THE COST OF ETERNAL LOVE
When Lydia opened her eyes, she saw nothing but dust settling around her. And her hand still entwined in Aiden’s.
‘Did we make it,’ she thought to herself, realizing that the question was more than enough proof that they had.
She slowly pushed herself up onto her hands and knees, not letting go of his hand.
“Aiden,” she said hoarsely. “Aiden?”
“We… made… it…” he said as he, too, tried to sit up.
A they both sat on their knees, not daring to let go of each other, they stared into the other’s eyes. Smiling. And then chuckling. And then in full out bursts of laughter as they hugged one another tightly.
“We did it!” Lydia cried out. “I can’t believe it, but we actually did it! Aiden, can you believe it?”
“Of course, I can! There was no other way I saw this going.”
He, of course, could imagine plenty of other scenarios, but he was always sure of that end. It was the one he wanted, so he pretended he held no doubt, not even for a second, prior to their leap through the arch.
When they felt strong enough, they stood to their feet, still linking hands.
“Do you think we can let go of each other yet? I mean we made it through, but I don’t want to risk it.”
“We should be fine, but better hold on for just a little bit longer.” Lydia smirked at him.
She wasn’t ready to let go, even though she was sure that it wasn’t going to cause them to disintegrate if they did. She felt his hand in hers better than she had felt anything before and she knew that the feeling of happiness would soon fleet. They defied the higher power, and they would soon face the consequences as Valentine and Quincy had warned. So, for that moment, she’d just hold on and pretend that’s all she’d ever feel again.
“Well, you made it just in the nick of time!” Valentine, from the other side of the arch, which was burning like a red-hot ember, stared at them, half-smiling. It was easy for Lydia to tell that he wasn’t begrudging their success, but rather scared because of it. He did fail, after all. He was supposed to keep the souls in containment, and on his watch, two of them became immortal.
“Welcome to the Soulmate Club.” Quincy said. “Management can be a real drag but it’s the most exclusive club around.” He tried to make light of recent events, because deep down he did truly like Lydia and Aiden. He even figured that since they made it through, they could all be actual friends. It had been so long since he and Dexter could be truthful with other souls passing through, and since Lydia and Aiden
were going to be privy to all they had to endure to stay together for eternity, he felt as though they could all share in that together. His smile dissipated from his face as he remembered the bad that went with all that good.
“I’m glad to welcome you aboard. Well, we are glad to welcome both of you. Aren’t we Dex?”
“Yes, we are. You two gave me a real hard time, but now that you’ve made it through the arch it’s out of my hands. I am no longer responsible for keeping you two contained, and for that I am most grateful. It was quite a tough job. Haven’t seen that much determination in two souls in, well, since I’ve been doing this. It’s a victory for us all.”
“Oh yeah, such a victory for you guys. Considering your entire existence was bent on keeping us from succeeding at all.” Lydia said with a snark.
“Well, my dear, we did have job to do. But as you know, we are all quite alike. Dex and I went through the exact same thing as you, with others trying to stop us as well. So, although we did everything we could to stop you out of sheer obligation, we were still rooting for you. Partly, anyway.”
“Why just partly,” Aiden asked.
“Dex, do you want to take this one?”
“Sure. We wanted you to succeed because we know better than most how important it is to be with one’s soulmate. We also know what kind of existence it would be without them.
However, that doesn’t quite change the future that’s coming for you both. It’s a beautiful honour to be able to exist for all of eternity with the one person in the universe you’re meant to be with but it does come at quite the price, like I had warned you.”
Lydia finally let go of Aiden’s hand and nothing happened. They were safe. At least, they were at that moment.
“Now that the dust has settled we are to take you to the Higher Power’s chambers. They will hold a sort of judgement on your actions and decide on what to do with you now.”
“What can they do?” Aiden asked, with no more emotion than a rock in the sand.
“Well, they can do pretty much anything they see fit. They can lock you two in cages away from each other. They can give you posts like Quincy and I have, although I’m not sure if our jobs are even safe anymore. We failed them, and although you’re the first set of soulmates to make it through on our watch, I’m not sure they’re apt to hand out second chances. We don’t know what lies ahead, for any of us now.”
Lydia wasn’t sure she and Aiden made the right choice. If they did get taken away from each other, then it would have had all been for nothing. If they didn’t, would they, too, have to be warriors for containment? She didn’t know if she could live with herself, exist with herself, if she was forced to do that to other souls. And she didn’t know if she would even want to try. She saw what they did to Bill, and to Caleb,
and she wanted no part of that. Her mind spun, and she tried to quiet it long enough to hear the others speaking about what was next.
“We should be on our way then. They’ll be waiting for us.”
“Where exactly do we have to go, though?”
“The higher power resides in the 6th dimension. That is why they are able to see us, but we are unable to see them. They can only be seen when they want to be, or when they open the portal for us to enter their dimension.”
“Yes, dear.” Quincy chimed in. “The portal is the only way in and out of their dimension because they do not want it infiltrated by souls. They are not souls, not like us. They are sort of like Angels and Demons, if I were to choose the best most understandable way to describe them to you. Some good, some bad, but all a different level of existence. They do not like to comingle with us souls if they don’t have to, they call us Nesciom Nintot’s. I couldn’t possibly begin to understand what it means or where they got it from, but that’s their name for us nonetheless. But I digress, we do need to make it to that portal. And we must do so in a quick fashion, because they will be even more upset if they have to come into our dimension to find us. Dexter and I learned that the hard way.”
“Why, what did they do?”
“Oh, that’s another story for another time, my
They began walking, with Valentine leading the way up the steep mountain past the Valley of the Lost Souls. They made their way passed the mansion, and through a wooded area just beyond it.
“Are you scared?” Lydia whispered to Aiden while they lagged a few feet behind Quincy and Dexter.
“No, why? Are you?”
“Yeah. I mean, no, not really. A bit. I just don’t know what to expect. I mean we made it this far. I don’t know how much damage they could possibly do. But that’s the thing, how much damage could they do?”
“Don’t worry, Lydia. They won’t destroy us. They let Valentine and Quincy be together, they’ll let us, too. We just have to hope that they’re in good moods so they cut us a good deal is all.” He tried to make a joke but Lydia wasn’t having it.
“I don’t want any deal. That’s not why we did this, Aiden. We did this to exist and roam together and now we’re being transferred to an entirely new dimension like prisoners to await punishment? Nuhuh, this is just not what I wanted. And I am scared. What if we have to sacrifice our essence just to be together? Will we even be soulmates without it?”
“You’re overthinking, Lydia. I get that there are so many unanswered questions, but we’ve dealt with all that and now we’re finally on our way to get some real answers. Even if we’re
punished, we’re still going to get some answers. And we’re still together. Doesn’t that give you some sort of hope?”
As the two fell further into their conversation, and further behind Dexter and Quincy, they heard a call from up ahead.
“Come now, you don’t want to get lost out here.”
They sped up their pace so they were directly behind them, and Lydia hushed her grievances. She could still think about all her worries without them hearing her, they couldn’t have that.
The four walked in silence through the wood and came out on the other side at a vast clearing. It was calm and desolate. A desert, if Lydia had ever seen one.
“We there yet?” Aiden whined like a child to try and stifle the tension, but it didn’t do much.
“Almost.” Valentine said in a monotone. “But be on alert. This desert may look baron, but it’s anything but.”
“What do you mean?” Lydia asked, alarmed.
“Dammit, Dexter. Can’t you ever just answer a question?” She raised her voice and it echoed all around them. They all stopped.
“Great. You woke them up.”
“Woke what up?” Aiden asked.
Valentine didn’t give any more information than that. And no one asked for clarification. Snakes was enough to have them all on high
alert. They heard the slithering beneath their feet and all around them. There were no holes for them to pop their heads out of, but that didn’t give much comfort to Lydia as she stepped through the sand. She could hear them. And they were close enough to the surface that she felt as though they were wrapping themselves around here ankles.
“I know they sound close, but if we just keep calm, they won’t be much a bother to us. They can sense the fear, but not much else. If they sense enough fear, though, they will attack. And that is not something we want, so let’s all just remain calm and make it to the other side in an orderly, yet hurried fashion.”
Lydia tried to calm herself, but everything Valentine said just made the fear grow inside her chest.
‘What am I even afraid of, I’m immortal now. What could they even do to me,’ she thought to herself. ‘Maybe I should ask.’
“What can they do to us, Valentine?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Yes, I do.”
“They eat your entire essence with one bite.”
“Okay, you’re right. I didn’t want to know.”
“Just remain calm. Like I said, they only attack when they sense the fear.”
Lydia started humming to distract herself from the slithering below, and as she did Aiden recognized the song and started humming along with her.
“What’s that song?”
“The one we both woke up to here.”
“Ahh. It sounds lovely.” Quincy said as he listened to them harmonize quietly.
He grabbed Valentine’s hand, and as he did, Lydia did the same with Aiden’s and they walked over the deadly creature-filled desert while the air swept up the melody of their hums.
“There it is. We made it.” Valentine said pointing to the distance.