I was the first to walk up to the ajar wooden door.
Brianna and Lorenzo followed close behind me, and Jet trailed towards the back, eyes red from crying. It only took a light push for the door to swing open, revealing the four walls of nostalgia.
Each of us peered inside, and one by one we crept into the cabin, hearts erratic. I slowly shuffled out from my coat, fingertips icy cold.
"It looks...the same." Brianna stumbled over her words, peering around the room carefully.
And she was right. The cabin seemed untouched to the way we left it; the ripped beanbag in the corner, the static TV that hardly ever turned on, cups and plates scattered around from our last midnight feast, and the countless paintings we'd hung on the walls in an attempt to decorate. It was simplicity at its best.
I breathed a sigh of relief, an unintentional tear pricking my eye.
"Yes. It's exactly the same." I smiled gently, watching as Jett finally made his way into the room and pulled the door up behind us.
He wouldn't meet any of our eyes.
"It can't of been the EDO," Lorenzo reassured, glancing over to Jett, "They wouldn't have left it like this."
"Maybe the wind blew the door open?" Brianna offered, the light in her eyes dimmer than usual.
Jett shook his head, "We all know that door never opens that easily."
"Well," I wandered over to the beanbag, "We might as well just forget about it."
"I don't know A..." Brianna shuffled her feet awkwardly, "Something doesn't feel right, maybe we should just head back?" She looked at Lorenzo desperately.
"Yeah, it's getting late and I'm pretty sure it's gonna snow tonight." Lorenzo pulled open the door, letting a gust of bitterly cold air enter the room.
I shivered, a disappointed feeling aching in my chest.
"The whole point of this was to come here and celebrate that we have the cabin back, what's the point in going now?"
"I'm sorry Astrid. It was a stupid idea anyway, with the EDT threat still on high alert. We shouldn't be here." Brianna spoke with sad eyes.
She walked out into the forest, pulling her scarf tighter around her neck. Lorenzo walked out behind her, and they both began to trace their way back home.
Jett lingered by the door, rubbing his right arm.
"Back to old times eh?" I laughed gently and walked towards Jett, a slight burst of excitement unraveling inside me. "It's their loss if they want to go back, I don't see what the problem is. We've only ever met one Eternal this far ou-"
"Astrid." Jett's voice cut through mine, cold and harsh, "It just doesn't feel the same anymore."
I flinched, taking a step backward.
"What do you mean it doesn't feel the same?" I tried to keep my voice even, not wanting him to hear the emotion behind my words, but inside I was breaking.
"You know what I mean." He snapped, "You know that now the EDO...or whoever it was has been here it doesn't feel like it used to."
"But they didn't change anything," I swallowed the lump rising in my throat, "It's still the same as how we left it..."
"Things are changing Astrid. Everything is changing. It isn't like back when we were kids."
It was as if the boy standing across from me had been replaced with someone else, the emptiness in his eyes making me want to look away.
I began to feel like Jett wasn't just talking about the Cabin anymore.
"I can't just act like everything is fine. Like I'm going to wake up in the morning and life will be simple again. Like I'm not losing the people around me bit by bit every day, and that I can still wake up to the sound of my mum's voice." He continued to talk, each word he said like a jab in my heart.
"I'm still me Jett," the first tear escaped my eye like a prisoner, and I began to wonder if The Eternals felt as trapped as I was feeling in that moment. "I haven't changed. The only difference is that I can protect us now."
He rolled his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh, looking at me as if I was stupid. "Maybe you can protect us from The Eternals. But you can't protect us from the real monsters.
We both know who's to blame for me losing my mum."
And with that he turned around without a second thought, walking out into the night and slamming the door shut behind him.
The room plunged into darkness, a painting falling from the wall and fluttering to the floor. It lay there, crumpled from the wind as I stood with tears streaming down my face, feeling as if I'd just lost a part of me that was irreplaceable. My knees slowly buckled as I fell to the floor, head in hands.
The cold didn't bother me anymore, not now that Jett's words had sunk into my skin, spreading a kind of poison through my veins that was impossible to eradicate.
My sobs echoed as the wind howled, the trees outside getting caught in the aggressive gusts. The wooden door stayed still, locked into place, as the wind left it untouched and the darkness outside crept closer.
My three best friends had left me alone in the forest, probably thinking that I could protect myself now that I was part of the EDO. They couldn't have been more wrong, because at that moment I felt weaker than I ever had.
I couldn't tell how much time had passed. Seconds. Minutes. Hours. It didn't make a difference. Because every breath I took hurt more than the last, and every time I was close to getting myself together, Jett's words would shout in my mind.
A sudden gasp caught in my throat as the air seemed to still. The wind stopped howling and the trees became calm. My breathing hushed as my heartbeat slowed and the hairs on the back of my neck began to rise.
All I heard was the knock and the creaking of the door.
There were no footsteps. No breathing.
Just the color of emerald gliding through the darkness and landing upon me. Two deadly eyes fixated, unwavering.
I reached for the rifle in my pocket.
I did not hesitate.