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   Chapter 13 Your Friendly Neighborhood...

Stolen Souls (boy x boy) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 10103

Updated: 2018-01-22 19:22

He's cold. It's the first thing I notice, minus his breathless chest and missing pulse. Even after minutes pass, when it's evident compressions won't bring the steady beat back into his chest, I refuse to stop them. Because something's wrong.

Yeah, yeah. Other than being dead, I mean. His skin has gone pale and his hair is striped white. And he's freezing, too. He doesn't look dead, he just looks sick.

"Jules." My arms creak from the pressure. I don't dare give him mouth to mouth because I know even less about that than I do compressions. "Something's happening to you, buddy. You're looking more and more like me. Is this what you meant when you said I was dead?"

Silence. Frost tips his fingers and lips. Glitters on him like broken jags of snowflake.

"Don't be dead." My voice is a croaky whisper. I don't know much about him. Just know that though may be paranoid and pushy, he doesn't deserve to die. Sweat trickles down my quivering brow, the kitchen's clinical disinfectant smell suddenly nauseating. "I'm sorry for being a jerk to you, " I say, though he was the jerk mostly. I can't believe he's dead, even if he has no pulse. I've exploded from the inside and mended good as new. How can I survive that, me, a ninety-pound sack of bones and lousy ideas, and someone like Jules die so quickly? A heart is only a pump. A flesh, four-chamber pump. Can't his body fix it?

The door swings open and a thunder of footsteps echoes through the air. I exhale. They've heard my screams. They heard and have come to help, maybe even with first responders or a defibrillator to shock a steady thump back into his chest. But then I look them over, and the squeeze of hope is a fleeting one. Masked men and women with matching Cheshire grins, all sharp suits and shiny Oxfords, shirts stiff and Oxfords polished to a devilish black sheen. "Oh, no, " says a man with gleaming white teeth. His eyes glitter with laughter. "Looks like he broke."

I draw up Jules against me, cradling him paternally. Then I realize what I'm doing and shove him back down for another round of compressions. He's so cold my hands go numb to the touch.

"Help me." My voice wavers. My eyes sting with tears.

The man flicks up a hand and runs it through his greasy black hair, his smile slick and professional. "We'll take him off your hands, shell. How does a couple hundred sound?" He flips open a genuine leather wallet with a practiced flourish and pulls out two crisp green bills. I pause compressions just to wipe away the sweat matting my hair. Two hundred dollars. Drool trickles from the corner of my mouth. I could buy a new drawing tablet.

"You'll get him help, right? Revive him?" I press so hard Jules' chest squeaks. Probably a broken rib. Oops. The man's smile tightens as he wags the bills over my head. I suddenly don't like the way he's looking at Jules. His eyes are round and bright, feverish. He licks his lips.

"Of course we will. Take the money, don't ask any more questions. What do you say, shell?"

ack. The Syn men race to the window. The woman clutches her shoulder and lunges for me with a scream.

They don't have guns. Can't. It's a party, and Spiral is pretty sensitive about those. They couldn't risk getting kicked out if someone noticed, I suppose. But no time to think about it.

I fall back, body twisted up so I take the impact when I fall and Jules stays intact. It's all concrete below. There's a fabric hood over the door, but it's too small and round to land onto without plunging right through it. Adrenaline pumps in my veins as the air rushes up and round me, loose hair flowing up around my face. But then I stop. Hanging there, dead still in a now starless sky. I glance up, the adrenaline in my veins doubled by a shock of panic.

I take stock. Someone's pulling me up, and when I look up into the night a Syn man's white glove glows against the dark. They have Jules by the ankle. We're playing tug of war with a dead body, and in this moment, I wonder, really wonder how the hell I get into these situations. I'd sigh if it weren't so tragic.

Instead, I slide my over-dramatic kicking self lower into the night, crumpling Jules' jacket, adjusting so I grip Jules in a Heimlich maneuver. I squeeze the non-existent life out of him. My fists are stacked one on top of the other high enough that they meet his heart. His cold, lifeless heart.

A face peers down at me, blue eyes glimmering through a lacy black mask that blends into the night. My heart is pounding with terror. I give the man a shrug, a sheepish smile, sing him a song even. "Shiro-man, Shiro-man, does whatever a Shiro can. Falls from buildings, falls from buildings. Falls from more buildings, and dies a lot. Hey, hey, look out for Shiro-maaaaan.

The man is not impressed.

"Give up."

I twist Jules as sharply and suddenly as I can. Something cracks, his ankle, probably, but I can't help that now. He's dead anyway, he doesn't mind. The hand slips. The night rushes up at me, and when Jules drops so do I.

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