Chapter Nineteen: Part Three
It seemed to take forever to reach the top of the stairs. It was like if we took one step, two more grew. By the time Dre and I had reached the time, I was out of breath and I was sweating the slightest by my eyebrows. I could tell that Dre was amused that I was so flustered, but he didn’t outright smile at me because he knew that I was still mad at him. It was true, the longer I was around him, the more our friendship was returning back to normal. But I didn’t like it either stage.
I didn’t like how I pined after Dre for years and years, and he decides that he can’t be with me, for unknown reasons. And I didn’t like how he became so extremely jealous whenever I brought up Ivan. Sure, he was protective over me during both ways, but we would always be stuck in the same rut.
Anyways, once we reached the top, there was a large, black door just sitting there. It had intricate designs across the front, similar to the mirror I had looked in while I was in the room where the floor broke underneath me. (And I swear, I’m not fat, but I’m not a twig, either. Dre’s mind really knew how to hurt a girl, really.) And speaking of the mirror, my appearance still looked the same: the black and white dress – with no gray it in, I noticed – with the long black hair and antique-looking ring.
I stood in front of the door while Dre stood beside me, giving me an expectant look. “What?” I asked, getting uncomfortable under his unwavering gaze.
“Well, aren’t you going to open it?” He asked.
“It’s your head,” I said sarcastically, raising my eyebrow at him.
“Yeah, but I’m not the one who needs to walk up these stairs. It’s you.” He replied, giving me a defiant look like he had checkmated me or something.
I gave him an exasperated sigh and one of my infamous death stares before turning back to the door. There were two vertical handles near the opening, and I pulled on to them, half expecting for some vexes or something to burst out the door. But as they swung open against the great wind that seemed to be carried underneath them, nothing just out or scared me or anything. They swung open, and revealed a terrible outstretch of land.
“What happened here?” I breathed as I took a step back away from the door frightened by what I saw.
Dre walked past me, his shoulder brushing up against me as he looked sadly at the expanse of land in front of me. “It’s the Twilight Realm.”
“Like the Twilight Zone?” I tried to joke, but I couldn’t help but just feel depressed as I looked in front of me.
“No,” Dre laughed humorlessly. “If you die here, so does your soul.”
That one really sent me for a loop. If I died, my soul would die, too? I could deal with that…what would that mean, anyway? Would I just be a ghost wandering around the earth, never being able to really die?
“Come on. I know where to go.” Dre said, no emotion in his voice as he started to walk ahead of me. The sight of the Twilight Realm really depressed him, but then again, who wouldn’t it depress?
There was just an outstretch of flat, gray land. There were wilted plants, similar to the space in front of the castle, well, Dre’s mind. The sky was completely covered in a thick layer of one gigantic black cloud, which still attracted the little pieces of the weird inky black substance that floated out of the ground. But then, there were these scarlet red splatters in the gray sky, like someone had taken a paintbrush and splattered paint all over the sky. Except, it didn’t look like paint, it looked like actual blood.
Finally noticing that Dre was several yards away from me, I started to jog to catch up to him. I was hesitant as I thought of a question to ask him since he looked so…emotionless.
“…Why does it look like there’s blood in the sky?” I asked quietly, looking thoughtfully at him.
He sent me a look that made me feel like an idiot. “Because the sky rains blood.”
I was dumbfounded as I said, “W-what? How? How is there blood in the sky?”
“It feeds off of it.” He said simply, like it wasn’t a big deal that blood rained out of the skies.
“Oh. Okay.” I said, feeling stupid for not knowing what else to say besides that. We walked in silence for the most part, while my mind was racing.
So, I was finally in the Twilight Realm, which probably held the Twilight Elements within. Did that mean he was finally going to tell me what was going on? Finally, someone was going to tell me the truth. After all, he didn’t even hesitate to tell me that was blood in the sky.
“Uh, Dre, can I ask you another question?” I said, after several minutes of silence.
“Sure.” He said, not even looking at me.
“Uh, what’s the little pieces of black stuff that floats up from the ground?” I asked.
“Darkness,” He said softly, his eyelids drooping a little, as if the questions I asked him affected him in some negative kind of way. “It grows from the ground…from the monsters here. And then it floats to the sky, joining the blood, and rains back down as acid. Then it starts over again.”
“Oh,” I said again, feeling embarrassed that I had to ask so many questions and he was barely reacting. “Um, where are we going?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” He said drily, finally looking at me and realized with a start that his eyes had turned back to the red color. I struggled to flinch away from him, and I could tell he knew how difficult it was for me to look at him.
“Well, since we’re still in my mind, this isn’t how the Twilight Realm in its present state,” he started to explain. “This is a memory in my mind, and we’re just reliving it. We’re going to the castle, the heart of the realm, where my f-father lives.” He stuttered, and looked embarrassed because of it.
“Your dad?” I echoed, looking at him in complete shock, my eyes involuntarily bugging out. “I thought…you didn’t know your dad, that he had left you and your mom. You’ve known where your dad has lived this whole time? You lied to me?” I cried.
Dre rolled his eyes at me like it was childish of me to say such things. “Jesus Mel, not everything is about you. It doesn’t matter that I lied, it’s because I couldn’t tell you.” He enunciated, giving me a seriously pissed off look.
I felt bad for sounding selfish, but I tried not to let him show that he was right. “It’s just that no one’s been telling me anything, and they all want me to rule over the kingdom; which I know nothing about, and everyone expects me to be fine with it!”
“Because that’s your job!” Dre cried, rounding back on me.
“Well sorry!” I yelled. We had both stopped to yell each other and had been so caught up in our shouting match that I hadn’t noticed that we were standing right in front of a black castle, similar to the first one I had first went into.
Whoa, wait. I said, becoming mystified. We’re in a castle inside…a castle? I couldn’t help but think. I wasn’t this confused and fascinated since I had gotten a book full of Christmas tales and on the cover, it was Santa Claus painting the cover of the book that he was already on. So it was like he was painting a book inside a book, inside a book, inside a book, inside a book….
“You’re mind’s jacked up, Mel,” Dre suddenly interrupted me, smirking at me as I could see from the corner of my eye.
“Say what?” I said, annoyed that I had been yanked out of my crazy thoughts. “Were you reading my mind again? You better stop; that’s pretty irritating.”
“Can’t help it,” He said sheepishly, but I could tell that he didn’t really mean it. “I can’t read it in real life, so don’t even sweat it.”
I rolled my eyes as I said, “So now you don’t feel like yelling at me anymore? That’s refreshing.” I replied sardonically.
“Stop being a baby and follow me.” He said, finally settling the conversation as he sent me a sideways smile. To my surprise, he grabbed my hand and I had to resist the urge not to pull away.
What’s happening to me? I questioned myself. If this had been a few months ago, I would have been psyched at the idea of Dre holding my hand. But now, it made me feel a little guilty. Guilty because I felt like I should be with Ivan?
I sent a sideways look to see if maybe had Dre read my thoughts, but his nonchalant expression told me that he hadn’t bothered to. He led me up the long stairs to the front of the castle, which was stained with blood outside the door. I looked warily at it, getting the feeling that there had been a lot of killing inside. I don’t know how I knew; it was just a gut feeling that I was sure of.
“Open,” He said softly, looking at me with a worried look.
I didn’t say anything, just watched as the door slowly swung open with an extended creak, just like in the murder movies. Crap, why did I have to think of that analogy?
Dre let go of my hand, sending me a questioning look to see if I was going to say anything about his opening the door with only his voice. Personally, I really was curious, but I had a feeling that he wouldn’t really be able to explain to me how he did it. Not because he didn’t want to, but because he didn’t know how to. Then again, I could have been just kidding myself.
“I’m not even going to ask,” I replied drily.
He didn’t say anything; just accepted the fact that I no longer was bothered about him keeping the truth from me. Except it really did irk me still, I just couldn’t let him know that.
“Can still hear your thoughts,” He cut in, giving me a sarcastic look. “Pull your head out of your ass so we can hurry and get this over with.”
I gave him an offended look. “Pull my head out of my ass? I’ll let you know that my head is perfectly fine where it is right now; and it’s definitely NOT in my ass!” I yelled, getting a little more irked.
Dre just raised his eyebrow at me while raising his eyebrows and crossing his arms. He tapped an imaginary watch on his wrist. “Wasting time here, Mel.”
“Time for what?!” I cried. “You’re being ridiculous! If anything, you’re the one who has the head up my ass— er, your ass of your head. In-in your ass. Because your head, would definitely not be, you know, in my…ass.” I stuttered, trying to be serious through the whole rant, but I completely messed up in the middle.
You know, when I basically told him that his head was up my ass.
Gah, my in fact, I don’t even really know where my head was at that moment…
“You’re so awkward,” Dre said, smiling at me widely, dropping his confusing serious demeanor. “You said my head was up your ass.”
“Yeah, well, it’s obviously not so let’s just drop the subject,” I mumbled, feeling completely embarrassed. I avoided his eyes as I said, “Let’s just go inside the castle-thingy, okay?”
“Right-o,” He said, still smirking at me from the side. We walked into the castle, side-by-side, silently.
We entered through the castle, and I found myself a little dumbfounded. To be honest, the castle looked identical to the one that was originally Dre’s mind, but this one looked more…sinister. There wasn’t a lick of white or gray, just complete mundane black. And this was coming from someone who loves the color black. My closet is like 50% black and the other 50% is mostly blue and red. Which my mom always complains about, saying that I need more “variety”. Well excuse me for not being a girly-girl and completely in love with pink and bright purple, which is exactly what my mom wants to be.
There was only one staircase, which was completely black and matched the cobblestone floor and stained glass windows. To the right, in my peripheral vision, I could see double doors with big circular windows on them, which I guessed was an entrance to the kitchen.
“This is where my father lives,” Dre said, his eyes flat and dull-looking. “He’s ruler.”
I looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to say something like ruler of a car dealership or something mundane like that. But he didn’t say anything, even though I knew he could see me looking at him from the corner of his eyes.
“…of what?” I said slowly, still staring at him.
“The Twilight Elements.” He said blatantly.
I rolled my eyes at him, the frustration continuing to boil up inside of me. “Oh my god, when are you going to tell me what those are?”
“What do you think we’re doing now?!” Dre snapped, rounding onto me. “Not everything is about you, Mel, okay? The sun doesn’t revolve around you.”
I wanted to slap him right then, I really did. It took every fiber of my being not to, but I didn’t in the end. “I don’t think that everything is about me,” I said through gritted teeth. “But I do think it’s pretty shitty of you not to explain anything to me; you just think I know everything, when I don’t!” I cried.
“Mel,” Dre said, calming himself down. Lately, he was all moody and PMS-y. It was unsettling for me. “What I’m saying is, that this is it. I’m about to show you what the Twilight Elements are all about.”
“Then why are you going so slow?” I involuntarily whined. “Don’t you think I can handle it?”
“It’s not that, it’s just things are very…,” He struggled to find the right words to use. “Difficult for me. Alright?”
“What does that mean, exactly?” I said, not fully understanding.
“Mel,” He repeated my name, this time putting his hands on my shoulders and looking at me. I knew he was serious. “You know that I’ve been keeping things from you, right?” He asked me, his eyes wide with worry.
“Y-yeah…” I replied hesitantly. What was going on with Dre? What was he about to tell me?
He took a deep breath, like it took a lot energy just for him to talk. “I’m a hybrid, just like you. But…I’m completely dark. You know how you’re gray? Well, if you looked into my heart, it would be completely black. I’m evil.”
I tapped my foot impatiently. “Dre, you’ve already told me these things. I get it, you’re evil, but that’s not your fault! Now come on, let’s just move on, alright?”
I turned to start exploring the castle or something, but Dre grasped my shoulder and pulled me back. “I’m not done.
“I told you I’m a hybrid, but it’s not the kind you think.” He said.
I cocked my right eyebrow up. Now he was starting to scare me. “What?”
“I’m a werewolf, like you, and I also have the powers of a sprite. But then, there’s a third side,” He said slowly, a faraway look in his eyes, which were slowly starting to morph from dark brown to red.
“Melita,” I realized the gravity of what he was going to say, since he was using my full name instead of just Mel. “I take people’s souls. I…kill people. And since they don’t have souls, they turn into wraiths or poltergeists, and wander in the space between Earth and the heavens.”
I felt like an idiot, just standing there. One moment, I was aware that Dre was talking, and when he had finished, I felt like I was frozen until the severity of what he said finally hit me. One moment, I felt like I was completely fine, and the next, I was shaking uncontrollably and backing away from him.
“What are you talking about?” I whispered, completely frightened from what he said. I back away from him slowly, my eyes trained on him the whole time. “You kill people? You take away their chances of ever going to heaven or hell?”
Dre bit his lip and reached out with his arm, but I backed away like it was the plague. He looked at me with hurt eyes, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to have to do anything with him.
“I don’t choose to do it, Mel,” He blurted out, like he wished he could take his words back. “It just…happens. And when I refuse the urge, it just gets worse, to the point where I’m in pain.” He explained.
“So what!” I cried. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t believe that the person who I was somewhat in love with stole people’s souls. He killed them.
“Who cares if you’re in pain? That’s good! That way, you won’t harm anyone!” I yelled. I wanted to slap him, but then another part of me didn’t even want to touch him. And yet another part of me wanted me to drop into the denial, to not believe anything he was saying. It had to be a joke.
“I never take a soul from anyone I know,” He said. The tears were muddling all the colors together; I could barely even see Dre clearly. “I would never take them if I didn’t have to, Mel. I wish I could change, because I can’t. Him,” He paused to turn and point to the staircase. “My father, put this curse on me, and I can’t change. I can’t.” Dre said, walking towards me, trying to grab me.
“Don’t touch me!” I warned as he started to advance. “Don’t come near me.”
He reluctantly stopped a few feet away from, a grim look on his face. “Do you still love me?”
I looked at him. He was being ridiculous. He had just told me he needs to kill people to survive, and he’s asking if I still love him? What was his problem?!
“I don’t know,” I said bitterly. I couldn’t believe him. How could he just kill people? What, he killed 90 year old seniors who were happy with their life, and they deserve to wander around Earth for eternity, just because so a teenage guy wouldn’t be in ‘pain’ anymore?
“Oh my god,” I gasped. “You, you didn’t take your grandmother’s soul, did you?”
“No, of course not!” He said immediately, like the idea was ludicrous. “I said I don’t kill people I know.”
“Oh, right,” I laughed humorlessly, “You only kill strangers. You’re such a good Samaritan, Dre.”
“I didn’t choose to do what I do!” He yelled, suddenly stepping close to me. His eyes were completely blood-red, and it hurt my own eyes to even look at him. “You think I like killing people? You think I like damning them to Earth for eternity? Well, I don’t!”
Although it did hurt to look into his eyes, I tried not to let it phase me as our shouting match began to escalate. “Then don’t take people’s souls anymore! Just stop doing that!”
“I did!” He yelled even louder, the green vein in his neck throbbing. “It was either keep taking the souls or become fully evil. So I chose evil.”
A sigh of relief was lifted from my heart. I ran over to him, still a little shaken by the whole thing, but I found myself hugging him tightly, my face buried deep into his chest to smother the tears.
“You scared me to death,” I said, my voice a little shaky, just like my fingers.
“I’m still not done, Mel,” Dre said flatly.
I was confused as he pushed me away from me, not even hugging me back. Not looking at me, he said, “Since I chose evil, it meant that I had to be just like my father.”
“That’s not important,” I said impatiently. “We can go now. You don’t have to tell me about the Twilight Elements. You’ve told me everything I need to know. We can leave now.” I started to pull on his hand, facing the exit.
“In order to be like my father, who wants to rule over the entire kingdom,” I stopped in my tracks once he said that. I slowly turned back around.
“I have to kill you. So he can rule like he wants to.” He finished, no emotion in his face whatsoever.
“Wait, what?” I said, completely confused. “You’re joking, right? You just can’t, kill me.” I said.
“And I haven’t,” He said with extreme tones of ‘duh’ in his face. “And if I don’t, I die.”
“But I don’t want you to die!” I cried out immediately. I grabbed onto his shirt with both hands, yelling at him hysterically. “Dre, you CAN’T die! Oh my god, what are we going to do?! We have to run away. We’ll run away to Alaska together, we’ll just leave notes at home. We’ll live there. We’ll be fine.” I babbled on.
“Mel,” He cut in. “Just stop, alright? We’re not running off to Alaska. We’re staying here.”
“B-but…” I trailed off. “Then, how are you going to survive? …You’re not going to kill me, are you?”
“I would never kill you,” He said. “Don’t even play like that.”
“But I wasn’t,” I protested. “Dre, what are we going do? If you’re not going to kill me, and you’re definitely not killing yourself, then what are we going to do.”
“I’m going to have to kill my father.” He said simply, like it wasn’t a big deal— which it totally was. You don’t just go around planning pre-meditated murder. Was that repetitive? Did I even have to put the planning part in there? Because pre-meditated means planned ahead.
Dre gave me a weird look. “You have the weirdest mind.”
“Eh,” I shrugged. “You get used to it.”
We took another look at the castle behind us and then towards the door. “Open.” He murmured, and we walked through. We walked down the path we had just come through, and walked all the way down the black staircase and into the first castle.
“What do we do now?” I asked as we finally stopped walking.
Dre shrugged at me. “I take you home now. And we plan how to kill my father.”
“I guess so,” I said. I walked behind Dre as he opened the door – to his mind. Opening the door to your own mind; doesn’t that sound so Inception-like? – and beckoned me to follow him. Again, we were greeted by the dying fields of flower and the rows and rows of dull gray.
“Why is your mind so…dark?” I asked, and then realized how stupid that question sounded.
“Because I’m dark…” He said slowly, giving me a questioning look.
“Alright then, I totally feel like an idiot,” I admitted. Now that things were (kinda) back to normal, I was getting that nervous feeling I ever got when I was around Dre alone.
“Ready to go home and face Brite and Drew?” He asked sarcastically.
I rolled my eyes before walking down the path again. “I hate my life.”