HOME IS WHERE YOU ARE
FEAR IS THE DRIVER
As they made their way back into the mansion, the rush of fear came over all of them equally, like hitting a wall of heat of a humid day in August. It wasn’t just a feeling either, something was wrong. Really wrong. The basic souls weren’t gathered in the front room like usual, and it was so quiet a pin dropping from a mile away could be heard clear as day. It was eerie. But it was more than that. It felt cold and wet, the air in the room. Someone—or something—had dropped in to pay a visit and they hadn’t come in peace.
Of course, there was no trace of anything. The higher power itself couldn’t be seen by mere mortal souls, something about existing in a different dimension and out of the reach of comprehension for the souls, but somehow, they were still able to be there—in the mansion—freaking out Lydia and her friends.
“What’s going on?” Caleb asked no one in particular.
“I don’t know,” Lydia whispered under her breath, her eyes scanning the mansion for any sort of clue. Anything at all. She tried her hardest to remember if Valentine had said anything to her that was useable. A tiny foreshadowing in his vague attempts to keep them at bay. If he had said something she
could possibly use, her mind wasn’t finding it amidst the mess of other emotions it was running through.
“We have to find out though. Here, let’s go upstairs.”
The four walked up the flight of stairs trying— for a reason unbeknownst even to them—to be as quiet as possible. It was almost like if they were to break the silence, their whole existence would be in jeopardy. One by one their feet slowly made it up the stairs. When they reached the landing at the top no one knew where to go. They could go to their bedrooms, but that would just leave them to sit there with their crazy soul imaginations and that was nothing short of detrimental to their ability to stay calm. That left them with two options. Imagine their way out of here or go through one of those big red doors that were now forbidden. The latter is what Lydia was stirring in her mind. All she had to do was convince the others that it was now or never and they had to make their way to the immortality arch as soon as possible.
“Alright,” Lydia started. “We have to make our break for it and we have got to move now. Clearly, whatever it is that’s going on here has something to do with us, Valentine has been warning us all along. The higher power isn’t going to sit back and allow us to get to where we want to go. We can’t enjoy the vastness of the middle, we can’t go through the doors, and we certainly aren’t supposed to find our soul
mates. But do we have any other choice?” Lydia meant it as a question but she had three pairs of eyes on her as if she were giving the ramp up speech at the beginning of a championship game, so she continued.
“No! We don’t have any other choice. Quincy told you guys that we could beat the higher power, and that’s what we’re going to do!” She was out of breath now, as if it expelled rapidly from her through her words. She could barely even hear herself at that point, but she knew whatever she was saying was getting her team on board.
“Me and Aiden must be soul mates, every sign points to yes. But we’re not sure for you guys. And we’re going to have to find out before we try to make it through that arch because, and I think I speak for everyone when I say this, we don’t want you two destroyed. If you’re not going to become immortal it’s best we just let you reincarnate back to earth.”
Erika was holding back sobs when she asked Lydia in a meek and mousy tone, “How?”
Lydia looked at Erika, eyes filled with compassion, trying to find the right words to comfort her. She was so simple, so unbelievably basic that even in middle she still couldn’t become someone that made a different. She wondered if Erika even had a soul mate. To her, it didn’t fit that Caleb was the one. He was so confident and charismatic, and she was a scared little girl afraid of pretty much everything. She was so afraid of being
afraid that she couldn’t even muster up the courage to tell anyone she was scared. That alarmed Lydia, but she knew it was too late to break up the foursome. The damage was done and they had a mission to complete.
“First things first, we have to find Quincy. We need to figure out if he can help us or not.”
“He’s in the basement. Let’s go.” Aiden said gently as if Lydia’s speech was still taking its time to register with him.
The four walked back towards the staircase leading to the foyer while Caleb muttered under his breath, “should have just stayed in the foyer to talk, no one’s even around.” He was speaking mostly to himself in the manner of a bratty child trying to have the last word with their strict mother. Lydia chose to ignore his woes and continued on.
She had a streak of perseverance, something she wasn’t sure she had ever felt before. She was motivated now more than ever to complete the task to become immortal. After all, if Quincy knew exactly what he was talking about, they could become immortal and explore the entire depths of the universe with ease. No life on earth was going to grant them that and if she had the choice, she’d choose infinity over short life after short life any day. It seemed like a no brainer, at least to her. She trekked faster now, at least 5 feet ahead of the others when Aiden called out to her.
“Hey, Lydia, slow down. This isn’t a lone mission. You don’t even know where to go.”
When he spoke the words, Lydia stopped in her tracks as if his voice awakened her from hypnosis.
“Can we do this together please?” He was smiling now and her gusto wavered.
‘Boy, is he cute’ she thought.
When they reached the top of the stairs Lydia stopped. She stared down and began thinking again that if they didn’t make it, or got caught by the higher ups, what would happen? Would they be destroyed completely? Or would the higher ups just ship them back to earth in the hopes that when their next life ended they didn’t show back up with the same mission. It wasn’t a fate she wanted to find out, so she tried to regroup her mind and silence the many questions she had. There wasn’t an answer for them, after all. Not at that point, anyway.
“So, where’s the basement?”
“We have to go this way. Come on,” Caleb led the way this time. His bratty episode had passed and he was now a man, in all sense of the word, trying to save the souls he cared for in his afterlife. “It’s just down this way.”
“Remember, we have to find that book.” Aiden said patronizing Caleb’s leadership. “What was it again?”
“It’s here, right here!” Caleb pulled the book and the opening to the basement revealed itself to them once again.
“I’m not going down there!” Erika squealed as the staircase came into view. “It’s certain death!”
“We’re already dead sweetie,” Caleb said jokingly, “Besides, Aiden and I have been down here. Trust us, it’s safe.”
“I don’t have a good feeling about this, Caleb. Please,” Erika pleaded, trying to convince the others to listen to her with no success. “Something isn’t right.”
“Oh, how would you know? We have to go down there Erika, so buck up and get your big girl pants on. It’s about to get real.” Caleb laughed as he started down the staircase, slowly at first to make sure he was being followed by the group.
Lydia grabbed Erika by the arm gently and whispered something in her ear that was inaudible to anybody but her. Erika smiled and the two followed the boys down the stairs, very slowly, linking arms the entire way down.