Cole weakly pushed open the door to the infirmary and staggered through, before crumbling. He fell on his knees and pressed his palms against the floor, sweat and blood dripping from his face. He was breathing heavily when he heard someone speak.
“Cole! Cole, can you hear me?”
The words were muffled, like the person had been lying under a thick blanket, and as he looked up, he could see something shimmering in the light. Frowning, Cole lifted his hand and reaching forward. When his fingertips came in contact, he felt as though his hand was sliding through cold air, and then he knew.
“What are you doing?” said a new voice. It was coming from above him. The girl crouched down and squinted at him. “Oh my God, what happened to you? Come here.” She lifted him and guided him to one of the beds.
Ari stood back and frowned at him. She looked as though she hadn’t been beaten up as badly as she was, except for the bruises on her cheek when she pushed her hair away from her face.
“You’re looking better,” Cole muttered.
Her eyes tensed. “I wish I could say the same about you. Who did this?”
Cole’s lips drew back into a snarl. He could tell her everything and it would be okay. He winced as he moved his hand to touch his chest, and could almost feel the heat from his anger and fear burning through his shirt.
“Ian,” he said softly. “Ian did this to me, and he made Ava do that to you, Ari.”
She bit her lip and shook her head. “That’s not possible. Ian isn’t real, Cole. He’s just Ava’s imaginary friend. I think…I think you should go talk to Alex. Didn’t you even notice he wasn’t here?”
He glanced to his left, the bed empty. He shook his head, his eyes sliding to the floor again. The overhead lights in the room made the spot shimmer again; though outside it had been raining heavily for the last hour, so the darkness was begging to come in through the window, to swallow the brightness.