”

  That’s not possible, he says. I would have done it to you if it was.

  “Yeah, but…”

  But what? He presses.

  “But what if it is? What if you just don’t know about it?”

  He contemplates what I said. What do you know about it?

  “Nothing,” I say. “Other than that if it can be done, then it could possibly free innocent souls being possessed, like this entire town. ”

  Maybe… I mean, I don’t know everything about Reapers, he says, wh
ich I find a little strange since he is a Reaper. What I’d really like to know is where you learned about this.

  Not wanting him to know about the book, fearing he’ll track it down and figure out how to steal my soul, I opt to keep my mouth shut and he astonishingly doesn’t press. I drive down the road and up Main Street towards where the clinic is, at the end of the city. There are people on the streets, coming in and out of stores. Most of them are acting normal, which means the Anamotti haven’t gotten to the entire town just yet. Still, how have they even managed to take over so many people? I mean, when they captured me that night there was only a handful. However they’ve at least got a hundred people under their possession now.

  “Cameron, how are they doing it?” I ask. “Taking over so many people? Are there more Anamotti in Hollows Grove than I know about? Or is it something bigger than the Anamotti?” I ask, thinking about the mayor, wondering what he is—if he’s just a powerful human or so much more.

  I wait for Cameron to respond, but I never get an answer. I try a few more times with a few different questions, however his silence remains. I should be grateful, getting a break from the Reaper living inside my head except the silence of the car is heavier than anything. I twistedly find myself wishing he’d come back.

  Chapter 5

  The receptionist at the clinic tells me the same thing as she did on the phone; that my mom left a few days ago and didn’t tell anyone where she was going. Thankfully, all of them seem like they’re in control of their minds, but it still doesn’t help me figure out where my mom is.

  As I head home, I drive down a couple back roads and search the areas where I’ve found my mom in the past.

  There was a two-month period where she was addicted to meth and spent a lot of time out on the streets, sleeping behind dumpsters and doing God knows what to earn money. I was fourteen when this was going on and pretty much had to take care of Ian and myself, living off money I scrounged up wherever I could. We almost got evicted, but my mom came wandering back, got cleaned up and got a job again, deciding to briefly be responsible. It was always sort of her thing. Off and on she’d take care of us. It sucked—still does—knowing that your mom doesn’t care enough about you to be around and help take care of you, or take care of herself.

  The messed up part is that I’m not sure whether or not I’d rather her be out on the streets somewhere, doing drugs, or if I’d prefer something has actually happened to her.

  Eventually, I make it home to the quiet and go up to my room to take a nap, but I’m restless and end up simply staring at the ceiling, wide awake. Minutes tick by. Hours. I call Ian, wanting to hear someone’s voice. He doesn’t answer. I check the clock to see if it’s four yet and time to call Elliot. I have two more hours, so I take out the book he put into my bag and my jaw nearly drops to the floor. It looks just like the book that was stolen from me. Sucking in a sharp breath, I open it up, but the wind is instantly knocked out of me.

  “What the hell?” I mumble as I fan through the blank pages. I look back at the cover, wondering if I was wrong about it being the same book, but the title is still the same and August Millard is listed at the author.