Confinement Part 40

Announcements: WOW! Fair warning, this part is really, REALLY long. Like, really. This is not an exaggeration. I would just like to say that this is the final part of Confinement, and I would like to thank all of you for reading this, and sticking with me as fans and as friends to help me achieve this story xx

Also, if you haven't heard, I AM moving to Wattpad. I actually have a teaser story out right now :-) My username is d4nnimals, and you can follow me there for updates on stories and other stuff as well xx

Created by: Dannica

  1. The ferocity of the shove sent me wheeling backwards, with a ringing bang from the door as it swung shut. Likewise, Rave had gotten there in time to catch me. I steadied myself onto my own two feet, and was about to explain to him what I'd seen. But when I saw his facial expression, I sewed my words back onto my lips. We turned our heads in sync. Chester's smile was almost sinister"”a far cry from what I'd seen from him last night. He stood in front of the green door, almost defensively, save for his typical butler posture. I felt like a child that had gotten caught, and scolded for running on the school playground. "Well, well, well," he sneered, "seems like our two guests have gotten lost. Where did you think you were going?" The last question was directed at me. I swallowed what I knew was going to be a stuttered answer. Then, with a solicitous breath, I responded, "Just looking for the dining hall. It seems like the hinges of that door needs a re-oiling. A pertinacious slab of wood that is." I managed a smile"”appearance presumably dry and objectionable"”and retained any hints of what I'd seen in that room, be it quivers in my voice or creases in my face. Chester tilted his head to one side, and began scrutinizing me perfidiously, a smirk resting almost too comfortably on his lips. "And I suppose the disappointment of the reality that that door did not lead to the dining hall caused you so much dread that you fell over?" I expected that that was supposed to be a question, but how he said it emitted it more towards an opinion. Before I could even formulate a rejoinder, Chester queried, "Whom of the maids summoned the both of you from your room? She was not supposed to let you alone." He moved slightly away from door with a twitch of his nose, as if the pungent smell vacating the room escaped and kissed him on the cheek. "We didn't ask her name," Rave interjected, speaking exactly what I would have said. Scenes of Maple's obscure behavior played through mind, and I wondered how exactly Hef, or whomever was in charge of the workers, treated them. Was Maple's demeanor simply because she was...afraid?
  2. Chester scowled. "Pity." A few seconds of silence passed, and then out of nowhere, the butler's face melted into a mask of disorder. Chester cleared his throat, and then moved over to stand in the middle path, leading to the red door. "However, that matter may be handled in the future. Right now I suggest you two behave like proper, well-mannered children and run along to breakfast. With my escort, of course." He gestured us with a stiff movement of his hand to come forth, his lips now set in a grim line. Rave and I shared a look of bewilderment with each other, and silently agreed to follow, in order to avoid anymore unnecessary problems and bizarre characters. We stayed far behind Chester, considering he hadn't given us time to catch up with him as we entered through the door. Because of this, Rave took the opportunity to bombard me with questions. What was that all about back there? What was behind that green door? What the hell does pertinacious mean? What made you fall backwards? Why did Chester act that way? I sighed under my breath. At least my goal was accomplished: I definitely knew something Rave didn't. I held up my hand to shush him. "I'll tell you later when we get back. I don't think it wise to discuss it here." He let out an agitated grunt under his breath, but then nodded an agreement. Then, not wanting to forget, I was about to thank Rave for catching me from my fall, but then Chester's peculiar voice boomed through my ears as he made a sweeping gesture with his arm at us. I hadn't realized that we were in the dining hall.
  3. Smack in the middle of the rather ample room stood a lengthy, all granite dining table, garnished with eight gold-trimmed red leather seats on either side, and one similar, although larger, seat at the head, where of course sat Hef. The dining table was naked, save for the embellishments of intricate centerpieces of fruits, and plants with bruised colors and wrinkled leaves. The corners of Hef's eyes crinkled as he grinned at us with his too-big-for-his-mouth teeth and motioned with a hand for us to sit. The claps of my boots' heels filled the room as I stepped off the pathway of carpet that had exhausted, and onto the checkered marble. Another carpet, this one very antique-looking, supported the weight of the dining table. My boots' voices were soon muffled. And it was when I touched the top of the chair next to me that I noticed the name cards; there were only four visible. I shot a glance at Rave as soon as Chester appeared and ushered me to my seat as if this were a wedding reception. Almost expectantly, I sat on the left side of his majesty himself. I knew it right before Chester even pulled my seat out; the glittery boldness of my name twinkled out like the opening firework on the Fourth of July, neatly centered on a candy bar-sized white plaque trimmed with black squiggly lines, which reminded me of swimming tadpoles. As I sat down and pushed my chair in, I observed the spaciousness of the area. What they called the dining hall was not just a dining hall, set in its own private setting. The room was a room comprised of rooms. Across the dining table was what could be considered a living room. Plush couches and velvet armchairs, turned at different angles to face the vicious flat-screen TV, curved around twin mahogany end tables each holding a stack of coasters. Next to one of the many sets of transparent double doors that offered a fantastic view of the ocean and also allowed an abundance of sunlight into the room, stood a dark red shelf, six decks high, overflowing with DVDs, records, tapes, and CDs. Small, but no doubt powerful speakers filled every corner of the ceiling, which was now a solid white color. Beyond where I sat, taking up an almost perfect square portion of the room, was a quaint, full set kitchen, where men and women in tall, cream colored toques chopped, diced, and plated what I assumed was going to be our breakfast. Next to that station appeared to be what could be called a game room. Air hockey tables and ping-pong tables were assembled in a pattern down a line, with pinball machines and other games typically found at an arcade placed in between them. My eyes then caught sight of another pair of double doors"”this time open. Sheer white cotton cuts of curtain danced enthrallingly with the whimsical sea breeze, making the sight alone seem like something from a fairy tale. I craned my neck unintentionally to see what was out there, but all I could see were the small jumps of the waves as they ground against one another, along with the tips of colorful umbrellas that rose above what looked like a wall; if I squinted I could make out something that must have been a shot gla"” "...like to order, Miss?" I shook my head out of my daze, snapping my attention back to the dining table. My mind and body felt like I had just went on a walking tour around Disneyland. All eyes at the table were on me, including the man next to me, whom I guessed was a server. Rave's stare looked almost strenuous, as if he's been trying to grab my attention for a long time. Perhaps he was. Oops.
  4. I looked up at the server, whose thick mustache moved every time he breathed. "Sorry, what did you ask?" The server put on a patient smile, and then asked in an Italian accent what I wanted to drink. Almost too quickly I told him Hot Chocolate. As the server wrote down my order on a pad of paper, my eyes stole a quick glance at the other side of the table at Rave, sitting two seats down from Hef, hopefully displaying the message that he still owed me one. He smirked at that. It was then that I realized we had a patron missing from the table. Whomever it was obviously hadn't received the message that it was breakfast time. Suddenly Hef clapped his hands together. I flinched. "Well, I hope you two enjoyed your night here. I hope the room exceeded your expectations." There was absence in my voice, along with Rave's. He spoke as if we were just relatives come to visit. Yet Hef's grin never wavered. "I can only assume that your dinner was delectable, as will be your breakfast. You see, I've hired the most talented chefs from around the world to come and"” Oh my, are those the same clothes you were wearing last night?" I looked down at my beaten shirt and dejected pants. The Italian server came by and dropped off the beverages where needed. "Well, yeah, these are our clothes. We're going to be going back to Pennsylvania anyways." I subconsciously wanted to add a Right? at the end, but decided against it. Hef looked deeply conflicted; I thought he was going to say that he was too rich to be dining with a couple of homeless-looking adolescents. He put on an easy smile alternatively. "My staff can surely laundry it for you. I have a few fashion designers dwelling here that could"”" "We don't need your clothes."Rave's face was hard as he repeated himself to Hef, just for clarification. "We don't need your clothes; we're not a charity." For some reason, Hef looked genuinely hurt. "I wasn't saying that you were one." There was a pause, but then, just as easily as the flicker of ache had appeared on Hef's face, a snarky smile slithered across his lips. "You don't have much of a memory, Savior. Remember what I told you about cutting off my sentences last night?" Hef shook his head with a small chuckle while taking a sip of orange juice from a wine glass. "Nit." Rave looked annoyed"”almost pissed. And in some abstrusely way, it was cute. Perhaps it was because I'd always seen Rave with his emotions in check"”he never revealed too much; he was always so in control of himself. I unconsciously giggled into my lap.
  5. Plates, napkins, and silverware arrived presently, along with a basket of freshly baked rolls, the smell of melted butter inveigling me. I ignored my stomach's pleas. "Umm, Hef?" He unfolded his napkin and placed it on his lap. "We"”Rave and I"”thank you for your...hospitality, but I must remind you that I have classes to attend in a couple of hours. So if we could please begin deliberating over the"”" The bellow of doors chomping back together made me stop; I could feel everything around me shudder, including myself; I never knew doors could be so petrifying. I turned towards the direction the big disruption came from, and to my misfortune saw Viper strutting down the bar of carpet like a model. Her body suited all black leather today"”of course"”with knee-high leather boots. She gave me an insidious smile with her purple-painted lips as the daggers on her shoes stabbed at the marble floors and then pierced the carpet. With a toss of her hair she hooked her hand in the crook of her chair, standing next to her rightful place at the table: next to Rave and across from me. Immediately, Chester arrived and stuck out Viper's chair for her. A server then placed a light brown beverage by her plate, just as the woman in black sat down. "Sorry for my unforeseen intrusion," she gushed innocently. She took a roll from the basket and started tearing pieces of bread apart. "I did not mean to discontinue what you were saying, Sighter. Please, go on." I didn't realize how tense I'd become. Viper's eyes were like tiny pebbles, glaring at me while she rived each piece of bread apart. I felt the urge to kick her from under the table, but knew right off the bat how bad of an idea that would be; by the time my boot made contact with her leg she would have pounced on me from beyond the table and subsequently beat my sorry ass. My lips twitched thinking about it. I definitely needed to learn some self-defense moves. I cleared my throat. "As I was saying, I have to be present at my classes by at least seven-thirty, so if we could cut to the chase and discuss why Rave and I are here..."
  6. My intent was to not finish my sentence, so that Hef could view it as an invitation for him to cut in. But just then bowls of eggs and potatoes and plates of bacon and toast showed up, and essentially drowned out the urgency in my words, for Hef started stacking pancakes onto his plate. I looked around the table and felt flustered. My tiny deflation seemed to be apparent, because just then Viper snickered. Her plate was already full. I wondered how she kept her figure, considering how much she ate. Well, the scorching fires of Hell probably helped her burn some calories. I watched Rave twisting his ring. He stared at it as if he were a geometry student looking through a calculus book. "Why are we here?" The question popped up abruptly from him, though I was grateful he pursued my earlier attempt of getting us out of here. Hef finally looked up from his plate. "Ah, yes, I nearly forgot. " He tilted his head at me, setting his fork down. "My apologies." I dismissed it with a weak wave of my hand. Hef grinned. "I am aware of your studies, but really, we must eat breakfast. Besides, I cannot simply talk about it; I must show you." Rave's frustration mirrored my own. "What do you mean?" Hef had resumed eating. "I mean what I said: I have to show you. Now eat. I am far too rich to have hungry guests in my home." I knotted my eyebrows together. "What do you mean you have to show us? Why didn't you show us before breakfast?" Hef laughed. "That wouldn't be very hospitable, would it?" I felt the need to slap my forehead; was Hef being this difficult on purpose? "Sighter." I glanced up with exasperation at Viper, whom was stabbing at the yolk of her egg. "What?" She swallowed whatever was in her mouth, her lipstick not even a tad smudged. "Where are you from?" I grabbed my napkin and laid it on my lap. I figured if I just ate something then it could speed up the whole process. Besides, I felt weird with being the only one with an empty plate"”even Rave had succumbed; a French Toast stick was speared to his fork. He scoped around with his eyes while he chewed, observing; he was always observing. "Maine," I said, while successfully able to set two waffles onto my plate, and also a sausage link. Viper rolled her eyes as if I had just said the most fatuous thing her ears have ever witnessed. "Not originally. Where is the place I visited last night? In Pennsylvania?" I spread some blueberry jam onto the top waffle. "Oh. Woodknox. Why?" Viper shook her head. "Just curious. It does not sound like a very dangerous place." I raised my eyebrow at her. "Why would it be dangerous?" "Because there was a police officer roaming around your campus. I don't know why; everybody was sleeping. All the lights were off." I froze mid-chew, making eye contact with Rave. "What was he doing?" Viper looked irritated. "I don't know. He was just walking around. No flashlight. Just walking." I closed my eyes for a second. Why would Officer Botello"”assuming it was him because he had the key to the gate"”be aimlessly wandering around the school? If he were to check on me then he would have seen that I was gone, and would have assumably reported it to Reyna or Principal Dapper... "Was he by Decker Hall?" Viper made a grunt under her breath. "As if I payed attention to that. By the way, Sighter, your file is very entertaining to look at." I stared at her, open-mouthed. "You read my file?" She tossed her hair behind her shoulder. "How else would I know where you room? Now close your mouth. I do not wish to speak to you anymore." I obliged. Truth was, I didn't want to talk to her either.
  7. After breakfast, Hef led us outside through the open doors with the dancing curtains. As expected, the view was incredible. All around me was ocean"”miles and miles of ocean. The breeze swept through my hair while the sun hugged my skin, and I imagined what it would be like to wake up to this every morning, with no dogs barking and no obstreperous engines screaming or people yelling. Just the gentle slap of the sea waves massaging your soul. I hung my head over the balcony, and, as I guessed correctly, tropical and festive umbrellas stood next to sunbathing lounge chairs and cabanas, bordering what I suspected was a swimming pool. I unsensibly empathized for Hef. He had everything that anyone could ever want, and yet here he was, a human, being forced into the life that his brother left him. I felt a hand on my back and stepped away from the balcony. Hef and Viper had already moved on ahead through a black door. I quickly followed, allowing Rave to guide me, his hand still lingering on my back. As I stepped into the room I immediately noticed how dark it was. I couldn't make out a single light. "Close the door," Hef's voice rung out from below us. I looked over my shoulder at Rave, suddenly feeling very nervous. He moved his hand from my back to the inside of my palm, and squeezed. Then the door shut. Click. We were enveloped in darkness.
  8. I heard footsteps echoing off the walls and small whispers here and there. My arms sprouted up in goosebumps. Rave squeezed my hand again, and soon I felt his hot breath on my ear. "I'll lead. Do not let go of my hand." I nodded, and then realized how stupid of me that was considering he couldn't see me. I took a deep breath and squeezed his hand back. "I swear to God if there are animals in here..." I heard him chuckle. "You would think Hef would be rich enough to put some light here, or at least some candles." We were descending down some stairs. I felt each step with my foot, cautious to not accidentally skip one and send the both of us reeling down to our deaths. "Or they could have waited for us. Or notified us about where we were going. God, at this rate we'll never make it back to James Dawn on"” Oh sh**." Rave paused. "What?" "Nothing, keep going. It's just my parents. They've probably called me, like, seventy times. They're going to order Principal Dapper to burn me alive. And then Brittany is going to recommend doing so in the quad while everybody chants the word "˜schizo'." Rave sighed. "The whole schizo thing is going to blow over. Honestly, Brittany is an idiot. And Principal Dapper is definitely not going to burn you in the quad." I touched the cold wall with my free hand for guidance as I took yet another step to the unknown. "Why? Because you're my Savior and you're not going to let it happen?" "I was going to say that burning you would be a safety hazard for the rest of the school, but I mean, you could say that as well."
  9. We'd finally reached the end of the dwindling stone steps, my last question still loitering in the air, slowly branding itself into our brains. The last thing I wanted to do was to jump to conclusions"”surely Hef had a solid explanation as to why he'd chosen Viper over Hef. Unless of course, he hadn't brought her back in the first place. I sighed in frustration; the situation had just gotten more entangled than I would have liked. "Look," Rave murmured. Not knowing specifically where to look, I swiveled my head around the darkness blindly, until I saw a small flicker of light, hidden off to our left. Having no obvious other option, we walked towards the light, in hopes of it being our ticket out of this room of shadows. Rave let go of my hand as we neared the sliver of brightness. I suddenly felt very cold. As suspected, the source of the light came from a small, circular, white candle, just as big as a mint. The candle floated in what looked like a gravy boat, swimming in water. Rave took the gravy boat in his hands, the fire illuminating the lines of his face, and held it out at arms length, making the uneven stone walls glow. I watched solemnly, almost fearing that perhaps Hef and Viper had left us here purposely"”trapped underground with only a stub of a candle to benefit from. I gulped nervously. "Rave"”" "Found it." He turned to me, a questioning expression on his face. I ran my hand up and down my arm, trying to warm up, an uneasy smile on my lips. I looked towards where he held out the candle and saw the outline of a black ladder resting vertically to the wall. "Um. Never mind." Rave dismissed me, and then turned towards the ladder, testing to see if it was sturdy enough to hold us. "I'm assuming they exited out this way," I heard him mumble more to himself than me, hopping onto a rung and bouncing on it, holding the gravy boat steady in his hand. He continued doing this for a few more seconds, then, taking one more assessment of the ladder, he turned back to me, his face almost ghostly. "Alright, you go up first so you have some sense of sight. I'll hold the light for you." I nodded shortly and strode towards the ladder, putting my right foot on the second rung, and placing my hands on the sides to balance myself out. Then I began climbing.
  10. To be honest, I've never in my life scaled up a legitimate ladder before. Hell, the longest ladder I've climbed was probably when I went in and out of swimming pools, so I wasn't completely shocked when I found my arms shaking from tiredness. I looked upwards to see how much farther I had to go, but the lack of light made it seem like I was climbing just to be consumed by a hole. "You're doing great," Rave called. "It's just like when we went to that woman's house and you had to climb on the vines to get to the window." I grimaced as I remembered what I saw when I got to the top"”a room filled with John F. Kennedy photos and cat toys. Hopefully what I see when I get to the end of this ascent won't be as absurd. I ignored the trembles in my biceps and the embrace of darkness as the light ran out, consuming my mind with the thoughts of what lay ahead, waiting for me not only when I came to the top, but also when I returned back to James Dawn. I realize its only been less than forty-eight hours since I've left, but for some reason it felt much longer. I hoped Comet was okay, and I hoped when I finally got ahold of my parents they wouldn't threaten to take me back to Maine, because that was something I could not bear to think of, considering how much time I've already invested into James Dawn and the small city of Woodknox. It was then that I wondered what Viper had done when she went there last night. How did she know where to check? I never told her my room number, nor did I tell her what hall I was in. And how exactly did she counter off Reyna, whom was supposed to be keeping tabs on my pill taking and me? With a small sweat clinging to my skin, I reached for the next rung, knowing that it was one step closer to getting out. But my hand hit something cold and hard, causing a ringing sound to echo throughout the walls. My hand recoiled as a tiny throb pulsed at my fingers. I cursed under my breath, knowing that I would find myself with bruised up fingers tomorrow morning. "Did you reach the top?" Rave's voice was faint, as if a thick glass pane was separating us. "Yeah," I managed out, trying not to look down. "I'm going to try and get it open." I thought I heard a Be careful, but it was possible my ears were trying to deceive me. I reached my hand up, cautious this time, feeling for a latch of some sort. I wasn't absolutely terrified of falling down, but when one of my feet skidded loose from the rung I was standing on, I definitely felt a pang of adrenaline course through my body. Regaining my balance, I bit down on my lip and focused, raising my hand once more. This is so crazy. I feel like Indiana Jones or James Bond or something. Why the hell did we not take the stairs or elevator. My hand explored the rocky ceiling as if it held the cure to cancer, and yet I couldn't find anything that indicated an exit. Exasperated, I brought my hand back down, letting it rest on the top of the ladder, where it ultimately ended. I was about to call down to Rave and tell him that this was literally a dead end, when I felt something as I rested my other hand on the top of the ladder as well. I ran my thumb over it repetitively, making sure it wasn't just some screwed up part of the ladder, and then I smiled to myself. The shape was in a perfect circle. It was a button.
  11. Triumphantly, I pushed the button with my palm, and immediately it started blinking green. Just then a whirring sound buzzed around my head, like the sound of a machine starting up, and soon my eyes met a magnificent light that almost blinded me. I used my right hand as a visor, gripping on tightly to the ladder. Then, blinking my eyes a few times, I hoisted myself up though the opening, gulping in the clean air through my lungs, and basking in the fluorescent light. Then a snort sounded behind me. "It took them long enough. I was about to order a couple shots of vodka if it took them a single minute more." I peered over my shoulder. Expectantly, Viper and Hef stood there, eyeing me wearily, as if they've been waiting for hours. Ignoring them for now, I peered my head back into the hole to the Tunnel of Irrelevance, folding my legs under me. "Rave, you can come up! Viper and Hef are here, they've been waiting for us!" I listened sharply for a response. The clang of metal was all I needed. I stood up from the wooden floors that I'd been sitting on and finally took in the scene of the room we were in. I noticed there were no windows. Up above, hung limply from the ceiling, were orbs of light, scattering the atmosphere. A lone navy blue door stood directly across from me, a golden latch with wings sprouting either end placed strictly where a regular doorknob would be located. The walls looked that of a cave, a brown-red color, with jagged edges and rocky corners. I looked towards Viper and Hef, standing directly in the middle of the room, where a circle of light rung around them, obviously intended. They both leaned against something I couldn't decipher, and it looked like that was their intent as well"”whatever they were leaning on was going to be the big reveal. "He's coming," Viper announced, scouring her claw-like nails, the plum-colored scars on her face moving along as she exhaled an impatient breath. Hef tapped merely tapped his fingers atop his cane, looking anxious. I wondered how he climbed the ladder; I doubted Viper volunteered to hold the cane for him. Just then I heard a low grunt and another scrape of metal. I eyed the hole, knowing that Viper was right, and shortly after, Rave appeared. He carried himself from the ladder and into the room before I could offer any assistance, and then closed the hatch behind him. Soon we were side-by-side once more, facing Viper and Hef as if we were in an old western film, standing off with guns at the ready and ready to fire.
  12. "Why did you guys leave us down there?" I huffed out, clearly agitated. Hef seemed surprised that I'd spoken first, but Viper leered, placing her hands defiantly on her hips. "Well, well, well. It looks like the little Sighter has some spunk now. Amazing what a night can do." I mirrored her stance; I wasn't necessarily afraid of Viper anymore, because I knew that Hef needed me for something, and he wouldn't dare allow her to hurt me. "You could have at least left the hatchet thing open so we had better light." Viper rolled her eyes. "Complaints, complaints. I may still need to order that vodka." Before I could say anything back, Hef tapped his cane against the floor, looking very intolerant. He looked from Viper and me, his eyes like stones. "Enough." Viper muttered something under her breath, and then put her arms back to her side. Hef smiled. "Welcome to the main chamber. Because of your hurry to get back to your city, I suppose I shall just cut to the chase." Hef moved away from whatever he was leaning on, Viper following suit. There, placed on a black, antique-looking table, stood what looked like a crystal ball. A milky mist oozed around the transparency, like smoke. "What is it?" Rave asked beside me, urging closer, his eyes transfixed on the orb. Hef grinned. "The prophecy." He ran his hand smoothly along the crystal ball. "The Prophecy of the Seventh Death."
  13. Even before classes started, new rumors started sprouting about. Everybody was talking about the bus crash. This school was atrocious. The students here were piranhas, anxiously awaiting their next bit of gossip, and shredding it to pieces. As soon as the bodies were found and recorded to the whole state of Pennsylvania, before the paramedics even arrived at the hospital, news vans and reporters had swarmed the parking lot, eager to snap a picture of whom it was laying on the stretcher, just for the benefit of getting the best story. It was repulsive, actually seeing a fiery determination within the reporters' eyes, actually hoping that something drastically remarkable was about to happen so that their cameramen or tape recorders could capture the scene and then show the rest of the world. How abhorrent. The patient twisted her lips into a sour expression, loathing the entire situation she'd gotten herself into. Everything was the color white in the school nursery, making it seem bright and happy. She hated it; she hated everything single second of it. Because of this, she had attempted an escape, but it hurt even moving her fingers. So she was stuck there in that bed, hopeless. The white drapes shuddered, and soon slithered in a woman dressed in scrubs. She wore an overly-practiced smile and held a plastic cup of water in her small and frail looking hands. She bent over the hospital bed, offering the cup to the patient's lips. The girl snarled at the nurse, making her hand snap back, drops of water spilling onto the floor. The girl smirked while the nurse looked down on her disapprovingly as if she were a dog that'd just urinated indoors. The girl bit down a threat. She saw the nurse stick out her head back through the curtain. She kept it there for a minute or so, until finally having her standing whole. But then a newcomer joined. This one was wearing a long white coat with a stethoscope slithering around his neck. He regarded her with a hard stare, not taking his eyes off the girl, even when the nurse offered him her clipboard. He knew her name without even looking down. "Miss Naomi. We have a lot to talk about."
  14. I felt very dismayed. Because of the reason that I was indeed a Seventh Sighter, and the prophecy held the word Seventh in it, along with the word Death, off the bat I knew that this was not going to be a pleasurable case. Hef regarded my reaction with slight curiosity. I didn't know what my face looked like, but a smile played on his lips. Not exactly knowing what next to do, I glanced at Rave. His eyes were fixated on the glass orb, as if it held all the answers in the world. I nudged him on the arm. It took two more times before his attention snapped back to the rest of us. "Are you okay?" I asked in a low voice, even though I was almost positive that Hef and Viper could hear me. Rave raked a hand through his hair, nodding emptily. "Peculiar," Viper purred with a smirk, looking from Rave and me, as if there was something obvious occurring that I was completely oblivious to. "Looks like the Savior has just seen his doom." The sound of Hef's cane thumping on the floor caught everybody's attention once more. "Sighter, please step forward and place your hand on the Prophecy. Quickly, now, if you wish to be punctual when I send you back." I flashed a brief look at Rave, who'd apparently returned to his regular countenance, and then walked forward. Every step I took, it seemed as if the mist inside the glass ball twitched, like my presence was triggering it more and more until it could no longer stay confined. Soon I was right in front of it, peering down into the orb as the mist spasmed and convulsed; I was almost afraid the thing would shatter right before me, sending shards of glass piercing into my skin. Tentatively, I put my palm on the top of the orb, the glass cool and smooth. The minute I touched it the mist turned black, making the glass ball look like a vortex. I willed myself not to pull away as the glass became warmer and warmer.
  15. "Why did it change color?" I heard Rave question as I heard him make his way to the table as well. Hef appeared by my right side, looking deep in thought. "The Prophecy changes to black at a Seventh Sighter's touch. The vapor within the glass acts like an energy source. When it's clear, nobody is able to activate the Prophecy, but when black, the magic awakens. The Prophecy knows who you are by your touch." Looking closer, I could see the fumes crowding up to the top, where my hand was placed. "How do we get to hear the Prophecy? Do I have to say something?" The heat from the orb increased. I tried my best not to cringe. From my peripherals, I could see Hef's teeth shining away as he pointed the tip of his cane across the table at Rave. "Her Marks. Will her Marks." Rave immediately started to protest. "Marks are only supposed to be summoned when in critical situations"”" "I'll do it," Viper interrupted, a hungry look on her face. "I'd like to see if all that vile training was worth it." Rave sighed, clearly thwarted, and made his way back around the table. Soon I felt his breath by my ear, his fingers on my back. Before he asked, I lifted up my hair. "Stay still," he whispered. Rave's warm fingertips were soon on my neck, making me catch my breath. His fingers were like brushes and I was the easel. A warm sensation prickled my nape, adding to my already sweaty hand, still balancing itself atop the glass ball. A few more swirls and swishes were made on my skin, and Rave's fingers were off. The heat went away on both ends. I scrutinized the magical ball, allowing my hair to fall back around my shoulders, and saw the black fumes started to clump together, floating in the center. Suddenly the cloud of haze shot up through the glass, through my fingers, and hit one of the lights on the ceiling. I was tempted to remove my hand"”the heat had come back on, and this time it was searing hot. Thankfully I knew better than that. Black fog strayed from the shadow looming over us, curling around our knees and ankles, making the atmosphere look like the aftermath of a forest fire. The smell of incense hung loosely in the air, and I felt myself starting to sweat. My hand was turning red. I swiveled my head to catch a glimpse of the others, but the mist had become too thick, making it difficult to see anything. Another Daughter of Death come to see their future, a low voice hissed around me, making my skin crawl. Black clouds wrapped around my body, a fervent heat slashing at my insides, making me forget about my hand. I began coughing, my back rattling and my lungs lacking oxygen. Do you wish to fulfill the Prophecy, Sighter? Do you? I could feel my heart clenching, my skin getting feverish. I doubled over, tasting blood on my tongue and feeling the strain in my throat. If only you knew the cost. A snicker hovered over my ears; the black fumes had nearly consumed me. Suddenly my whole body began to sting"”as if somebody had taken a butcher knife and sliced at my back and thighs and stomach and then drenched me in alcohol. My scream was drowned by my own coughs. I spit blood onto the floor. My legs began twitching, and I felt my bones breaking. I screamed again. I coughed again. The snicker came back. Then a soft voice, gentle in my ear. Release.
  16. I was thrown against a wall, the rocky surface tearing into my back. I yelped in pain as I slumped limply to the floor, watching with dead eyes as the mist crept slowly from the floor and back into the glass ball, paling lighter and lighter until it was silver once again. I pushed my plastered hair out of my sweaty face, my body slowly cooling itself down. The stinging was going numb; I wasn't coughing anymore. I put my hand over my heart, just for proof that I was back to normal. Thump thump thump. I groaned, mostly out of annoyance, and attempted to stand up, using the wall as support. I was on my own two feet before the trio came and Rave started frantically checking to see if I was alright, even after my many reassurances. "I am so sorry," he said one last time, looking completely devastated. It was in that moment when I actually realized how gravely he took his job as a Savior. He's been training for this all his life, solely aiming to fulfill his Purpose. Which was me. I couldn't complicate things with a silly little crush; I couldn't keep him from his family any longer. "It's okay, Rave. Whatever it takes." It looked like he was about to argue with me again, so I cut him off, turning to Hef. "The voice in that thing said that I was another Daughter of Death. How many Seventh Sighters have you brought here before me?" Hef seemed to be pleased by my understanding in all this. "Three. With you, four." "And this whole ritual thing happened to them too?" He nodded. I had not the faintest idea as to why he was looking so happy. Gathering from what had just happened, there was no Prophecy said. "Look at your arm," Viper hummed, as if reading my mind (which she most likely did). I brought my arm up to my face. Sure enough, small little scars marked the skin on the inside of my arm. Letters. I traced the scars with my forefinger, almost in a trance. The Prophecy.
  17. I took my seat in first period English right when the late bell rang, causing me to receive a dirty look from the teacher. Hef had granted us permission to leave, making Viper take down her force field"”that's what she called it"”to allow Rave back his powers. He had Shimmered us immediately back to Pennsylvania, to James Dawn, after a few parting words from Hef, to inform us on what he was brainstorming on doing next. Apparently, his plan was to gather up all the Seventh Sighters in the United States, since our group was Sebastian's main target. He wanted to show everybody the Prophecy, so that we were aware, and then from then on see whom could achieve it. "If we can bring all of your kind together," he'd said with a brightness in his eyes, "we could destroy the Miscreancy. Fulfill the Prophecy." I remembered once when Rave had explained how many Seventh Sighters there were in the US. I recall him telling me it was five, so if I was the fourth one, that meant Hef needed to find only one more Seventh Sighter to make his wishes come true. I had a hard time believing that his intentions were for the greater good"”one reason because of that eerie green door"”but as of right now, he was the only good lead available, especially if he wanted to take Sebastian down as well. I fidgeted in my seat, tapping my fingers on my notebook as Mrs. Yess turned her back on the class to copy a problem from the textbook to the whiteboard. I had almost forgotten all my school supplies when I came back, too much in a hurry to get to class on time, but luckily Rave was able to get in and out of my room with all my stuff. Reyna lounged in the back of my mind. Part of my contract with Principal Dapper as punishment for the whole Aspen situation was that Reyna was to accompany me first period every day until my on-campus detention was over. I hoped the punishment for violating that wasn't too harsh.
  18. I cruised through my classes with a slight paranoia on my back, as if Sebastian were to show up any minute and snatch me up and I would find myself in some kind of torture chamber. Counselors walked behind me through passing periods, and I could still hear the tidbits of whispers as I passed through the halls, my name partially being spoken before whomever was speaking it saw me and clamped their mouth shut. Tallon wasn't in class today, so Mr. Yarbo had stuck me with himself for the lab we had to do. He asked me a lot of questions, as if he didn't know anything, and then would add the chemical that I said to add into the beaker. Naomi wasn't in PE either, but after reading the school newspaper that'd been abandoned on a lunch table, I knew why. Connie and the rest of the cafeteria staff offered their condolences, even though Naomi and Lauren weren't even dead. The newspaper informed me that the two of them were being kept at the school hospital, being tended by a doctor that the school had flown in from out of state. I found it quite amusing. My incident hadn't made it to the paper at all.
  19. French was the worst class yet. The whole time during class I was so unfocused, my mind always reeling back to the Prophecy etched onto my forearm. I was thankful for wearing a sweater, because if somebody saw all the cuts, a new rumor would definitely turn up. Madam Decker had decided to pick on me during class today, and all the questions she asked, I embarrassingly got incorrect. But the most inferior part was how I could feel Flame's gaze always on me. I knew he wanted me to glance at him, to acknowledge him, but I just wasn't in the mood. Besides, I knew that our relationship, whatever it was, was going to grow more and more as the days passed, and I knew that in one of those days, something Seventh Sighter-related was going to occur, and I would have to lie. And the lies would keep on coming, like a never ending time loop. Flame was human. He did not need to be dragged into this, and Hef was a prime example of why. I wouldn't allow it. And that's why our little flirtationship had to end, as devastated as it made me. I scratched at my arm through my sleeve, trying to remember what the Prophecy said. Thou whom seeks the plague of death...Whom possesses the invisible eye... I started chewing on the inside of my cheek, a nagging feeling building up inside of me. Shall succumb to evil and rise...And shun the world to thy demise... Madam Decker pointed at me, obviously awaiting an answer to an inquiry that I evidently was not paying attention to. The forgotten power will soon be found. She shook her head in either annoyance or disappointment"”I wasn't sure"”and called on a kid seated behind me. Within the being with the hindered sight... I reached under my desk and began scratching. What were the last two lines? The obligation I felt to memorize this thing was incredulous, and that nagging feeling I sensed within me was getting stronger and stronger. Slowly, I took my left hand from under the table and subtly pushed back my sleeve. The scars were a dark red now; already it looked like they were starting to fade. And sacrifice the love you never could have... "And what was the revolutionary book, which was later turned into a musical and then a movie, that captivated world-wide audiences and apprised humanity of one of the many French Revolutions, Miss ______?" I quickly dropped my sleeve as laughing eyes turned on me once more. Two minutes of silence. "Lés Miserables?" I guessed quietly, since I learned France's history more from that movie than I will ever know in this class. Madam Decker seemed startled by my answer. A small smile spread across her lips. "Correct. Good to finally have you aboard. Now, Mr. Jameson, can you tell me why..." I watched as heads turned back to face the front, clearly disapproved of my proper comeback. Except one. We met eyes before I had the chance to look back down. Flame flashed me a brief smile. Before darkness can no longer hide from the light.
  20. The bell rang. I scrambled to get my notebook and pencil back into my satchel, eager to get to the last period of the day. I stood up and swung the strap over my shoulder, pushing my chair in while Madam Decker wished everybody a good time at the Inaugural Dance. I deflated a little. Sure, I wasn't planning on going anyways, but the thought of the whole school dancing the night away while I had a soap opera awaiting me when I got back to my room was oppressing. I started weaving my way through the maze of desks, a counselor tarrying out in the hall leaning against a pillar. I was about to exit the classroom when a hand tapped my shoulder. Sure enough, it was Flame. He welcomed me with his fleeting green eyes and disheveled hair, a warm and playful smile on his lips. "Hey, green bean. It feels like forever since I've last spoken to you." I couldn't help but feel overjoyed when he called me green bean. The pet name was a piece of normalcy in my life. I toyed with my bag zipper, feeling the counselor's eyes on my back. "Yeah, I"” Hey, when did you get glasses?" I gestured to the pair of black spectacles hanging from the front of his shirt. Flame looked down, a hint of recognition crossing his face as if he'd forgotten. "I've always needed glasses. My old pair, um, broke, back in Chicago. I just got these a few days ago. One of my very few fatal flaws, must I say." There was a pause, as his face turned serious. "I'm taking you've heard about Naomi and Lauren?" I nodded, peering over my shoulder at the counselor, checking her watch. "Yeah, I have. I'm planning on visiting them in the nursery, if I get the permission from Reyna or something." Flame looked down uncomfortably, which was a first. He switched his binder from one arm to the other, bringing it down by his waist. "I know it's most likely not my business, but I....I saw your...scars on your arm and I was just wondering if"”" "I have to go," I cut in, before he could say anything else. "The counselor is waiting for me." Flame's jaw twitched. "Alright. I just wanted to know if everything was okay, because I know things have been a bit difficult"”" "Flame, you don't know anything, okay? You really don't." "Well you can talk to me if you want to." "No, I can't. Besides, you said so yourself. It's none of your business." Surprise and genuine hurt flashed across Flame's face, making my stomach squirm. "Okay. I apologize. I just wanted to see if I could help." I pivoted my feet to leave, as the warning bell chimed through the room. "You wouldn't understand anyways. We should both get to class now, or we're going to be late."
  21. The school day ended on a low note. The whole seventh period, not only was my mind and body occupied with Sebastian and the Prophecy, but now I felt terrible about Flame. I knew my attitude towards him might have seemed abrupt, but deep down I understood it was the right thing to do. The fewer people involved in this mess, the better. Whatever it takes. I entered Rex Hall feeling weak. I was used to the stares accompanied with my entrance, so I indifferently made my way to the drink bar and got myself a red slush drink. I was embracing the moment of being out in the Rex Hall Lobby and not being patronized by the Barbies, ignoring the high-pitched giggles and deprived stares of the girls that I concluded had nothing better to do than talk bullsh**t about others. It was strange, actually seeing this growth of resoluteness inside me. As a matter of fact, I truly believed that I had an actual purpose in this world"”something greater than myself that required my own personal imprint to be at it's fullest potential. Viper was right when she said a night could do wonders, because ego-wise, I felt pretty damn good.
  22. After indulging on my sugary drink, I made my way upstairs while simultaneously rummaging through my bag for my room key. I found it buried in a side pocket, stuffed with old notebook paper scattered with notes and doodles, right when I reached my final destination. The black, printed numbers of 215 greeted me happily, like my own little welcome mat. Pushing the door open, I was immediately bombarded by Comet, scratching up against my legs. Shutting the door with my foot, I crouched down and petted him, smoothing down his orange coat with my palm, speaking to him like my own toddler. I ran up to the small kitchen area and grabbed his box full of treats. "Do you want one?" I asked jocosely, shaking the box. Comet pranced around the carpet, clearly just as glad to see me as I to see him. I tilted the box over, letting a fish-shaped cookie fall into my hand. I hovered it over Comet's reaching mouth, watching as he attempted to take a bite. Unable to witness the cat's misery anymore, I dropped the treat onto the ground with a giddy laugh. Comet ate it up right away, and then scurried over to his replenished milk bowl. "I hope you don't mind," an amused voice commented. "I decided to keep your cat company while you were away." I turned towards the couch, already knowing who could possibly be here. "Are you sure Comet wasn't the one keeping you company, Mr. Kingsley?" Rave smirked, getting up from the couch. He held a coffee cup in one hand, and a bundle of something else in the other. I gushed when I realized what it was. "Aw, you actually got me my donut and Hot Chocolate! I seriously need this right now. Good timing. I assume your powers are up and running again?" Rave nodded, relief sinking into his shoulders. "I don't ever want that happening again. That was probably one of the most unsure and hesitant moments of my life. But how are you? How was school?" I claimed a seat atop a stool by the counter, perching my elbows on top. "Annoying. I was too out of it to function properly." I lifted my sleeve up, showcasing the now plum-colored scars. "Look, they're healing. I've been trying to memorize the whole thing by heart before they close up completely. I'm almost there." Rave returned to his seat on the couch. "That's a really good idea. And what about the schizo thing? Were people saying stuff?" I exhaled through my nose exasperatingly. "People are always saying stuff. It's the not caring part that matters. Brittany and her gang were probably too busy planning for tonight to instigate me anyways."
  23. Rave ran a finger through the spines of books lined up on the shelf beside him. "Why, what's tonight?" I wiped at the corner of my mouth with my thumb, dabbing the excess chocolate on a napkin. "The Inaugural Dance, in honor of Brittany and her presidency. It's supposed to be the second biggest dance at the school, next to Prom, which I have no idea why." I took a small sip of my Hot Chocolate, letting the warmth slowly seep down my throat. "I'm not allowed to go anyways. Neither is Web. We were both banned from school activities for the rest of the semes"” Oh crap, can you hand me my phone there on the desk?" I wiped my hands on my already dirty jeans and as Rave tossed me my phone. I stared down in horror at my 64 missed calls, 70 text messages, and 14 voicemails. "Sh**." I glanced at Rave, utterly petrified of what my mother would do if I decided to call without a solid excuse as to why I wasn't answering my phone. "She's going to kill me before Sebastian even attempts to." "We don't even know if the Prophecy is about you, so let's not think about Sebastian right now. Besides, his motives are too choppy; we have no idea what he's planning on doing. Anyways, all you have to do to clear yourself up with your mom, is to find a school staff member that you're buddy-buddy with, and ask them to verify that the school had taken away your phone, and you just got it back today." I scrolled through the texts, hearing my mother's voice yelling them as if she were in front of me. "What if she calls Principal Dapper?" Rave shrugged. "She would have it done by now." I set my phone down and nibbled on my donut, thinking of the possibilities that this could go wrong and I could get my own butt kicked out of this school. "I'll sneak you into the dance...," Rave singsonged with a grin. "I do not want to go to the dance, as a matter of fact, so that bribe is not going to work with me." I took a defiant bite from my donut, crumbs falling from my lips. My phone started ringing again. Rave leaned back on the couch. "My plan is the only way. If you tell her that you just haven't had your phone on you, she's going to assume you've been sneaking out and violating your on-campus detention." Another text message popped up. I sighed defeatedly. "Fine. But just know, if I get caught for this, I'm putting the blame on you. I will summon my Marks just to show Principal Dapper that you are the boy that peer-pressured me into doing this." "Noted," Rave laughed. "Who do you have in mind?" I finished up my donut. "Connie. The lunch lady. I adore her because she loves me and gives me discounts on food." Rave nodded, and then got off the couch. "Alright. Let's go." I gaped at him skeptically. "Go where? You can't go with me, you're not a student." "What, and they're going to know that?" I hopped down from my stool, picking off the stray bits of donut off of my disgusting sweater, that I still regretted not changing out of before starting the day. "When did you become so rebellious, Mr. Kingsley?" "Right after what happened in that chamber room. I've decided that I can't hide anymore; that tactic is not working out for the both of us. I need to be with you, physically and mentally, so that that never happens again." I sighed at the change of topic. "Rave, it wasn't your fault. I'm serious. You couldn't have done anything about it. Moreover, it had to be done, or else we wouldn't have known what the Prophecy was in the first place." I saw the tautness in expression as he twisted his ring around his finger. "It's important that you let that go, okay? You can't protect me from everything. Now, let me change into some fresh clothes so we can get going. You're so lucky you were able to do that right away. These are disgusting." I grabbed some clothes from the drawers by my nightstand, and then went into the bathroom, hoping my attempt at lighting up the mood succeeded. I still couldn't believe that Rave hadn't forgotten about that, even after my many endeavors to insure my security. I removed my sweater, immediately feeling purified, and tossed on a new t-shirt. Maybe Rave was one of those people that weren't used to making mistakes. Maybe he felt this instantaneous feeling that he needed to correct something that didn't even need correcting. I zipped up the fly on my jeans and walked out of the bathroom, deserting my dirty clothes on the floor. Rave was leaning against the counter patiently.
  24. "Ready?" I asked, grabbing my key and shoving it in my front pocket and taking my phone in hand. Rave examined my arms. "Aren't you apprehensive about the scars?" I took one last drink of my Hot Chocolate before pitching it in the trash bin. "I'm not worried. We're only going to the cafeteria anyways. Not many people go there after school. The staff are probably cleaning up." Rave opened the door. "After you, then." ~ We didn't make it out the door. Reyna came barging up to us the minute we stepped off the last step of the stairs. "Where were you in the morning?" she demanded, completely ignoring the fact that I just came down from my room with a boy. "And who is this?" Never mind. "I woke up early and decided to get an early breakfast with the cafeteria staff. Sorry, I should have informed you." "Yeah, you should have. I am aware of the fact that the lunch staff can take you in and watch over you instead of a counselor, but still, you need to notify me. I am your dorm adviser." "I understand. I apologize again. I'll wait for you to take me to first period on Monday. Promise." Reyna seemed to loosen up a bit at my compliance. "Great. Now, who is this boy, and why were the both of you coming from downstairs? You're not allowed to have any friends over, remember?" I bit down on my lip, unprepared for this. See, I said in my mind, hoping that Rave was reading it. This is exactly what I was talking about. Reyna stood her ground, waiting for an answer. Suddenly Rave offered out his hand and introduced himself, a charming smile on his face, his dimples in deep. "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. You see, I was the boy that saved _______ from the Aspen attack a while back ago, and I just wanted to catch up with her to make sure she was okay and see how she was holding up." Reyna blinked with acknowledgement. "Oh yes, you are. That's understandable, but do you have a guest pass?" Rave took out a laminated pass and presented it to Reyna. Her default was shaken. "Okay. And where are you two going now?" "The cafeteria," I answered. "I'm going to talk to Connie. She's a great listener, and she's wanted to meet Rave ever since she found out that he salvaged me." Reyna shook her head with consideration. Then, after a long pause she shook her head. "Well, alright. I'm only allowing this because you were the one that helped _______ and Web from Downtown. This is the only time I will make this exception, is that clear?" She looked from me and Rave with chastising eyes. We both nodded in sync. Reyna ran a hand down her face. "Okay, go. But no Inaugural Dance tonight. Remember that." Rave and I agreed with her, and soon were on our way out the door before she changed her mind and summoned us back.
  25. As we were making the long journey to the other side of campus to the cafeteria, I noticed that more people were staring at me than I was used to. And these stares weren't filled with ruthless eyes. More like desire. "Hey, _______," a girl I recognized from my math class greeted, backed up with her clique of friends. Before I could ask what she wanted, the girl put her hand on Rave's shoulder. "Who's your friend? Does he go here?" She turned her attention away from me completely, zeroing in on Rave. "I haven't seen you around before. I'm Heather. Do you need anybody to show you around?" Her friends yawned in awe. Rave must have known how uncomfortable I felt, because he looked on the verge of hysterically laughing. "I don't go to this school. Sorry." Heather tittered, moving her hand down Rave's arm. "You have a great body," she complimented, starry-eyed. "Do you run? Swim?" Rave grinned. Her friends squealed. "Oh my God, his dimples!" someone whispered in excitement. I groaned. "Okay, um, this was a great intervention, Heather, really, I hope we can become acquaintances in math. But Rave and I must really be going now." Heather's eyes were like daggers. "Don't you have some pills to take?" I chuckled under my breath. "No, actually, I take them at night at around six, I believe? Sorry." Heather, looking taken aback, continued glaring at me. Rave slipped his arm away from her grip. "Bye," I chimed in a cheery voice, with a small wave of my hand. Heather and her coterie stampeded away, vehemency glittering in their eyes. Once they rounded a corner of a building, I turned to Rave and began laughing. "I didn't know how much of a showstopper you were." Rave began walking away modestly. "They were just tired of seeing the same guys every day." "Stop acting so unpretentious," I groaned, slapping him on the arm. "You know you're cute, right?" He shrugged. "It's not like I look at myself in the mirror whenever I have free time to scan over my entire face." A couple more groups of girls passed us by. The thirst was palpable. "Speaking of admiring yourself in the mirror," I began, debating on whether or not I should pursue this topic, "I...was in French today, and Flame happened to see my scars." Rave seemed unbothered. "And? "And he confronted me about it. And I was the rudest person I could have ever been." Rave tilted up his eyebrow. "Why? What did you say?" I sighed, recalling the memory in my mind. "Well, he wanted to know how I was doing and wanted to see if I needed to talk to him about anything, and basically, I told him that I couldn't talk to him at all because he wouldn't have understood. Even though he was the first person to believe me when I told him that I had visions. And he was also the first person that went to my defense, when everybody here started going against me." Rave stopped mid-step. "And why would you tell him that again?" I looked down at my feet. "Because I knew at one point we'd become really, really close, and then something would come up, and I'd have to feed him lies about what I was doing, where I was going, who you are...everything. He wouldn't get the chance to find out who I really am. And I couldn't do that to him. So that's why I have to distance myself. To protect him. Because you know how in the movies people get really close to each other, and then that's who the bad guy goes after because the bad guy knows that the good guy wouldn't let anything happen to the people that they became really close to? Yeah. That's the point." Rave raked a hand through his hair. "You didn't have to do that." "Yes, I did. It's a win-win scenario: he doesn't get involved, and I don't have any distractions." I commenced back to walking. "And by the way, where did you find that guest pass that you showed to Reyna?" Rave grinned, proud of himself. "I took from the office just in case. I knew you'd go with the plan." I rolled my eyes as we approached the cafeteria. "Your so-called plan hasn't succeeded yet."
  26. Rave's so-called plan actually succeeded. We'd intruded on the lunch staff cleaning up the cafeteria, but were openly accepted when I'd introduced Rave and explained his role in saving me from Aspen and his gang. Connie absolutely venerated him, insisting on making him a plate of leftovers for free. When Rave kindly refused with a pleasant smile, Connie had actually pinched his cheek, saying repeatedly how adorable his dimples were, to which I agreed to. After all the teasing jokes and chitchat that went down, Connie finally asked what our real purpose to visiting the cafeteria was. So I told her, using my most pleading voice. "You want me to do that?" Connie had said, shaking her head at the cash register. "If anybody found out I would be fired." Rave had then placed his hand on Connie's shoulder, just as Heather did to him. "Nobody could prove anything if Principal Dapper found out. You could say that you were the one that took her phone away, because you thought it would be better. In fact, there's a more likely chance that you would be rewarded." Connie looked like she was considering this. Just then, Bill had popped his head through the window, waving his spatula around as if trying to kill a fly. "Just do it, Cons. There's nothing to lose, and you get to help little Miss Scratchers here. Why, you could just say we kept the phone in the freezer with the vegetables. I can vouch for ya." Connie had peered down at Rave's hand, to Bill, and then finally to me. She'd rolled her eyes then, and nodded willingly. "No more discounts for a week." A tiny small sat on her lips. "Miss Scratchers."
  27. "See, Mom? Seriously, if I had access to my phone, I would have answered your calls." I mouthed the words thank you so much to Connie and Bill as we exited out the cafeteria doors. I heard Mom struggling on the other line, sounding like she was disputing with herself on whether or not she should continue being angry or relieved. Rave watched me the entire time on the phone, anxiety written all over his face. I was secretly waiting for the moment when he would run into a pole for not paying attention to where he was going. "Okay, sweetie. You should have at least called from the office phone or something. I was worried sick; I was this close to calling the school." "I'm sorry, Mom. I really am." How many times have I apologized today? "I was just so caught up in...homework. I've been sucking at French." The microwave beeper sounded from the other line. "I hear you have a"” Hey, young lady, are you trying to redirect me from the topic of what even led you to on-campus detention in the first place?" I ran a hand down my face in discomfort. "No, Mom, I didn't even know you still wanted to lecture me about that." The microwave screeched once more. "Of course I do! What were you thinking going to a club with a boy in the middle of the night in a downtown area?!" Perhaps my mom and microwave were one. Rave chuckled under his breath, obviously hearing the scold I was receiving. I slapped him on the arm, resisting to laugh out loud. "...and the officer said that you're a murder suspect?" She moaned in agony, and I could just picture her throwing her hands up in the air. "Murder. You could go to an actual jail for that!" "Wow, Mom, I totally did not know that, thank you. And to my defense, I did not kill Dots! They haven't even found her body yet, so they don't even know if she really is dead." The big marquee that read Rex Hall was soon in view. "And let's not get started about you being at a bar! You are underage! Why are you drinking!" I heard a beep from my phone. I took it from my ear for a second, still able to hear what dear Mother was rambling on about, and felt pure bliss. "Mom," I cut off, "It was really great talking to you again, but my phone is running low on battery and I heard once that talking on the phone for too long kills brain cells at a rapid rate so I'll call you tomorrow morning, okay? Say hi to Dad for me; I love you, bye!" I clicked end just as the air conditioner of the Lobby swept my slight perspiration away. I felt slightly awful cutting Mom off like that, considering how many times she's been trying to reach me. But then again, I really didn't want to stay on the line just so I could hear her yellow-flag me on everything I'd done. I jammed the phone into my back pocket as Rave and I climbed up the stairs back to my room. "Quick," I started, "please tell me it sounded like I was off the hook with my mom." Rave laughed. "Completely." We rounded the corner of the stairwell, about to enter the hallway of my room, when I bugged out and shoved Rave flying back around the corner, my hand over his mouth. Alert flashed in his eyes as he tried to say something, but I put a finger to my lips. Shut up, don't talk, Flame is outside my room about to knock on the door. A knock sounded. I removed my hand from Rave's mouth and gripped the front of his shirt with my hands, freaking out. What do I? Should we go up to him? I can't face him, not after what I said a while ago! Rave gently took my hands off of him, and motioned me to slow down. "You'll have to talk to him," he whispered in a barely audible voice. "If you don't talk to him he's going to think you're avoiding him, and then that will make him ask more questions. Besides, he's going to come back down this way and see us crouched down on the floor anyways." I cursed under my breath as I heard another knock, this time accompanied by Flame's voice. "Green bean, I know you told me to piss off today, but I was just really worried about you..." Rave, I wouldn't know what to say. You have to go with me, okay? He offered me a smile as if to say Of course, and then helped me up to my feet. Before turning the corner again, I patted down my hair and adjusted my shirt. Then we barged down the hall.
  28. Flame saw us right away, looking from the door to me, almost embarrassed that he was speaking to Comet on the other side. "Hey," I said monotonously, feeling Rave's presence come up beside me. "What are you doing here?" Instead of the usual confident, arrogant, and flamboyant Flame, I got presented with a Flame that looked weary and tired. Beaten. Uninspired. His eyes balanced from Rave to me, his muscles visibly tense. "I just wanted to check up on you. Um, I know you said that it was none of my business, but..." his gaze traveled down to my arm. I quickly crossed it with the other one. "Flame, I appreciate your concern, but really, I'm fine. I don't have any problems." He dug his hands in his pockets, his luscious green eyes searching for something in my face. There was a pause and then he said, "I don't believe you. And obviously you don't believe yourself. Look, whatever you're doing to yourself"”" "She's not doing anything to herself," Rave intervened in a calm voice. "It was her cat." I slapped myself mentally in the face. Why didn't I think of that excuse before? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Flame's expression turned hard. "Well thanks for the insight. Rave, right? I remember you from the hospital. And I'm pretty sure that ______ can tell me herself what happened." Rave tilted his head, accepting the unforeseen challenge. "I'm pretty sure she already made it clear that it was none of your business?" Flame's lip twitched. I could tell he was trying not to smirk. Sensing the construction of a major quarrel going on here, I decided to end it before Flame could make yet another comeback. I stepped in between the two them, just noticing how close they'd gotten. "It was Comet, Flame. Really. And you should go. You're going to get me in trouble." Before he could question Rave's being here I added, "Rave has a guest pass. And I really don't need your help." Flame nodded at the ground. "Yeah. I see you have all the help you can get." He made a move to leave, but instead pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to me. "I made you a study guide for the upcoming French test." He brushed past us. "Good luck." The last thing I heard were Flame's footsteps fading away.
  29. I flung myself onto my bed the second we entered the room, burying my face in my arms. "I'm horrible. Rave, did you see his face? It looked like I shattered his entire ego. His ego is huge." Rave's voice sounded commiserating as I shoved the study guide under my pillow. "I'm sorry. But you need to remember that you're the one that wanted that." I lifted my head to glance at him, watching as he settled back onto the couch. "As if you really care. You are were about ready to punch him in the face. I wanted to push him away not threaten him with you!" "Like he was threatened at all. And he wasn't going to leave without getting any answers. Do you really think he believes that your cat created those scars?" I brought my head back down just as I felt Comet himself climb up onto my back. "No. Flame knows Comet. He knows Comet wouldn't hurt me like that." I turned over, lifting the cat up and setting him back on my chest. "I hope you don't feel neglected," I told him. Then at Rave, "Flame wasn't wasn't going to go to the Inaugural Dance tonight. I remember him planning for us to spend the night together or something. I bet he's going to go now." Rave looked like he didn't know how to reply, and that's when I figured how whiny I was sounding. Flame and I shared one kiss. It wasn't like we were dating or ready to run away and elope. Flame was just an innocent, temporary fling, that I just so happened to care enough about to risk our friendship in order to keep him out of danger. Comet started licking me on the face. I squirmed away, sitting up and scouring my arm. The scars had turned into a partially-black scattering of dots, like braille. "So what do you think of the Prophecy?" Rave slumped down one shoulder. "Sounds a bit debauch." I rose my eyebrows. "Aren't all prophecies?" "I suppose so. I've been trying to figure out what the lines could mean when you were at school." "And?" Just then, Rave whipped out a folded up piece of paper from his back pocket, such like Flame earlier, and sat down at the edge my bed. I still saw the slightest hesitation in his movement, and for some reason it made me feel a bit sad. Rave smoothed out the paper in front of me, his features turning humble. "I have a few theories."
  30. We spent the next two hours going over the Prophecy, attempting to piece together what exactly it was talking about. The process cost me a full box of cookies, a bag of Twix, and a gallon of juice. Rave and I were able to produce some sense out of the enigmatic vaticination, judging only from common sense. We agreed that the Prophecy was somewhat unambiguous, adjudicating from the sufficiently straightforward verses which we read over and over again off the slip of paper in which Rave had so graciously copied down from memory. When I had the Prophecy fundamentally stigmatized into my brain, my arm had already healed itself completely, leaving no evident stamp that the scars ever existed in the first place. I perched myself up with my elbows, pushing the piece of paper towards Rave, whom had stretched out on the bed, leaning against the headboard. "Let's recap," I told him, stroking Comet's tail as he strutted across my leg. Shrill yells and cries of laughter floated in through the window, making my face twist up in slight disfavor. They were probably on their way to the dance. "Alright," Rave yawned, tousling up his hair, not noticing my change of expression. "So far, our guess is that a Seventh Sighter"”because of the whole "˜invisible eye' and "˜hindered sight' part"”will turn to the dark side to bring destruction to the world. And in this particular Seventh Sighter, a "˜forgotten power will soon be found', and at one point will have to immolate a person that they can never love. And because it says, "˜Before darkness can no longer hide from the light', we've concluded that there is most likely a time limit to this." I sighed. "And this is all caused because...?" Rave sunk back his head. "That, is what doesn't make sense. "˜Thou whom seeks the plague of death.' I really doubt somebody would want to seek their demise." I swept away crumbs off the blanket, loud music thumping from outside. "Yeah, I know. Unless something occurs that makes whomever want to die. Maybe there's promise after death. All I know is that I doubt it's about me." Rave's hand emerged from under my pillow, Flame's study guide"”which I shamefully had forgot all about until then"”in his grasp. "Are you really struggling that much in French?" he inquired, ironing the paper with his palm. I groaned. "It's actually horrific. I'm unable to do the accent, no matter how many times Madam Decker instructs me to follow her mouth movements." Rave laughed, and then set the study guide and the Prophecy down on the nightstand. I tied my hair up in a ponytail and then pointed at him with an accusatory finger. "It is totally not funny. Where did you learn to speak fluent French, again?" Rave swung his legs over the bed. "The Basin." "Unsurprisingly." I watched as he strode over to the halfway open window, Comet following his trail. I got up as well, ready to put the Prophecy behind me for now. "There's someplace I want to visit." Rave turned, his eyes making me feel gooey. "The school hospital," I continued on. "Two of my friends landed in there because of a bus crash, and I want to see if they're okay." Rave nodded, a sense of pride displayed on his face. "I'd be happy to accompany you."
  31. Rave and I walked to the school hospital. The Lobby was deserted when we went down, so it was no trouble breaking my on-campus detention again. Rave insisted on walking to the hospital rather than Shimmering, claiming that he rarely had the opportunity to stroll around without any violence or in-a-rush situations occurring. I gave in to his wishes; it was one of the few things I really could do for him. It was cold outside. It was a cloudless, starless night, which emphasized the dazzle of the crescent moon. The lampposts, scattered around the campus, were ablaze, ornamented by laminated posters of Brittany's smiling face as Principal Dapper was shaking her hand. We encountered few people on our little voyage: those that were late and those that planned on being late. Girls clung onto their dates' arms, cliques of friends guffawed at an inside joke, and those going stag trekked on, completely unashamed. Nobody spared Rave and me a second glance"”they were all much too in a hurry, scrambling along the concrete like newborn horses. The excitement on their faces was palpable, and small doses of happiness bubbled up inside me. "You're smiling," Rave pointed out, an amused expression forming on his face. Another couple passed, the girl hitching up her dress as she adjusted her stiletto strap. We neared the hospital, patches of light stitched onto the building. I crossed my arms, my smile morphing into a grin. "I hope they have a good time, that's all. Even if it's in honor of Brittany." From my peripherals I could see Rave watching me, as if I were a stranger. "What?" I asked, a sense of self-consciousness rising to my brain. Silence wailed through the silent air, involuntary making my voice tremble. Rave reached for the hospital door, gesturing for me to go in as he trailed behind. "Hi, what can I do for you?" I tried to hide my disapproval at the conversation change; my curiosity above Rave was becoming more and more vigorous the more time I spent with him. The school nurse donned out a clipboard for us to sign in. "We're here to see Lauren and Naomi," I answered, gliding the pen along the paper, my name confined in a small rectangular box. I gave the pen to Rave as the nurse tapped her fingers on the keyboard of her computer. She was looking at some type of document, judging from the monitor's reflection in her eyes. Rave pushed the clipboard and pen towards the nurse once he was finished. She didn't look up but took the clipboard back to her side of the desk anyways, her other hand on the mouse, clicking away. "One moment." The nurse scanned the clipboard for a second and then put it in a purple tray behind her. I was relieved that she didn't recognize who I was, or else we would get bombarded with questions regarding why I was out of the dorm. I waved my eyes over the room we were in, taking in the empty seats branded with the James Dawn crest lined against the white walls which were decorated with motivational posters, along with the artificial bouquets of flowers sitting on every flat surface: tables, shelves, and window sills. Teen magazines rested vertically against one another in a white bin under one of the table; Pop music played softly from the speakers above. The nurse swiveled around in her roller chair to access the file cabinets behind her. She sifted through the records with protracted cherry blossom fingernails, and then grabbed two manila folders, rising from her seat. "Lauren was just given her painkillers, so she's most likely asleep, but Naomi will be awake. I checked on her ten minutes ago, and she's watching TV." She put the folders back in their rightful spot, and then turned back to Rave and me, her hands on her hips. "I was about to grab dinner before you two showed up. Do you think you can handle being alone while I run down to the Teachers' Lounge really quick?" I nodded before even glancing at Rave. "We'll be fine. We're just here to visit." The nurse narrowed her eyes at us, assessing her own judgement. "Fine," she caved. "The doctor is on his break as well, so he might be back. Keep that in mind." The nurse exited through a small swinging door at the edge of the desk, and then beckoned towards a pair of brown double doors behind her. "They're through there. Room 3."
  32. Rave and I both thanked the nurse and watched as she left the building, becoming smaller and smaller until she disappeared into the night. We made our way to the indicated doors; I had the urge to pinch my nose at the sudden strong scent of disinfectant. The hallway was unlike the waiting room, with it's naked and desolate walls. There were no posters, signs, or any denote that this wing was being used. "It's like the cornfield all over again," Rave murmured in distaste, keeping only slightly ahead of me. Paranoia began creeping it's way up my spine. The rooms"”even numbers on the left and odds on the right"”were separated by a prolonged distance. We had to walk at least fifteen feet before coming to the next entry. But finally we made it. And no psycho murderer appeared with a massive butcher knife. As if Rave couldn't handle it. I knocked on the door lightly. "Naomi? It's _______. Can I come in?" A few seconds of silence passed until a hoarse, muffled voice from the other side said, "Go ahead." Rave and I shared a look of vacillation as his palm gripped the door handle. He took my nod as a cue to advance upon opening it. The door squeaked open melodramatically, shadows of the moon cast eerily from the window onto the hoary floors. "Over here," the husky voice cooed, a coughing fit following afterwards. I stepped confidently into the room and started blindly inspecting the walls for a light switch. "I like it dark," the voice stated, making me drop my hand immediately back down to my side. Creak. I grabbed Rave's hand out of instinct. He squeezed reassuringly right away. My mind briefly flashed back to the hallway just a few minutes ago. Just like the cornfield, he'd said. Rave and I left the door ajar, and proceeded deeper into the room. Right away I noticed the open window and empty, slovenly crumpled pile of sheets on an empty bed. The scene suggested this as a tocsin, and by the way Rave tensed up and his hand held mine tighter I knew that he felt the same way I did. We began crossing the other side of the room circumspectly, not trusting our own natural intuition. Another creak sounded. "I'm over here." I squinted my eyes uselessly towards the voice, shaming myself for giving up on that light switch; the moonlight offered no further assistance. "Naomi?" my voice rang out, sounding small and timorous. I protracted my arm in front of me, trying to feel for soft crinkles of sheets. Deep breathing, not mine or Rave's, blew into my ear. "Here."
  33. My eyes cowered away as big black vortexes circled around my head, the unlooked for light nearly blacking out my vision. I brought my fists up to my eyes, rendering my grasp from Rave, and began massaging them as a giggle pealed through the ambience. I brought my hands back down, nictitating to adapt back to the shift in atmosphere. Rave pressed my elbow reassuringly. "Whoops," Naomi apologized, her electric blue hair tied up in a ponytail, "I should have warned you a little better." Relief and a bit of solicitousness flushed through my veins seeing Naomi sitting in her bed in a state of tranquility, peering at us through dry eyes. I made my way to the side of her bed, temporarily omitting the outlandish locale that'd just happened. "How are you? Where's Lauren?" Naomi cleared her throat, and then started coughing again. "Punctured vocal cord." I gave her a doleful look. That's why she sounds like a trenchant smoker. Naomi smiled, registering my expression. "It's fine. The doctor says it's so minor it will heal up by itself." Her eyes flicked behind my shoulder at Rave almost inimically. I turned to look at him to see if he was doing anything to freak her out, but Rave was just standing there, placid as usual. "Um. This is Rave. My friend." Naomi slowly tore her gaze back to me, a ghost of a smile crawling over her lips. "Lauren snuck out. She's at the dance." My eyes seized the vacated spot across the room with the overt window, aghast. "She left? But isn't she injured?" Naomi shrugged pettily. "She has a broken arm. She said she wasn't going to miss the Inaugural Dance just because of that." I pinched the bridge of my nose. "She's insane. What is she wearing?" Naomi shifted uneasily, toying with her hospital bracelet. "Scrubs." I exhaled sharply, shaking my head at Lauren's destituted conduct. "She's probably getting wasted." "Most likely," Naomi said matter-of-factly. I cursed under my breath and turned to Rave. "We need to go get her. If the nurse or doctor come back they'll think we helped her leave, as will the chaperones if they catch her and bring her back." A small cessation passed through the air. "But what if they see you?" "They won't. We'd be gone before anyone physically catches me anyways. And you have a guest pass, so they'll think you were invited to the dance." Scruple brandished Rave's features. I put my hand on his arm, pleading as he bit his lip. Finally, he sighed. "Okay. But we have to be quick." I smiled in satisfaction, squeezing his arm in gratitude before putting it back down at my side. I went back to Naomi to reassure her that we would get Lauren back, as unconcerned as she seemed about the dilemma, but stopped when I saw her yanking out her IVs. "What are you doing?" Naomi tossed the blanket off of her body as the cords of the IV's tapped to the ground. "I'm going with you guys." She sluggishly attempted to dangle her legs over the ledge of the hospital bed. She halted when I put my hand on her bare knee. "No, you're not. We're just going to get Lauren and bring her back. I don't need to have to babysit you too." "You're not going to have to babysit me," Naomi spat, taking offense. "I just want to help finding Lauren too. Besides, I'm tired of this artificial Heaven they have going on here. I want to go outside for a walk. And see the dance." She tried to swallow back coughs, her eyes becoming water as she dismissed my hand with a flick of hers and then flopped onto the ground. I rose my eyebrow. "And you're just going to wear your hospital gown?" Naomi laughed. "It'll look better than a lot of the dresses you'll see. Besides, I have hearts on my underwear. Perfect." I couldn't help but grin. "Fine." Rave was already at the door, holding it open for us. I linked my arm with Naomi's. "You totally me." But her gaze was once more focused on Rave, a glimmer of hostility stabbing at him for only a second, before her face twisted into a grin directed at me. "I'll sing you a song later."
  34. "Aren't you glad you came?" Web mused, tilting his head back to divulge on another Apple Martini. Flame set his empty cup of water on a passing tray. "I only came because you made me your hostage." "You should be lucky that I'm not into bondage." Web grinned at a group of a girls weaving by, making them swoon. "Besides, you were being mopey." Flame let out a tight laugh. "I was not being mopey. Lackadaisical is more the term." Web rolled his eyes, popping a pretzel into his mouth. The Inaugural Dance was better than last year's. The gymnasium was perfected into an entirely different world, the theme being Away With the Stars, which was completely feminine but didn't bother Web one bit, figuring that if the ladies liked it then so will the men later on in the night. The gym was plastered with black felt, from the floor to the ceiling, embedded with multi-colored rhinestones which gleamed and winked every time a flash of the ghostly green strobe light hit them, giving the illusion of being in space. A gigantic moon hung over the dance floor, serving as both cleverly a decoration and disco ball, the deep craters holding round panels of glass which reflected brilliantly onto the walls and floors. The whole student body seemed to be in attendance, dancing the night away, being young and careless like every other adolescent should be. A stage was set up sitting on the north side of the gym, the rings of Saturn partially coming from one end and the matching side coming from the other. A throne sat in the middle of the stage, a sash hooked limply on one ear of the grand chair most likely made for Brittany when she officially gets announced as the Class President. Web glanced at Flame nibbling on a cookie, looking as feeble as ever. He had no idea as to what was bothering him, and when he pressed on about the matter back in the room, Flame had simply dismissed it. Which was why Web had felt obligated to bring him. It was too late to buy a valid ticket for his roommate, so as an alternative route"”which he'd carefully mapped out beforehand"”Web guided Flame through the air ducts, starting from the underground vent under the janitor's closet, and ending in the boy's bathroom. It was a difficult voyage considering the two of them were in suits, but well worth crashing the most anticipated party of James Dawn. The DJ turned down the music to ask how the crowd was doing tonight as if he was really in all seriousness concerned, and everybody around Web wailed and screamed. The place reminded him of Anarchy. Although Anarchy had better-looking people in it. The school was lucky he attended. Web did one more sweep of the area, awaiting the moment where Principal Dapper would get up on stage and read Brittany's name from a sealed envelope"”like the Woodknox population didn't know already"”to declare her presidency and summon her onto the stage where she will swear in with her right hand on the"”and this is the real deal"”student handbook and recite the James Dawn honor code. And everybody would cheer. Like they gave two sh**s. Suddenly something caught Web's attention. A shock of blue hair. Naomi? Web narrowed his eyes in curiosity, and then started making his way through the labyrinth of sweaty bodies, ducking behind clusters of dancers every now and then to avoid being in the line of sight of a chaperone. He poured another Apple Martini down his throat as a waitress blurred by with her tray. Web wasn't all that worried about drinking too much tonight; the Apple Martini's were basically harmless, and at least he could pretend to be raging drunk when he made his guest-appearance later on in the night. He blurt out a laugh and then handed a nearby person his empty glass, making his way to the Lady in Scrubs enjoying a sandwich in a dark corner. "What are you doing here?" Naomi froze mid-chew, staring at Web, unregistering his face. "Eating a sandwich? Nobody wanted to dance with me?" It sounded like light sarcasm, yet her face was like stone, her eyes antagonizing. "Okay," Web began, shoving his hands in pockets. "But you shouldn't be here? You're supposed to be holed up at the hospital?" Naomi seemed to snarl nastily, and then resumed back to her sandwich. "Hey!" a familiar voice called out, getting nearer and nearer. "Why are you eating? We're supposed to be looking for Lauren!" Web turned his head at the new voice, and laughed even harder. "Wow, this is a spectacle. Why don't the three of us just create a rebellious hardcore rock band and just crash parties!" He grinned from _____ to Naomi, enjoying every second of this unforeseen coincidence. _______ put her hands on her hips. "Hey, Web. I'm not surprised to see you here." He put a hand on his heart. "That is so cute. It's like you know me on a more personal level than anybody else. She rolled her eyes, making him chuckle, and then turned back to Naomi. The two of them obviously hadn't come just for the free food. "I told you we needed to be quick! There is no time for sandwich eating!" Naomi took another bite of her sandwich defiantly. "Tell that to your boyfriend over there." I whipped around, swiveling my head side to side. Then I saw it. Rave by the pretzel bowl. With Flame. I groaned and started strutting towards them. I could hear Web following me, relishing the whole thing. "This is going to be soo good."
  35. As banal as it sounds, we'd made it into the dance by pretending to be caterers, hiding our faces behind boxes of food that we'd taken from the open trunk of a company van. We'd entered through the back door of a smaller room adjoined to the gym where all the food was stored and prepared, and from there we managed to escape. The plan was to split up, find Lauren, meet by the bathrooms, and leave quickly. Apparently, the word quickly meant absolutely nothing. Naomi is making love with a sandwich while Rave is fraternizing with the boy I specifically stated I did not want getting into this jumble of a situation. Great. I came to a halt in front of the two boys, my arms crossed. "Hi." My glare was directed Rave. "Have you seen Lauren?" Guilt rushed his face as he shook his head. "What are you doing here?" Flame asked curiously, keeping his eyes trained on mine. Those intense green eyes. Those grassy meadow eyes. My stance faltered a bit. "I-I'm just looking for Lauren. She escaped from the hospital to go here and I came to bring her back." "Totally badass," Web commented, now beside me. Ignoring him, I took hold of Rave's arm, causing Flame to clench his jaw. "We have to go now. Enjoy the rest of the dance." I guided Rave away before anybody could interject. Of the three of us, I hadn't expected him to go off task, especially when he was the one who was so reluctant to go in the first place. We stopped by a cooler filled with water bottles and cans of sodas. "What were you guys talking a"” You know what, never mind, we need to find Lauren. Naomi has become one with the stars, dwelling in a corner, so she won't be any help. We've been here for forty-five minutes." I paused, letting that sink in. "Forty-five minutes. It would be a miracle if the nurse hasn't returned already!" Rave grimaced. "You're right. I'm sorry, I was just trying to"”" Out of nowhere the music and strobe lights went mute, and a single spotlight hit the stage, where Principal Dapper stood in front of a microphone stand with a grin on his face and an envelope in his hands. The mic stuttered as he pat his finger on it. "Hello, everybody, thank you for coming to the annual James Dawn Inaugural Dance!" Cheers erupted, faces red and voices worn but still joyous. Principal Dapper looked over his students, pride painted all over his face. "I sincerely hope you all are having the time of your lives. For the most part, all of you have earned this night of fun, and the staff along with myself are glad to provide you it." He paused for dramatic effect. I figured it would be easier looking for Lauren now that everybody has stopped moving and were paying attention to the stage, but I also knew that it would be easier for any chaperones to pick Rave and I out as well. My eyes darted frantically around the masses of people, unrelenting. "But we all know who this night is for: the person who will succor this school and this student body in continuing to achieve greatness; the person who will stop at nothing to bring order; the person that you all voted for." The ripping of the envelope echoed throughout the gym. Principal Dapper took out the card from inside, and flipped it open excitedly. But then his grin faltered, his forehead wrinkled in confusion. The crowd saw the faultiness and began to whisper. Principal Dapper scratched at his head. "Web Banister?"
  36. I almost fainted in shock. Collective murmurs built up in the crowd: some laughing and others strangely ireful. I brought my eyes to Flame back at the refreshments; judging by his expression he had no clue about this. I could make out Brittany's shadow by the stage, clearly furious with the switch. Then Web popped onto the stage, distinctly aware of what was going on. He grabbed the microphone from the stand, muttering something to Principal Dapper. The chaperons shared glances across the room with each other, debating whether or not to make a move. "As you all know," Web commenced, "I am not the rightful Class President. Brittany is. Even though she is utterly immoral and just a complete b**ch." He looked off to the side, offering her shadow an apologetic shrug. "Although I am not Class President, I feel compelled to address a certain issue that has been floating around this school for almost a week." Principal Dapper made a move to grab the mic from Web's hands, but he pulled it away right on time. "John, please, I am trying to address my certain issue. As Principal, I would think you would be interested in hearing about it." That earned Web a glare and a couple of snickers from the audience. "Now. I know you all have heard about the incident that has happened regarding myself and the new student, _______ _______." My eyes widened. What is he doing? Suddenly Rave grabbed my shoulder and cocked his head towards the gym's main doors. The nurse stalked in, smoke fuming from her ears. S**t. "And I also know that all you guys know about the rumor that Brittany started, about her being...mentally disable. But you know what? She's not. She's perfectly normal. But all of you wouldn't know that, because you all just decided to listen to some pathetic girl, who had nothing better to do with her life except snoop around someone else's privacy. Again, Brit, it's not me, it's you..." The nurse found her way to the nearest chaperone, speaking vehemently, her hands cutting through the air. "We need to leave," Rave said, already scouring the place for the nearest exit. He took hold of my arm and began moving. Just as my eyes rested on Reyna's. Rave pushed us through the crowd, cognizant that we've been spotted, not caring about the raucous made as the people he shoved complained. Finally we made the cool night air, under the real stars in the parking lot. Before we could even think about what to do next, Naomi came running over to us, jumping about in terror. "I found Lauren! She's over there around the corner throwing up!" Rave sighed in frustration, but began moving towards the indicated direction anyways.It was in that moment that I knew I could always, always rely on him. I sent him appreciation through my thoughs, and in return he took my hand and squeezed, like that was our secret gesture of gratitude for each other. Naomi was around the corner before we were, and I found ourselves in the teachers' area of the parking lot, mostly deserted save for a couple of cars. I dropped Rave's hand as soon as I saw Lauren. There she was, on the ground leaning against a brick wall, drowning herself in her own vomit, emptly glasses pooled around her crippled body. "Oh, Lauren," I whispered disappointingly under my breath, not knowing what to do now that we've finally had her. She replied with a series of hiccups, and then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, dropping it back into her puke. I impelled myself not to look away. Then new voices sounded near us. Adults: frantic and frenzied. "Keep quiet," Naomi said to Lauren, crouching down to meet her eyes. There was something about the way she said it that made me uncomfortable. It sounded...harsh. The voices became more distant as time passed by, and I figured they decided to choose the opposite direction to head to rather than this one. For that I was greatful. I left Rave's side and uncertaintly went over to Lauren, whom began to lay down on the yellow patch of concrete. "No, sweetie, you have to get up," I told her, trying to keep my voice calm. "You need to go back to the hospital and get some rest. The nurse is looking for you, and you're in really bad shape." Lauren slurred something I couldn't catch. "Grab her other arm and we'll hoist her up," I told Naomi while Rave kept watch. Naomi nodded and then positioned herself to get a good grip and at the same time not get slathered in Lauren's mess. With a grunt, we managed to get her to a slouchy standing position, her head hanging low, not wanting to communicate. "Lauren," I pressed on, the stench now getting to me. "We need you to hold up your head, okay? You need to try your best to be coherent." Lauren muttered something foreign, like a different language, then turned her head towards Naomi. I watched as she laughed. "This isn't funny," I scolded, being reminded of my mother. "Lauren look at me." She muttered something under her breath again, and soon she became heavier in my hands. Slowly, she obliged and turned her head. Her eyes were orange. I dropped her immediately, and scrambled away towards Rave just as Naomi let out a sickening guffaw. Rave pushed me behind him immediately, and we watched as Naomi and Lauren's features changed right before our eyes into two"” I was grabbed my behind, my hand accidentally scratching at Rave's neck. A large hand covered my mouth, muffling my attempt to scream, and soon I felt a something sharp"”a knife"”held up against my throat. "Don't move, Savior," a throat voice threatened. "Or you will watch her disintegrate before your eyes." Rave's face was professionally calm as he stood there in the same spot, unmoving, while the two women who had transformed from Naomi and Lauren grabbed his arms and held them behind his back. Rave refused to look at me. Nor did he attempt to speak to me in my thoughts. "He's coming," the woman who was Naomi said, her purple hair flapping in the wind. The other woman grabbed a needle-sharp chopstick from her pocket and whipped her hair out of her face in one swift motion. She snarled when she saw me watching her. I heard the music start up once more in the gym, the bass reverberating through the brick walls. The adults would have came, I thought to myself. Nobody will be able to hear us now. Then out of nowhere, as if summoned from the night itself, two men walked slowly over to us. One was bigger than the other, and strode to the ladies, taking over their job as a restraint for Rave. The other man wore a suit, his skin chalk white, his hair almost glowing. He stared at me, a wicked smile on his lips. "Put the knife away, Noose. We don't want to completely terrify the child." The man spoke like he was the boss. He spoke like Viper. I flinched involuntarily, causing the blade to nick my skin just as the one identified as Noose pulled it away. But the small pain was nothing compared to the epiphany of recognition that I felt just then. That's Sebastian. He's here. He's come to destroy me. As if he could smell my fear, Sebastian began encircling Rave, looking at me the whole time. "It's been a long time since I've seen a Sighter and their Purpose together. Alive, that is." A saw a drop of my own blood fall onto the knuckle of the man holding me. Sebastian saw. He walked over like he was on a morning stroll through the park and took the blood off with his finger. He put it on his tongue. This time I did look away. "Your blood is rich," he said. "Very delectable. I could use it sometime. But first, we must deal with your Savior." He turned to his comrades. "It's a shame we don't have Viper any longer. Without her"”" he put his face in front of Rave's, eyes squinted"” "we've no clue what power he possesses." A hint of a smirk lined Rave's lips. "Would you like to find out?" Everything turned black.
  37. I took the opportunity at the element of surprise and attempted to elbow Noose in the gut. His groan gave me the idea that it worked. I struggled free out of his hold, only to find myself stuck in a black hole. Weather manipulation, Rave had said. Just like in Downtown. Noises of attack were sailing through my head: grunts, groans, and curses. Breathing hard, I ascended into the darkness as a concrete shadow, feeling my way around for something tangible with the possibility of me getting whacked in the face at any random moment. Find the wall, Rave's voice slithered in my thoughts. Find the wall and stay there. The connection sounded weak. My mind flashed back to the night in Downtown; how Rave had beaten Aspen and his crew up with his weather manipulation so easily, barely even getting hurt. Could he do that now? Without any help whatsoever? My heart constricted in my chest. Not likely. These people weren't human; they were in the Miscreancy. They are the Miscreancy; they kill innocents for a living. I stopped mid-step right when a fist connected with my stomach. I doubled over at the sudden pain, my breath knocked right out of me. I closed my eyes to try and regain my composure, focusing hard on the thought of Rave being outnumbered five to one. Did he have vision in his own darkness? A fierce determination possessed my body, and soon I was up on my own two feet again, looking for which way to turn. Be the hero for once. I was about to start running"”surely Rave's power had a limit to it's extension"”but stopped mid-step when blobs of gray began manifesting into body shapes, contrasting lowly with the blackness. Slowly, I made my way towards one, a hope trickling in my gut that perhaps Rave was doing something else with his magic to his gain. I raised my unseen hand to the blob of gray; and snapped my hand back when I felt skin. "Who was that?" demanded one of the two women's voice, sounding furious. Then without thinking I balled my hand up into a fist and hit the gray blob again. Hard. A shriek pierced my ears, and soon a wave of resolution washed over my whole body at the discovery I'd just made. I tackled the blob onto the ground. We were two ghosts of the night at war; and this time I had the advantage. The top of the blob I assumed was the head, so I reached down until I had a good handful of hair and yanked and yanked and yanked. I knew it wasn't the best combat skills in the world, but as long as it helped out Rave's chances in his fight, I didn't mind at all. Until I got kicked off. As my back skidded against the concrete the blob got back up and began sprinting to it's left. I pushed myself up off the ground with my sweaty palms, and stopped to catch my breath when I was on my knees. Where are you? Rave's voice hissed frustratingly. I told you to go to the wall! Stand still and hold your right arm out, I told him, still unsure on whether I was right on this or not. What? he asked exasperatedly, his impatient manner apparent. Trust me and do it. I cleaved my way through the darkness once more, the gray shapes wandering about like ants, shouting at each other. I smiled at Sebastian's faults; now he knew what Rave's most powerful ability was. I brushed passed the blobs, not wanting to attract any unnecessary attention and risk having to fight with Sebastian or Noose, or that other man that I saw. I swam around the darkness, my fear lost in the rush of my blood, until I reached Rave. His embodiment was not the same as the others. The others were an ashy gray whereas his was a silver. Good and bad, I thought. I ran fast towards the blob and felt around to know where it's face was. My thumbs brushed soft lips. "Rave?" I whispered under my breath, careful not to alert the others of our location. "I'm here," he replied. "We can't Shimmer out or else the darkness will be gone, consumed by the other magic. So instead we've got to run. I'm going to create a loop so that you can get out, alright?" I found his shirt and clung onto it. "What about you?" "I'll be right behind you. Don't worry." I grabbed his hand and squeezed. I knew his smile was weary. Suddenly a bright purple light flashed in the distance, growing larger and larger. "Very impressive, Savior." Sebastian's voice sounded close to my ears, even though his outline accompanied the light. "Now let me show you what I can do."
  38. We began running before finding out. The purple light expanded behind us, a faint illumination lining my peripherals. So we ran faster: blindly, unknowingly into oblivion, but trusting each other. I didn't know how long we ran"”past all the gray, past all the bad. But soon enough a small sliver of night appeared, a car shining in the distance. Rave pushed me ahead of him. "Go! I have to keep it open for you!" I stumbled on my own two feet, looking back at Rave for only a quick second before part slipping, part leaping out of the loop and onto the ground. Arms smothered me. "_______! What is going on?!" The arms helped me up. Recovering from the sudden brightness, even though it was nighttime, I looked up into Flame's concerned and uneasy face. Horror lined my features. He saw. I spun around and gasped; standing there from the void that'd sputtered me out stood a big, pitch-black vacuous square, like the end of the world. "Rave!" I screamed, the fear creeping it's way back inside my veins. "Rave!" Strong hands gripped my shoulders, trying to steady my shaking. "What is going on? What is that? Should I get help?" I whipped around, my eyes starting to get glassy. "No! Do not move!" Web suddenly appeared at the scene, raking his hand through his hair. "Dude, they totally kicked me"” Holy s**t, what the hell is that?" I followed Web's gaze, expecting to see that he was gawking at the black hole. I was wrong. There, shooting out from the middle, was a pillar of purple light, gradually getting larger and larger, eating up the gloom. "I don't assume that's the entertainment," Web mumbled, getting closer and closer. For a moment we were all entranced by the column of violet; I could smell the power within it. The light reached high into the clouds, disappearing from the planet. Something grabbed my ankle. I snapped my head down, trying to pry my foot away, terrif"” It was Rave. He was soaked in blood. "Oh my God," I wailed, crouching down onto my knees, pulling his head into my lap. His clothing was completely matted to his body, blood oozing out. "Rave?" I asked, tears rushing down my eyes as Flame and Web joined me, panic dancing on their faces. "Are you there? Please do something." I put my ear to his chest, straining to hear anything, but there was too much noise around me. The darkness was becoming smaller. The music was turned up louder. Sebastian's voice barked orders at his cronies; they were getting closer. I turned to the blurry faces of Web and Flame, trying to calm myself down. "You guys need to listen to me, alright? Please don't interrupt and please don't ask any questions because we don't have much time." I glanced at the black hole. It was the size of a door. "I need you guys to help me get out of here with Rave. I am begging you guys to please help me get away from Woodknox. I know it sounds crazy and it looks bad but"”" Flame took Rave in his arms easily and stood up, tossing him over his shoulder. "Let's get moving. Web, get us a car." Web and I stared at Flame in shock. He flexed his jaw. "Well, come on!" I sprung up to my feet, wiping my face stupefyingly. Web had already left, darting around the corner. I hoped he was getting a car and not abandoning us. Flame continued staring at me, shifting Rave on his shoulder as gently as possible. Gray mist began emerging from the darkness. I nodded at Flame, wishing I could explain to him then and there how sorry I am about saying what I said to him. But there was just no time.
  39. I led the way at a steady jog. To my relief I immediately saw a car ablaze with light in the parking lot, Web's body crouched over the driver's seat. He picked an SUV, big enough to hold all of us, and plain enough to blend in with the normal. Right when we arrived the engine began to roar. "Over here!" The man who'd held me captive in his hold, Noose, started dashing towards us, his arm gesturing for the others to follow. I tore open the car's back door and got in, motioning hurriedly to Flame to hand Rave over to me. Secured, he shut the door and climbed into the passenger seat just as Noose shot up onto the hood of the car, punching the windshield. "Drive!" I screamed, the glass cracking into the shape of a lightning bolt. Web kicked the gear into drive and the car lurched forward, Noose falling onto the concrete just as the two women approached. "Go! Go, Web, go!" The car mowed forward, hitting a bump, and began peeling through the parking lot, the wheels screeching on the pavement. I looked back and saw the two women bent over Noose on the ground. His legs were severed, insides strewn all over the ground like the remains of a beaten piñata. I shivered and turned back towards the road, my hand stroking Rave's hair. I put my ear back onto his chest. There, but ever so faintly, I heard a Bump. Bump. Bump. I sighed, sinking my head back into the seat's headrest. "He's going to be okay. He's alive." I didn't expect a response. Web clenched the steering wheel so tight his knuckles were chalky. Flame kept running his hand through his hair, letting out a staccato of sighs. We drove in silence for maybe half an hour with no sign of being followed. In that time I'd decided to make myself useful and attempted to tend Rave's wounds. I'd peeled off his ruined and sticky shirt, tossed it in the trunk, and used my sweater as a makeshift gauze. Luckily I had a shirt underneath. The location of Rave's bleeding, I'd figured out, was from a deep, deep gash on his upper back. I was able to shred my sweater into pieces and clean it up the best I could without water or alcohol, and then I tied it around his body to help stop the bleeding. Rave stirred sometimes whenever we were on a bumpy road, but other than that he was unresponsive. As long as you're alive, I would tell him, and then took his clammy hand and suffocated it. We passed another green light. There were barely any cars on the road tonight, so Web went faster than speed limit. "We're about to reach the next city," he announced. "Where do you want to go?" I pondered this for a moment. Where were we going to go? I had no money on me, and I doubted Rave had enough in his wallet, if he even brought it with him, to rent out a hotel room. "Um," my voice squeaked out, sounding unrecognizable to me, "I actually don't know. You can drop Rave and I off at the cheapest motel you can find, I guess." Flame suddenly laughed. "You and Rave? Do you think we're just going to leave you and an unconscious body at some sleazy motel?" I kept my eyes fixed blankly on the road. "Yes?" Web and Flame shared a look that I could not decipher. "Green bean. We're going with you. Whatever crazy spectacle we saw back there? Do you actually believe that we'd let you face that alone?" I swallowed back another cry. "I won't be alone. I have Rave." Flame's voice was fierce. "And what happens if he gets injured again?" "Then I guess I'll figure something out then." Flame smacked his hand on the dash, making me jump. "Dammit, no! We're going with you whether you like it or not." I anticipated Web to protest, but he remained silent. "You guys don't understand! You don't know how much you'd have to give up for this! Hell, you don't even have an idea as to what we're even running away from!" "Then tell us," Flame replied in a softer tone. "I think I can speak for both Web and me that there's nothing for us at James Dawn. There never has been." "Besides," Web spoke up, his voice low and gravelly. "Those...people...already know what we look like. They can snatch us up and use us as bait for you. It's safer for everybody if we just go along." They have Naomi and Lauren. If they're not dead already. "What about your parents? What would they say?" Flame turned around, his eyebrow raised. "What about yours? Listen, you need to stop worrying about us. You need us and you know it." He lowered his eyes. "I need you, too. I couldn't fathom going back to James Dawn knowing that those guys are after you. Now, tell us what we need to know." I trained my eyes down at my blood-crusted hands. Rave mumbled something under his breath and the went back to his coma. "You wouldn't believe me." Flame smiled sadly. "I'll always believe you, green bean."

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