Chapter 51: Seeing Red, Part I

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 522

"So lay down,

the threat is real

when his sight goes red again."

- The Red, Chevelle



Zidane had left the front door open, which Lance knew wasn't by accident. Staring up from his spot at the table, fork half raised from the completion of his last bite, Lance could tell that by leaving the main exit wide open, the crossbreed was leaving him with a choice. He could go, walk out and... And do what exactly? Despite the fact that Zidane was indeed real, and everything he'd been through just reinforced what was living in the center of the Earth, did Lance still believe there was Spiro inside him?

Guess there's only one way to find out. He stood, taking the choice to stay as he walked through the door.

And that choice had led him here. Narrowly dodging a boot-clad kick aimed at his head. Lance barely had his hands raised as Zidane finished turning, a slight grin on his face. Staggering back from the surprise, Lance held his breath to keep a spark of anger down. Significantly short temper was a Spiro trait—he learned that soon after these tests had begun, but was that anger coming from him or an influence of the inhuman race inside? He didn't really want to find out.

He let out a breath, trying to regain his composure before asking, "You really have to end this with a kick to the head?"

"You dodged it," Zidane pointed out; a form of congratulations, almost. "But don't get your hopes up; we're not done yet."

Fatigue beginning to settle in, Lance sat on the ground. "Yeah, like running three miles isn't enough."

"And again, something you did." Zidane looked to him. "You think you could've done that before?"

Lance stopped himself from immediately shaking his head and thought back, trying to block out the emotions.

"I don't know," he said finally. "Maybe, if I really wanted to. But probably not that fast."

Zidane nodded, and the silence that followed gave Lance a chance to notice he hadn't even broken a sweat in the hour they'd been out here.

Seeming to read his mind, Zidane spoke.

"You're sweating. That's a good sign."

Lance raised a brow. "You don't sweat?"

"Both sides regulate temperature pretty well. There's no need for me to."

Ignoring how weird that was, Lance allowed himself to lie down, breathing and feeling his lungs hurt. Within a few moments, the pain eased away and as if on cue, a water bottle hit the base of his left lung. Air flashed out of his mouth and his brain was too disappointed to formulate a protest. He knew what another water bottle meant.

"Five minutes." The length of their break. "Last test."

Still lying down, Lance raised his water in a silent cheers, and when he looked up a moment later, Zidane was gone. Twisting the lid off the bottle, Lance forced himself to sit up, feeling his muscles protest. Everything hurt. He couldn't remember the last time he'd worked out this hard.

Memories flashed. Bright lights and music nearly deafening, sounds that his guitar was partially responsible for. Moving around like a maniac for an hour and the collective body heat of everyone there made it feel like a sauna.

Being on stage doesn't count. He shook the memories away, taking the first sip of water.

He took his time drinking, sidestepping all of the thoughts that the silence and stillness of the forest invited. He'd spent years here, and the more aware he became of his surroundings, the more moments he remembered. Despite the insecurity in the back of his head, he focused on the water, trying to find interest in the fact that it wasn't labeled and wondering where Zidane got it. This only lasted for a few seconds before he downed the water and crushed the bottle with his hand. A thought occurred to him; how it was strange to avoid thinking of his life. Or what had been his life. Zidane seemed to have sensed where his thoughts were going; not even a few minutes had passed before Lance heard the crossbreed's voice inside his own head.

"Ready for the next test?"

Lance sprung at the idea. Yes. Yeah, I'm ready.

Zidane didn't laugh or even smile at the eagerness. If anything, Lance sensed him take on that mixture of panic and depression. But when the crossbreed spoke again, his voice quiet and calm, nothing to suggest the emotions he'd been transferring.

"Alright... This is testing your hearing. Nothing too hard. Just listen."

Listen for what? Lance returned, but no reply was heard.

He stifled a sigh and sat up straight, closing his eyes to get all of his attention on what he was hearing or rather all of the things he wasn't hearing. Birds. Quiet songs of birds. Lance focused harder, trying to zero in on the blank spaces in between the chirping.

Then, he heard it. He traced back the noise, could feel his attention zooming past the trees even before the sound of fingers snapping had faded into the silence.

Lance opened his eyes, the brief satisfaction dying. He wasn't supposed to be happy about hearing that.

How far away are you, Zidane?

The hesitation was enough for Lance to know the crossbreed was far enough away.

"I'm a mile away."

Lance's reply began with quips of sounds, something to make sense of the shock ringing through him.

This doesn't have anything to do with the telepathy-thing? he asked finally.

"No," Zidane replied. "I'll be over there in a minute."

Lance swallowed. Dammit.

He tried not to think of much, simply counting down the seconds. Forty-nine, forty-eight...

At eighteen, he noticed Zidane step out of a tree, dropping a few feet. One hand rose out from his pocket, covering the back of his neck as he thought. Finally, he sat down in front of Lance. He pulled out a yellow book from behind himself, opening it and beginning to move his finger in the air and draw in the dirt at a distance.

"So there's a few ways to look at this," he said. "Keep in mind I'm by no means a total expert, but it seems like the cells are testing the waters. They're learning what's beneficial to you—what you use most, like hearing or emotions, hence eye color changes. It's taking its time to learn what it can change without triggering a reaction."

Lance nodded along, taking the info in as part of his mind remained stuck on the mention of eye color. He wondered if it was something that changed almost constantly, like Zidane's, but a moment after this thought occurred to him, he felt a light wave of energy from Zidane's mind. It wasn't a thought, just a ghost of one, enough to send him the message of "no." At this stage, only very strong emotions would noticeably change eye color.

"These cells can do that?" Lance asked, continuing on with the conversation. "It's almost like they're thinking."

Submitted: December 04, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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