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Insanity – by Becca
The snow was falling, covering the ground. I knew that immediately. But there was something different about it, something dark. Up ahead, I began to see the flickers of light that symbolised civilization. I walked faster, almost jogging, and stopped just short of the circle that the flames cast. The village that I had grown up in was on fire. I could hear people screaming and trying to escape, but I couldn’t see anybody. I stepped forward, into the light–and stopped. There was a hidden barrier that I couldn’t see, something that was blocking me. Panicking, I began to run next to the blockage, trying to find some way into my hometown. But there wasn’t one. I ran back to where I had first felt the barrier and began probing for weaknesses, spots that I could break. A shout caught my attention, and I looked up. There was a man running towards me, a man I knew.
“Anya! Run! You have to run, you aren’t safe here! They’re after you, because of what you told me. Please, go home. Now!”
I fell to my knees. “Daniel…who are they? Can’t I save you? Is there anything I can do?”
He shook his head. “No. You can’t fight them. It’s too late for us, they’ve already marked us.” He lifted his hand and placed it on the barrier. I gasped at what marred his skin. An ugly spiral, red and oozing, had been burned into his flesh.
“No…it can’t be them. It can’t be. How did they find me?”
“I don’t know, Anya. But you have to leave now. Go!” He looked over his shoulder. In the distance, I could see huge, hulking shapes look our way and start to lumber towards us. “Listen, Anya. They won’t kill me. I’m young and strong. They’ll put me to work in the mines. But you…you’re the one who they want. Please, save yourself. For me, if not for you.”
I shakily nodded, and placed my hand on the barrier, covering his. “For you, Daniel. But I’ll find you. I promise.”
His hand curled and flexed, then straightened out again. “Anya…I love you.” He whipped his head around again and stood up. “Now go! Go home!” I stumbled backwards and, with one final glance towards him, ran towards the woods. Stopping just before I went out of earshot, I whispered into his mind, “I love you too.” I looked at Daniel, fixing the image of him standing strong with his sword drawn firmly in my mind. I wanted that to be the last image I saw of him before I left. I saw him ripple his shoulders in response to my whisper, ready to fight, ready to hold off those creatures so that I could leave safely. Taking one step backwards into the shadow of the woods, I closed my eyes and focused on my home, in the world where I had been born.
I opened my eyes to the sound of rain in Gig Harbor, Washington. I sat up from where I had fallen on my bed, and my book fell onto my lap. Picking it up, I looked at the title again. Dark Angels. I sighed and put the book on my bedside table, my fingers lingering over the face on the front of the cover. I would go back. I would save him.
A voice startled me out of my reverie. “Anya? I’m going to the store, do you need anything?”
“No Mom, I’m good! Thanks though!”
Mom called a goodbye, and I slumped down on my bed. I risked a glance at the book again, but knew opening it and going back in wouldn’t help anybody. I would just have live the story all over again. Ugh. I swung my legs over my bed and grabbed my backpack, planning on doing homework to take my mind off of Daniel. I walked downstairs and plopped down at the dining table, digging through my backpack to find my Spanish homework. Ten minutes later, after trying and failing to focus on the preterite case in Spanish, I gave up. I ran back upstairs and grabbed my phone, typing my password to log in. I needed to talk to somebody who could partially understand what I was going through, who wouldn’t think I was crazy. I texted my best friend, Olivia, “When you’re free, I need to talk. It happened again.” I put the phone down and put my head in my hands. Olivia was probably at paddling practice. She wouldn’t respond for a while. Maybe Casey? I’ve talked to him before about this..except this time, it’s mostly about Daniel. That could be awkward. And he still thinks it’s all a series of weird dreams I’ve been having. What happens if I tell him the truth? I rubbed my eyes in frustration. Why did it all have to be so complicated? I was startled by my phone ringing. I looked at the caller ID. It was Olivia. I took a deep breath and answered her call.
“Anya. What’s up? Are you alright? What was it this time?”
“I’m fine. It was just…it was that book. Dark Angels. And I saw him again.”
“You read it again? But you know what happened last time! Just because you changed some parts doesn’t mean the ending is gonna be different. Anya, you’ve got to stop. It’s not healthy.”
I was silent. Then I heard her take a breath. “OK. I’m coming over. We’ll go out to coffee or something. I’m guessing the rest of your family is home?”
“Yeah…mostly. Ivan is still at school. My mom just left to go shopping. But shouldn’t you be at practice?”
“Nah, we just finished loading the boats for this weekend. Anyway, I’ll be there in ten. Get ready.”
I sighed. “Ok. I’ll be at the bottom of the driveway. Bye.”
“See ya soon, Anya!” The phone clicked, and I was left alone to put my backpack away and grab my purse.
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