I could feel Tracy's screams despite my senseless incapacitation, ebbing with the distance. It shook me awake. I scrambled to my feet, reaching absent-mindedly for him. My legs immediately gave out, sending me back to where I rose.
“Damn it!” I threw an angry fist into the ground, glaring at my somnolent limbs. I began to breathe heavily, the weight of my thoughts growing on me. How could this happen? Where had they taken Tracy? What did they want with him?
I kept repeating the thought. Hoping it would reach Kyle. I clasped my hands together. Repeating it over and over in my head, as if chanting. Loosening my clasp, my eyes fell over my hand; the Munio mark looking natural on my palm as if it had always been there.
I closed my hand into a fist. I curled my entire body into a ball on the ground, letting the leaves soften my tearful fall. I began to think of Kyle. Laying blood-splattered on the ground where they'd left him. Was he dead? I couldn't bring myself to consider it.
I closed my tear-blurred vision off and tried to visualize Kyle's figure coming toward me. I wanted so bad to wake up and find myself back in my room, listening to Kyle's soft breathing next to my ear as he slept. I wished so much to poke innocently at his Ullio mark and to hold his hand.
I tried to think of Rania, sprawled out on her bed, her purple socks hanging off the edge, still attached to her body. We'd probably be on the phone at this time of the night around the time Kyle was gone. I'd barely remembered what we talked about. It was even hard to remember conversations I'd had with my mom at our nightly dinners. I felt as if I was forgetting my life altogether. And even though I wasn't cold, I hugged myself tighter.
I let my sadness come out of my mouth in little yelps. I didn't want to alarm my captors of my despondent state. At once I heard leaves break under hard feet. I rose to a sitting position.
“The loss of old memories. The lack of emotion. The animal instincts. You're losing your humanity. You can feel it slowly fading away can't you?”
Blair leaned over me, his legs completely perpendicular to the ground. He brought his face to whisper distance. “You'll be one of us soon enough.”
I ground my remaining teeth together and a low growl escaped my lips. Blair's shell pink lips cracked into a smile.
I couldn't stop his face. He took a few steps back, as if he wasn't at all fazed by sudden attack. His composure was angering me. I felt myself rise.
Blair raised his hand to his cheek where I had attacked, moving his hand over the crescent-shaped wounds. At once they were gone. He smiled deviantly.
My rage escalating, I took a step back, gearing to propel myself toward him. I sunk my feet into the ground and lunged forward, a booming roar soaring through my growing incisors.
“What am I gonna do? I feel so powerless.”
“I think I'm getting the hang of this.”
I smiled admirably at Kyle's newfound bravura: cooking pancakes and eggs without burning anything. Last time he tried to cook for me, he'd set the spatula on the stove and came back to find the contents of it melted into the pancakes, which soon burned altogether several minutes later. This is after the many times he'd made batches of pancakes without using any milk, or spilling a bar of butter into the batter or last week's attempt when he'd set his apron on fire. I laughed quietly to myself, remembering the botched cook sessions.
This was the first day after finding out that I was Kyle's human connection, and every day just seemed to be a little bit better than the one before. I could feel us getting closer, and every time I looked at him flipping pancakes and looking back at me smiling, I couldn't help but imagine a life ahead.
He brought a large plate of them over to the table, the syrup in his other hand. He handed me a plate proudly.
“I'm still shocked at your sudden great chef skills.”
Kyle sat down next to me with a small huff. I dropped my chin on his shoulder, giving a peck on his temple.
“You're cute when you're annoyed.”
He turned his head to me, returning my peck with one of his own on my nose.
Tickled by his childish eagerness, I happily began to cut my pancakes in small squares. I smothered them in syrup and stuffed three stabs in my mouth. Kyle watched me, his face elated.
I looked at him while I was still chewing, and he lost it. He smiled widely than started laughing.
“What?” I said with my mouth full.
“You look like a blowfish.” He said between laughs.
I rolled my eyes and continued eating. He continued to watch me, resting his head on his knuckle. He rubbed his thumb around my mouth. “You got syrup goin' down your mouth.”
The way he said made it sound like a compliment. I grinned a pancake-filled grin. He got up, walked to the refrigerator, pulling out a carton of milk. He set a glass in front of me and sat back down.
I grabbed it and washed my pancakes down. Refilling my plate again, I noticed something.
“Aren't you gonna eat any?” I asked.
“No. It's too fun watching you eat.”
A breathed a laugh, ruffling his hair. I set my fingers on the back of his head, gently pushing it towards mine. We brought our foreheads together.
“Thanks for cooking for me.” I said.
“No problem, babe.”
I bit my lip as he said that. I was really beginning to like this nickname of mine. Since that night with his glowing Uliio mark, things with us couldn't have been better.
I kissed him gently. His lips reacted after a half second, enveloping mine with his. I let my fingers slide up his shirt, running my fingers across the muscular curves. He laughed a little into my mouth, breaking the kiss. “That tickles.” He grabbed my hand from under his shirt, bringing it up to his lips. He sucked a little on my thumb.
Before I could even get settled into my arousal,something floated into my nose.
“What's that smell?” I asked.
We then heard something sizzling in the distance.
“Oh shit!” Kyle ran to the kitchen in a craze, “I forgot some of the pancakes on the stove!”
I looked further into the forest, seeing only memories. Hearing my footsteps, one after the other, became small encouragement. I relished in them, letting my eyelids draw closer as they continued.
I kept replaying memories with Kyle over and over in my head, letting them propel me forward. My reverie was suddenly halted when my head collided with a tree branch, bringing me back to reality. I'd came to a clearing where I could see the sun shining upon me.
I watched it slowly descend, melting inside the earth. I found myself cold in the dark forest, my bare feet cold against the ground, the sky now a cluster of white dots behind a black backdrop. It wouldn't be long now.
If I wanted to get any closer to saving Tracy, I needed to focus. I ran a hand along my moist shoulder. The wound had completely healed. Suddenly fortified, I increased my speed through the forest,letting my instincts guide me towards Tracy. I suddenly knew where he was, and in my leaps through the trees I could see in the corner of my eye the Munio mark resonating beneath my clutched fist.