It was well after dawn before I got out of bed. Between Terra's explanation and the thought that the Ascenders were on the move again, I just couldn't sleep. When I finally did get up, I found Terra asleep on our couch.

"Geez, just make yourself at home," I muttered to myself.

I was about to walk away when I hesitated. Annoyed with myself, I sighed. Taking a blanket from the closet, I draped it over Terra. I don't know why I bothered with something so trivial. It was stupid but I didn't regret it. I still felt nothing for her. No guilt. Nothing. Pushing my thoughts away, I drifted into the kitchen and opened a can of beans.

"Beans for breakfast? Really?" Aaron asked teasingly as he entered the kitchen.

"...Nothing else..." I replied between chews. Aaron stared at me for a while. "What?"

"Nothing. What do you suppose this means, Terra's...situation, I mean. Are you thinking the Ascenders might be coming after us?"

"I don't know. Maybe. Either way, I think we should--"

"...Leave just to be safe. You always say that. Why? Shouldn't you want to fight back?"

"I never asked to be a Reckoner and I don't want to be one. Why should I fight a war that that doesn't concern me?"

"But it does concern you. You're a Reckoner, just like me. We're supposed to protect the humans, raise the next generation of Reckoners. That's our destiny."

"Destiny? That's a load of shit! If you want to fight the Ascenders then go ahead! No one's stopping you! Damn, you're so needy! I'm not Mom and I don't need you looking after me!"


"Shut up and leave me alone!"

With that, a distant rage taking over me, I stormed out. Maybe it was because I saw Mom in Aaron. She was always so clingy, but only to Aaron. She never noticed me, never acknowledged my life. I was invisible to her only now do I have my OLDER brother with the same needy personality hanging over me. I just want to get out of it. It's suffocating. The wind ripped through my hair as I rode my motorcycle through the small town. The flashing lights of police cars and ambulances ahead caught my attention. Terra's murder. That's probably why they're here. Deciding it was a good idea, I slowed to a stop and parked my bike. Shoving my hands in my pants pockets, I slipped into the crowd that had gathered around the bookstore.

It was hard to see but, it looked like the paramedics were rolling a body to the ambulance. People gasped and cried. I pushed a little further into the crowd, straining my ears.

"...I hear it's teenage girl. I think her name was Terra."

"...Yeah. She was a sweet girl. She worked at the bookstore. I think she was supporting her alcoholic father. I hear he was really abusive."

"That's terrible. The poor thing. What do you think happened to her?"

"It's obvious she was murdered. I bet it was her father."

"You think so?"

"I'd put money on it."

"I don't know. It might have been that shady boy that always checks out books. What's his name?"

"Who knows. He and his brother are outsiders. We hardly ever see them. It only makes them that more suspicious."

Hearing the crowd mention Aaron and me, I pulled back slowly so they wouldn't notice me. I sat on my motorcycle about to crank it up when I stopped. Glancing towards the bookstore, I remembered the body that was being rolled out. Wait, if Terra's a Reckoner, then who is that corpse they rolled out? Curiosity surged within me. I climbed off the bike and snuck towards the ambulance. Silently, I sprinted to the back, unhinged the door, and climbed inside. I closed the door behind me as quietly as I entered and approached the body. The stench of decomposition struck my nose and nausea sent cold chills through my body. Holding my breath, I unzipped the bag.

Inside, the body was mangled and unidentifiable. It was clear that this had once been a male who must have been very strong. The thought that someone could have overpowered him was nerve-racking. The only way I can know this is because he's either a Reckoner or he's an Ascender, possibly the one who killed Terra.

"Regardless of who he really is, something's wrong about this. How could someone have done this to a guy of that build? More importantly, when was he killed and by whom? Things are definitely getting more exciting around here. How much longer before all hell breaks loose?" I questioned as I rode home.

This was something I couldn't afford not to tell Aaron and Terra.

The End

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