EverettMature

          Genevieve was a terrible liar. It's one of the things I loved about her. She was so bad at lying, she didn't even try, feelings be damned. But when she really wanted something bad, or was convinced it was the right course of action to avoid something terrible happening, some kind of inner switch flipped and her skill level went from novice to master.

          It was stupid of me to believe her, and a small part of me was screaming something was up, but my argument was very reasonable and she compromised.

          Geneveieve was a genius.

          "Fine, I won't do anything crazy, but I think we should watch that spot tonight at nine and see if anything different happens. If whoever or whatever decides to show itself or prove it's good or on our side, I'm sure they can do it again tomorrow at eight." We walked back inside, hand in hand. She was so good at saying just enough of what you wanted to hear to blind you to the lie, did I really have a reason to blame myself?

          Of course I did. Grown adult or not, Genevieve was my responsibility. When you love someone, when you know their flaws are your strengths, there's no getting around it. When someone becomes a part of you, you have to accept that they're at least partially your responsibility, if not for them, for yourself. Because I could never be happy if something happened to her, and if you're not in charge of your own happiness, then you may as well accept that you're living a half-life and be done with it.

          I'm probably not making sense, but that woman makes me crazy.

          We got back inside and joined Olivia and Alex in the living room, trying to act casual and stomach Sex and the City. I found myself grateful for Genevieve's distaste for these kind of shows and even wished we were watching Mr. Deeds instead. 

          "Parker should've finished with Hocus Pocus and disappeared," Vieve muttered, earning herself a glare from the other girls.

          The rest of the day went fine; everyone got along. But when eight o'clock rolled around, the tension in the house was palpable.

          We each went to our own rooms to change into clothes suited to running for our lives. I pulled on a pair of sweatpants while Genevieve slipped on some yoga pants. When we finished changing, we headed to the foyer to meet up with everyone and discuss our strategy.

          "I don't think we should head for the same section of woods as the last few times. What if it knows?" Baxter said. "I've also noticed the range seems to expand by about fifteen percent as the attacks progress. We need to make sure we get completely outside the range of the holes."

          "Don't they look like portals?" Genevieve said shrewdly. "I got a good look at one that popped open in our room before we fled. It was like I was looking into something, and there was heat coming off of it."

          "Portals, then." Bernard nodded at her. "What I don't understand is how accurately they opened to swallow everyone else up, while here they are blasting all over the place hoping they catch one of us."

          "Maybe they can't pinpoint us the way they did everyone else; maybe there's something wrong with us or different," Olivia posited.

          "Or maybe whatever machine they're using to do this got damaged and we just got lucky," Phineas said, rolling his eyes.

          "I don't believe in luck." I took a deep breath and grasped Genevieve's hand. "I think we should split up. Genevieve and I will head out the back and go northeast, Alex and Baxter can go out back to and head northwest. I think Bernard and Kathy should leave through the kitchen and run west, and you two can go out the front and run southwest, away from the woods in the east we've been running toward." Olivia and Phineas nodded in ascent.

          "We should've had cars ready at different locations," Bernard grumbled.

          "If we make it through tonight, that's a great idea," Kathy said dryly.

          We planned to meet back here at ten. The attacks usually lasted about ten minutes, but we decided to give them an hour to be safe. At five til nine, we all dispersed to our assigned exits, nervous and frightened. Our watches were synchronized. When the last minute rolled around, we fled, running as fast as our partner could.

          Genevieve was short; no matter how good at running she got, I knew she couldn't keep up with me. As we fled out the back, I checked to make sure she was right behind me and headed for the tree line.

          I'm not exactly sure at what distance she turned and ran back. All I know is I was halfway there when I saw her disappearing around the side of the house. I skidded to a stop in the damp grass and scrambled after her, my feet pounding the ground as fast as I could make them.

          I came around the side of the house just in time to see her reach out and touch a blue glowing portal on the fourth square of cement on the walkway. I screamed her name, the syllables tearing through my throat as my terror overwhelmed me. She smiled at me and stepped through. I dove for it, only to collapse scraped and bruised on the path, my arms empty, the portal closed.

           I dragged myself up and ran southwest toward Olivia and Phin, narrowly missing a black portal opening up inches from the blue one Vieve had disappeared into. I leaned against a tree, clutching a stitch in my side and gasping for air as they plied me with questions.

          "What happened?"

          "Where's Genevieve?"

          "What's going on?"

          I shook my head at them, slunk down to the base of the ash tree and buried my face in my hands.

          "She's gone." My voice broke and I swallowed. "She tricked me. She's gone."

The End

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