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The underworld, p.9
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       The Underworld, p.9

         Part #2 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 9

 

  I saw red.

  And then, I fell.

  Chapter 6

  It was so cold. As cold as death. Was I dead?

  My eyes fluttered opened. I was lying down on a floor, the wood flooring cold against my cheek. I slowly sat up and gazed at my surroundings. Where was I? A cabin. Not the cabin in Colorado. No, this was a different cabin; a much smaller one with no furniture, no fireplace, no nothing.

  I got to my feet and made my way over to the window and tried not to flip out when I noticed it had bars on it. Trapped.

  “What in the world?” I muttered to myself.

  A bang came from behind me and I whirled around, coming face to face with myself. Not the younger version of myself, but the actual eighteen-year-old Gemma.

  So I was in a future vision, at least I think I was. This brought no sense of comfort to me, especially since I had no idea where this place was, and also because…well, because, in the vision, my violet eyes looked drained of all emotion.

  I watched myself lie down on the floor and curl up into a tiny ball. Then, I just lay there, silent and unblinking. Numb.

  What was going on? Had my emotions been erased? Was this actually where I was going to end up?

  A surge of fear pulsated through me, and I took off running for one of the two doors the small room had and threw it open. It was a bathroom. I turned around, ran for the other door, and with a lot of effort, shoved it open.

  My heart stopped.

  Miles and miles of snow-covered mountains, trees poking out of them like little tepee’s. And the log cabin I stood in was smack dab in the middle of it all, secluded from all civilization, for as far as I could see.

  I turned around and looked at myself curled up on the hardwood floor. How had I ended up like this? And what was wrong with me? I had an idea, but before I could look around and try to figure out more, an icy gust of wind swept up, and I was blown back, falling into the darkness.

  When I opened my eyes, it took my brain a second to process that I was lying on warm asphalt, with a very dim lamppost shining down on me. And that Laylen was kneeling next to me.

  “Are you okay?” he asked worriedly.

  I gradually sat up, my neck burning with my every movement. “Ahh,” I winced, reaching for my neck. Then winced again from the pain my touch brought on.

  “Easy,” Laylen said, his voice soothing. “It’s going to hurt for a little bit. ”

  “What’s going to hurt?” I asked, and then I remembered I’d been bitten by a vampire. I began to panic.

  Laylen must have seen the panic in my eyes too, because he said, “You’ll be okay, Gemma. The fogginess will wear off in awhile. The actual bite, though, will take a few days to heal. ”

  I started to get to my feet, but the world started spinning. I almost collapsed back to the ground, but Laylen caught me by the arm.

  “You’re going to have to take it easy,” he told me, holding me steady. “You’ve lost a lot of blood. ”

  Well, that explained the wooziness. “I think I might be sick. ”

  “That’ll wear off in a little while too. ”

  I lightly touched my neck, the skin burning beneath my fingers. “How did we get out of that place?” I asked, because my memory was missing some pieces of what just occurred. In fact, the only thing I could remember clearly was the vision I’d just gone in, and how my eyes in the vision had looked so empty. I wondered if it meant it would actually happen to me—if I would end up at the cabin that way. The thought was scary.

  “Well, by the time we made it out into the bar area, you’d fainted,” Laylen said. “Luckily I caught you before you hit the floor. ”

  Yeah, I guess that could be considered lucky. But everything else…hmm…not so much.

  “So you what?” I asked. “Just carried me out and ran? How did we not get caught?”

  “We were lucky we didn’t. ” He started to walk, guiding me along with him. “But I think we need to get back to the house before someone realizes I killed Vladislav. ”

  Good idea.

  We headed across an empty parking lot, making sure to stay in the shadows.

  “So how much trouble are you going to be in for staking Vladislav?” I asked, gripping onto Laylen’s arms as I was rushed by a spout of dizziness.

  He shrugged, but I felt him speed up. “We need to get back to the house and out of sight for awhile. Eventually, it’ll be forgotten, but I probably won’t be able to show my face in the vampire world again. ”

  “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” I asked him, carefully maneuvering over a pot hole.

  He shrugged. “I don’t know…it wasn’t like I completely enjoyed being around other vampires. But they were the only ones who didn’t judge me for being a vampire. ”

  His voice was sad and it made my heart hurt for him. “So what do you do then?” I asked “Just wait it out until the vampires do what? Decide they’re over it?”

  We turned down an alleyway, tucking ourselves into the dark and out of sight.

  “I’m going to have to lie low for awhile,” he said, dodging us around a stack of wooden crates.

  Lay low for a while. Wasn’t that what we’d already been doing, to keep me away from Stephan and the Death Walkers? But now I guess vampires were going to have to be added to the “Who We Were Hiding From Now list. ” Jeez, if it kept up, every evil creature was going to be after us.

  “So what about my mom,” I said to Laylen as we squeezed past a dumpster, the air smelling like rotten eggs mixed with old bananas. “Do you think Vladislav was telling the truth and that she’s still alive?”

  “Yeah, I do,” he said sounding absolutely certain.

  We reached a tall chain link fence with no way around it. At least that was what I thought. But then Laylen reached down and pulled on the bottom of it until the metal links snapped and he was able to lift up the fence high enough for me to scoot underneath it. Then he ducked under himself and let the fence go with a clank.

  “Vampires have this connection with each other that allows us to sense if the other one’s lying,” he told me as we stepped out onto a sidewalk and back underneath the lights of the lampposts. “I knew from the beginning that Vladislav was going to tell us the truth. ”

  “You can tell if each other are lying. ” Wow. It was like he had his own little lie detector built into him. Too bad it didn’t work on beautiful, bright green-eyed, Keepers. “Although Vladislav never did get around to saying how we can get my mom out of The Underworld. ”

  “I have a hunch…. though,” he said as Adessa’s red brick building came into view, “that there just might be someone else that we can talk to about getting her out of there. And maybe now that we know Jocelyn is alive, he might be more on board with rescuing her. ”

  I tilted my head to the side, confused as I looked up at him. “Who?”

  “Alex,” he said.

  The gravel speckling the parking lot crunched underneath our shoes, filling up the silence. I stared at Laylen like he had to be joking, but then he met my eyes, and I realized he was absolutely, one-hundred percent serious.

  “You think Alex knows how to get my mom out of The Underworld,” I said, making sure that’s what we were talking about here. Because I had talked to Alex about my mother before and whether or not she could still be alive, and he had said there was a slim chance that she could be. Never did he ever mention that there was a way to get people out of The Underworld. Yeah, he might not have known my mom was alive—although I wouldn’t put it past him if he did—but if he knew a way to rescue someone from The Underworld, he should have said so. But I guess this was Alex, so why was I so surprised.

  “He might know something,” Laylen stressed. “Since Stephan’s his father and was the one who was in charge of sentencing people to The Underworld, he may have told Alex a way to get down there without being yanked down through the lake. "

  “So you don’t kno
w for sure if he does. ” I frowned, disappointed. “You’re just guessing. ”

  He nodded. “But I think for now, he’s probably our best bet…because I think I just eliminated all of my other options. ”

  “If we can get the truth out of him,” I muttered.

  Laylen nodded in agreement. Honestly, though, I wondered if telling Alex what we had found out tonight would do more bad than good. I mean, for one thing that would require us to explain to him how we received the information, which in turn would result in a full on freak out on Alex’s part. And most of his freak out would probably be directed at Laylen. I knew Laylen could deal with it and everything, but it didn’t mean he should have to. He already helped me out enough, so why make him pay more.

  Besides, I wasn’t sure if Alex could be trusted still. His story of what had happened back at the cabin seemed off. For all I knew what really could have happened was that the memory erasing rock couldn’t erase my memory and so Stephan had put Alex in charge to keep an eye on me until he found an alternative way to extract my memory.

  As I went back and forth with what I thought we should do with the “telling Alex dilemma,” a set of headlights flashed across the parking lot, and Laylen quickly hid us behind a black Mazda. A car pulled into the parking lot and parked. Then two people climbed out of the car; a short, round man and a thin, tall woman wearing neon pink high heels that clicked loudly against the ground as the two of them walked toward a tan brick building that was right next to Adessa’s house.

  “Are they vampires?” I whispered to Laylen.

  He shook his head slowly. “I don’t think so. . . ”

  We waited until the people had disappeared around the corner of the building before stepping out from behind the Mazda. We made the rest of the walk hurriedly. The rest of our conversation consisted of creating a plan for what we should tell everyone happened to my neck, because I was sure they were going to ask. Laylen insisted that we should just blame the bite on him, since Alex was probably going to accuse him of it anyway. I thought this was a ridiculous idea, and told him we didn’t need to tell Alex anything, and that I would just wear a turtle neck or something. But then I realized that wearing a turtle neck in the scorching hot desert would look a little bit suspicious

  So that problem just hung in the air.

  It was when we reached Adessa’s that we both realized we had another problem. One that needed to be dealt with really fast.

  During our little jumping-out-of-the-building thing, it never had occurred to either one of us that getting back up might be a little tricky. So we just stood there, staring up at the window we’d jumped out of, trying to come up with some kind of solution.

  “Maybe there’s a fire escape somewhere?” I suggested.

  He shook his head. “I don’t think there is. ”

  In the distances, dogs were howling like crazy, and I saw Laylen tense up as he glanced around apprehensively. When the dogs stopped howling, he shook his head and let out a frustrated sigh. Then he kicked a plastic bottle that was on the ground and it whipped up in the air and thumped against the side of the brick building.