THE START TOWARDS THE FINISH
When they got back to the party, the air was different. A somber tone had hung over them and the guests had begun leaving. The party was officially over and their window towards immortality was officially closing.
Lydia sat down by the fireplace and stared into it, listening to the crackling. Thinking of Caleb and his mistakes—his fate—she knew she didn’t want the same to happen to her and Aiden. The thought of never being able to find him again in life was more than she could bear. But even if they weren’t to be immortal as Lydia and Aiden, disintegration was surely
worse than reincarnation. If they were to be reincarnated, at least they would have a chance to find one another yet again. In another life and as other people, but a chance. If they didn’t get reincarnated and were destroyed, they would lose each other forever.
“Aiden. I think we should reconsider. I mean, Caleb...”
“What about Caleb, Lydia? He didn’t have his soulmate. He didn’t make it to the arch. You and I, we’re different. Valentine said it himself. And that’s why the higher power has been so careful with us. You see that, don’t you? We actually have a real chance at this and you want to reconsider?”
“Aiden’s right Lydia, you guys have a way better chance than Caleb.”
“Yes, but there’s still a chance that we will be destroyed forever.” She thought of Sean the Great and Terrible and his cherished Kelly.
“And then what Aiden? You thought living and dying was scary, how about not existing at all?”
Aiden sat down, with her words cutting him like a knife. He had never even considered failure. He wanted immortality, not just because of what it stood for but because of what he could achieve with it. He wanted it so bad that failure for him just wasn’t an option. He didn’t particularly want to exist forever, but he did want to be with Lydia forever, and that was all that mattered.
“Lydia, without you, life means nothing. So, to
exist, or to not exist, if you’re not there, it really doesn’t matter to me.”
She couldn’t hold back the smile his words gave her. She was sure that any girl would want to hear such romantic things, even if they weren’t entirely true at that moment they reached their ears. But without sincerity, did it mean as much as existence itself? They couldn’t go for it if they didn’t fully understand the consequences and she felt then, more than ever, that Aiden did understand.
“Okay, well if you’re sure. Let’s do it. Let’s see this through to the end.”
He grabbed Lydia by the hand, “Okay, my love. What do we do now?”
“Okay, you have to listen and you have to listen well because I can only say this once. And once you guys go for it, I can’t help nor save you. Like I said back at the well, they will be waiting for you near the arch. And that’s the only way to become immortal is to walk through that arch.”
Lydia felt another surge, this time like she needed to take a breath, and this time it was so great Aiden noticed.
“What was that?” Aiden asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve been feeling them all day.”
“Oh no. It’s a surge. We don’t have much time. We’ve got to move quickly.”
“Wait, what’s a surge?” Lydia asked alarmed.
“Well, Lydia, your time to be reincarnated is approaching. And those surges, those feelings
you’ve been having, well they’re your soul getting ready for its trip back to life.”
“Whoa,” was the only thing she could muster up to say.
“Like I said. No time. You aren’t going to need anything so there’s no need to go back to your room for anything. We have to start going and we have to start going now. We have to watch out. The Valley of the Lost Souls will cause us some trouble, but if we stay calm they should stay out of our way. Now when we get to the arch you have to remember that if you are not touching in some way it will disintegrate you. You should be linked in arms, or holding hands or something. Conjoined in some way is the only way to make it through the arch unscathed, and since Valentine confirmed that you are soulmates you won’t have to worry about that. You will make it through as long as you don’t let go of each other.”
“But what about the higher power? You said that they will be there waiting for us.”
“That’s the hard part. We won’t be able to see them until they show themselves, and by then, I’m afraid it may be too late. They could cause a shock that could pull you apart just in time. Or they could appear just before the arch and hold until Lydia here is reincarnated. Like I said, time is of the essence. And if they are aware that she is on her way out, we may already be too late.”
A sense of dread flushed over Lydia. How could this be? She had finally gotten one hundred
per cent on board with the whole idea, and now it’s going to be taken away from her—just like that. She felt completely hopeless, like a bird without wings. In life, she was never one to back down. She would always go for gold. It was always adventure to the fullest regardless of the consequences and somehow, now that she has the chance to become something only mortal souls could only dream or read about, she was scared to death. If she were to be reincarnated what would happen to Aiden? Would he roam the middle until being sent back? And even then, they wouldn’t remember to find each other or even remember any of their time together and that vexed her more than anything. All their memories of life and death, all of it would be ripped away in a matter of seconds. “No.” She stood up.
“No?” Aiden looked confused.
“That’s right. I said no. They’re not taking you away from me. Not now, not ever. They are going to have to do their worst because you and I, we belong together, and the powers of the universe aren’t going to stop us!”
She felt like she was giving a speech at a civil rights movement march.
“They think they can control souls because they feel like they don’t want us to exist forever? Well they can’t! We have rights! And we’re taking them!”
“Alright!” Aiden stood up smiling, “Now that’s the Lydia I remember. Let’s go get our immortality!”
“Okay, but like right now. Because, yeah. Time and stuff.”
Lydia, Aiden and Quincy began running towards the door and as they opened it they began feeling this rush of excitement. Lydia wasn’t scared anymore. If only she could stop getting those damn surges to cease. She was starting to feel alive again and every time it came on, the fear overcame her. The sense of a heart beat and air in her lungs had never been more terrifying. When she died, all she wanted to do was live again but now that she was dead she couldn’t imagine ever being reborn. What was the awful point? Living life after life after life and having all these new identities, all of which she would never remember. It’s not like she got to learn all these cool lessons about life and take them somewhere else. It’s a broken record existence and she wanted no part of it, especially now that she was so close to restarting her soul’s song. She understood even less about death than she did about life and she would stop at nothing to rid herself of any responsibility to do so.
“This way, come on!” Aiden shouted as they fled down the steps.
Picking up speed, the three ran in such unison their footsteps started to sync, making a stampede sound. It echoed through the air as it turned more and more gray the closer they got to the steep decline they had to endure to get to the Valley. They were so close Lydia
could taste it.
“Wait, stop.” Quincy put his hand out. “Something’s not right.”
“What do you mean,” Lydia exclaimed, “We have no time!”
“Do you feel that?”
Lydia and Aiden stood there in silence trying to figure out what Quincy was sensing. There was nothing amiss, though. Not a change in atmosphere, nothing out of the ordinary. They were at the top of the mountain and all they had to do was climb down to the arch and to freedom.
“Q, I don’t feel anything man what are you talking about?”
“Shhh, just listen.”
The faint sound of scratching started to travel through the air. Lydia took a step towards the edge where the mountain dropped and took a peak over. And that’s when she saw it.