Episode 71

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I found myself in my room at Hannah's, or rather, my first one

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I found myself in my room at Hannah's, or rather, my first one. The one I had shared with Del.

Tears stained my cheeks. Having bawled my eyes out, I could hardly move. There was a chip in the paint, so this must've happened before Big Sis left. She fixed it in the week before she set off to work.

Del threw the door open. "What are you doing, you lazy sack of bones? Get up this instant."

This wasn't right. Del never acted that way toward anyone. Especially not me. He never took his frustration out on me. He'd run to Hannah or En if he was getting close to that point.

He picked me up by the armpits, which wasn't as strange it might sound since he was always strong, and I was small for my age. No, odder still was his eyes. The light had left them leaving hollow balls in their place.

His lifeless eyes met my gaze. "Crying solves nothing, so quit it."

That was somewhat true but not what he'd told me all those years ago. Crying could make you feel better sometimes, but it would never just fix the problem that made you cry in the first place. Knowing that, I kicked him in the knees to free myself.

Since he dropped me, I jumped to my feet and ran out of the room. Del didn't know how to get into the basement, so I'd be safe I made it there.

The halls were deserted. Had the others gone out into the yard or something? Ordinarily, it wasn't this quiet in the hallways. Even if most of us were doing school or at school.

Shadows swirled around me. One voice sounded like a man. "You failed them, Alastair Kurenai. How can you expect to ever accomplish anything as a Key Keeper?"

Another sounded like an old, wrinkled woman. "You're nothing more than a scrawny, little boy."

"Stay away from me!" My voice cracked.

Del appeared in front of me and glared into my eyes. "You can't run from the past."

In fact, he'd said this before, but I didn't know if it was to me in particular. Those words had never been more acidic. If I didn't know better, I'd say a snake hijacked a human body.

"Leave me alone!"

There was a flash of bright, white light.


***


"Fight it, Star!" Del's voice broke. "You have to fight it! What you're seeing isn't real! I'm here to protect you as I always have!"

We were in a golden dome with Ame and Cole. Honey was here now, too. She whimpered and buried her head in my lap.

I felt dried tears on my cheeks. I wiped them away.

"Huh?" I shook my head. "Where's Cyan?"

Cole bit his lip. "Out there."

Ame said, "Since the Lock cracked my barrier, she used it as a chance to escape. From the looks of it, she wanted to fight, to buy you some time."

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