A Dark Young Adult Paranormal RomanceRead the Excerpt Now
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My mouth was no longer the worst of it. Dryness tore further at my cracked lips with every haggard puff puff, with every jagged breath I forced out of it. But now, that feeling seemed to travel from the ends of my dark tangled hair, to the tips of my snow covered bare feet. I ran without direction, without a goal. I liked the feeling of the escape. I like pretending I could.
Deep foot prints and tiny droplets of red ruined the winter landscape behind me as I darted past the tree line. Terrible blotches that looked black in the moonless night were all that was left of the tops of my hands. I had unconsciously torn away at the flesh with my own finger nails. I imagined what those bones would look like, peeking through the bloody mass of my clenched fists. I didn't dare look.
My heart continued to beat, even though I knew it had already given up. Broken, but not silenced, it seemed determined to win a race against the pounding of my steps. Sometimes one rhythm would play a head, but the other would be right behind. There would never be a winner, neither of them would cease before the other and my weary legs refused to give out until I was wherever they needed me to go.
That was when I saw it, practically glowing with the reflection of a million different universes. It was a large still mass, yet everything seemed to move around it. Tendrils of steam rose from all the edges and danced across the top of the lake. I couldn't remember hearing of anything like it.
I found myself wondering what it would be like to drown. Did it hurt? How would it feel floating there, weightless, until my very life drained away?
Sprinting down a decaying wooden dock, I did not look back. Boards creaked below my weight, pieces splintered off landing in the water with a plink that sounded like hailstones that sent ripples shooting out with me.
I remember the sounds. I remember the smell of the age old gray timber being torn from rusted nails, but I still can't remember the splash.
Drowning was nothing like I thought it would be. To start, it was slow. Time seemed to stretch out forever, as did the lake, but it didn't hurt. Not really. The water was warm and pleasant given what I had just run through. My wounds felt soothed by the murky waters. Even as the liquid swirled into my ears I could imagine I was at home in a bath and not floating toward my oblivion.
I never closed my eyes. My vision blurred then somehow focused two places at once. Part of me was staring at the late eighties wallpaper in the bathroom my father refused to change. The other part of me was completely aware of the lake I was in, and the sky above me.
From here, the stars were nearly impossible to see. Blackness stretched out over my head like an old sheet, letting in just a little light through its worn places as I coasted near slumber beneath it.
There was still more darkness below, where I knew the muddy bottom waited to welcome me permanently into its grasp.
Even though I floated, I felt weighted down with so many things—Mom and Dad alone in the old farmhouse unaware that anything was wrong, all the friends I had until tonight, and a handful of other people’s secrets.
Then there was light. Not a warm white light like everyone talks about, but a ghostly blue one. I wondered what its presence meant for my afterlife, if there was such a thing. That was my last thought before the panic set in.
Everything until that point had seemed so numb. Like my own inner auto pilot had plotted this end. Had I ever stopped to think? No, because until now there had seemed no need for it. There had only been the need to escape. The consequences now were much worse than the grounding that I would have received when daddy found out I snuck out. Where was my good judgment when I set out on foot tonight? When I'd tossed my heels into the ditch, as if the blisters they caused were my worst blemish? I thought nothing more than they slowed me down.
The blue light was right on top of me. I could tell it was close enough to reach out and grab me, but I was still surprised when it did. It seared my skin with ice cold fingers like instant frostbite on sunburned flesh, a cold and brittle feeling that belonged to a moving skeleton. Was this Death? Did such a specter really exist?
I let out the last of the air from my lungs as the black bled in from the edges of my vision before eventually filling everything, being everything, and then in the darkness, my stomach took a big flop. My whole body felt stuck in a Marlow shaped elevator shaft, and I had come to a sudden halt before being jolted upwards.
Then there was nothing.
I was unaware if I would ever leave the lake, unaware if it mattered at all.