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   Chapter 21 Insert Sappy Line Here

Stolen Souls (boy x boy) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 16524

Updated: 2018-02-10 21:54

Something in here wants to eat me.

I can hear the snapping and growling, the sharp teeth grinding together and the rattle of steel chains. All I can see, as I scramble for the door, is its two glowing red eyes. The animal shrieks. And when my fingers clasp around the cold shape of a knob, it lunges at me. Long white teeth flash. Eyes roll back in sockets. I stifle a scream and whip the door outward, the blast of cold air the most delicious sensation I've ever felt. The creature screams something shrill and inhuman, and believe me when I say I'm out of there. I slam the door behind me, gasping to breathe, my chest aching like someone wedged a blade in my stern.

All around me is white, but it's a peaceful white, not the clinical one of the lab. Veins of gray and cream divide the floor into slivers, and above my head, I can hear the gentle trickle of water. Light glows from a high point in the ceiling. If I angle my head up, the tower seems to go on for an eternity, growing smaller and smaller until it's only a pinprick of light from above. I smile lazily, then remember Jules sedated and alone, and the clock tick, tick, ticking away my life.

I bounce. Here, the steps are small and broken by several breaks. A few fresh green plants break up the spiraling whiteness the higher I ascend, filling the air with a spicy sweet, but all I can think about is saving Jules. Heading into the mountains. That picture of the future I crave so badly, the one I'm not supposed to have.

As I race higher and higher into the tower, all I feel is the acid burn, eating through me from the inside. I swallow, my lips so chapped, my throat so dry. I need to eat, sleep, stock up, but there just doesn't seem to be any time. Two weeks is very short, in the grand scheme of things. Fifty-two weeks make up a year. That's not even a tenth of a year. That's about the time it takes to, say, study for a test. Except even then it may not be enough time. I frown, climbing up another set, my legs like putty but my brain so fried it can hardly register the pain I'm putting myself through. Could I climb a mountain, even, in that time?

I don't know.

What do I even expect to find there, anyway? And what, exactly, am I supposed to do?

Don't know that either.

My earlier hope is dimming. I don't even have a map, just a necklace that I can only hope is enchanted. Since thinking makes it all the worse, I try not to think about it too much, but climbing set after set of stairs only give you more time to think about what you'd rather not. And flashing before my eyes, I see my demise.

Me, my last words caught in a silent scream as my body unravels and blows away bit by bit in the wind. Me, the ninety-pound sack of bones and lousy ideas just dead, red rust. Me, gone. Two weeks. I'll never even learn to drive or drink coffee legally or go to school.

The red exit sign glows, and when I try to sigh with relief, it comes out a whimper.

Jules can't be all that far ahead of me, I tell myself. Too slow.

The tower sits on a hill. I can tell it immediately when I push open the heavy gray door and look down at a broken city scape. A carpet of grass stretches out beneath me, soft and green. I wade deeper in it, up to my ankles. It makes my heart hurt. I want to enjoy it. The sweet smell of plant growth and moss, the warmth of the sun, but I can't. From below, I can hear the distant sound of honking cars, blaring alarms, and cawing birds. Closer, and all I hear is breathing, soft and shallow. "Jules?"

I trek deeper, fingers skimming the tops of the grass blades. He sighs. I look down a little farther, where the grass bends down, and there he is. A vision of black, rolled on his stomach, tails of his tux and curls of his hair facing out. His body rises and falls in calming swells.

"Hey." I prod him. Silence. "Jules." I step over him and grab him by the shoulders. Give him a good shake. He groans, his eyes sealed shut. I hook my arms under his and walk him down the hill. I'm so exhausted, the pain is stinging. The sun grows higher, dangerously higher. I already know it's bad for me, makes me weaker, puts me through sheer agony. But I'm tired. Don't think I've slept in two days.

Dark spots well up in my vision. Jules has become a bundle of boulders. I lurch, hit the ground, roll. Jules wakes up. Yelps as my hold loosens and he scrambles, crazily scrambles, for a handhold as we both tumble down, down, faster and faster. The world has become a blur of green and blue. Jules lands hard on the shelf at the botttom, branches poking up into his shoulders and ribs. He catches me. Even half-crazy, he wraps his arms around my waist and holds me. Scares me at first, but he looks a little saner, even now. He blinks as if blinking out of a haze, a shadow passing over his face as it usually does when he's thinking. And he's warm. I'm so sleepy, so hurt, I don't feel all that sane myself. I'm tired of runn

eally like me?"

His face flares the deepest shade of red I've ever seen. Deeper than his blood, even. I smirk. He offers a hand I take and pulls me to my feet. When he lets go and touches my forehead as if checking me for fever.

He furrows his brow. "What are you on, Shiro? This is serious!"

"I know, I know." I don't know what's come over me. This mania, this sudden seize of happiness. Happiness to be alive. Happiness to be free. I hold out my hands and hang my head. "Sorry." But I don't mean it, not really. I'm ready to fight for my soul. Ready to do anything to save myself, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to be gloomy about it.

Jules takes my hand. Intertwines his fingers with mine. Suddenly, I can't breathe, like my heart's caught in my throat. He squeezes gently.

"I do think you're cute, by the way. And a lot of other things. I hope you don't hate me for all the things I've said to you." He draws up a quivering breath. "If you hated me, I wouldn't blame you. Not to mention I threatened your drawing tablet. And I know how you feel about it."

I stare at my hand, the one he's holding. It still feels like a dream, Jules holding my hand, telling me he thinks I'm cute. I'm careful with my words when I ask the question that's stung the back of my mind for far too long. "I just don't want you to think I'm a monster, okay? Is that what you think I am?"

He meets my eyes. I can't figure out if I miss his darker ones. They're so blue they seem to pierce me. "No. And I'm sorry for telling you you aren't human, okay? Can we put that behind us?"

I rest my free hand on his heart. Becaue I'm sappy like that. Don't judge. I can feel the thumping under my fingertips, very healthy and very alive, if only a little cold. "Whatever happens, please don't stake yourself, okay? I'm not a monster. You're not a monster. We're just some dopey kids that got our souls ripped out or whatever it is these vampires did. Got it?"

He gives my hand another squeeze. His heart beats fast and hard. "I don't want to become a vampire."

"You won't."

He eyes me intently. A cool wind whips my hair back, bites through my sleeves. The heat of him makes my heart flutter. How can I like him? How can I trust him? How can he make me feel so safe, when every moment I'm around him, I'm in danger? My head is spinning.

His shoulders sag. "You don't know that. Shiro, if I ever become a vampire, I'll kill myself. Stick a stake right through my heart. I'm not going to hurt anyone else."

I yank my hand out of his. Tip my head up. "Fine then." But I feel like I've been socked in the chest. Ahead, there's a little cabin nestled between two evergreen trees. I turn toward it with brisk steps, my sluggish leg still a little hobbly. Jules catches up easily and leans his elbow on my shoulder.

"Shiro, " he says, "you're real moody."

"And you're a real bummer, you know?"

It's reasonable, I guess, wanting to stake yourself after becoming a vampire. Like wanting to shoot yourself after becoming a zombie. He doesn't want to hurt anyone.

I look up and meet his eyes. "Just don't think about it. I won't let you become a vampire, " I say. "I'll protect you, okay? As literally as I can."

He nods, and I relax, becuase for a second with him I've found solace.

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