MoboReader> Fantasy > Stolen Souls (boy x boy)

   Chapter 18 Running

Stolen Souls (boy x boy) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 14072

Updated: 2018-02-10 21:48

If that ain't a bombshell.

My mouth hangs open, smile forgotten, polite conversation, who cares. I've gone cold. Like my blood has frozen over in my veins. Given everything I've seen, I don't doubt it. That can't be healthy.

When my voice box thaws, the first sound I make is a squeak. Then a sputter. Then a cough, a wheeze, and finally a scream. Long and shrill and high. Because I've forgotten where I am, who I am, and who I'm with. Forgotten that maybe this is a prank, or a dream, or a delusion.

I spring up and out of my chair. My body's become a nest of those ugly, ugly, butterflies. The mayor grabs my forearm and glances over her shoulder. No one comes to my aid. That's pretty shady, if you ask me.

I shudder. My head has stopped hurting. Like silence after the detonation of a bomb. "What..." I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, taking in the sweetness of the flowers, the salt and the springtime of the earth. Try to let what must be the truth settle in my stomach. "What do you mean?" She's being figurative. That has to be it.

She regards me sadly, and I decide she looks very, very old. Bags ring her eyes, and deep, purple veins hint at the tips of her mouth. "A body can live without a soul for some time, " she says. "Many creatures are like that, the odd ones, the paranormal ones." The words sound like they're coming from a loon, but they're clear and roll off the tongue. "The mermaids in the story. They don't have souls, but they're alright."

"Uh-huh." So my soul has been stolen. Okay. So I'll die. I've died before. My breathing eases to a smoother ebb and flow. I wipe the sweat off my brow. I'm a tough cookie. I'll be okay.

"But that can only last so long, " she says, and I see pain in her expression, so true and cutting I think she'll cry. But she doesn't. "Humans aren't meant to be soulless."

Uh-oh. I nod, because I can see it. Hands trembling as they clench in my lap.

"Five years is the longest anyone's ever gone without one." Fifteenth birthday. I wish I had a drawing tablet or screw it, a pencil and pad. Something to ease the panic and the sudden knowledge that I've been running from fate for as long as I can and fate has finally caught up. I gasp in air, then seal my mouth shut. Listening without questioning. Listening without caring, really, because at this point it's not happening to me. It's happening to someone else. Because I'm done with it. Shiro is over and out.

"There are no exceptions." She raises a hand, flicks it as if tossing a cigarette over her shoulder. "Five years, and you either crumble into dust or become a vampire yourself."

I perk up. "Vampirism? That doesn't sound so bad."

She shakes her head at me. "If you become a vampire I'll kill you myself. Besides, you won't become one. You'll become dust."

"Why dust?" I crinkle my nose, back into the sways of conversation. "Why can't I just become a vampire?"

"Because your parents made sure of it. I made them. They refused to have you put down and refused to have you studied, so I told them to curse you so you wouldn't become a vampire, and they did."

Curses. Magic. Vampires. Death. I clutch my head. Too much. Too fast. Too heavy. I wish she'd give me the truth in bites, little chunks I can think about, process, digest. But I know now I don't have the time for bites. I've gotta be a big boy and swallow my medicine, no matter how bitter.

She glances back down at her feet. I spit the last of the wetness in my mouth. "Some lousy parents."

I hate them, I decide. Hate them. And though that's a pretty bad thing to think about your folks, the words flow out so fast, in such a gush, I can't help it. "I hate them."

"They fed you, clothed you, took care of you." The mayor doesn't look offended or shocked. She just looks tired. I want to shut up, but all at once I'm talking. Faster and faster.

"They don't like me! They think I'm weak and they're disappointed and--and they want me dead." I stand up, pace around the chairs, my heart thrumming so fast I think it'll explode. Hope it will in a moment of sheer hurt and desperation. My voice softens, all the passion wisped away as I pace in small circles, my knees knocking. I never k

possibly late husband. But I know better than to give it back when I have nothing else to show me my way.

"I'm only borrowing it to you. I expect you to bring it back."

I smile, and for the first time tonight, it doesn't feel forced or like a mask to hide what I'm actually thinking. "Yes ma'am."

"Would you like to stay here tonight, Star? I can accommodate you if you don't want to go home..."

My heart plunges. I have to talk to Kite, and Ros. Tell them what happened, but if I go now the mayor will never let me back in. And I have to come back.

I have to save Jules.

"I'd like to stay, ma'am, if you'll let me."

She nods and turns toward the view. "Of course. Good thing today's Sunday, isn't it?" As if in response, the church bells toll on Deliverance Presbyterian. I freeze.

Today will be the first day I ever miss church. I drop to my knees and pray. At home, I'd pray aloud, but here, I pray silently, lips moving and head bowed. I ask God for a safe journey, tell Him I'm sorry for cursing my parents and cursing in general, and that I promise to become a better person. It's a short prayer, one I wish was longer. Wish I could ask all the questions I want answers to, wish I could know if this is really my fate, this thing I'm fighting. But instead I say 'Amen' and stand, a little wobbly on my feet from sleep deprivation.

When I open my eyes the mayor is praying too, but on her feet and with silent tears trickling down her face.

I have to save her kid. Even if she hates me for it.

Which is why, while her eyes are closed, I clutch her amulet and creep out of the greenhouse, sunlight searing into the back of my neck and making images blur together in front of my broken eyes. The silence is heavy and thick. I creep past the flowers, all the way to the roses where the shiny sheers still lie in the dirt. I tiptoe forward and kneel in front of the bushes, the big red flower heads glittering with morning dew. Most of them are damaged, maybe brown at the edges, maybe chewed in at the petals and leaves. Jules must have cut the best ones, and it makes my stomach feel like it's filled up with concrete.

But I find one, the petals all curled outward, the flower big and heavy and the deepest shade of red I've ever seen. I pick of the sheers, glance back at the Mayor's now kneeling form, and snip. The flower falls into my cupped hand, thorns pricking my skin. I roll it between my fingers and bolt. . Before she can even open up her eyes and look back, I've kicked the door open and gone, tearing through the complex to look for Jules.

Maybe I should leave him be. Maybe he really is a danger. Maybe he doesn't want to see me because he truly doesn't think I'm human. But I've gotta try to save him, because I'm not going into those mountains alone.

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