47 - Too Close

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         Travis connects his arms together around my back, locking me in his little cage, as we sprawl out on the cave floor. "So you were being chased by a madman, trying to ward him off with a knife, which worked for a little bit, but—"

I lift my head and interrupt. "Where were you in this, just watching?"

"Okay, understand that the world was not a safe place at the time, and I trusted no one, so I wasn't going to go out and help. For all I know, you were just as horrible as he was."

I slump back down onto him. "Fair enough."

He tells me how the knife gets into the wrong hands, and that just as the man was about to stab me with it, Travis shot him. By the sound of it, I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for him. Our very first encounter was him saving my life.

"Don't worry, you saved me a lot too," he confesses.

"I did?"

He rotates his head away from me and sighs.

I tug my hand out from underneath him and move his face forward again to look at me. "What's the matter?"

"Sorry, I just... I don't want to get into it right now."

A sudden gust of wind shoots through the entrance and blows my hair and sand all over the place. The breeze is chilly on my face; I can't imagine how it felt to Travis. "Are you alright?" I ask him, getting anxious.

"Heavenly," he jokes.

I swallow down the rock in my throat and know in my heart we have to go.

"I'll be okay," he assures me and clutches me tighter.

But he's wrong. When it drops well below zero, he'll be dead and I'll be here, alone, wishing I had done something about it. If he wasn't so stubborn, I'd convince him into coming back to the HQ.

If he won't join me, I can't make him, but I have to try to get him back to safety, whether he has to be dragged or coaxed. So I let him go and get up. He's frowning as I do, and quickly gets to his feet as well. "You're not leaving."

It's harder than I expect, but I turn away and head to the exit.

"Aurora, stop. You're not thinking straight. They will kill you if you go back there. Please, don't." He grabs my shoulder.

I whip around. "Don't make me push you away. I don't want to hurt you, Travis, but I will if that's what will keep you safe. The temperature is only going to drop. I'm going to figure something out and be back. Just survive long enough for me to return, please."

"Wait!" He leans in to kiss me, but I reject him.

"Don't. You'll be alive when I come back."

Once I'm out, I sprint toward the direction of the HQ, with zero plans of action. The wind certainly has picked up, so visibility has worsened slightly, but I keep telling myself that I belong here. This is my planet; it won't fail me.

That's when she appears. She pounces out from behind a scarlet boulder like a ferocious jaguar. Her hair is dark brown and compressed into two tight braids that trail around her head and sit atop her shoulders. She wears a tan bandana around her mouth, which I infer has a ventilator residing beneath it. Her eyes are molasses--brown and unwavering as she analyzes me from top to bottom.

I instantly wonder if my blood-red eyes pose a threat to her as they would me or have Travis. Is she at all affected by them? By the looks of her, she acts as though my eye color is nothing out of the ordinary, which makes me uneasy. In fact, it appears as if she's never been more satisfied. She doesn't run. Doesn't scream. Instead, the girl circles me in a cat-like manner. I'm the prey, caught inside her ring with nowhere to go. She's clearly had experience with people like me. Superhumans.

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