Hidden Souls

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The Met

She forces me to turn around, which I don’t fight. I hear the sound of something hissing then a warmth begins to surround my wrists. Within seconds my hands are freed from their confinements and I immediately fold them over my chest, trying but failing to relieve myself of the cold.

I turn back around and find the stranger looking down at some sort of device in her hand. It’s not a regular phone, more like a walkie talky but it has a map on the gray screen. A loud beep comes out of it and a women’s voice speaks, stating that the trucks are just passing china town.

Wow, they made it far.

“Who are you?” I ask quietly through chattering teeth, barely registering my own voice.

“Either your worst nightmare or your saving grace.” She mutters without giving me her attention.

The streets are empty and the rain is now lightly padding against us. I’m not sure what time it is. Clouds fill the sky, making it almost impossible to tell if the sun has set in the west yet. Judging by how dark it is, I can only assume that it already has.

I turn around to look at the water, my heart skips a beat when I think about the two men that are still stuck down there; sleeping with the fishes. The rails by the water are bent and disformed, I’m guessing from when the car rolled over it.

A lump on the road catches my eye and I squint to get a better look. When I finally realize what it is, I almost jump with joy; it’s my back pack. It must’ve flown out when the truck was flipping.

I run and hug it to my body before grabbing a beany from the side pocket. Mine fell off sometime while I was being taken against my will.

“Stop right there!” a voice yells out from my right.

It’s the dragon tattoo guy, the guard that I kicked out of the truck. He’s running at full speed towards us, a baton in his right hand.

“Is this the part where we run?” I ask the girl as I strap my backpack on.

She lets out a “Pft” then her wings sprout from her back. She stands tall in front of me, an arrogant smirk covering her face.

I shake my head violently. “I don’t have a pair of those.”

She responds by taking a step forward, putting us nose to nose. “You might want to brace yourself.” Her arms circle under me and I can’t let out a single protest before we lift off into the air.

My arms instinctively wrapped around her neck as we soar through the sky. A scream escapes from my lips and I feel the elicitor of it flinch. Her nails dig into my back, warning me to be quiet.

I can faintly hear the yells of the man on the ground telling us to stop. When I look down -which is a mistake- I see him throw his hat angrily to the ground. I’m sure there were many swear words that followed but I can no longer hear them.

We lift high into air, above the stormy black clouds. The sun is just barely peaking over the horizon.

Just as I’m starting to get comfortable with the beautiful view, were plummeting towards the ground. Her wings enclose on us and to make things worse she starts to spin rapidly. I have to bite my tongue in order to not scream, that or throw up.

A second before we crash, her wings open and we begin to glide before lightly tapping the ground. I withhold from letting go, instead I wrap my body tighter around the creature in front of me. She could take off at any second.

“You can let go now.” She says and drops her hands, leaving me to hold my own weight. I still don’t let go. “Seriously, get off.”

Slowly, I open one eye and release one of my legs from around her. I don’t fully step down though before sliding my foot on the ground for a few seconds. Once both feet are firmly set, I slide down the stranger’s body and breathe deeply. I’m seconds away from either throwing up or having a full-blown mental break down.

“If you start kissing the pavement, I swear I’ll kick you in the face.”

“You’re not light and fluffy like your wings at all, are you?” I practically wheeze, suppressing a glare.

If she has wings like that, it means she must be an angel. About a week after the awakening we were sent a list of possible creatures that I could turn into and the signs to look out for. Sprouting feathers, hair, gills, spikes or really anything out of the ordinary was to be reported immediately.

“I just saved your ass, the least you could do is not give me attitude.” She says and pulls me to my feet.

“The least you could do is tell me your name.”

She narrows her eyes at me then ticks her tongue. “Cala.”

“Lark.” I say and stick out my hand to her. She ignores it and instead checks out the surroundings.

“Come on, we better get inside before someone spots us.”

Without a second glance she begins to climb a wide stair case that I hadn’t yet noticed behind us. They lead to a familiar building and it doesn’t take long for me to recognize it.

“The Met?”

“Kind of, now are you coming or not?”

A chill runs through me and -as much as I want to run like hell- I follow her up the stairs. I’m too cold and emotionally exhausted to figure a way out of this. Besides, where would I go?

The four pillars that sit on either side of the entrance are dauntingly tall. Red flags hang from the center of each two and reflect off the rain covered steps, creating the illusion of blood trailing down them. I’ve only been inside twice but never while it was dark.

Cala walks to the front glass doors with ease. Just as she reaches them, I hear a loud click and she swings the door open. I hesitate to go further as she holds it for me. Her jaw ticks in annoyance and she gestures for me to head inside.

“You’re joking right?” I deadpan. The Met might not be one of my expertise but I do know for sure that this place is heavily guarded.

Why do I all the sudden have the sinking feeling this is a trap?

She just groans and tilts her head back. When she looks back up at me, her wings fold back and disappear from my view.

“Would you just go in? Security could come by at any second and I’ve already bailed you out once tonight.” She says calmer than I expect.

I look between her and the door several times then cross my arms over my chest. Partly because I’m freezing and the other part because I don’t know what else to do.

“Please.” she grits out, a little bit of gold light is now spiraling in her upturned blue eyes.

The rain begins to pummel down on my back and I jump forward so I’m under the cover of the building. There really isn’t any other choice.

“Fine, but only because its pouring.” I say and walk through the open door.

An “Mmhmm.” Is the only response I’m given.

Once were both inside, she shuts the door and it lets out another loud click; which I assume means its locked.

I pace forward and look in at the main lobby. It’s weird how low the lights are and the front octagon shaped desk is dark and empty. Last time I was here, the place was packed. Now it’s quiet and almost surreal.

An arm shoots out and grips onto my elbow. It yanks me back behind one of the smaller pillars before I can take another step.

“Not that way.” Cala whispers to me then points across the room.

I follow her finger and just as I do, a security guard walks out from around the corner. He’s holding a flashlight and looking around the lobby lazily. A loud yawn escapes his mouth before he looks around once more and climbs up to the second floor.

“Come on.” The angel whispers to me after the guard finally disappears.

She leads me to the right, past the two large windows matching the entrance. A door with the words ‘Employees only’ comes into view and we stop right in front of it.

There’s a slide key with a red light next to the handle. Cala looks up at a camera above the door and almost instantly the light turns green. She opens the door and drags me in with her. Most likely not wanting to deal with my hesitancy.

We walk past lockers and down four flights of stairs. The hallway we’re walking down seems to go on forever and with each step the lights dim more. I cough lightly at how dense the air is slowly becoming. It’s hard to tell how far underground we are.

If someone told me a week ago that I’d following an angel through hidden tunnels underneath the Metropolitan Museum... I would’ve laughed my head off. This is completely insane.

After taking more twists and turns then I thought were possible, we finally arrive at a large metal door. There’s a rusted handwheel in the center of it.

Cala leans forward and turns the wheel to left. It looks heavy and she struggles to get it to turn at first. Once she does, the metal arms protruding from it loosen and I hear the gears inside turning to move them.

The door creaks open stiffly. A bright light leaks out from the other side causing me to squint. Mixtures of voices tumble out with it and I begin to panic.

Not again, I think to myself.

My panic subsides soon after when the door opens more and the voices become clearer. I can understand bits and pieces of what each person is saying but there are too many people talking. When I had my little episode, I couldn’t make out a single word of what any of the voices said.

“Go inside, everyone’s waiting.” Cala nudges me forward, then walks past me into the unknown territory.

Anything could be behind this door... but at this point, anything is better than what’s already behind me.

With one last look back and deep breath, I slide through the door.

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