Mind of Darkness

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Chapter Twenty-Eight: Charisa

I wake up with my head on Kyle’s shoulder. Then I jerk upright. When did he move seats on me?

Kyle is still breathing the way sleeping people do. Smiling, I brush a strand of hair out of his eye, glad my regenerating health prevents me from having any cramps from sleeping sitting up. Kyle won’t be so lucky.

Turning from him, I glance around the plane. I spot Rylie standing near the entrance of the cockpit, gazing out a plane window.

I stand up and approach him (maybe smoothing down my hair in the process). “How much longer until we land?”

“About two hours.” He turns to face me and gives me a warm smile.

Good gracious, he’s even prettier than I remember.

“So, I take it you two are a couple,” he adds, gesturing between Kyle and me.

Right. There’s a world beyond his silver eyes. I glance back at Kyle to remind myself of this. “Um, uh, yeah; something like that.”

When I turn back to the boy, he has a wistful expression on his face. “There used to be this girl that I was pretty close to as a kid. You guys remind me of us. Got into so much trouble together.”

“Sound like us.” I cock my head at him. “What happened?”

He sighs and shrugs. “Life. Things happened. We lost contact.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” He seems to push away all sadness to give me another warm smile. “So, you probably don’t intend to tell me who you really are, do you?”

“Nope.”

“Or what you plan on doing when you land?”

“Nope.”

“That’s what I thought.” He walks into the cockpit, and I get the feeling that there’s something else he wants to say, but didn’t.

~~~

“All right, everyone,” Rylie yells back at us, “buckle up, because we’re coming in for a landing.”

“Want to use the restroom, Jack?” Kyle asks as he fastens his seat belt.

“Don’t make me punch you,” I mutter as I check to make sure my seat-belt is as tight as possible.

Kyle gives me an amused look as I check his seat-belt next. “At least when we were in the restroom we didn’t know our pilot was a high school student.”

I feel all color drain from my face- he’s got a point.

The landing is somehow more stressful than the takeoff. However, it’s uneventful.

Then Rylie joins us again. “If you’ll follow me, I have a car waiting. I can take you where you need to go.” He climbs out of the plane.

“To Oxford?” I ask, but he must already be too far away to hear, because he doesn’t answer (not everyone has super hearing, after all).

I hurry to the exit. Rylie is waiting on the ground. He offers a hand, which I accept.

Kyle hops down behind me with a raised eyebrow. “So, now you accept chivalry.”

Thankfully, Rylie doesn’t seem to hear that either, and keeps walking.

“This is Agent Jesse all over again,” Kyle mutters.

I hip-check him. “It is not! Unlike with Agent Jesse, Rylie is definitely in my league.”

Kyle rolls eyes.

“And he strikes me as the kind of guy who knows how to show a girl a good time without getting her kidnapped.”

“Did you just go there?”

I nod defiantly. “Yep.”

“Are you coming?” Rylie calls, sliding on a pair of nerdy, black-rimmed glasses.

“Sleep with one eye open tonight,” Kyle mutters.

I stick my tongue out at him as I hurry to catch up with Rylie. “You wear glasses? And drive a plane?”

“Not usually at the same time. My vision isn’t that terrible.”

“Then why do you wear…. Them?” I gesture to the nerdiest pair of glasses ever where they are perched on his face.

“Because I want too.”

Rylie leads us to a nearby garage, where he hops into a blue convertible (though its roof is up, tragically). “Coming?”

Kyle pets the car like a dog. “In that beauty? Duh.” He hops in to.

I climb in after him. “Now who’s flirting?”

Inside the car is just as nice as the outside. Now I know what car I want. Though it took me forever to convince Dad just to let me get a cell phone…

Oh, Dad, where are you?

“Wait a moment,” Kyle says suddenly. “You’re driving the opposite direction from Oxford.”

“I’m taking you to Oxford,” Rylie assures. “I’m just taking you somewhere else first.”

Kyle and I both tense.

“What do you want?” Kyle demands, scanning our surroundings- probably wondering how much of a scene we’d make by jumping out of a car on a crowded freeway where everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road.

“Answers.”

Kyle moves his hand to unbuckle his seat.

“Not from you, though,” Rylie adds. “From my family. Though, I wouldn’t mind it if you confirm what I suspect about you.”

“And what would that be?” I demand, watching as we turn onto a freeway overhang.

“That you’re two of the people Un- Jin Yin is looking for. That you’re the superhumans who recently escaped from an underground bunker. That you can help me and I can help you.”

Kyle and I exchange a Look.

Then he opens his door before jumping out and rolling into traffic.

“What in the-” Rylie cries.

I blink, startled. That was not what that Look meant at all!

Kyle jumps over one speeding car, but another one swerves right into him.

“Kyle!” I scream as I watch the horror helplessly.

He gets knocked into the railing, and then falls over.

I jump out of the door and jump onto one car before jumping onto the next, and then dropping down next to the railing that Kyle is hanging onto for dear life with only one arm.

“Well,” Kyle mutters between gritted teeth. “Getting hit by a car hurt. I think it broke my arm.” He glanced down pathetically at the arm hanging loosely by his side.

“No duh!” I grasp his good arm to pull him up.

Rylie jogs over. “What kind of idiot-”

The moment I finish pulling Kyle up, he swings around and kicks Rylie in the chest, sending him flying backwards.

I scream again and rush into traffic after him, grab him, and pull him to the side just as another car swerves by. Then I drag him back to Kyle.

“You maniac!” I scream at Kyle.

“You,” Rylie gasps, “are very strong.”

Kyle moves threatening toward him, his good arm fisted. “I will not be imprisoned again.”

“And you won’t,” Rylie gasps. “But we need to get out of the public eye.” He gestures toward the cars that are slowing now to get a better look at us.

“We’ll manage,” Kyle says, pulling me toward him.

I tug away.

“Without you driving us anywhere,” Kyle adds, now gauging the distance between us and the ground.

“And I won’t be.” Rylie tosses his keys at me and I catch them.

“I’ll just be your navigator.”

Kyle makes a grab for the keys, but I pull them out of his reach.

Then I march toward the car Rylie has parked out of the way.

Rylie follows.

“I’m not going into a vehicle with that man!” Kyle yells. “I will not be imprisoned again.”

“And neither will I!” I yell back. “But I’m not going to get myself killed when people need me either!”

“Yet you’ll leave your wounded boyfriend stranded on the road?!”

“He’s welcome to join me.”

When I get to the privacy that is the other side of Rylie’s car from the freeway,

Rylie limps over, and the moment he’s in arm’s length, I lift his shirt and inspect his torso. “I don’t see any sign of internal bleeding.” Just lots of muscles. Then I run my hand across his chest. “Don’t feel anything broken.”

Chrissie,” Kyle mutters under his breath.

“But just in case...” I kneel down and press my ear to his abs.

“Is this some kind of newfangled medical examination?” Rylie asks.

I hold up a hand. “Shh- I’m trying to hear if anything sounds amiss.

Kyle stomps by. “You two obviously need a chaperon.”

Smiling to myself, I stand up to see Rylie’s blushing face. Then I hand him the keys. “You’re fit to drive.”

Before Kyle can protest, I open the back door and push him in. Then I climb in after him.

“So,” Rylie says, climbing into the driver’s seat. “Oxford it is.”

“That’s more like it,” I say, helping Kyle out of his shirt.

“And don’t try any mores stunts like that again,” Kyle adds as the shirt goes over his head. “Or else I’m pitting my superhuman friends on you.”

“Right.” Rylie pulls back into traffic. “Your superhuman friends.

I wince as I take in the heavy bruising all up and down Kyle’s left side, and the limp way his arm hangs at his side.

“I’m sorry,” Rylie says.

I glance up to see his eyes looking back at us in his rear-view mirror before they quickly drop.

“I just wanted to know the truth,” he adds.

“The bone’s broken right there,” Kyle says, nodding toward his bicep. “It looks like a pretty clean cut.”

“Right.” I frown at the thought of him possibly having x-ray vision before grabbing Kyle’s shirt off the floor. “You want the truth, Rylie?”

“Yes.”

Chrissie,” Kyle whispers.

I begin wrapping his shirt around his arm. “No, Kyle. I’ve had enough of the lies. It was a lie that got us into this whole mess to begin with. It was a lie that allowed Jin and Wanda to do what they did to us. It was a lie that both Faith and Tim chose to follow… And I, for one, am tired of them.”

Kyle opens his mouth again, but then he shuts it and nods. “Me too.”

I tighten his cast and he winces. “Also,” I add, “lies not only spin tangled webs- which is bad enough- but they also darken minds. I refuse to have a mind of darkness.”

Kyle nods again, blinking his eyes to hide the man tears.

I smirk. “Besides, I’m a girl of action- lies do not become me.”

“Me neither.” Rylie pulls off the freeway and pulls into the nearest side-street to do a turn-around. “This time, we’re really going to Oxford.”

“Thank you for the change of heart,” I say wiping away my sweat before leaning back in his car.

“Change of mind. I always planned on taking you to Oxford; I just decided to do it sooner. I’m a man of my word- I do what I say I’m going to do.”

“Man of honor, huh?” Kyle asks.

“Well, a girl I used to know once told me that there’s enough in this world to run away from without adding yourself to the list.”

I smile. “Thank you, Rylie.”

“Alex. My real name is Alex.”

“Well, I’m not telling you my real name,” Kyle announces.

“You don’t need to, Kyle,” Alex assures.

Kyle glares at me.

“For the record, I think Jill suits you better.” He winks at me via the rear-view mirror. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to know about the underground bunker you escaped from. Were you testing a Cure?”

I nod. “Kind of. It was being tested on me, anyway.”

He cringes slightly. “Was it effective?”

“For the most part. But there is an anomaly.”

“Which is…?”

“The urge to do the chicken dance when you hear corn popping,” Kyle says, rubbing his bruises and wincing.

Alex raises an eyebrow.

“It’s true,” I agree, “but that’s not what I was referring too. The main anomaly is this: if a person with the Cure in their bloodstream is exposed to a certain frequency, their body shuts down.”

“What?!” Alex cries, accidentally braking the car, causing many other cars to honk at us. “Has anyone died testing the Cure?”

“Not that I’m aware of. We testers all have regenerating health.”

Alex breathes a sigh of relief. “So, how many testers were there besides you?”

“There were two others.”

“Are they still there?”

“One is.”

“Actually, Two is,” Kyle corrects.

I roll my eyes.

“Are the others superhumans too?” Alex asks.

I nod. “Yes.”

“What… what were the conditions like?”

“Livable but demeaning.”

“I’m so sorry. How did you get there?”

“We were kidnapped.”

“How long were you there?”

“One week. But the others were there much longer.”

Alex says nothing as he pulls into another parking lot. This time, though, he parks. “We’re here.”

“Thank you,” I say. “Did we answer all your questions?”

“All the questions you can answer.”

“Well, I hope you find the rest of the answers you seek,” I add.

Kyle nods at Alex, who nods back. Then Kyle stumbles out.

I move to follow him, but then I pause. “I hope you find more than answers. I hope you find the truth.” With that, I join Kyle.

We watch Alex drive away. Then Kyle lies down on the grass with his good side. “So… what now?”

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