So much noise. I had never been surrounded by this much sound.
Every few seconds, flashes of lightning would light up the corner of my eyelids, followed by the roaring of thunderclaps exploding above me. The flurry of rain pattering against the skylights had long since stopped, unlike the wind, whose howls kept getting louder and louder in a stubborn attempt to rival the cracks of thunder.
All of it was nothing, however, compared to the chaos brewing up inside the building.
“This is great. This is just great! You know what, I knew it was too good to be true. We’re all going to die here!”
With my senses blurred, identifying voices was proving too hard of a task. The pitch of this last one was the highest that I had ever heard, one that only a girl could reach when possessed by strong emotions.
“Stop being such a drama queen, you really think they’re going to kill kids, you idiot!”
This voice was much deeper in comparison and I had no doubt as to who it belonged to.
“People aren’t supposed to kidnap and point guns at children either and they didn’t seem to have any problems with that, idiot!”
Owen growled and there was a sudden sound of something banging on metal.
“It still doesn’t-"
“And now they know we’re humans too. Even if we do escape this somehow, we’re still- Oh, for goodness sake, not this again!”
There was a clear shift in tension around me and I tried to crawl out of this stupor that I had fallen into by trying to first make sense of my surroundings.
“Please, just please, make him shut up!” Marina was screaming by this point, the shrill yells echoing around me.
“If someone passes by outside the door and Fern keeps this up, we’ll get caught for sure,” Owen remarked in an urgent but calmer tone.
What was I doing? What was going on?
“Either that or it will make us go crazy, I can’t take it anymore!”
“I think I hear someone coming...” That was Cindy, her voice rising above a whisper but sounding very distant for some reason. She sounded so... broken.
“Aya, please do something. I don’t care what it is, just make him stop screaming!”
I was... screaming?
And that’s when I noticed it. That in the midst of all that noise, of thunder and wind, that someone was indeed screaming. But it was raw and filled with pain, it didn’t sound like me at all, and I couldn’t feel myself screaming. How was that possible?!
“Fern,” came a voice that filled me with a sense of nostalgia. “I’m sorry,” it whispered in my ear before a pair of hands covered my mouth, gentle at first but then with a little less hesitation as they pressed harder, muffling the sound of screams.
In a second, I had my own hands clutching her wrists, palms slipping on the layer of sweat that coated them. Instinctively, I dove into her mind to calm my own, just I like used to do with my guardian, the only difference being that Kai always expected it and had grown used to it.
A gasp sounded from behind me, at the same time as fingernails pressed into my cheeks in what would have been, no doubt, a painful manner hadn’t my thoughts been elsewhere.
Aya's mind was beautiful. It was like walking through an art gallery, where each corner was covered with paintings in iridescent colors - like those on a fish’s scales - that glowed against a dark background; or like swimming through a reef bursting with color and movement, fleeting shapes dancing to silence.
Just like with other people, my trip seemed to last hours, but when I opened my eyes and turned my head, Aya was also opening hers and softening her grip on my face. Relief washed over her, tension leaving her body in the form of a sigh that left her mouth and brushed over my scar, making it itch a little.
“I’m sorry, Aya, I shouldn’t have done that,” I whispered to her after she lowered her arms, laying my hand over one of her own.
“It’s okay.” She smiled, more surprised than angry, I felt. “I’m just glad you’re alright now. I was starting to get really scared.” Her eyes shifted to something else to avoid my own, her embarrassment clear. “Why didn’t you tell us? We would have understood.”
Then it all came back to me. We had been cornered in the second floor and had been forced to fight. I had actually used my powers to get some guard off of Owen, who was protecting Denver (I still don’t know what I did and if the human was going to be alright, seeing as he didn’t get up after that). And then Marina had used her own powers...
Everything was a blur after that. I must’ve passed out... or worse.
Great. This was not how I planed for anyone to find out about my fears.
“Good, you’re finally back,” Marina interrupted my thoughts. Turning my attention to her, I was greeted with a sour expression on her reddened face. She was clutching her arm, which was bleeding again, and leaning against a metal door that she seemed to have shut with her fire powers, the handles melted and some parts still red and steaming.
With a tremble, I whipped my head away from that image, only to notice Cindy holding a still unconscious Denver, and Owen walking towards the wall behind me and Aya. He gave me a nod of acknowledgment before turning to Marina.
“Marina, we may be in trouble either way, but don’t forget what’s important here. Denver is seriously hurt and we need to get him to a hospital,” Owen reminded her.
“Yes, please, Marina, he’s been like this for too long,” Cindy appealed to her friend, holding Denver a little tighter in her arms.
“I’m sorry, you’re right, Cindy. But how are we going to get out of here?”
“I think I found a way,” Owen said, pointing to the wall.