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17.) Parallax

My sleep was quick, I didn’t notice I’m asleep until I woke up. For a moment I’m disoriented, not sure where I am. Above me was the dark sky, still giving off the impression of nighttime even though I know it’s not.

I sat up quickly, my back twinging at the motion. My body was not a fan of sleeping on the ground I suppose. I’m hungry, and thirsty. But I’ve already pushed off this endeavor long enough, and I doubted Beckett would be patient through brunch. At that idea, him sitting in a suit sipping a mimosa, I noticed I’m alone.

“Beck?” I whispered, afraid that being any louder would draw unnecessary attention to me.

“What?” He responded from above me, I peered up to see him already at the top of the large cliff. So I know I’ve definitely kept him waiting, I tried to not let that bother me.

“How am I supposed to get up there?” I ask aloud and he shrugs at me before disappearing. My brain immediately goes to logical ways to climb, all of them seeming harder than the next. But then I remembered, I have powers. I think, if I can harness energy, what’s stopping me from using it?

I tried it, bringing my energy out of my hands, the swirling orbs dancing in my palms. Breathing slowly I turned my palms down, and I could feel my energy vibrating the ground. I let out one last careful breath, before pushing my energy down, and I feel my shoes leave the dirt.

Rising slowly I let out a laugh, my chest bursting with the pure shock of my capabilities. I try to keep my legs straight, as much as they want to kick out on reflex; my body wanting to be on solid ground again.

I persist, allowing my energy to keep pushing me up. This method is quick, and when I reach the top of the cliff I let out another laugh at the sheer shock on Beckett’s face. His eyes bugged out and his mouth dropped open, it’s hilarious.

“Whoa-”, I released my energy and allowed myself to drop down near him; only stumbling slightly. “Were you seriously just flying?” He laughed out his words, and my cheeks grew hot at his admiration.

“Well I don’t think it was flying so much as it was…floating?” I said it as a question because how do you explain manipulation of energy that allows you to rise into the air?

“Whatever you wanna call it, it’s cool.” He smiled at me, but I can’t help but see the sadness in his eyes. I tried to ignore it, chalking it up to stress of what’s about to happen.

“Thanks,” I say sheepishly, our eyes meeting in a burst of electricity. Intense shock and admiration coming from Beckett is not something I’m used to. Now that I know he feels it too, I so badly want to pry and get more information; but I know we must push onward.

“Anyways,” he coughs, breaking our gaze. “I’ve been scouting out the place and so far I haven’t seen any Shadow Creatures.” I look to where he’s indicating, and this time I feel my eyes widen with shock. I’d been so self absorbed with my ability to float that I hadn’t even noticed how tall Parallax’s building truly is.

It’s a dark building, made with dark cinder blocks, and has sparse windows. I’m surprised to not see lightning, or crows flapping, because it fits that vibe.

“So, we get in, get the souls, leave?” Sounds simple, except for the fact that it could be swarming with creatures that wanna kill us, and Parallax above all.

“Yup, easy as pie.” He replied, putting his knives in their holders.

“Hey I watched my aunt make pies, it wasn’t easy at all.” I retorted, the memory of my aunt making me smile and ache at the same time.

“Exactly.” He started off jogging towards the building, I took a breath for confidence and followed at his heel. We made it to the building in just moments, placing our backs against the cool cement.

“How do we get in?” I whisper, pressing my shoulder against his for a sense of security. He shifts away from me, and I ignore that sting.

“Well I was going to say the front door, but if you can fly now how about getting me up to that window?” I looked up along the wall, it was about 20 feet above us. Making myself levitate was one thing, but another person?

I release my energy, letting the balls dance away from my palms and dissipate to a fine mist. It circles his legs, he cringes as it did so.

“Stings,” he hisses, “like the electric force when you’re near me, but worse somehow.” I retracted it slightly but he shook his head no, so I let it wrap around his legs and force him into the air.

He jerks in the air, like he has a hard time balancing, so as I slowly raise him up towards the window he runs his hands along the wall to hold himself steady.

By the time he reached the window my arms were almost fully extended above my head, and they were sore from holding his weight within my energy. “Do you see anything?” I called up to him as quietly as possible, his response was pulling himself through the window. My arms dropped at the lack of his weight, and I waited anxiously to see his head pop back out.

Only it didn’t, his face doesn’t reappear.

“Beckett?” I called, still as quiet as possible, but there’s no answer still. Moments passed with no answer, and I couldn’t wait anymore.

I brought my energy out once more and I pushed myself from the ground, faster than my last attempt, and I launched myself to the window.

“Beckett?” I whispered again, holding onto the window pane peering inside the dark hall. With a sigh, and my heart in my throat, I pulled myself through the window.

No sooner than my feet meeting the ground, before I can even figure out which end of the all I want to go to, I’m grabbed from behind. My mouth is covered, and my torso is trapped with my arms by my sides.

I almost screamed, it bubbled in my throat, but I felt the shocks that coursed my body and any fear I had dissolved.

Beckett let’s go of me, and I whirl around to give him a firm slap across his cheek. I know it hurts him because my palm burns with the force.

“You’re an ass!” I hiss at him, but honestly I feel no anger. I’m just happy he’s ok.

“Ouch,” is all he said. That explained his behavior, not. He pulls the parchment from his pocket again, his eyes are especially cold in the ominous lighting, and he holds the paper out to me once more.

I rolled my eyes and blew on it lightly, it lit up and rose into the air. It floats down the hall, and we follow it on our tiptoes, looking behind us every so often.

“I honestly expected more vamps.” I whisper to Beckett, but he doesn’t even acknowledge my words. We come to a door, a big brass door a deep maroon color, I grab hold of the metal handle and gave it a turn

The door screamed on its hinges, making my jaw clench as I pushed it fully open. As my eyes adjusted, I let out a gasp. We faced a long hallway, on each side were shelves of silver cubes. They don’t whisper to me now, but I can see them in my physical view. This isn’t a dream, we’ve found the lost souls.

“We did it,” I say grinning, rushing into the hallway. “We can free these souls!” The shelves reach the ceiling, and the amount surpasses what I believed there would be.

Beckett closes the hallway door so we are alone in the hall, the light coming from the souls luminates the hallway.

I run my hand along one of the shelves, the writing below says the name and date of who had passed. ‘Rosalinde Baker, aged 29, poisoned by the Fae.’ Each cube says something different, and I force myself from reading more as my heart shatters with each word.

“How do we plan on saving them all?” Beckett asked, it’s the obvious question but his pessimism annoys me regardless. “We should just prioritize, save your aunt and uncle, and any of my family, and we get going.” Fire filled my belly, and I turned on him to stare daggers.

“Do you really only think I’m going to pick and choose who gets to pass on?” He shrugged, which only made me more annoyed. “I’m going to get them all, I swear it.” I turned my back on him in a huff, and walked down to about the middle of the hall.

I let out a slow breath, and release my energy in long tendrils. They flowed through the bottom of the whole hallway, and then up each individual shelf. I pushed it further, my energy engulfed each cube within the hallway. Once I could feel them all there, after my golden energy encased the whole room in swirls, I pulled it back to me fast. I compress it tightly and pull it to my core, it feels like the right thing to do; just as teaching myself to float.

I compress each soul tightly until my energy brings back to me a small silver orb that drops into the palm of my hand. Cocky, I practically shoved it into Beckett’s face.

“See? I got them all, ha!” His eyes were sad, eyebrows drawn down so far I could barely see them. “Becke-” I reach for him but he steps away.

“Don’t put those near me.” He said, and I flinched- his voice was harsh.

“Beckett?” He took another step away from me, my body yearns to step towards him but I resist.

“You weren’t supposed to be actually able to save them, Astra!” He’s whispering at me now, his eyes clouded over with something I can’t quite register. Pain? Sadness?

“What are you talking about? Our plan was to save them?” My brain feels jumbled as it tries to decipher his words, I looked at Beckett who looked undeniably broken; and I felt weight pressing on my chest.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen this way, you’ve ruined everything.” I try to pretend his words don’t sting, I haven’t ruined anything, I’ve saved these souls, we can free them now. “You weren’t supposed to be nice to me, ever. You were supposed to be scared off by my dickish behavior, like normal people. And I…I supposed I was never supposed to grow to care for you either.”

His words sink in, and my throat begins to burn with tears. “But it just felt so damn hard to not be by your side! A week Astra, a goddamn week and you manage to ruin any progress I had made!”

Why at this time does he choose to tear me down? Had I truly thought just last night that he may have feelings for me? Was I really that stupid? Now it seems his resentment was just too much.

“And you were supposed to fail!” He yells now, but a tear threatens to break from his eyes. I was right then, he had betted on me screwing it all up. I’d told him I was an incapable sissy...and he convinced me otherwise.

“Then why did you help me!” My voice cracked, and my words hit him like a punch; I could see as much in his eyes.

“Because, that was the assignment.” A broken voice, and he breaks my stare to look down at his feet. Before I can fire off any questions the door at the end of the hall on both sides burst open, shattering the wood. I let out a scream, stepping to Beckett and shoving the souls into my pocket.

Vamps bunched in the doorway at one end, and at the other end a lone man stands. I released energy into my left palm, ready to go when need be.

“Well, well, well. What a beautiful show, truly. Brought a tear to my eye.” A slow speaking voice entered the hall, he spoke like he has all the time in the world. With the lack of souls there’s little to no light, so I can’t see him; even as he slowly walks towards us.


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