Chapter 26: Flameheart
I missed having sex. There were no two ways about it. It was selfish of me to think about pleasure at a time like this, when so many others didn't have it as well as I did, but I couldn't help it. Dragomir was the only love I'd ever known, and God- every time we made love to each other was more passionate than the next. And I had killed him. What choice did I have? He would've done away with me, just like he had Rose. And now, thanks to him, I was a freak of nature. I knew what it was like to die. I died when I "fell" into the fire. And then I came back to life. Any burns I had gotten were gone- I had become fire in a human form. At least I could defend myself.
I looked up at the bleeding sky, but soon focused my eyes back on the road. I wasn't that far out from the city- I was just in the suburbs. As I turned the corner and started driving along a coastal road I couldn't help but notice how bad most of the houses looked. Looking closer, I saw that one house was reduced to a burnt skeleton, surrounded by ash and debris. My eyes widened slightly when I caught sight of a woman in the midst of the wreckage. I pulled up in the driveway and got out of the car. The woman's head shot up at the sound of the front door slamming behind me. "Are you okay?" I called out.
She nodded, although her eyes betrayed her answer; they were all puffy and red, as if she had been crying. "What happened here?" I asked as I walked over to where she was standing.
"There was a fire," she replied. I felt a little bit of guilt, but quickly brushed it away. This couldn't possibly have been my fault. "I don't know how it started," she said, "But it did." The way she said that was so final, so void of emotion that I began to feel uneasy.
"My name's Flameheart," I said, sticking out my hand, trying to defuse any possible tension.
"I'm Kyra," Kyra replied, giving me a weak smile as she shook my hand.
"Wait," I said, "You're not Kyra as in the woman married to Vincent Skullfinder, are you?" I asked. Kyra looked down, not saying anything. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew I had said something wrong. Then I remembered the list of the deceased that I had received a week ago. "Oh," I said softly, "I'm so sorry," I reached out to lightly touch her shoulder, instantly feeling the weight of depression and heartache.
"It's okay," Kyra replied, looking up at me reassuringly, "I saw Dragomir's name on the list too. I'm sure you miss him." I shrugged, remembering the last time I saw him.
"I guess I do," I said quietly, folding my arms and letting the wind blow my hair around. The two of us stood in silence for a while, mourning the loss of our loved ones. As soon as tears starting blurring my eyes, something caught my eye. It was a book, completely uncharred, just lying there in the midst of the rubble. "What's this?" I asked, picking it up. Kyra's face lit up with interest as she took it from me and rapidly flipped through the pages.
"I think I know what this is!" She exclaimed, looking more closely at a bookmarked page, "Mayor Rosalyn was reading some of this to me last week," she explained, "It's all this odd history about Reyesent, not to mention something I think everyone's been wanting: explanations."
"What did you find in there?" I asked, eager to learn.
"Some stuff about rakes, mostly." Kyra replied, "They're gone, for now, so that doesn't do us much good. I wish I'd taken more time to read through this- listen to this: There is a predator that, once it has found its prey, sets fire to the target's surroundings…" she trailed off and looked up from the pages, staring off into space, "Maybe that's what burned this house down…"
"Did you get a good look at it?" I asked, hoping it wasn't some demonic version of myself.
Kyra shook her head, "No. I think I'm glad I didn't, though." She said with a nervous laugh.
"Wait a minute," I said, a thought suddenly occurring to me, "This book seems to know a lot of… unusual stuff. Stuff that, up until the Destruction, would be irrelevant. Does it say who it's by?" I asked.
Kyra closed the book and looked at the cover, squinting, trying to make out a name. Finding nothing, she turned it over to look at the back. Unsuccessful in her search, she turned the book back to face the cover again and opened it to the first page: blank. "How could someone right something like this and then not claim it as their own?" she asked. She gripped the book tightly, her thumb still resting on the first page.
"Oh my God," My jaw dropped a little as I watched a soft green light form around Kyra's thumb. The two of us stared down at the page as it began to turn negative, the white paper turning a shiny black. Half hidden by Kyra's finger was what looked like a few sentences scrawled in white. She moved her finger to reveal the text.
"Fredrick Everett," she read softly, "Sector R15, Valford, Washington." Kyra looked up at me in confusion, "Do you know where that is?" she asked.
"I think so," I said, trying to create a map in my head. "I think it's a few miles past Roseston Park." The blank look remained on Kyra's face.
"I'm sorry," she said sheepishly, "I don't actually live here, I'm just visiting from Fallfield. I have no idea where these places are."
"Don't worry about it," I reassured her, taking hold of the book. I looked back down at the address just as it vanished. I blinked a couple of times and the black page returned to white. "I wonder how that happened," I thought out loud.
"Do you think we should go there?" Kyra asked, breaking me out of my thoughts.
"Go where?" I asked, not liking where this was going.
"To see Fredrick Everett," she replied, pointing at the blank page.
"I don't know…" I said, a feeling of unease starting to well up in my stomach. "I bet he's not even there anymore. Like we know, lots of people died." I could feel my quick temper begin to play into effect. I couldn't stand it when people disagreed with me and I was feeling especially vulnerable after the Destruction. I knew I had touched a nerve when I said "lots of people died" but I didn't get any satisfaction out of it. Kyra, on the other hand, attempted to ignore my little comment.
"Don't you want answers?" She asked, her voice surprisingly void of a challenge, "Don't you want to get out of this?"
I shrugged again, "Come on," I said, "It's not that bad." That wasn't meant to be cruel, but I heard it when I said it. Kyra and I came to the same conclusion that I had been referring to Vincent's death.
"It can only get worse," Kyra said after taking in a deep breath. "You know Svetlana's in charge of Saper's now, right?" How could I not know that? It had been next to impossible for me to get any food. It's not that Svetlana went to extra lengths to keep me away from the store- in fact, it was just the opposite. The only time she'd make a public appearance was when I just happened to be in the neighborhood and then she'd offer me food, even if it wasn't a Tuesday. I rarely excepted since I didn't want to have an unfair advantage over everyone else, but the offer was tempting- but only in itself. What do I mean by that? I mean Svetlana has been overly nice to me lately and, to be perfectly honest, it bothered me more than her original behavior had. I remembered the days when she'd go out of her way to torment me and a younger girl from the Chaos Pirates. Then again, I noticed that member was now working for her at Saper's, so maybe abuse was still going on. I wish I could remember that girl's name.
I sighed. "Yeah, you're right, I guess," I admitted reluctantly. "I'll drive," I called over my shoulder as I started walking back toward the car, book in hand. Kyra slid in the passenger seat beside me and I handed her the book before starting up the vehicle. It didn't take long for the silence of the drive to be broken. Kyra gasped as something outside caught her eye. I didn't stop the car, but glanced over to see what she was looking at. A few houses down from the burned one was a trail of blood streaking from the open front door. "Wonder what that was," I thought, turning back to the road in front of me. Kyra shuddered and opened the book, trying to distract herself.
Somewhere in Southwest Asia
No Dr. - thought to himself, It wasn't possible. But it was. The watery illusions stretched around each city perfectly, completely unbreakable. In the mind they stretched out infinitely in all directions, but in reality the span of the barrier was limited both underground and in the sky. Dr. - tried to laugh it off- the illusion wasn't infinite, yes, but the lengths one would have to take to go under it were impossible. Nobody could dig for that long, not even with machines. And helicopters and planes flying over it was inconceivable as well- the citizens of the United States were too dense to understand what was happening and none of the other countries knew what was happening. He had made sure of that.
But there is a way, a voice in Dr. -'s argued, Right in a little park in Washington. There are tunnels. Tunnels that are deep, deep underground. And one of them stretches right under your little barrier. The voice angered Dr. -. It hadn't started talking to him until last week, when all the bombs had gone off. And every time he thought of something to further the destruction, the voice came back, taunting. It motivated him to do more damage. If only there was a way to get rid of the voice.
Highway 35, somewhere between Roseston Park and Valford, Washington
"Even Dr. Everett predicted it," Kyra said in dismay, looking carefully at the pages, "Water as far as the eye can see, surrounding each city." I rolled my eyes, not wanting to believe that was true. If it was, we wouldn't be able to get to Valford. Maybe that was a good thing, but it also meant we were trapped in Reysent.
"Let me see that," I said, taking my eyes off the road for a second to look over at the book.
"Flameheart, watch out!" Kyra screamed as I slammed my foot down on the break. We got out of the car, not blinking, and looked at the water ahead of us. "Dr. Everett was right," she said in awe.
"Agh!" I screamed in frustration, rubbing the back of my hand against my forehead. "I hate this!" I didn't know what had come over me, all I could feel was a deep, burning anger. Fire started to form around my clenched fists and I wanted to burn something. Not wanting to hurt Kyra or the car, I turned around and blasted the ground, leaving a huge, scarred hole in the ground. A few small rocks tumbled into the whole. I picked one up and threw it as hard as I could at the water. But it didn't get far.
A few feet out it bounced against some invisible wall and fell straight down into the water. Kyra ran forward, wading into the water, ignoring the fact that her clothes were getting wet. About five feet into the "ocean" she stopped and leaned her hands against something. She looked like a mime pushing against an invisible box. "I can't believe this," she said, "I can't get passed this," Kyra looked back at me, "Flameheart, come here. You have to see this."
"I can see it from here, thanks," I said. I was fire now and I didn't want to experiment with water. "Let's just go back," I called out to her. Kyra ignored me, but I slid back into the car nonetheless to wait for her. I turned on the engine and prepared to back up from the water. The car didn't budge. "Fuck," I gritted my teeth as a new wave of frustration surged over me. We were out in the middle of nowhere and we were out of gas.