I wasn’t sure whether I was dead or alive. Perhaps alive in the sense that I was still breathing, but was I even breathing? I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure of anything.
Blackness swallowed me whole, and not the kind of blackness that comes from being in a dark room. No, this darkness was heavy and thick, and it wove into my body making my skin damp, and my limbs heavy.
Where this dark place was, or how long I’d been here, I didn’t know. I might have been here for years, month, days, or even just a few seconds. Time felt nonexistent.
After awhile, I started to convince myself that I must be dead. That the memoria extracto—or whatever the heck that memory removing rock Stephan had used on me was called—had taken my life, instead of wiping away my mind. But how could I tell for sure if I’d died, or if I was still thriving? I mean was there really a difference between death and losing every ounce of who you are?
The only problem with my “I was dead theory” was that if I was dead, then why could I feel pain blazing in my leg—the exact leg Stephan had stabbed me in? Was feeling pain possible after you died? But if I wasn’t dead, and instead my memory had been erased, along with my emotions, then why did my heart ache from Alex’s betrayal?
The ache hurt so bad that I thought my heart was going to actually stop beating. How could Alex do this to me? Yes, I knew what the circumstances were, and I knew what I was—a girl who had gotten stuck harboring a world-saving star’s energy inside her. But this wasn’t just about the energy; it was also about Stephan, the leader of the Keepers, collaborating with the Death Walkers and quite possibly with Demetrius, a man who wants to let a portal open on December 21, 2012. A portal that, if opened, would release hundreds and hundreds of Death Walkers, causing the world to end in a sheet of ice. And yet, despite all of the previously mentioned facts, Alex still let Stephan attempt to wipe my memory away. No questions asked.
I knew all too well how much the feeling hurt.
But how could I feel the hurt?
How could I still feel?
It didn’t matter how many questions I asked myself, because no answers ever came to me. All I had to pass the time was the blackness that suffocated me. Nothing but me and the darkness.
I was alone.
The pain in my leg shot up a notch, taking a toll on my ability to stand. So as carefully as I could, I lowered myself toward the ground, but a sharp pain fired up in my neck, and I froze. I let out a whimper as my fingers brushed the back of my neck, reminding me of when my Foreseer mark had appeared, and how Alex had kissed me. Then right after the kiss, he’d betrayed me.
I sighed as I sank down on the ground, wondering if this was how it was always going to be. If I’d always be trapped in the dark, alone, just like when I couldn’t feel. Although I may not have been surrounded by darkness back then, I was as lonely as I was now. The only difference now was that I could feel emotion. Scared, nervousness, pain—these were just a few things pouring through me at the moment.
And then, suddenly, my head began to hum, and my skin felt as if it were sparkling. I gasped as I was yanked backward. Something was dragging me through the blackness, leading me to…I had no idea. I kicked and tried to throw my weight forward, but it was useless. My heart raced as I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for whatever was coming next. The disappearance of my mind? My death?
And then I felt it; a faint, electric spark kissing at my fingertip. But wait. No. There was
no way I could be feeling that.
There was no way I’d feel that again.
Buzz….buzz….buzz. My eyes flew open, and I was instantly blinded by a bright light. Light everywhere. Radiating throughout the room.
My head was buzzing as I shot upright in the bed. A bed? I was now in a bed, with a blanket draped over me. Pale purple walls surrounded me, and there was a small window next to the bed where I could see colorful lights flashing all over and strange shaped buildings that stretched up toward the sky. Wait…I know this place…it was….Vegas?
“What the…?” I squinted my eyes toward the outside window, not believing what I was seeing. Vegas? How could I be in Vegas? I’d been in Colorado when I’d…well, I wasn’t sure what had happened to me yet. Maybe I was dreaming or something. Perhaps my mind was creating this room as a sort of comfort from being trapped in the dark.
I did my classic pinch-myself-to-see-if-I’m-awake thing and, yep, it hurt.
So I was awake.
The buzzing in my head dropped down a notch, now only as loud as a faint whisper. Hmmm…so what was I supposed to do? There was a door on the wall right in front of the bed. Should I get up and go see what was out there? If there was one thing I’d learned, it was that there was no such thing as being too careful. For all I knew I’d opened the door and a thousand Death Walkers’ would come swarming in, their yellow eyes glowing with the hunger to kill me. Or even worse than Death Walkers, what if Stephan came in?
On my “Things That Terrify Me List,” Stephan now held top rank—one step above the Death Walkers.
Shows you how scary he is.
I decided the best way to approach the situation was to get up and go over to the door. Perhaps when I got close enough, I’d be able to hear something that would give me a clue as to what was out there. And if I did hear anything that sounded threatening or dangerous, like say a deep voice belonging to a man with a very distinctive scar grazing down his left cheek, then I’d move on to my next plan. And that was to escape out the window. It was going to be a little tricky, though, since it looked like I was up on the second floor of the building. But I could always try the whole tying-the-sheets-together-and-making-a-rope trick.
Sucking in a deep breath, I tossed the blanket off of me and slid my legs off the edge of the bed. I was no longer dressed in the clothes I’d been wearing back in Colorado. I had on a pair of plaid pajama shorts and a tank top. Both had pink on them so there was no way they belonged to me. Across the top of my leg—right in the spot where Stephan had stabbed—a bandaged was wrapped. Someone had fixed me up.
My leg throbbed as I stood up, the grey carpet feeling warm against my bare feet. I limped over to the door. So far, I hadn’t heard a single noise. Wherever I was, was quiet.
I stood hesitantly in front of the closed door. Did I dare open it?
My heart knocked in my chest, and with a trembling hand, I reached for the doorknob. But before I could get my hand around it, it started to turn on its own, and at the very same time electricity whipped through me.
I jumped back, but instantly regretted it because my legs gave out on me and I toppled to the floor.
I grabbed hold of my injured leg. “Dam—”
The door swung open.
Ignoring the scorching pain in my leg, I scrambled to my feet and searched frantically for another way out of the room, other than trying to jump out the window.
“Gemma,” Alex said, in a guarded tone, as he walked through the doorway. He inched himself toward me, taking each step carefully, as though he thought walking too fast would spook me. But him just being here was spooking me.
He was wearing a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans, and his hair was scattered messily in its intentionally-done-perfect-yet-messy kind of way. He looked like a normal guy—completely harmless. Yet, I knew he wasn’t.
“Stay-y away f-from me?” I stammered, my heart pounding insanely in my chest as I backed away from him. “Don’t come any closer.”
“I’m not going to hurt you.” His voice was as soft as a feather. He continued to step toward me, his bright green eyes locked on me, just like when he watched Stephan try to take my emotions away. “I promise I won’t hurt you.”
“You promise!” I cried, anger raging through me like a boiling kettle of water. “Your promises are worth nothing.” I mean, he’d promised me how many times that he wouldn’t let anything happened to me and yet, in the end, he’d let his father attempt to erase my mind and take my emotions away.
Alex stopped dead in his tracks, his expression filling with annoyance. “What the heck is that supposed to mean?”
My back brushed the wall. I was cornered. “It means your promises are worthless. At least the ones you make to me. You promised me you wouldn’t let anything happened to me and look where it got me.”
He raised his eyebrows, a slight mocking expression teasing at his lips as he spread his arms out to the side of him. “It got you here, safe and sound.”
“Safe and sound,” I repeated, glancing around the room where no potential danger was evident. I looked down at my hands, my arms, and, except for the bandage around my leg, everything appeared to be fine. I could still feel as well, my emotions resting somewhere between confusion, anger, and longing. But I blame the last feeling on the sparks.
“Gemma,” Alex said, and I looked up at him. “You’re okay, right?”
I eyed him over warily. I wasn’t sure what to do here. I didn’t trust him at all, despite the fact that I did seem to be alright. “I don’t know…Am I?”
He cocked an eyebrow at me. “I’m asking you?”
“Why? You’re the one who knows what happened to me.” I crossed my arms. “I mean, what’s going on here? Am I supposed to feel? And where’s Stephan? Outside the door waiting for you to come check on me and see if the memoria extracta—or whatever that stupid memory erasing rock is called—has wiped out my mind.” My anger simmered hotter as the painful memories of what had happened to me resurfaced.
“Memoria extraho,” Alex said.
I gaped at him. “What?”
“The memory erasing rock is called a memoria extraho,” he said.
I glared at him. “That’s not important right now. All I need to know is what the heck is going on.”
He hesitated, running his fingers through his dark brown hair, probably trying to conjure up some lie to tell me. I couldn’t take this. I couldn’t take anymore lies. I needed to get out of here and away from him, even though the electricity was telling me to do otherwise.