The world was spinning and I was screaming. I didn’t even know why. Not really. No matter how wide I forced my eyelids, I couldn’t focus on anything. It was dark and blurred and there was this horrible sound that reminded me of the time I went to the junkyard with my father and we saw this machine eat a car. I had found it captivating then but now the high-pitched crunch made me want to hide.
The spinning stopped and I realized Helios was crying for our Mom. I instinctively did the same, spitting out hair that had wrapped around my tongue. I heard her reply, though the meaning behind her words was lost, and I was suddenly glad that mother always made us wear seat belts. I was certain the blood rushing to my head meant we were upside down.
I could hear my heartbeat in my temples as the car began to rock. Shiloh managed to slide between the front seats, her eyes filled with emotions I couldn’t quite place. I watched as she quickly unbuckled Helios’ sobbing form, wrapping him in her arms before he could crash down to the ceiling. She turned to me and did the same. I tried to cry out for Mom again, to thank Shiloh, but my mouth felt dry and sticky. I couldn’t form the words. It wasn’t until Shiloh began using her shoulder to push open the door that I realized tears were still staining my cheeks and hiccups punctuated my breathing.
Metal scraped against mental as the door finally gave way. I covered my ears in a desperate attempt to protect them from the sound; eyes squeezed shut, even as the cool night air washed over my already shivering frame. A strong hand gripped my bicep, practically dragging me out of the wrecked vehicle. I opened my eyes long enough to see Shiloh using her other hand to steer Helios’ form towards the tree line.
“Where’s Mom? Why isn’t she with us?” Helios asked, voice hoarse from tears and screams. Shame pooled into the bottom of my stomach – I had forgotten all about my Mother in the wake of the chaos. I contorted my body, desperate to catch a glimpse of the twisted metal that lay demolished behind us, but Shiloh wouldn’t let me. She tugged me forward again, causing me to trip over the yellow flats I was wearing.
“She’s fine. She is just waiting for the police.” Shiloh’s words were frantic, pouring from her lips like fluid. I knew she was lying. The way her pink eyes darted from the tree-line to our peripherals betrayed her.
“But I didn’t see-“
“Helios, I need to you to focus.” She snapped, eyes narrowing as she gazed down at my brother’s silver head. I watched as his lips formed a pout before his eyes hardened. I knew that look; it meant Helios was determined. I, on the other hand, still felt disoriented. The throbbing in my head continued, making any thoughts I tried to process seem jumbled and foreign.
Shiloh had dragged us a few meters into the forest when a loud explosion boomed from behind us, waves of heat washing over our backs. Another startled scream ripped from my throat, and Shiloh froze in her tracks. She looked down at each of us as if she was debating something before she took a deep breath, “You know that there are bad people in this world, right?” I spared a glance at Helios before we both nodded, “Well, those bad people are after us right now. I need you two to run as fast and as far as you can. Don’t stop for anyone. Do you understand?”
“What about you?” I whispered eyes wide. Fear began to leak into my bones, tightening muscles and making it hard to breathe.
“Lux, Helios. Do you understand?” She repeated. Her tone was stern, leaving no room for questions despite her obvious evasion of mine.
“Yes.” I mumbled as Helios nodded again.
“Good. Now go.” We stood there, unsure of what we should do even though our instructions had been simple. Finally Shiloh’s eyebrows creased, “I said go!”
Helios snatched my hand into his, tugging at me impatiently. It took a minute for my panic ridden body to respond but soon my feet were moving faster than they ever had in my life, encouraged on by Helios’ pace. We sprinted over roots and rocks, our breath coming out as puffs in the air before they disappeared into the fog that was settling around us. I didn’t know how long we had been running before voices began to filter through the crunching of leafs and snapping of twigs. They were so soft and muddled that Helios didn’t seem concerned even though every unfamiliar tone caused my stomach to twist into knots. When the voices began clear, bouncing off of near-by trunks and foliage, I could see the look of panic reflected back to me on my brother’s face. Neither of us knew what to do, the sound of footsteps and commands echoed around us, leaving us with seemingly no place to hide.
“Lux,” Helios stopped, whipping around to face me. Mud stained his face, his hair was a mess and dried blood dotted his arms. I could only imagine what kind of wild animal I looked like, “Let’s climb this tree.”
The tree he pointed to was tall, with plenty of branches for us to hide in, “How are we gonna get up there?” I asked, confused. While it was the best hiding place known to us, the lowest branch was still a good foot or two taller than us.
“I’ll boost you.” He didn’t wait for me to agree to his plan, already kneeling into the mud. Mom would have been so mad that he was getting his only nice pair of pants dirty if she was here.
“How are you going to get up?” I asked, walking over to him in a haze of uncertainty.
“I’ll find a way, don’t worry.” Helios flashed the same smile he always gave me when we were doing something we shouldn’t be doing and he wanted me to believe everything would be alright anyways. Only, whenever he used that smile nothing ever ended up alright; one of us ended up hurt, or stuck or crying.
I placed my foot into his cupped hand. He boosted me up just enough so I could reach the bottom truck. The bark bit into my hands, scrapping the skin as I pulled myself up, “What now?” I called down. Helios was using his hands to move around the dirt and leafs around the tree, “What are you doing?”
“I saw this in a movie once. I’m covering our trail.”
“You need to get up here too!” I hissed, letting my hands dangle down. My skirt ripped as I used my thighs to balance my weight on the thick branch. It hurt, but I ignored it, “I can help you pull yourself up.”
“You need to get higher up, Lux. You aren’t hidden at all.” Helios dodged my suggestion as smoothly as Shiloh had before him. He stood up, finally satisfied with his work, before he began to stomp his once polished boots down into the dirt. The foot prints he made led away from the tree, his back turned towards me. I was in awe of my little brother. He seemed so calm and collected, especially when compared to me. I was struggling to produce coherent sentences.
“Lux, get yourself hidden!” He hissed, “I have a plan, I’ll be right back.” And then he made a mad dash through the tree, disappearing from my sight.
Tear stung my eyes. Helios had left me all alone. First mother, than Shiloh now him. I held back my sobs, as I managed to steady myself on the branch. Using the trunk for support, I quickly found a foothold and heaved myself onto the second branch. It was a good thing we had a lot of trees in our backyard back home, I had a lot of practice climbing them even if mother wasn’t fond of us doing so. She often worried about us falling and breaking a bone – which had happened to Helios on one occasion. I steeled myself against those thoughts as I rose through the branches. Falling now was not an option.
I had gotten maybe twenty feet up into the tree when footsteps began to break through the silence. Elation coursed through my body as I scanned the area for Helios, hoping he had returned just as he had promised. Unfortunately, the young man that caught my attention was older than I was and did not have silver hair. Panic replaced the joy I felt just moments ago and I melded my body against the branch I was lying on. Holding my breath, I resisted the urge to close my eyes as the pink boy wandered around a few nearby trees. He looked lost. For a moment I was certain he was much too young to be a bad person but Shiloh’s words kept me from giving away my position.
The pink man was looking at the fake footprints Helios’ had created. He wandered around them, careful to never step directly onto one of the footprints, until he backtracked to the second, real, footprints Helios had made as he fled the scene. I followed his movements until the branch I was on hid him from my line-of-sight. I adjusted myself, trying to get a better look, but my movement caused the branch to shake. As leafs gently floated to the ground, I held my breath again.
It didn’t matter.
A particularly large and beautiful leaf landed on top of the stranger’s head, causing him to stop. He hesitated, pulling the greenery out of his hair, before slowly looking up. Rosy pinks met with my bright yellows and I had to stop myself from screaming out. Surprise faded into confusion before a small frown crept onto the young man’s lips. Slowly, he raised a single finger to his lips; a gesture I had seen before.
He was telling me to be quite.
More figures busted through the foliage. They all looked much older than the pink man that had already averted his gaze from my own. Through the soft humming of birds and crickets I could make out their conversation.
“Did you see where they went?” The man’s breathing was labored but even as he wiped sweat from his brow I could tell he was determined to find me and Helios. Perhaps Shiloh, as well. These must have been the bad men she had warned us about.
“Yes,” The pink man lied smoothly, “The tracks lead north.” I did not know which direction led north or south, but I did know that the footprints the pink boy pointed to were the fake ones. He was helping us.
“Good work, boy.” The two men took off in the direction they had been directed, with the pink man walking after their retreating form. He paused, only for a second, to look back up at me. Unlike before, his gaze caused a shivered to run down my spine and my blood to run cold.
Or perhaps it hadn’t been his glare at all.
My whole body felt as if it was on fire suddenly, flames emitting from the base of my neck and slowly licking down my whole form. I struggled with the pain, trying my hardest not to scream, until black ate away at my vision.
“Hi, handsome.” I purred, batting my eyelashes up at the middle aged green man. He wore a suit, not a wrinkle in sight, his shoes polished and hair swept back with expensive gel. The watch on his wrist was enough to feed me for a week and the rings on his fingers were worth a tiny fortune. It was obvious to anybody that this man didn’t belong in the streets and there was only one thing that would bring a man of his caliber down to the dirty part of Starburst Shores.
He eyes raked over me, undressing me before he even got my name – if he would even bother asking for it, “Well, you’re a pretty one.”
I giggled, coyly covering my mouth as I pressed my body against his arm, “You lookin’ for a good time?”
“How much?” He asked, but his arm was already snaking its way around my waist, his hands inching lower. I could have requested the sky and the moon at this point and he would have given it to me.
“I’ll give you a good deal, mister.” I winked at him, making sure to expose my breasts as much as possible through my low cut top, “I got a place nearby.”
Words were no longer needed as he nodded, allowing me to link my hand in his and lead him off of the street and into my nearby motel room. The moment we entered the smell of mold and cigarette smoke assaulted my nostrils. The man beside me scrunched his face up in disgust but I simply smiled, strutting to the hard bed. Legs crossed, I ran my fingertips over my exposed thigh, allowing the fabric of my skirt to rise as well. Just as quickly as it had appeared, the disgust on the man’s face vanished. I smiled in triumph as he undid his tie, throwing his jacket onto floor.
This man had never done this before. I could tell in the way his hand shook when he went to touch me, or the way he fidgeted before finally taking a seat next to me on the queen size bed. It squeaked under his weight and I found myself rolling my eyes as he leaned in to kiss me. He smelt like classy cologne, and his teeth had been recently brushed. It was better than most men who came in stinking of their lunch. Even still, as his lips touched mine, I had to hold back a gag. It was always the same – too much tongue, too much saliva, fish lips, and teeth clattering. It was like these men were suddenly teleported back to middle school, awkwardly trying to find the right pace but failing miserably.
His eyes were closed as he gently leaned me back against the lumpy mattress. Mine? Mine were open. I moved my lips mindlessly, hoping that Rosaline would soon gather the courage to emerge from the bathroom. As if we shared some telepathic connection, the door slowly opened. The green and pink woman was armed with a baseball bat as she crept towards our intertwined figures. Just as the man’s hands delved under my blouse, the sickening crack of wood against skull erupted. The man’s hand went limp.
“Jeez, about time.” I grunted, pushing the dead weight off of me.
“Oh my gosh. Did I kill him? Is he alive?” Rosaline fretted. In her panic she dropped her weapon, letting the wood crash against the carpet. Her hands burrowed into her hair, eyes wide, as she stared down at the lifeless form.
“Rosa, he’s fine.” I dismissed her worries but didn’t bother checking for a pulse. It served the man right, preying on woman he thought were desperate and helpless. Instead, I began rummaging through his pockets.
I found myself rolling my eyes at Rosaline but caved, throwing her our victim’s wallet, “Fine, fine. I’ll check.” I removed his watch, dangling it off of my own wrist momentarily, before I finally took two fingers to his pulse. It only took a second for me to confirm that he was alive, “He’ll be fine.”
“Oh Berry, he’s got a family!”
“He’s got a family!” Rosa repeated, shoving an image of the green man with a wife and kid in front of my eyes.
“So? What do we care?” I asked, yanking gold ring after gold ring off of the man’s chubby fingers.
“If we hurt him-“
“Look, Rosa. He’s what, 40? With a wife and a kid. I’m probably like, five years older than his daughter and he tried to pay me to sleep with him. They’re better off without him.” I pointed out.
“Can I please call 911 when we get out of here?” Rosa’s voice was shaking. Part of the reason I loved her so much – and trusted her with my life – was because she was the complete opposite of me. Warm where I was cold, sensitive where I was callous, kind where I was sarcastic. I crashed reality down upon her head and she reminded me of the good in the world.
“Whatever. Do what cha gotta do.” I sighed, stuffing my pockets full of the jewelry I had snatched.
“Hey, um, Lux?”
“What, I said you could call-“
“No, um,” Rosaline began to fiddle with the hem of her shirt, eyes down casted even as I tried to meet her gaze. She hardly ever acted this way with me unless she thought I might get upset at what she had to say, “I know you said to forget about what you said the other night but, um, does he have numbers?”
I frowned, pushing myself off of the bed, “Yes. He does. I told you everyone has them.”
“What do they say?”
I let my eyes travel above her head to the crisp numbers that floated there, unseen to everyone but me. I had never told anyone except Rosaline about them, I had always just assumed I was going crazy. After twelve years of holding it in from fear, I had to tell someone. I wasn’t sure when they appeared – I couldn’t remember much about my life until I was nine or so – and I didn’t know what they meant. Every person I had ever met had one and each number was different. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
“It changes,” I brushed past her, making my way out of the motel room, “Look, I don’t wanna talk about it. Don’t cha got a call to make?”
“Yeah, right, sorry.” She mumbled, scurrying out of the door like the timid creature she was. I shook my head, closing the door behind our fleeing forms.
A/N: Whhoooaa. Generation Three guys. This is cray cray. I am going to try to have update weekly or biweekly now that Lux’s time to shine has started, but no promises.
Rosaline Valley is Ariella’s. She writes the fabulous rainbowcy As The Color Wheel Turns, so you should totes go check that out when you get a chance. :] Thank you for letting me use your beautiful creation!
I love you guys and appreciate all of your support! ❤