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Lost Souls (The Awakening Part Two)

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It has been a little over two years since I last set foot in my hometown of Stormy Heights, Nebraska. Not since the night, I decided that, instead of giving the spirit inside of me a chance to break free and drain the life out of yet another person, I threw myself off of a cliff and was brought back to life a few short hours later.

I haven’t been back since the night that Matthew loaded me into the backseat of his SUV, driving eight hours non-stop to deliver me to the tribe located in Tulsa.

The fact that I managed to survive possession longer than any other person in the past had led Matthew and myself to believe that there was something else going on with me. When he had been poking around inside of my head, linking my mind with the Mystran’s, he hadn’t seen much more than a few worried glimpses of Abraham.

The night I came to Matthew for help he had formed a plan and, since telling me meant telling the Mystran, he had kept it to himself. Instead, he had mumbled a few words under his breath as we sat in the kitchen and then requested I give him my full trust.

The following night, shortly before we arrived at the cliffs, he had sent my phone a text telling me that, no matter what happened, I was to head back to his house and hide in the basement until he came for me. He was very specific in making sure I knew not to talk to or be seen by anyone other than him.

I thought he was losing his shit, secretly hoping that I would change my mind at the last minute instead of making the jump.

After I hit the water and I was sure that the Mystan’s fate was just as horrible as my own, I allowed myself to slip into what should have been a never-ending sleep.

However, shortly after closing my eyes, I found myself in a dark place where I was surrounded by dozens of faceless people. They clawed at me with their razor-sharp nails, trying to drag me down into the bottomless pit they all seemed to be sinking into. Their nails had dug into my skin, taking chunks of my flesh with them, but they never took me. I managed to fight them off, running away from that pit until I couldn’t run anymore.

Meiva later explained to me that I had somehow ended up in ‘Tărâmul sufletelor pierdute’, also known as ‘The Land of Lost Souls’. According to her, it is a place where the damned or, in my case, those who died while possessed fo when they die.

It was a place that not even Abraham could reach me. Due to the fact that his mother wasn’t certain that her vision of my arriving at the camp would come true, she hadn’t told him my plan and so, for the few hours where I had died, Abraham felt the worst pain a person could feel.

He had literally lost a piece of himself.

Mila was there, but not in the sense I remembered her. She was wandering alone in the darkness, her eyes hollowed out. I called to her but she couldn’t hear me, so she kept wandering deeper into the darkness. I tried to follow after her but then, out of nowhere, I was ripped from that place and thrust back into the world of the living.

I was trapped in there for what felt like months but, in the blink of an eye, I found myself standing in the middle of the street in front of my own house. Remember what Matthew had told me to do, I headed straight for his house.

It was only when I reached the front door and passed straight through it that I realized I was still dead, my spirit lingering in their world.

As it turns out, being resurrected is far more painful than either of us expected it to be. Matthew had been able to reconnect my soul with my body but the spell had done nothing to heal the injuries I had sustained.

I was able to feel every cut, every broken bone, and every torn muscle I had gotten as a result of the fall.

It was too much to handle on his own, his magic only strong enough to take away my voice so that my screams wouldn’t alert the two naive boys upstairs as to what was happening in the basement.

I barely remember the drive to Tulsa, too doped up on the pain meds Matthew had given me to stay away for more than a few minutes.

The first real memory I have is of Abraham’s worrisome eyes staring down at me.

A heaviness settles over me as I step off the plane, weaving my through the crowd so that I can head into the main lobby of the airport.

Meiva was right, there is something dark in this town. I felt it the moment we landed.

“Welcome home,” a voice greets from behind me.

My hand inches towards the knife secured to my bed, the one I charmed past security, turning to find myself face to face with the ginger-haired man who saved my life.

My hand moves away from the weapon.

“Well, you look better than you did the last time I saw you,” Matthew jokes, guiding me through the lobby and into the parking lot. “I see that Tulsa has been treating you well. Your hair... not so much.”

I half smile, smoothing down the chaotic frizz in my short locks.

The first few weeks in Tulsa were the hardest of my life and I hadn’t handled them as gracefully as I would like to think I would have, cutting off my dark locks and dying them a color that Abraham often calls ‘volcanic ash blonde’.

I’m honestly surprised that Matthew was able to spot me as easily as he did.

“I guess I needed a change.”

He buckles himself in, peering at me through his peripheral. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Two years as of last week, if memory serves me right.”

I shudder at the mention of the anniversary of my death, a date that has haunted me ever since I recovered. It is a date that I desperately wish I could forget. Well, that and the life that came before it.

Yet, here I am, right back in the middle of it.

“How much did Meiva tell you about me?” I bypass his question, diving straight into business. “How much did she tell you about what is going on with me?”

“She called me about a month after I dropped you off. Up until then, I assumed you hadn’t made it through the night but she let me know you had more than survived. She told me what Abraham did for you and, wow, I had no idea he was that strong. I just can’t believe I never saw what you were and, if we are being honest here, I still have a hard time believing it. Was she or Abraham able to figure out why it laid dormant for so long?”

“If she has, she hasn’t felt inclined to tell me.”

He looks a bit confused but doesn’t press the issue. “Okay then. Either way, none of this explains why you are here or how you knew something was wrong.”

“Two days ago, I expelled the last of the Mystran.”

“Excuse me?”

“There are no more, I expelled them all.”

“Jesus, Makenna,” he gasps. “There had to be hundreds of those things. How did you e-”

“Three hundred and eighty-five. There were three hundred and eighty-five of them in total.”

He scratches his head thoughtful, letting out a soft laugh. “Meiva was right, you have changed. That still explains nothing.”

“Ever since I came to grips with the fact that I am-,” I pause, swallowing down the lump forming in my throat. “-what I am, I have spent endless hours trying to learn to control my gifts. About a month after I arrived at camp, Mystrans began showing up in the areas. They were feeding on people but none of them were latching on the way they should have been. They were just there, lingering from person to person. It didn’t take Meiva long to realize that they were looking for me. I shifted my focus to hunting them, taking them out. I figured that, if I expelled them all, I could at least go back to living a semi-normal life. As usual, I was wrong. Meiva has been hiding things from me. She has been using her visions to try and track down the thing that has been sending the Mystrans after me but it seems as if it is strong enough to keep even her out.”

“So why don’t you go looking for it? From what I’ve been told, you are fifty times stronger than Meiva could ever be.”

Well, that is definitely an understatement.

I let out a sigh, staring out the window as we pull into a parking lot right at the edge of town. “Because I can’t control my visions with even close to as much precision as she can, which is what led me here. The same night I expelled the last Mystran I had a vision, of him. Matthew, if we can’t figure out where he is then he is going to die.”

He cuts the engine but continues to stare straight ahead. I can feel his worry and so I give him a moment to process what I just told him, knowing he will take my warning seriously. “Let’s get to work then.”

I trail behind him, following him into the rundown apartment complex in front of us. He slides a key into one of the doors, waving me past him.

The apartment small, one bedroom and one bathroom, but it is furnished. I take note of the small symbols carved into the bright blue painted walls, the same ones Meiva has placed around camp to ward off human and non-human enemies.

They are protection spells, the oldest form of magic we have.

Matthew closes the door, handing me a set of keys. “It was the best I could do on such short notice. I called in a favor and rented it out as soon as you called and said you were coming back. The rent is paid up for the next three months but if I can always extend it if you decide to stay longer.”

“Three months is more than enough.” I smile, taking everything in. “Thank you. Not just for the apartment but for everything that you did for me. Linking my mind to the Mystran, giving me a chance, bringing me back, taking me to Tulsa, keeping it a secret from...Just, thank you.”

I can feel my chest tightening, warning me that I need to recompose myself. It has been two whole years and I still can’t bring myself to say his name.

“Holy shit balls!” someone shouts from behind us.

Matthew and I whip around at the same time, my mouth dropping open as a pale-faced Colin emerges from the bedroom.

He eyes me up and down, shaking his head in disbelief. “You’re, you’re dead. I saw your body and you were definitely dead. How are you not dead? Why are you not dead? Are you undead? Are you a zombie? Damnit, are zombies something we have to deal with now? I am pretty sure I was told that those things were purely a myth.”

I bite back a laugh, chewing on my lower lip. “Calm down, I am not a zombie. Or at least I am pretty sure I’m not. I haven’t had a craving for human flesh yet but stranger things have happened. Wait, what are you doing here?”

“Matt’s been acting weirder than normal for the past two days and I thought maybe it was because he figured out where our brother went. I assumed he’d found him and didn’t want to tell me yet, so I followed him. Then he ended up here and I figured that maybe he hadn’t gone missing and just needed a break, so Matt got him a place away from the both of us until he was ready to come home. I mean, a guardian deciding they don’t want to live the life anymore is a rare thing but it does happen and I assumed that might be what was going on. Where did you come from?”

Matthew sits down on one of the worn out couches, waving his youngest brother over. He takes a deep breath, explaining to him everything that happened; from the night in his kitchen to my vision a few nights ago.

I can’t tell which part of it shocks Colin the most: why I am here, what I saw, where I have been, or who I am.

“Man, every time I think my life has reached its weirdness breaking point some shit like this goes and happens,” Colin comments once Matthew is finished explaining, eyeing me suspiciously. “You’re like a beacon for weird and unusual shit, aren’t you?”

I nod. “You have no idea.”

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