xv. two minds

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Dawn was beginning to creep over the Pacific, turning the navies of the water into flat greys

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Dawn was beginning to creep over the Pacific, turning the navies of the water into flat greys. Clouds threatened at the horizon, looming. The wind toyed with the pebbled beach like a cat; creeping along until it pounced through the sand to shoot up sprays of dull gold.

I stared at the water for a long time.

Thoughts crashed about my mind, tumbling like the restless surf before me. That, or like socks in a washing machine. Either way, I couldn't escape the harried panic that swept through me. My fingers tingled in the frosty air, so I shoved them under my armpits, eyes never straying from the waves.

Could it be true that the Seed would take me? Use me up, then cast me away into the void like I never existed?

I shivered, though not entirely from the cold. A surge pulled a cascade of tiny pebbles back into the ocean, bouncing them against each other like a dropped bag of marbles. I wasn't ready to die; my life had barely begun. There had to be a way around the morbid fate that W painted so inevitably — I just had to figure it out.

Reaching a blue-tipped pair of fingers into my coat, I extricated the Seed. It sat clouded in my hand, faintly reflecting the burgeoning clouds that raced closer and closer by the second. The wind picked up, nearly pulling the hood from my head. My hand snapped up unconsciously to grasp the slippery fabric of my raincoat, and the other brought the Seed closer to my eyes.

It's all you, isn't it? All these fantastical stories of cosmic deities and doomed-to-fail vessels that carry out your work.

My skin prickled and I lowered the stone again.

If you're all that you're cracked up to be, I'm sure there's some measure of mercy in you to spare a bearer who submits to your plan?

I wasn't prepared for the flash.

Like a bomb exploding around me, the world turned into a white nothingness. I toppled to the ground, my head cracking painfully against a particularly large stone. The stench of brine and moss filled my nostrils as I sucked in a huge breath to swear profusely.

When my eyes finally opened again, I was still on the beach. Sitting up, rubbing one hand against the back of my head, I looked around. Nothing had changed. The clouds were almost upon me, but the wide expanse of sandy rocks and ancient driftwood logs was just the same as before.

So what had happened?

— Obey? —

My chest seized: There was that voice again. The one that I couldn't find words for; the one that would give me nightmares for the rest of my life. The one that had launched me from the Everything and almost cataclysmically back to Earth. My mind flashed briefly to W and the worried frown on his face.

— If obey, mercy given. Only if. —

The Seed glowed in my palm, turning the skin there white with light. I snapped back to the present, stomping down the sudden queasiness in my stomach at the silver-eyed boy — alien? — and lifting the Seed for inspection once more.

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