Riding in cars with boys.
"Jess?" I shouted, my heart
starting to race as I listened to the dead silence.
There was something that sounded like a scuffle on the other end before I heard Jess speak again.
"Help…" I heard her whisper before her voice cracked and she started sobbing.
"Jess! What's wrong?" I screamed, standing up.
"Tegan!" she sobbed. "I don't know what he wants!"
"He came with Lucas and now..." Jess suddenly screamed again and the sound made my heart stop and my blood run cold.
"Jess, listen to me. It's going to be okay. Who came with Lucas?" I demanded, my mind racing. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't think. I couldn't breathe. What the hell was going on?
"Please hurry Tegan! It hurts! Tegan!" Jess let out a heart wrenching shriek and suddenly the line went dead.
I stood frozen as I listened to the dial tone.
It didn't seem real. Nothing seemed real.
My hands were trembling, cold and pale in the silvery moonlight.
This can't be real.
"What's wrong?" Raith asked as he stood up beside me.
I tried to speak but my mouth wouldn't work.
All I could hear was the screaming; the sharp cry of pain that wouldn't stop echoing inside my head. What were they doing to her? What was happening? What should I do?
I looked up and saw Raith staring at me with a frown.
"What's going on?" he asked quietly.
I licked my lips and tried to moisten my mouth.
"J-Jess is in trouble. Something to do with Lucas. I don't know what's going on but I have to go home." I whispered.
I started to shiver, my body shaking as gruesome images formed in my mind. This couldn't be happening. Not again.
It felt as if the wind had been knocked from my lungs and I stumbled backwards, struggling for breath as I tried desperately to keep a clear head.
"Raith, I have to go home." I said again, the words sounding strangled from my mouth. I could feel the tears building in my eyes but I wouldn't cry. I wouldn't let myself. I was better than that. Jess needed me strong and willing to fight. I would kill Lucas and whoever else was hurting her.
Raith watched me for a long time, his dark eyes seeming cold and calculating in the darkness.
I could see the full moon behind him, large and bloated above the horizon. It seemed larger than I had ever seen it, casting a ghostly ray of light around me as if it were foreshadowing my demise.
Something awful was going to happen tonight. I could feel it. I had a sense of foreboding that sent shivers down my spine. It was the type of fear I'd only ever experienced in nightmares.
"Wait here." Raith suddenly said before disappearing right in front of me.
I nodded even though he wasn't there anymore. I couldn't think properly. Everything seemed like a blur, like an incomprehensible rush that I was spinning me round and round like I was in a blender. I didn't understand anymore. I didn't know what was real. All I knew was that I couldn't break down. I needed to stay positive and rational.
I needed to get to Jess.
The fear was escalating. I could feel it building in my chest and spreading to every inch of my body. I had the overwhelming urge to run all the way home. At least running would be better than waiting around here in the cold. And it was cold now. Too cold. The air hurt my lungs at every breath I took, slicing me from the inside out while my sister lay tortured somewhere out of reach, just like Megan. It was all happening again and just like last time, I was hopeless.
The sound of a loud car engine made me flinch and I jumped back as a shiny black Porsche pulled up in front of me.
I just stared at it, confused about who the hell was trying to kidnap me at this time of night.
Then the door to the passenger seat opened and I hear a familiar voice yell "Get in!"
I did as I was told, mechanically climbing into the car and putting on my seatbelt.
"Where did you get this?" I asked Raith, letting the cold, paralysing numbness take over my body.
The feeling was better than the sporadic panic that was consuming me before. At least in this state I could function properly.
"I borrowed it." Raith said shortly, pushing the gear into drive and slamming on the accelerator. The car jerked forward and I felt the engine hum softly beneath the bonnet.
"So you stole it." I clarified, clenching and unclenching my fingers as I breathed in the new car smell.
"Yes." Raith replied, staring intently at the road ahead.
"And it had to be a Porsche out of all cars?" I pressed.
"We're in a small town full of spoilt rich kids. There wasn't much choice."
I was tense as Raith sped through the dark deserted streets in the stolen luxury car. The bright lights of the harbour rushed past us in a blur of colour. Faces, sounds, buildings and people all blended together into a random, distorted mix. Then we were out of the city and dark, deserted streets closed in on us.
I could barely keep still. I kept fidgeting and glancing at the time. Even the clock didn't make any sense to me. The numbers blurred together and no matter how many times I blinked or scrunched my eyes up tight, I still couldn't read it.
Raith was worried about me. I knew he wanted to say something but every time he tried to look at my face, I'd look away and stare out the window.
I wouldn't expect him to understand how I felt. I didn't even understand what I felt.
I was just certain that something was terribly wrong and unless I got home soon, Jess would be lost to me.
I dialled the home number again and waited anxiously as I held the phone to my ear, the dull ringing noise drilling into my brain.
It rang once, then twice, then three times and four.
It stopped after the tenth ring and I ended the call quickly, my stomach twisting into knots and a tight feeling in my chest.
I was clenching the phone so hard that it was starting to hurt so I put it on my lap and stretched out my fingers. They seemed pale and skeletal in the darkness of the car and the sight made me shudder. Even my own hands seemed alien to me, like I was staring at them from someone else's body.
This didn't seem real. It seemed like everything was becoming gluggy and slow, like I was underwater. Lights were dull, sounds were muffled and I couldn't breathe properly.
I picked up my phone again and searched my contacts list for Jess' mobile number.
I pressed the call button and shakily held the phone to my ear.
It rang once, twice, and I was about to give up after the third time when suddenly it stopped.
"Hello?" I whispered, my voice thick.
There was a moment of silence. Then someone spoke.
"Hello Tegan." A male voice replied, sounding amused.
I knew that voice well.
"Cory?" I said, incredulous.
This time Raith turned to me with a look of disbelief and almost crashed the car into a house. He turned back at the last minute and swerved sharply, narrowly avoiding a picket fence as we both slid sideways.
"I told you that you couldn't leave me." Cory said calmly as I clung onto the phone for my dear life.
"Cory, what have you done with Jess?" I demanded, the anger rushing through my veins and making my blood boil.
"Just having a little fun." Cory's voice took on a slight edge of hysteria and I stared dumbly at the phone.
"Cory, let her go. This is between you and me." I suddenly shouted. I just could not believe it. Cory was the one hurting Jess?
"No!" Corry bellowed through the phone and I had to hold it away from my ear. "This was between you and me but not anymore! I warned you Tegan. I told you I needed you but you didn't listen! So now you must be punished. Yes. Punished and purged in the eternal flames of hell."
Eternal flames of hell? Was he high or something?
I was breathing fast, my eyes flickering back and forth as I stared out into the hollow night, streetlights and houses flying past us as we sped through the dark suburbia.
"Cory, calm down." I said slowly. "I'll come to you now. I'll take you back. I'll do whatever you want. Just let Jess go."
Cory chucked darkly and I cringed at the empty sound. I didn't even know who he was anymore.
"It's too late for that Tegan. Much too late."
I could hear the sound of Jess sobbing in the background and I bit my lip to stop the tears falling from my own eyes.
"Cory, please." I gasped, my voice cracking.
Then Raith turned a corner sharply and I was thrown onto the side of the car, my phone smashing against the window and the screen exploding into sharp fragments all over my hands.
"Raith!" I screamed, this time feeling the water run down my face. "You broke my phone!"
Raith, on the other hand, was gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles were white. I was suddenly aware that the car had stopped moving.
"What?" I shouted, unable to keep the fear out of my voice.
He didn't say anything but stared straight ahead so I did the same, my heart thundering.
We were on the corner of Herring Avenue and right in the middle of the street was a lone car with the headlights on.
It was Cory's car.
I could see Jess in the passenger seat, her face a bloody bruised mess and duct tape over her mouth. She was sitting in an odd position, like her hands and feet were bound. In the driver seat was the monster that had once been Cory. I could barely recognize him. His hair was messy and tangled and his stubble had grown into a fuzzy beard that was straggly and covered half his face. It was his eyes that scared me. His eyes were dark and sunken, like he hadn't slept in weeks.
There was also someone sitting in the back seat but all I could see was the dark outline.
"Tegan." Raith said quietly and the alarm in his voice made everything seem more real.
"Did you say something about someone named Lucas before?" Raith asked, still not looking at me.
The nauseating feeling in my stomach grew and I gripped the shards of my phone so hard I felt blood trickle through my fingers.
The look on Raith's face was starting to scare me now. It was an expression of purest fear.
There was a touch of familiarity in Raith's voice and I had to take a deep breath to stop myself from giving in to the verge of hysteria.
"Please tell me you don't know anything about this." I said quietly, twisting the shrapnel of my phone in my fingers.
There was a scuffing sound as Raith ran his hands over the steering wheel anxiously.
"Lucas is the name of another Reaper." He whispered.
I turned to stare at him, hoping that he wasn't serious. He had to be joking.
Raith wasn't looking at me. His jaw was clenched and there was a stiffness about him that put me on edge.
Then I suddenly heard the engine of Cory's car rev and I spun to the front, my eyes glued on the old shabby white Toyota.
"Hold on tight." Raith said, sounding almost breathless as he kicked the car into reverse.
"Hold on to what?" I wanted to ask but I never got the chance.
In that moment, Cory's car raced forward, tires squealing on the dark road. At the same time, Raith hit the accelerator and the Porsche was flung backwards so fast my neck cracked and the back of my head it my chair so hard that everything went bright white for a second.
The tires screeched on the road as Raith turned sharply and spun the car around a full 180 degrees, my body slamming into the door with a loud thud. My head cracked against the window and I screamed, the pain so sharp it was like I had been shot in the skull.
I could smell burning rubber now and there was a disgusting burnt taste in my throat.
Raith shifted the gear into drive but in that instant, Cory's car slammed right into the trunk of the Porsche. There was a shrill squeal of metal on metal and the car jerked forwards with tremendous force, flying forwards as Raith hit the accelerator. Sparks were flying everywhere and I covered my head with my hands as bits of debris were forced to the front of the car.
"What's he trying to do?" I shouted as we sped off into the night, the boot of the car crumbling onto the road behind us.
"Kill us, obviously." Raith shouted back, turning a sharp corner at such a high speed that the right side of the car almost left the road.
I never found out the answer to my question because the lights from Cory's headlights suddenly blinded me and I screamed as the white Toyota appeared out of nowhere from a side street to the left.
Then everything seemed to happen at once.
Raith braked sharply and my head slammed back again, issuing a cry from my numb mouth. It didn't matter. Cory's car only sped up, charging down on us. There was screaming, so much screaming as I watched those two lights get brighter and brighter.
It was going to be a head on collision and there was no time to get out of the way.
"Tegan!" Raith shouted but before I could even speak, my death was upon me.
There was the screech of tires, a massive bang and a jolt as the car was forced backwards, the bonnet buckling as hot metal was thrown towards me. I heard my left leg crack and I screamed as pain like I had never felt before throbbed through my limb. It was all I could think about, every part of my mind consumed but fiery pain and scorched me and made me shout until I was hoarse.
Pain seemed to explode from all directions at once as shards of glass sliced into my bare skin, the impact letting loose a burst of energy that shattered the windshield. An alarm went off and my face was knocked sideways as the airbags were released. Then something creaked and the front part of the car collapsed inwards, something hot and sharp punching through my left arm.
I shrieked and kept screaming as pain shot through my whole body, so acute that it was like fire was rushing through my veins and burning me from the inside out.
Blood was everywhere, it was in my mouth, in my eyes.
I started to choke on the salty taste as my heart beat frantically.
I closed my eyes and red blossomed behind my eyelids as hot tears ran down my face. Even my tears burned me, scalding my cheeks and leaving my skin tingling and raw.
My ears were ringing.
My head was throbbing.
The last thing I remembered was Raith yelling my name.
Then nothing but black.
There was something sticky on my face; something sticky and wet.
Where was Jess?
My head was throbbing, every single limb in my body aching like I had run a marathon.
I tried to move but my limbs felt heavy, like they were made of lead.
What happened to Jess?
There was an awful taste in my mouth. It tasted like salt and rust.
I have to find Jess.
I started to cough, breaking the silence that had kept me warm and safe. It felt like I had cotton wool in my ears.
It took all my energy to lift my head up and that's when I smelt it…the coppery scent of blood.
I could barely open my eyes but when I did, there was nothing but red. It was everywhere, clouding my vision and making my head spin round and round and round. The airbag I had been lying on was drenched in blood. My blood.
My stomach churned and I swallowed hard, begging my body to be calm.
With shaky fingers I undid my seatbelt but the movement made me sick and I vomited, blood and bile spraying all over my clothes.
It was as if I was in a dream, everything was cloudy and slow like I was moving through water.
My arm left arm was hanging loosely from my shoulder. I must have dislocated it but all I felt was a weird numbness through the left side of my body.
I thought I felt pain but it was such a familiar sensation that it might have been anything.
Find Jess now!
My brain was trying to tell me something but I didn't understand.
Instead, I used my good arm to open the door of the car. The sudden gush of chill air surprised me and I lost my balance, falling sideways so that the top half of my body landed roughly on the ground.
Where is Jess?
The lower half of my body was still in the car so I used my right arm to drag the rest of me out.
I couldn't move one of my legs. It was bent at an odd angle.
You have to find Jess!
The black Porsche didn't look like a car anymore. The boot was smashed in and the front of it had bucked so badly that I couldn't even tell how long it was to begin with. There was no glass in the windshield and the bonnet was smoking, filling the air with the stench of fumes. I wonder whether or not that was dangerous.
Cory's white Toyota also looked a mess. Its hood had gone so far into the Porsche that if it wasn't for the contrast in colour, I wouldn't be able to tell where one car started and the other ended.
For the love of God, go find Jess!
There were two figured slumped in the front seats of the Toyota so I dragged myself over to it.
The road was rough and it felt funny as it scraped me. My right arm was getting tired and I think my nails were breaking because something warm was trickling down my fingertips.
Jess needs you!
The passenger door was open so I ducked under it and used the handle on the inside of the door to pull myself into a sitting position.
Then I looked at the body in front of me and screamed.
My mind went into a complete state of shock.
"Jess?" I whimpered, trembling at the sight of her. If it wasn't for her hair then I wouldn't have recognized her. Her nose was bleeding and looked broken, her whole face was red and swollen and her lips were cracked and bloody. Someone had ripped the duct tape off her mouth, leaving the area around her lips a raw red colour.
All I could smell was blood. All I could taste was blood.
"Jess?" I whispered, grabbing her shoulder and shaking her to wake her up. There was no response so I perched on my knees to reach across her lap and undo the seatbelt.
As I clicked the button and the belt snapped back to the side, Jess' limp body fell sideways and I caught her as she fell to the ground.
"Jess." I said again, shaking her again like a limp ragdoll.
Both her hands and feet were tied together with a thick synthetic rope but try as I could, I couldn't untie her with only one hand.
"Jess. Wake up." I said softy as tears streamed down my face and my vision became blurry.
I felt her neck for a pulse but I couldn't feel one. I could barely look at her blood streaked face. My stomach churned and I turned away to cough up a mixture of bile and vomit.
I wiped my mouth and turned back to my sister. She was still warm. As long as she was warm then she was alive, right?
"Jess. Wake up. Stop playing." I said as more water ran from my eyes.
I started rocking back and forth, hugging her with my one good arm as I took gasping breaths and tried to think clearing.
"I can't lose another sister." I whispered, burying my face in her blonde hair. "Don't leave me Jess. Please don't. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for everything. Please wake up."
I couldn't help it. My sobbing grew louder and I let out a wail, my heart hammering so hard it felt like it would burst right out of my chest.
She's still alive. She's still alive. She's still alive. She's still alive.
It felt like my world was crashing around me. I felt cold all over, cold and empty and hollow and dead. It was just like years ago with Megan, only worse. This time I had almost saved her…but this time I had watched her die. This time she had screamed my name and called out for help but I was too late.
I couldn't breathe. My body forgot how to function. All I could think about Jess; Jess arguing with me, Jess fighting with me, Jess who was always there for me even though we were so different.
She couldn't be dead. I wouldn't let her. I wouldn't forgive her. I wouldn't forgive myself.
"Wake up!" I screamed.
There was no reply.
My voice echoed back to me, hauntingly soft.
Then there was another voice. It was a voice dripping with sarcasism and malice.
"Aw, isn't that sweet."
I froze. My whole body was like a block of stone.
Ever so slowly, just in case any quick movements would damage her, I lay Jess softly on the ground before using my functional arm to turn my body around so I was facing my visitor.
"Morgue." I spat.
The tiny blonde girl smiled as she walked towards me ever so slowly, every movement elegant and full of grace.
"My, my, my, what a sight." She taunted, her sharp eyes glittering as she watched me with an amused smile. "Aren't you in pain?"
I hurt all over but it was all in another part of my mind, pushed far back by overwhelming grief.
"Leave me alone!" I shouted at her, my throat sore from the acid I had thrown up as well as the screaming.
"Now, now, don't get angry." Morgue said calmly, clasping her slender hands in front of her short summer dress. "Your sister isn't dead."
I looked over my shoulder at Jess' limp body and bit my lip nervously. Her chest wasn't even moving up and down.
"Don't you dare trick me." I hissed at the carefree girl.
"It's true. She isn't dead just yet." Morgue gave me a secretive smile and I tensed even more.
"What's going on?" I prompted when she didn't say anything else. It felt like every second that passed was precious time slipping away.
"Lucas has taken Jess' soul to purgatory and Raith has gone after him. Her body won't last long without a soul."
Morgue looked like a witch as she stood over me. The wind was tossing her wispy gold hair all over her face and the light from the streetlamps cast dark shadows under her eyes, nose and mouth.
"So Raith was right. Lucas is a Reaper." I whispered, my mind spinning.
Morgue smiled even more.
"Worse. He's a Death Lord. You have no idea what you're caught up in."
The shadows seemed to creep in, bathing Morgue in an animalistic darkness.
"What does he want with my sister?" I whispered, starting to tremble again as I processed this information.
"This has nothing to do with your sister. It's Raith he wants."
I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, forcing myself to remain in control and not give in to the building hysteria.
"And why does he want Raith?" I asked, opening my eyes slowly.
The light caught Morgue's teeth and they flashed white in the darkness.
"Because Raith killed another Death Lord who was Lucas' closest friend. Now Lucas is out for revenge and he's using your sister to get Raith to go back to Purgatory."
"Send me there." I said bluntly, my eyes narrowing.
Morgue burst into laughter, her high cackling voice swallowed by the night.
"I'm serious." I said, my eyes blazing. "Jess is my sister. I can't live without her. I have to bring her back."
"You're being serious, aren't you?" Morgue said thoughtfully, tapping a thin finger on her pale chin.
I nodded fiercely.
"I don't care what happens to me. I just need Jess to live. Please." I felt the tears run down my cheeks again and brushed them away awkwardly.
Morgue looked at me sadly, though her eyes still sparkled with mischief.
"It's not that easy. Even if I could send you there, there's no guarantee you'll be able to come back. I can't send your whole body either, just your ethereal self; your soul."
"So?" I demanded.
Morgue's mask of calmness slipped slightly.
"So," she said aggressively, "the soul is not meant to journey between the two places more than once."
"I don't care!" I shouted, wiping my lips as blood ran down the side of my mouth. "Send me there. Now."
The night had taken on a chill and goosebumps ran up and down my arms. It was almost as cold as way I felt on the inside; like I had swallowed a bucket full of ice.
Morgue watched me silently with an unreadable look on her face and a dull glow behind her eyes.
Everything was quiet and still, like the whole world had stopped to watch what would happen next.
Then Morgue suddenly beamed and approached me, stopping when her toes were centimetres away from where I was slumped on the ground.
"As you wish, Tegan Michaels." Morgue said with a beastly smile.
Then she lifted her arm right back into the sky and made a slicing movement.
Something suddenly smashed into my head and I fell sideways with a thud, my skull cracking against the hard stony ground.
The pain I felt was only brief before the dark bliss closed in.