Among the stars, p.20
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       Among the Stars, p.20

           Tiffany Allen
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  Chapter 19

  “Ailey, wake up. Ailey.”

  Someone is whispering and shaking my shoulder. I slowly open my eyes. It takes a while for them to focus in the dark.


  Daniel stands over me looking panicked. He’s wearing a black coat and has another one in his hand.

  “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” I sit up and he shoves the coat at me.

  “They’re coming,” he looks towards the door as he whispers.


  “Please come on!”

  I don’t understand what’s going on but his panic is enough to spur me into action. I get out of bed and put on the coat. I follow Daniel to the door and he checks to make sure the hallway is empty. He takes my hand and we slowly make our way out of the room and down the hallway. The hallway is pitch black but Daniel seems to know exactly where he’s going. We reach the stairs and carefully make our way down. Once we reach the bottom we turn left and head down another hallway.

  We reach a set of doors and I can see outside through the windows. Daniel goes to open them but they don’t budge.

  “No,” he whispers in defeat.

  Just then the lights turn on and I’m momentarily blinded. When I can see again I notice a figure at the end of the hallway. It’s Alex.

  “Tsk tsk Daniel. Don’t you know anything about loyalty?” Alex walks towards us.

  “The brat has anyways needed lessons in behaving,” a voice behind us says. Daniel flinches at the voice and I turn to see Jack closing in on us.

  “This was my plan,” Daniel says, looking at his feet. “Punish me.”

  “Daniel,” I exclaim, shocked at his words.

  “I’m sure Jack will punish you properly,” Alex stops in front of us. “Ailey hasn’t been the best bait though. Have someone bring Acheros.

  “No!” Daniel yells, looking up from his feet. “You can’t! It will kill her!”

  “It’s certainly the most probable outcome,” Alex laughs. “Take her.”

  Jack reaches for me but Daniel shoves him away.

  “Please don’t do this,” he pleads.

  Jack backhands Daniel across the face.

  “You ungrateful brat,” Jack grabs Daniel around the throat and shoves him into the wall. “How many times do I have to teach you a lesson?”

  Daniel claws at his hand as he struggles to breathe. I try to go to his aide but Alex grabs my arm and drags me down the hallway. His hand is like a vice and I can’t get loose. Behind me, Jack drags Daniel by the hair.

  They take us to the lab where I came to after being kidnapped. Alex tries to strap me to the gurney but I struggle with all my might. I don’t know what they’re going to do to me but I know it’s not good. Jack drops Daniel to the floor and helps Alex strap me down. A Black Hole stands off to the side, he says something to her and she scurries off.

  “What are you going to do to me?” Alex fiddles with a tray of scalpels, not paying me any attention. “Alexander!”

  I use his full name and his hand freezes over the tray. He turns and looks at me.

  “I’m going to make you one of my experiments,” he says coldly.

  Fear chills me to the bone and I struggle uselessly against the restraints.

  “You see, I want my family back,” he continues, “but bringing them back is the easy part. The hard part is keeping them. As humans they will eventually die and I’ll be left alone again. All these years I’ve searched for a way to make a human into a Star. That’s what I plan to do to you.”

  “Is that even possible?” I ask, bewildered.

  “In theory, yes, but the human body isn’t built to sustain multiple soul connections and if that wasn’t hard enough to deal with, your bodies aren’t adapted to having the abilities we have either. So far none of the test subjects have survived.”

  “So why try it on me if you think it will kill me? I thought you were using me to lure Orion here, I can’t do that if I’m dead.”

  “You poor thing,” Alex’s look of fake sympathy turns my stomach, “if he hasn’t come for you by now, he never will.”

  I try to argue but I can’t. I’ve been a prisoner here for a week. I didn’t think Alex was doing anything to hide where we were so why hadn’t they found me yet? I don’t know exactly how Orion’s soul tracking works but I can’t imagine it would take this long.

  “Aw, it isn’t so bad,” Alex says cheerfully. “On the bright side the chances of you surviving and going crazy are very slim.”

  I refuse to look at him as he mocks me. Daniel lies on the floor watching helplessly. I wish there was some way I could protect him from Jack but I don’t think I’ll be around much longer.

  The Black Hole Jack spoke to returns pushing someone in a wheelchair. He appears to be sedated. Jack takes him from the girl and dismisses her. He then wheels the man next to me. Jack moves away and Alex takes his place.

  “With my blood in you I can pass the soul to you instead of me. Now you have to admit that that is pretty neat.”

  I notice black veins on the man in the wheelchair. I can’t help but wonder who he is. What kind of person is he? Does he have a family?

  “What will happen to him?” I ask, still looking at the man in the wheelchair.

  Alex laughs.

  “You should be more worried about what will happen to you.”

  Alex takes ahold of the man’s forearm and the veins start to move.


  Alex turns around at the sound of Daniel’s voice only to be tackled to the floor by him. Daniel gets in a few punches before he’s ripped off by Jack. Jack throws him onto one of the tables, shattering glass vials and knocking over lab equipment. Before Daniel can scramble away, Jack drags him to the floor. Jack straddles him, holding his throat with one hand and a scalpel with the other. Daniel thrashes around trying to escape. As Jack runs the scalpel down his face, Daniel’s scream rips through the air.

  “Stop it!” I struggle against the straps binding me but it’s still useless, “Alex, make him stop!”

  “No.” He wipes blood from the corner of his mouth.

  “Do what you want with me but leave him alone!” Tears fall down my cheeks as I listen to Daniel’s screams. Alex turns his back to me. I scream at his back.

  “What do you think your family would say if they saw you now, huh? You think they’d condone what you’re doing? What you’ve done?”

  “Shut up!” Alex hits me and pain radiates across my face. He grabs the man’s arm again and the veins start to move towards his hand. Alex lifts his hand and the veins follow like little black snakes dancing through the air. He guides them over to me and when he touches my arm the black veins slide over my wrist. He lets go and they continue to work their way up my arm, transferring to me from man in the wheelchair. Then they start to sink into my skin and the pain starts.

  The pain is so intense I can barely breathe. I want to scream but I can’t. It feels like shards of ice are scraping through my veins. My skin feels like it’s trying to remove itself from my body. I feel like I’m being torn apart.

  I try to block it out. I focus on images of my parents, my friends, Orion, but the pain burns them away. All I can think about is the pain. For a brief moment I think I hear Orion’s voice but the pain washes it away. The only thing I’m able to hang onto is my name. I repeat it over and over again like a mantra.

  Ailey. Ailey. Ailey. Ailey.

  I feel something brush my hands and feet. Suddenly I get the sensation of falling then I feel arms around me. I fight against the pain and open my eyes. Orion is cradling me in his arms. I’m able to feel a moment of happiness that he came for me before the pain sweeps it away. He sets me on the floor and I curl into a ball.

  “What did you do to her?” I hear Orion ask.

  “Tried to make her one of us, sadly it looks like it’s killing her. It’s a shame; I was really hoping it would work this time.”


  “Because either way it works to my advantage. If she lives then I’m one step closer to getting my family back, if she dies then you get to know how it feels to be too late to save those you care about.”

  “Don’t blame me for you not being able to protect your family.”

  “I don’t just blame you. I blame all of you. If you had kept doing your duty, the one we fought a war over, they would still be alive! You let humans just do as they please.”

  I don’t know if the pain is getting better or if I’m getting used to it but I’m able to speak.

  “Orion,” it’s a whisper but he hears me and leans closer while keeping an eye on Alex. I have to warn him.

  “Don’t let him touch you. He’s going to steal your-” a pain in my chest stops me from finishing.

  “Shh, it’s okay. Draco figured it all out.” He moves my hair out of my face. His gentle touch a sharp contrast to the pain I feel.

  “You found him?” I manage to get all the words out this time.

  “We did. Oh Ailey, I’m sorry I couldn’t come sooner.” His eyes speak of the guilt he feels.

  “Buy me a maple bar and I’ll forgive you,” I try and smile but the pain has me curling into a ball again.

  “You’ll be okay. Just hang in there.”

  I nod weakly in response. He presses something into my hand and I feel the familiar shape of my mother’s locket and my father’s ring. I clench my fist tightly around them, thinking if maybe I just hold onto these I can hold on through the pain.

  “Touching,” Alex says, “but you’re sickeningly optimistic.”

  “I’m going to kill you over this.” Orion advances towards Alex.

  “Funny, I’ve been planning on killing you for years,” Alex responds.

  Orion Morphs and pulls his sword. Alex laughs and blue light radiates from his hands. There’s a moment of absolute calm before Orion launches himself at Alex. Alex makes a force field out of the blue light and blocks Orion’s attack. Orion Travels behind him but Alex manages to avoid the swing of his blade. They move around the room exchanging blows, each one blocking the other.

  I’ve never seen Orion use his full powers and I watch as the full force of who he is plays out before my eyes. This is the Orion that has lived thousands of years, the one who has survived countless battles, and it’s captivating. He moves with smooth, effortless grace. His sword and body all tightly in tuned with each other, every swing in sync with each breath.

  Orion lunges and I think he misses completely but as he’s passing Alex he slams the hilt of his sword into his face. There’s a loud crack and Orion swings his foot and connects with his chest. The force of the kick sends Alex flying through the wall and Orion jumps through after him. The sounds of fighting gradually get quieter.

  I try and crawl but the movement causes a sharp pain through my skull. I’ve never felt this much pain before. All I want is for it to end but it keeps scraping through my body. A hand touches my shoulder and I look up to see Daniel crouched over me. He’s covered in cuts and his shirt is soaked with blood.

  “Daniel,” my throat feels like sand paper.

  Silently he scoops me up in his arms and stands up. Despite his injuries and all the blood he’s lost, he manages to stay on his feet. He must be in a lot of pain but still he slowly makes his way out into the hallway. Sounds of fighting can be heard to the right and he takes me in the opposite direction.

  I wouldn’t have thought he had the strength to carry me but he never falters once, only stopping to rest against the wall occasionally. We almost make it to the corner when a huge dog blocks our path. Blood drips from its muzzle and its lips are pulled back in a snarl. Daniel tries to back away but the dog growls louder. I would think it’s a wolf if it didn’t look so dog like. It’s then I realize who it is.

  “Canis.” As I speak, Canis’s ears perk up but he doesn’t stop growling.

  “Friend,” I say, nodding towards Daniel.

  Canis seems to understand and he stops growling. He Morphs into his human form and takes my hand.

  “What’s wrong with her?” he asks Daniel.

  “Alex put a Singular’s soul into her,” he answers.

  “Is she going to be okay?” Canis worriedly rubs my hand.

  “I don’t know,” Daniel says while looking down at me. “Some have held out for days before but…” he doesn’t finish his sentence but Canis knows what he’s saying. Some have kept fighting for days but eventually they’ve all died. Canis gives me one final look before his face becomes unreadable.

  “You carry her and I’ll fight.”

  Daniel nods and Canis Morphs back into the wolfdog. Daniel follows closely behind him.

  “Where’d,” I take a moment, “Jack?” The last I saw him he was attacking Daniel but he had been gone when Daniel took me out of the lab.

  “I don’t know.” Something flashes in Daniel’s eyes but it’s gone a second later, replaced with determination. “I’m going to get you out of here,” he promises. I nod and close my eyes. I feel numb. I don’t know if that’s because my body is giving up or if it’s just another phase before more pain comes but I’m grateful for the reprieve.

  Canis leads us to a door which takes us outside. We exit out to what looks like a small yard on the side of the building. I can hear fighting coming from the direction we’re heading but Canis continues to lead us, sticking close to the building. As we round the corner, a battle unfolds before us. There must be about a dozen Stars fighting double that number of Black Holes. It seems like even though they are outnumbered, the Stars are doing a good job at fighting off the Black Holes. These Black Holes must have powers like Alex has otherwise they wouldn’t stand a chance against them. It hits me now that Daniel still must not have any powers; otherwise he probably would have used them or at least be healing. I wonder why because he seems to be the only Black Hole who doesn’t have some kind of power.

  Canis leaves us at the edge of the building and joins the fight. He weaves through the crowd, giving help to those who need it the most. Daniel gently sets me down on the grass and I lean against the wall to watch the battle. It’s dark but there’s enough light coming from the hospital that I can see.

  The Stars move so fast that it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. The only one I recognized is a girl with sandy blonde hair surrounded by a vortex of wind. Vela. I look for her siblings but I can’t see either of them.

  I watch two Black Holes team up against a man with silvery grey hair. He looks about fifty years old. The Black Holes flank him but he stands there calmly. One of them shoots lightening from his hands while the other causes the ground to ripple beneath him. The old man jumps into the air avoiding both attacks and lands lightly on his feet. As two more Black Holes join the fight, the old man is surrounded by flames. The flames curl around him and take the shape of a dragon. When the flames clear a real dragon with black and silver scales stands in the place of the man. He roars and the four Black Holes reel back in surprise. The dragon uses his wings to send gusts of wind shooting towards them at the same time breathing fire. The Black Holes disappear only to reappear behind him. He takes to the air to avoid another attack but one of the Black Holes flies after him and lands on his wing, breaking it. The wing crumbles and before it has time to heal, the Black Hole breaks the other one and the dragon crashes down.

  I look around and notice the Stars are taking a lot of damage. The Stars are trying to avoid direct contact and because of that they aren’t fighting as well as they should be. They must be afraid of getting the black veins. The only reason they haven’t lost yet is because they heal so fast.

  Just then a shrill whistle pierces the air. Daniel and I cover our ears and watch as everyone on the battlefield does the same. Then it stops and the shattering of glass rings through the night. Glass rains down and everyone turns to see someone fly through the window. They land hard on the ground and lie still. Two figures jump down from the windo
w and I recognize them as Alex and Jack. My fears are confirmed when I hear Alex speak.

  “I really expected more from you, Orion. Being around humans so much has made you soft.”

  I watch as Orion struggles to his feet. Alex throws a punch towards his face but a gust of wind knocks him off balance. Vela stands in front of Orion, Puppis and Carina by her side. Canis appears next to them, lips pulled back in a fierce snarl. A smaller version of Canis stalks forward and I almost cry in relief when I realize it’s Mindy. She survived; it really is hard to kill a Star.

  Slowly, the Black Holes and Stars stand with their sides; two groups of celestial beings facing off with each other. The only sound is the wind blowing through the trees. Then, as if by some unspoken signal, they race forward and the battle begins again.

  Everything is chaos. I can’t see Orion or any of the others. It’s like looking at trees in a moving vehicle; they’re gone before you can focus. Trying to catch a glimpse of them I don’t notice the heat at first. My chest feels warm but when I touch it, it feels ice cold. I turn to Daniel.

  “Daniel I think something’s-” I start to tell him but my words turn into a scream as fire shoots through my body. I wither on the ground clutching at the grass as I scream. My bones feel like they are burning me from the inside out. Daniel tries to help me but reels back in pain when he touches my skin. I desperately scan the crowd for Orion, hoping he can do something to make this burning inside of me stop.

  I finally find him on the edge of the yard near the forest. He’s fighting off Jack and Alex but three more Black Holes are creeping behind him from the woods. I try to call out to him but it’s too late. The three attack at the same time, sending Orion’s sword flying, giving Alex an opening to grab Orion’s arm. I watch as Orion drops to his knees. Alex laughs as the veins on Orion start to wrap up Alex’s arm.

  “No!” My screams of pain turn into screams of despair. Suddenly I’m halfway to Orion and picking up his sword. As I pick up the sword I’m surprised by how light it is. I barely feel it in my hand. As I near Orion I see that Alex has almost absorbed all the black veins. Not knowing what else to do I swing the sword down, slicing through Alex’s arm. Alex falls to the ground clutching his severed limb and the remaining veins dissipate. As they disappear so does the sword in my hand. I turn and see Orion is lying on the ground, no longer in his Morphed form. I rush to him but his eyes are closed and he isn’t moving. My physical pain is gone but the pain that threatens to fill me as I look at Orion’s still form hurts just as bad.

  “Orion? Orion!” I shake him and yell but he doesn’t open his eyes. “Come on, Orion. Wake up!” My voice cracks and so does my heart. The suffocating feeling of loss sweeps over me again. “Please…” My tears gently fall on his face as I hold him. I never told him I loved him. He knew but I never actually said the words. I run my fingers through his hair.

  “Please don’t leave me,” I cry. “I can’t lose you too.” I touch my forehead to his and whisper, “Stay with me.”

  I sense the presence of people and look up to see a crowd of Black Holes and Stars staring at me. Their expressions range from horror to amazement.

  Alex staggers to his feet while cradling his arm. He must have healed because it’s no longer bleeding. His face looks like he’s seen a ghost.

  “I can’t believe it,” he stammers, “it worked. Jack! Look at her eyes!” His face breaks out in a huge grin and my blood starts to boil. How dare he smile after what he did to Orion?

  I gently shift Orion off my lap and lay him on ground before standing up. Slowly I advance towards Alex. He looks confused as he backs away from me.

  “You’re going to pay for all the misery you’ve caused.” Images of all the people he’s hurt play through my mind. The people in the hospital, Daniel, the man in the wheelchair, me, Orion, countless more have suffered because of him and he isn’t going to get away with it.

  “Now Ailey,” he says, putting his hand out in front of him, “we can talk about this. Maybe even make a deal?”

  I stop and he looks hopefully at me. I cock my head and laugh. He face falls and I’m suddenly in front of him, grabbing his shirt. His black eyes, the fear they once caused me gone, now fill with fear of their own. Cold spreads from my fingertips, creating a layer of ice across his chest. The temperature drops and his panicked breath fogs in the air.

  “I don’t want to make a deal,” I say under my breath.

  “Jack,” he yells over my shoulder. “Don’t just stand there, get her!”

  Arms grab me from behind but they release immediately.

  “Gah, she’s freezing!” Jack looks at his frostbitten arms like he can’t believe they are actually his.

  I stare over my shoulder at him.

  “Good. I wanted to talk to you too.” I slam my heel into Alex’s knee, shattering it, before throwing him to the side and lunging at Jack. I want to save Alex for last. I grab Jack’s wrist and jerk it to the side. It gives a satisfying crack as it breaks. My body acts on instinct as I land blow after blow. Between the cold, and my attacks, he doesn’t have time to react. As I knock him to the ground something hits me from behind. I go flying and land hard on my side. Pain laces through my ribs but quickly disappears. Frost covers the grass beneath me, twinkling in the moonlight. I look up to see Alex pointing his glowing blue hand at me.

  “Retreat,” he commands and every Black Hole disappears. I lay on the cold ground, my tears freezing before they can even fall.

  “Ailey?” A voice hesitantly calls my name. I look up and see Canis approaching me the way you’d approach a wild animal.

  “Canis,” I sit up, “I let them get away.”

  “It’s okay. We’ll find them.” His voice is calm and reassuring.

  “Okay.” All the fight has gone out of me. I’m so tired. All I want to do is go home.

  “Ailey, I know this is new to you but I need you to turn it off.” He motions around me. “We can’t get to you like this.” I notice then that he is standing a good five feet away from me, at the edge of the frosty grass.

  “I don’t know how.” Feeling defeated, I stare at the grass.

  “We could sedate her,” a female voice suggests.

  “We aren’t sedating her,” Canis sighs and sits down facing me. “Do you remember the day I Morphed?”

  I nod.

  “Remember how you said it looked seamless? Think about that. Think about how the sun feels on your skin. Imagine yourself getting warmer. Just close your eyes and let your body change. It will happen if you want it to.”

  I do as he says. I think about when I went to the beach with my parents, the cool ocean breeze and the sun heating my face, cold and warmth in perfect harmony. The warmth chasing away the chills from the wind. I think about how warm the arms of my parents were when they hugged me. I replay the memory over and over again until I feel hands touch my face. I open my eyes and Canis is wiping away the tears that are flowing down my face now that they aren’t freezing.

  “There. Not so hard is it?” He smiles warmly at me.

  “What am I?” Canis wraps his arms around me and I hang onto him like he’s a lifeline.

  “It doesn’t matter. You’re still Ailey. Before anything else, you are always Ailey.” He rubs my back and lets me cry until I can’t cry anymore. When I’m done he lets me go and helps me to my feet. The Stars have gathered a ways off giving us some privacy. As we get closer, one of them, who I recognize as Bootes, drags someone forward.

  “We captured a Black hole,” he announces. “He didn’t retreat with the others.”

  My eyes fall on the person whose neck he has his arm around.

  “Let him go!” I jet forward and tear his arm away from Daniel. Daniel gasps as he’s able to breathe normally again. I glare up at Bootes.

  “Wow, what’s going on?” Bootes backs away from me with his hands raised.

  “He’s her friend,” Canis tells him. He places his hand on my shoulder,
He didn’t know, Ailey.”

  “I know,” I sigh, cooling down. “Sorry Bootes. It’s been a long day.”

  “I understand,” he says, “Canis, Draco wants to move Orion now if that’s okay?”

  “I’ll be right there.” Canis nods.

  “Is he?” I can’t bring myself to say the words.

  “He’s alive,” Canis says, “but he hasn’t woken up. We’re going to take him to Draco’s house since Alexander doesn’t know where that is.”

  “Can I come?”

  “Of course.”

  “What about Daniel?”

  Daniel has been standing quietly behind me the whole time. Canis looks at him.

  “You trust him?”

  “I do.”

  “Then if he wants to come, he can.”

  “Thank you.”

  “I’ve sent Puppis to get a car. Wait here and I’ll be right back.”

  Canis walks off and leaves us to ourselves.

  “Are you okay?” I ask Daniel. His clothes are still covered in blood but it looks like he’s stopped bleeding. Still, he should be checked out by a doctor.

  “Are you?” he asks.

  “I don’t know yet,” I answer. We watch the Stars move about. We’re like them but also different, the both of us outsiders.

  “I’m glad you’re alive,” he says quietly.

  “I’m glad you are too.” I smile and he smiles back. We go back to waiting and I catch a glimpse of someone who could have prevented this whole thing. My body acting on instinct again, I Travel and grab Lyra by the shoulders.

  “Why didn’t you warn him?” I yell at her. I feel myself growing cold again. “You could have saved him!”

  She doesn’t answer, just keeps drumming her fingers. I start to shake her.

  “Answer me!”

  I start to send the cold through my fingers when her hands snap up and grab my head. Before I can react, Lyra’s eyes turn black and silver. Then I hear it.

  Every sound I’ve ever heard, blended together in perfect harmony. The music wraps around me, completely engulfing me, and in the music I see. I see Orion leaving a party and then I see myself. I see the hope he feels when he talks to me. I see him watching me walk away from lunch, feeling like he lost me. I see his anger as he protects me from Alex. I see his fear as he chooses to Morph in front of me, not knowing if he’ll lose me but definitely knowing he will if he doesn’t Morph. I see his shock when I take his hand after he tells me who he is. I see his trust in Canis to protect me as he lets me go.

  Then I see myself, asleep in the hotel room, as Lyra touches my head and tries to warn me with a dream. I see her leave. I see Orion’s panic as he comes into my room, afraid that I’m hurt. I see his jealousy as Leo puts his arm around me. I see his regret as he watches me leave the VIP room. I see his restraint as he watches me dance with Leo. I see his stubbornness as he refuses my request to leave. I see his guilt as he apologizes on the plane. I see his longing as he sings on the balcony. I see his joy as I meet the Ship Siblings. I see his happiness as he shows me around the city. I see his sense of duty as he rescues the girl and her grandfather. I see his delight as I return his kiss. I see his kindness as I come clean about my parents. I see his pride in me as I stand up against Crux. I see his unease as he lets me go with Mindy.

  Then I see him hear the music. I watch as he watches. He watches me get taken and he watches as he comes after me. He watches as he rushes to save me. He watches as Alex slices my throat and throws my body at his feet. I see his sorrow as he cries over my dead body. I watch as the music shows him me being taken again. This time Orion watches as he waits to come after me. He watches as he battles Alex. He watches as Alex rips him apart. I see his apology as I cry over his dead body. Orion stops the music and I see his decision.

  I see his constant distress as he waits to come after me. I see his distrust of Lyra’s music. I see his doubt of his own decision. I see his pleasure in hunting Alex at last. I see his anxiety when he finds me. I see his concern for my life. I see his belief that I will be okay. I see his strength as he battles Alex and Jack. I see his confidence as he keeps them away so I can get away. I see his dread as he falls through the window. I see his acceptance as Alex takes his soul. I see him turn when he hears me scream no. I see his relief as he sees I survived Alex’s experiment. I see his amazement as I swing his blade into Alex’s arm. Then I see his goodbye as his eyes close.

  The music ends and I crumble to the floor. I clutch at the grass and sob. I felt it all. Everything Orion felt since he met me, every emotion adding up to equal one thing, his love for me. His thoughts were always on me. As long as I survived, he was okay with dying. I scream at the sky. I scream at the stars that only remind me of the love of my life. I scream at Alex for taking him away from me. And I scream at myself. I scream because I couldn’t save him. My throat is raw and I feel hollow but still I scream and cry. I hear Lyra nearby.

  “You heard the music?”

  Yeah. I heard the music.

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