Well-kept Secrets

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Kiersten Jameson has never fit in anywhere. That is, until her and her best friend Carter are kidnapped and taken to a sort of castle where an evil woman runs everything. They come to discover a few secrets that possibly may have been better of hidden. It takes you through the adventures that Carter and Kiersten embark on to find out the truth behind the lies.

Submitted: July 23, 2013

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Submitted: July 23, 2013

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I was brushing out the tangles of my blonde hair when my foster mother screeched up the stairs, \"Kiersten, food! Get your butt down here before it gets cold.\" I rolled my dark blue eyes, threw on my prettiest top, and went down the stairs into the family room. I turned into the kitchen where Mrs. Renders, the maid, was waiting with two pieces of burnt toast on a paper plate. That's right. My foster mom had enough money to afford a maid and yet I got burnt pieces of toast on a paper plate. I was pretty much treated like a dog. \"Your food's getting cold\" said my foster mom without looking up at me. \"Bite me\" I said under my breath.

\"What was that?\" she asked.

\"Nothing\"I replied a little too quickly.

\"I thought so\" she replied with a snarky tone. She looked up at me for the first time since I had come down the stairs. \"What's with that shirt?\" she asked, sounding disgusted, \"Are you trying to get laid? I mean honestly, your only 14 years old.\" I stared at her in awe. \"I'm wearing a purple V-neck top with rhinestones, not showing any cleavage, may I add, with dark jeans and black boots and you think I look trampy? Have you had a look in your closet lately? You don't have a single top that you can wear without looking practically top naked,\" I snapped. \"You do not talk to me like that, young lady. Maybe I should just send you back to the orphanage\" she quipped. \" Maybe you should\" I yelled. \"Go to your room\" she barked \"NOW!\" I took my burnt toast on my paper plate and threw it as hard as I could at her, but she seemed to expertly dodge it. I raced up the stairs, tears blurring my vision, ran into my room and slammed my door. I launched myself onto the bed, grabbed my pillow, and screamed into it as loud as I could. Sobs racked through my body and tears streamed from my eyes, nonstop. I missed my parents so much. When I was 10 years old, I was in the car with my parents when a drunk driver crashed into our car. I had a minor concussion and was in a coma for three days. When I woke up, I was informed that my parents hadn't survived the crash. All I had left of them was my mothers cross necklace and my fathers jacket. In the past four years, I've gone through seven different foster homes. Now I'm stuck here. My pillow was now soaked with my tears and my sobs hadn't quieted or slowed at all. Just then, Mrs. Renders came in and sat at the foot of the foot of the bed. She was more like a mother than my foster mother, but not anywhere near my mom. \"Hey, Kiersten . Are you ok? You got pretty beat up down there. Come here.\" She patted a spot next to her on my bed. I pulled myself off of the bed and brought myself over to her. I sat down and put my head on her shoulder as she stroked my hair. Slowly my sobs died down. \"Thanks \"I said once I was able to speak and breath properly. \"I just miss them so much. They were the only family I had. I loved them more than anything.\" Fresh new tears started to stream down my cheeks and I quickly wiped them away. \"So,\" she said, \"are you excited for school?\" I looked at her and we both laughed. \"Oh yeah, totally.\" I said laughing. \"So what are you going to do with your hair\" she asked, her fingers combing through my golden, blonde hair. ******** Today was my first day back at school after receiving a new foster home. I walked down the halls, carrying my books, my golden ringlets bouncing on each side of my head. I heard murmurs throughout the hall like \"she's back!\" and \"what happened to her?\" or \"why is she so pretty?\". So not all of them were nice, but that's ok. I saw Carter walking down the hall. Carter was as close to a brother as I was ever going to get. He was at my home more than he was at his own. His parents would constantly tell him how he was dumped on their doorstep and how terrible he was but he was the best guy in the world. \"Hey Kier\" Carter said, his electric green eyes always seemed to be laughing. His straight brown hair came down past his ears in layers. \"I love your hair\" he said and my cheeks turned red. I looked away sheepishly. \"Thanks Carter\" I said, unable to keep a smile off of my face. ???????????????????????????????????????????????? I sat watching the clock for the last 30 seconds of history class. The second hand seemed to be moving too slow. I couldn't wait for school to be over so I could talk to Carter on my walk home today. I had missed him so much over the past week that I wasn't at school. We needed to catch up. The bell finally rang and I got up, gathered my things, and bolted out the door. I darted down the stairs, opened my locker, shoved my books in, and grabbed my bag. I sped towards the door and burst through. I got a running start and raced towards the spot that Carter and I said we would meet. There he was, his back to me, completely oblivious to my being there. As I walked up to him, a hand from someone in front of him shot out and grabbed my wrist. I was about to scream when the hand flipped me over and I landed on my back. My breath left my lungs in an audible \"oof!\" In the seconds it took me to regain my breath, my attacker, a man in a ski mask and a black jump suit, had punctured my arm with a needle and was injecting a clear fluid into my vein. Fear finally registered in my brain. With wild eyes, I looked up at Carter. He looked equally scared. At that moment, I realized that he was gagged and his wrists were bound in front of him. His ankles were bound by a rope that, I could see, was already making his ankles raw. I could see the dread in his eyes. \"Nighty night\" said the man in a singsong voice. My eyelids then drooped, becoming heavier. The last thing I saw was Carter fighting against the restraints. He screamed something that was incomprehensible through the cloth in his mouth. Well that could mean anything. ********** When I finally came to, it was dark and it smelled of gasoline. I was getting violently thrown around as if the ground were moving. It didn't take long after the second bump to realize that I was in the back of a truck. My wrists were bound behind me along with my ankles. I was gagged with what smelled like a dirty sock. I didn't dare put my tongue up to it. I struggled against the restraints on my wrists, tried to loosen them up, but to no avail. Terror had a grip over my brain and my muscles seemed weak. I ended up just toppling over onto my side. I just laid there for what felt like forever. A while later I noticed a small movement from the opposite side of the truck from where I lay. All of my muscles immediately tensed up. I slowly inched over to the other side of the truck. When I was close enough, I saw another human. I nearly shrieked and I fell backwards. I scampered back until my back hit the other side of the truck. I saw their chest moving up and down with the intake and exhale of air. I knew it was a boy but in this light I couldn't make out any of his features. The boy turned over so I could see his face. His brown hair partially covered his face. His eyelids fluttered open revealing those electric green eyes I would know anywhere. \"Carter!!\" I screamed. In the end it came out sounding like \"CRARAR\" because of the cloth in my mouth, so I didn't blame him when he freaked out and backed abruptly away from me. Turns out he also thought that he was the only one in here. His eyes skimmed over me and he realized we were both in the same situation. We were both gagged and bound in the back of this filthy truck going God-knows-where at the mercy of a man in a ski mask who decided to drug two forteen-year-olds on their way home from school. Who was he, what was he doing, and what did he want from me and Carter??? I stared into Carter's eyes and he nodded. He was thinking the same thing. Now we had to figure out how to get out of here. Just then, the back of the truck flew wide open and the sunlight pierced the darkness and blinded Carter and I. Two men jumped in the truck and ripped the cloth out of our mouths. They then made their way down to our ankles and started yanking at the ropes that were binding our feet together. I winced as the rough rope scraped against my raw skin, crusted with dried blood, at my ankles. After a few minutes, which felt like hours, the binds were off of our ankles and we could breath through our mouths again. My wrists were still bound behind my back though. Carters were rebound behind him. We were shoved forcefully out of the truck. Two different men grabbed our bound wrists and led us towards what appeared to be a castle. \"Um, what-\" I began. \"Silence\" the man barked at me. \"But-\" I tried again. \"I SAID SILENCE!\" the man bellowed. Behind me I heard the crack of a whip, dangerously close to me. \"Kiersten\", Carter said under his breath, a tone of worry and warning in his usually gentle and playful voice. I took that as my sign to shut up. The men silently walked us up to the grand entryway. They knocked on the door powerfully. A woman who looked to be about 35 years old answered the door. She had frizzy red hair and brown eyes. \"Here they are\" said the man holding onto Carter. \"What exactly are you?\" I asked her. Within a second, I heard the whip again and felt what seemed like fire shoot down my back. I screeched at the top of my lungs, blinded by the pain, and dropped to the ground like a marionette puppet with its strings cut. \"Kiersten!\" Carter shrieked as I fell. He tried to break away from the mans grasp to get to me but he failed. Tears welled up in my eyes and streaked down my face, now contorted with pain. \"Oh, a feisty one,\" the woman said cheerfully, \"This should be fun. My name is Wanda Rose. You children will address me as Mrs. Rose.\" \"What, not Master?\" I remarked, down on all fours, still too stunned to stand. The whip cracked down again and the fire was present. I screeched again at the pain, but this time it was expected for a comment like that. \"Keir!\" Carter screamed, worried as h*ll. \"Well, young miss,\" Wanda said, addressing me,\"you've got quite a mouth on you, now don't you? We can fix that right up.\" The man holding me yanked me up to my feet and practically dragged me up the stairs and through the tall doors. Once through the doors, all I could do was stare in awe at the interior setting. There were crystal chandeliers hanging proudly from the ceilings. There were hallways full of doors with marble flooring. I was brought back to reality when the guard yanked the rope around my wrist. We ascended down the marble hall and turned to a door to our right. Mrs. Rose took a key ring filled with hundreds of old fashion keys out of her pocket. She leafed through almost half of them until she found the right one. She singled it out and stuck it in the lock with ease. She slowly turned the brass key and I heard a click from within the door. It opened on squeaking hinges. Inside, we found at least 30 other children, boys and girls, who seemed to range from 10 to 15 years old. They had no ropes or ties on them at all. Their eyes all went wide when us newbies walked into the room. One boy even started to say something, then he quickly shut up when he saw Mrs. Rose and her two guards. \"Welcome your new roomies\" Mrs. Rose said brightly. The guards holding Carter and I shoved us through the door and we both stumbled and tripped, landing face down, not being able to use our hands to break our fall. \"These guys in here should be able to help you with that rope problem\" Mrs.Rose said, sounding dramatically sweet. What a fake. She slammed the door loudly, leaving us with a strange silence. A tall girl stepped out from the crowd. She looked to be about 15 years old with dark brown eyes and long thick hair to match. \"Well,\" she said, looking around at the others, \"lets help 'em get those ropes off their wrists.\" She walked over to me and a young boy, maybe 13, walked over to Carter. The girl made her way behind me, then stopped. I knew she was looking at the marks on my back from the whip. I could practically feel her eyes scanning over my back, taking in every detail. \"What'd you do?\", she asked calmly. \"Apparently,\" I answered, \" I have 'quite a mouth on me'\" I mimicked Mrs. Roses fake perkiness with enough sourness in my voice to pause a rabid bear in its tracks. \"You and I should get along quite well then\" she stated. She turned around and lifted up the back of her shirt to show me at least 15 marks from a whip on her back. When she turned around, she had a smile on her face. I couldn't help smiling back at her. Maybe I could finally get along with someone in my life other than Carter. She made her way back to my wrists and expertly untied them. \"My name's Alex\" she said when she was done. \"And you are?\" \"Kiersten\" I answered. \"Carter\" Carter said, suddenly next to me. He put his hand protectively on my shoulder. I saw Alex's eyes flick to my shoulder, where Carter's hand now lay. If she had any opinion about it, she kept it to herself. \"Well, Kiersten and Carter. Welcome to your own personal He**.\" ********* \"So what's up with all of this?\" I asked, motioning to everything around us. We were all sitting around the perimeter of the empty room, talking. We went around the room, stating our names, as if we were at camp. You know, a camp run by a female version of Hades who captures kids and uses them as slaves. Some of them that I remembered were a pale girl with straight blonde hair who was 14 named Jenna, a boy with caramel colored skin with short black hair who was 13 named James (he was the boy who untied the rope around Carter's wrists), a 14year old girl with fair skin and bleach blonde hair that came down in curls to he shoulders named Gabriella, a pale 13 year old girl with black hair that covered half of her face named Luna, and a boy with tan skin and brown hair who was 11 named Mark. \"Well,\" Gabriella said, \" we help the evil witch with whatever she wants and if we don't do it fast enough she whips us.\" Well I figured that part out pretty quick. There was still, though, one question that I needed answering of. \"So, why did she choose us?\" Everyone was silent for a moment. The crowd of kids then parted to reveal a small girl who looked like she could be Carter's sister; she had the same electric green eyes and straight brown hair. She appeared to be about ten or eleven years old. \"She chooses people who are some how close to her. What are you last names?\" Carter and I looked at each other, contemplating whether we should tell them or not. He gave me a slight nod and I nodded back. \"Miller\" Carter said, breaking eye contact with me. The small girl nodded at him and turned to me. \"Jameson\" I said, staring at my hands. \"Henry Miller is the name of a family friend. I don't think I have ever heard of Jameson though.\" replied the little girl. Just my luck; I finally figure out why I'm here but I can't find out the details. \"Well,\" the small girl said, looking back at Carter,\" looks like we're related then.\" Carter gave her questioning look and she quickly hurried to complete the thought. \"Bethany Ann Miller. My dads side.\" Her eyes saddened at the mention of family, the one thing we were all deprived of. \"Cool\" Carter replied. Everyone sat quiet for a few moments. Then a buzz of chatter started and Carter walked over and sat next to me. \"You have to fit in somewhere, Kier\" he said soothingly, but it only made my sadness worsen. Of course I didn't fit in; my whole life has evolved around not fitting in. Carter must of sensed my worsening mood and put his arm around my shoulders. I moved in closer to him and laid my head on his shoulder. One of the littler kids looked over at us and made a disgusted face. I had to smile at that. I remembered the times when I thought boys were \"icky\" and that they had cooties. Just then, the door flew open, revealing that witch of a woman, Mrs. Rose. Carter and I immediately pulled apart from each other, scrambling to our feet as the other kids are. \"Line up\" she barked. The kids immediately bolted to certain spots like that was something programmed into their brains. Well I guess you never know. Carter looked around frantically, his eyes darting from one spot to another. I, on the other hand, stood completely still, starring at the woman with as much hatred as I could muster. Mrs. Rose slinked over, her blood red heels clicking on the hard tile. I stood my ground, not breaking eye contact. She kept getting closer and closer until our noses were only an inch apart. \"You don't have a spot, do u girl?\" She talked to me like I was a dog who kept stealing her garbage. I was looked down upon like a piece of trash. \"No I don't, you Wicked Witch of the West\" I said snidely. She looked at me and an evil grin spread across her face. \"Do you need another good whipping, girlie? Maybe we should make this one public: bring the kiddies in to view from front row seats.\" I heard a small gasp from the line of children behind me, but the others were quick to shut them up. \"My husband and I-\" Mrs. Rose started, but I cut her off. \"You have a husband?\" I asked with over dramatic disbelief. \"Who on earth would want to marry you?\" Before I could blink, her hand shot up and she slapped me across the face as hard as she possibly could. I winced and stumbled backwards, shocked. I would have never thought of her to do something so simple. I regained my balance after a moment before falling flat on my back. I held a palm to my face and tasted metallic blood in my mouth. For such a small woman, she could inflict a decent amount of pain. Honestly, I have always been pretty tough and it took a lot of pain in order to bring me down. That whip was probably the most brilliant pain I'd ever experienced. The woman stalked over to me and forcefully said \"I would love to see you and Alexis in the hallway\" Alex looked up and snarled at Mrs. Rose, who only grinned evilly at her. The woman hurried to the door, me and Alex following close behind. I glanced at Carter, his nervousness shinning bright, gave him a pathetic smile, and walked silently out the door. \"Well ladies,\" she said, \"this is a chance to redeem yourselves. I need you to do task for me.\" I glanced over to Alex, but she was starring straight ahead. I looked back to Mrs. Rose with her fire engine red lipstick. \"I need you to take care of a woman for me. She has been doing things that I don't approve of and she needs to be stopped....permanently. \" My thoughts wandered on what she meant to do with this woman, but I wouldn't count anything out with Mrs. Rose in charge. \"Um,\" I mumbled, \"what exactly do you mean by 'take care of her'?\" \"Well, kill her of course. You know, for a girl who's pretty book smart, you lack common sense.\" She gave me an amused chuckle. Her hair was tamed into a neat braid that cascaded down her shoulder. She wore dark eye liner and an almost pinkish eyeshadow that made her look years younger. Some might even say she was pretty at that moment, but a moment later, her eyes regained their cold hearted stature. \"So which of you would like to fulfill this task for me?\" Her eyes flickered from me to Alex, looking for us to jump up excitedly and volunteer to murder a woman neither of us have ever met before. I turned to Alex, but her eyes were unfocused, her gaze far away. I wasn't about to volunteer; it would have haunted me day and night if I did. \"I'll do it\" Alex said evenly, her eyes not focused on anything, her voice monotoned. My eyes widened in surprise. I looked over at Alex, but she continued to stare at nothing. \"Well wonderful, Alexis! Kiersten, you and Carter should come watch, considering its your first time since you've been here.\" \"Thanks for the kind offer\" I hurried to reply, \"but I think we're ok.\" \"Oh I insist\" Mrs. Rose stated cheerfully. \"This will be the best thing since you two have arrived!\" She hurried off down the hall with Alex trailing behind her. I thought that she forgot about me and Carter, but, a moment later, she turned around to gather us. She murmured excitedly as Carter and I walked behind her with Alex. \"Why did you do that?\" I asked, worried that she misheard Mrs. Rose and volunteered for the wrong thing. \"Won't be the first time\" she said matter-of-factly. I stopped in my tracks, taken aback. I started walking when Carter grabbed my hand. A moment later, he looped his fingers through mine. We walked closer to each other and farther away from Alex who was acting like a crazed murderer filled with liquid calm. We walked into a room with a woman tied to a metal chair. Her eyes were frantic and desperate, begging us to free her. She had a thin strip of duct tape over he mouth. I looked to Alex and her eyes seemed to be duller and paler than I remembered. She went over to a giddy Mrs. Rose and went to grab the knife from her hand. As she reached for the knife, she sliced a finger on its edge, leaving a fine red line of blood about half of an inch on the outer side of her hand. Just as that happened, her eyes regained the dark color and she ripped her hand back and pressed the wound into the palm of her other hand. She looked at the knife with sheer terror and stared down and her hand, now half covered in blood. She stood silent for a moment, then bolted out of the room as fast as she could, clutching her bleeding hand to her chest. I darted after, leaving Carter at the mercy of Mrs. Rose in a room with a knife. Not my best decision. Luckily, I heard the squeaking of Carter's gym shoes behind me. I dove into a room with an open door and found Alex huddled in a corner, clutching her wounded hand, trying to reassure herself that things were going to be ok. Her breathing was short and shallow. \"I...I...I didn't want to, Keirsten. I...I didn't want to hurt that woman. That wasn't me. I...I don't know what happened. It was like I was trapped inside my body and I couldn't move. Mrs. Rose must have put me under some spell or something. I've never killed anyone. That I can promise you. Never. Never.\" She kept repeating that word to herself over and over until it just became second nature. The next two weeks had gone by rather quickly. We had a lecture on the house rules:we got to shower every 3 days(Eeeww). A guard would come and call our names and \"escort\" us to the showering chambers( basically they would bind our wrists behind us and practically drag us if we didn't walk fast enough) Mrs. Rose would wash our clothes every 2 days so let's hope we liked the clothes you came in. In order to go to the bathroom, we have to slam on the door and scream as loud as we can until a guard used some expletives to tell us to be quiet. We would then ask if we could go to the bathroom and they would escort is there. Alex had lost her confident demeanor. I never did figure out what happened to the woman tied to that chair, though I heard rumors that she had escaped. Good for her: at least she could get out. Mrs. Rose hadn't gotten anymore visitors, so things were quiet. That is, until I had to open mouth. \"We need to find a way out of here\" I stated. It had been forever since I did something that got me in trouble, so it was high time I started again. \"Well no freaking duh\" I heard a boys voice say, but I couldn't find who said it, so I continued. \"This woman is insane and, if she can't be stopped, we need to at least distract her. If we're all gone, then she will need to come find at least a few of us. Does anyone here know the way around this fortress?\" I asked. I looked over to Alex and she shrugged. \"I guess\" she said simply. I walked over to her, all eyes on me. \"Do you know any where we can escape without her finding out?\" Alex looked down at her hands, contemplating. \"I've seen a map once or twice when the lazy guards forgot to put them away. I've seen that there are some secret underground tunnels. I'm pretty sure I've memorized them. We just need to find a way down there.\" Everyone else in the room gaped at her. \"What,\" she asked defensively, \"did you guys think I'm stupid or something?\" \"Well-\" a small blonde boy started to say but an older girl elbowed him in the side to shut him up. Alex glared at the boy before continuing. \"Do any of you have an idea to get us all out of here?\" Her dark eyes roamed the room, searching for an answer. \"Well, I heard that the witch is-\" a young girl named Jasmine started. \"Ok,\" I exclaimed exasperated. \"What s with all of this talk of her being a witch? I get that she is basically Satan but I don't see why you guys call her a witch.\" \"She is a witch,\" Alex stated simply. \"I told you she put me under a spell to kill that lady. Or at least she tried to. Once something jarring happens, it breaks the spell. When I cut myself on that knife, it broke the spell. Sure she does have powers that last forever, but it drains her to use them.\" I stared at her, dumbfounded, but she stared plainly at me. I turned to Jasmine. \"Continue,\" I said. \"Well, as I was saying,\" she paused to glare at me,\"Mrs. Rose is having company over for dinner tonight and all of her guards are required to be there. Which means that we're unguarded for a few hours. If we can stay quiet, we can make it to the underground tunnels.\" Alex nodded in agreement. \"So it's settled then,\" I said. \"We leave tonight.\" ???????????????????????????????????????????? The guard came in to tell us how we needed to stay in here and be quiet. They had quite a surprise ahead of them. Just before the door closed, Gabriella grabbed the door handle and mimicked the click of the self-unforced lock. We heard the loud footsteps of the guard headed down the hallway. We waited a few minutes after that and slowly opened the door. We let Alex and Jasmine lead the way with the younger kids in the middle. Carter and I were bringing up the rear. We walked quietly through the twisting and turning hallways. We walked for a few minutes until we came up to what appeared to be a trap door. We all crowded around it and Alex bent down to pull the handle up. The door opened on silent hinges. Alex grabbed the edge and swung down into the darkness below. A second later the empty space flooded with orange light. The floor was about five feet below. Me, Carter, And Gabriella lowered a few of the younger children down into the tunnel. Once everyone was in, I looked behind me to make sure there was no one behind us, swung in, and closed the door silently above me. Once we were all together, we started down the tunnels at the mercy of Alex and weather she really knew the way or not. We were walking for a good five minutes when I tripped over a pipe going across the diameter of the tunnels floor. I swore loudly and braced myself for the hard metal floor of the tunnels. My right ankle folded under me and pain swirled and pounded on the bone. Carter and Alex raced over to where I sat. \"Are you OK, Kier?\" Carter asked, worried. \"Yeah,\" I dismissed him. \"I'm fine.\" I stood and shifted my weight from foot to foot, left to right. My ankle wasn't exactly comfortable when bearing weight, but it was just bearable. \"I can walk,\" I stated simply. Carter and I migrated to the middle of the group. We walked for 30 more minutes, me gimping along. I saw Alex reach into her pocket and grab something that looked like a button with a red light on it. \"Guys, lets stop here for a minute.\" She punched the glowing red button she now hid behind her back. \"We just all need to rest for a minute.\" She made a purpose of looking at me directly after that statement. \"I'm fine,\" I told her. \"If everyone else is ok, I'd like to keep going\" I said, worried about that button that was back in Alex's pocket. \"Don't be silly, Kiersten. You need to rest your ankle,\" she said sympathetically. From a tunnel to our left, I heard the sound of footsteps, barely audible. \"Alex,\" I whispered harshly, \" we need to leave. NOW!\" I motioned to the tunnel, where the footsteps seemed to be growing gradually louder, but still at a whisper. \"Oh Kiersten.\" She talked to me like I was in kindergarten. \"You're just tired. Just lie down.\" Her smile was sickly sweet. \"I'm not kidding Alex,\" I said stubbornly. Some other kids, now, were looking down the left tunnel as the footsteps grew louder and louder. But Alex just sat there with that stupid smile on her face. Suddenly, Mrs. Rose and about 20 guards came barreling through the left tunnel. All of the kids screeched. Alex's hand shot straight up and a bolt of lighting seemed to come from her hand. The lightning then created a dome around all of the children including me and Carter along with Mrs. Rose and her guards. \"Nice job, sweetheart,\" Mrs. Rose said to Alex. The woman put an arm around her and kissed her on the cheek. \"Thanks, Mom,\" Alex said. \"What the he** is going on?\" I asked, astonished. They both looked at me and laughed. \"I'm obviously her daughter you idiot,\" Alex said with a sharp laugh just like her mother's. \"Boys,\" she barked at the men, \"get 'em.\" The guards rushed to attack the children and the lightning dome disappeared. Carter grabbed my hand and we bolted down through the tunnel ahead. My ankle started to ache continuously, but I didn't slow my pace. I couldn't go back to that confusion, that mayhem. My thoughts rushed and crashed, rattling my brain. 'Alex was Mrs. Rose's daughter. She is a witch too. She is evil. Have to her out. Find a way out. Evil. Evil! EVIL!!!!!!!!!' I ran faster and faster as if I could leave the memories behind. My ankle was throbbing and it felt like it were being pounded with a hammer. Carter's hand was tight around mine and I squeezed his harder. He slowed his pace down to run beside me. The pounding pain in my ankle was making me cringe and Carter was noticing. \"Keir,\" he rasped, breathless, \"we can slow down.\" \"No,\" I stated forcefully. \"I'm not slowing down and I'm not going back there.\" \"Keir, I'm not telling you to-\" \"Carter, I'm fine!\" I nearly shouted, but then lowered my voice. \"I'm fine.\" \"But Keirsten, your ankle-\" \"Carter! I'm-\" Just then, my ankle gave out and I collapsed to the floor, my hand ripped from his. I grasped my ankle and gasped. The pain was amazing. Tears welled up in my eyes. Carter raced over to where I sat, unable to move my right foot at all. \"Just go\" I begged. \"Go now or we'll both die here!\" My ankle was throbbing and it took all of my self control not to scream at the top of my lungs. I couldn't give our escape route away to that witch. \"I'm not leaving without you, Kiersten,\" Carter said, sitting down next to me. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. He was the only person I had ever loved and he was going to be killed; it would all be my fault. He was the only one I would consider family now. He wasn't gone yet. But he needed to be. He needed to be safe and to be loved by his family again. \"Carter,\" I choked out in between sobs, \" I can't leave here. You still can. Save yourself and find your family. Now get out of here while you still can.\" Salty tears were cascading from my eyes like a waterfall. \"I already told you, Keir. I'm not leaving you here,\" Carter stated. \"Carter, you-\" I started. \"No,\" he said forcefully. \"I'm not leaving you here, Kiersten. You're the only girl I've ever loved. Thats right: I love you. I love your laughter. I love your smile. I love how you never give up on anything. I love the way your eyes dance when you laugh. I love the way you look at me. You're my one true love. I can't leave you here to die. That witch can't take you.\" I stared into his electric green eyes, his longish brown hair in knots. I knew I loved him. Without warning, Carter placed a gentle hand on the back of my neck and leaned in until our lips were touching. He kissed me with more passion than anyone has ever shown me in my entire life. I closed my eyes and kissed him back. I don't know how long we stayed like that but it was too short. Forever would be too short a time. We finally broke away, both of us smiling like we never have before. \"I will always protect you\" he whispered to me. He scooped me up and started running. I laughed; I felt like a princess being saved from a dragon. Carter ran for a good 5 minutes with me in his strong arms. \"Carter,\" I said to him, \"I think you can put me down now.\" A playful smile spread across his face. \"Now why on Earth would I do that, love?\" he teased. \"Carter,\" I said sportfully. He stopped and slowly lowered himself to the floor with me in his lap. \"Are you sure you can walk?\" Carter asked me earnestly. I slid off of his lap and he helped me to my feet. When I stepped onto my right foot, the pain was present, but not as harsh as before. \"I'm pretty sure,\" I told him. We walked for the next half hour, hand in hand, looking for a way out. Once we had been walking for a good while, we began to hear footsteps. My eyes widened and I motioned for Carter to take off his shoes. He gave me a questioning look, but did it anyway. I walked up to him and grabbed his hand. Together, we ran off down the tunnel together, our bear feet padding against the cold metal floor. The noise seemed to echo across the tunnels, but it would have been much louder had we been wearing our shoes. The footsteps seemed to disappear, but we didn't slow our pace. Now we needed to find a way out. We had already spent enough time in here. I heard the footsteps again, but they seemed to be coming from the direction we were running to. I stopped in my tracks and Carter, a second later. He heard them too. My ankle was throbbing again, but I tried to ignore it. I quickly turned and ran the opposite way. I ran as fast as I could, hand in hand with Carter. A few moments later, Alex and Mrs. Rose suddenly appeared in front of us. I stopped so suddenly that I nearly fell face first into them. My hand immediately dropped Carter's. Alex swung her hand at me and an invisible force swung me against the wall and held me there, suspended from the floor. Wanda did the same to Carter. \"Oh, Keirsten,\" she said, sounding like she was scolding me . \"You could have been so good, so successful. If only you listened when you were younger.\" \"How on earth do you know what I did when I was little?\" I snarled at her and her wicked daughter. \"Don't you remember, sweetheart?\" \"Don't you ever call me that,\" I growled. \"You were so much sweeter when you were younger,\" Alex said, sounding irritated. \"You listened better too. At least you aren't manipulative.\" \"Oh yeah, your the one to talk \" I told her. The pressure of Alex's magic was making it hard to breath, but I could manage. Carter, on the other hand, didn't seem to be doing so well. \"I get that you need me and all, but can you at least release your grip on Carter, you old hag,\" I stated. In turn, Alex released me only to send me flying into the wall with amazing force and speed. My breath was ripped from my lungs and I struggled to catch my breath. \"Don't be so disrespectful, you little brat,\" Alex scorned me. The old witch seemed to loosen her grip on Carter because he seemed to regain some of the color in his face. \"How did you know what I was like when I was little?\" The woman gave a sharp laugh. \"I'm your mother, you idiot.\" I stared at he for a moment, but reason brought me back. \"Nice try, but my mom died in a car accident. If your going to lie, at least make it believable,\" I scoffed. \"Listen honey, I'm not lying. It's not exactly rocket science to switch a baby out.\" \"Wait,\" I said, \"if I was only a baby, how did you know what I was like?\" I ignored the fact that I was totally believing what this witch was telling me. \"I looked into the future. You know, witches can do that.\" \"You can't prove that you're my mother,\" I said, praying that she couldn't. \"Sweetheart, magic can do anything.\" Just after she said that, the world seemed to disappear, but I wasn't unconscious. Colors swirled in front of my eyes until they formed a picture, a movie. I saw a woman dressed in a blue sundress with frizzy red hair. In her arms she carried two infants, each wrapped in a blanket. One looked to be about a year old, the other, just a newborn. The newborn cried and screamed, thrashing its tiny limbs. \"You're ok,\" the woman cooed to the crying child. The older of the two sat silently, staring at the other child. The woman cast a spell on herself so that she seemed to sparkle. The babies sparkled too. They came up to a huge building that could be none other than the hospital. The woman glided through the wall along with the babies. No one in the hall seemed to notice. ‘they must be invisible’ I thought. The young woman made her way to the nursery. She scanned the rows of babies and her eyes stopped on the one in the top right corner. She placed the crying and thrashing baby in the crib beside it and suddenly, the baby seemed to grow mad, as if it knew that its mother was abandoning it. It screamed and screamed. The woman tried to pick it up again, but the infant hit her hand away. The woman quickly picked up the baby boy that lay in the crib. She put a spell on the girl that now lay in his crib, still crying and screaming. I don't know how, but somehow I understood it. Anyone who came in contact with the newborn wouldn't remember that the baby in her place should have been a sweet baby boy. The picture turned into swirling colors once more and a new movie began. One in which that same baby was brought to a young couple in a hospital room. The couple looked exactly like my parents. The nurse handed them the baby girl that had been put in place of the boy. \"She's beautiful,\" the woman said, the man smiling at her side. \"We'll look at her mother\" the man said and the woman laughed. \"What should we name her?\" The man thought for a moment. \"How about something like Kristen?\" the man asked, treasuring the baby. \"How about Keirsten?\" The woman smiled and looked to her husband. \"Keirsten it is.\" She leaned down and kissed the baby on the forehead. The colors swirled again and now we were at a house with the baby boy sitting on the doorstep. A young woman answered the door. She reached down to pick up the crying child. \"Jack,\" she called to her husband, \"I think you need to see this!\" Her husband made a lazy advance to the door. He was mumbling something about his work. He stopped, dead silent when he saw the weeping infant in his wife's arms. She sat on the cement and cradled the baby.. \"Where did he come from, Larissa?\" The man was truly mystified. \"He was here on the doorstep. No one else was around,\" his wife answered. \"He needs a home Jack.\" She rocked the baby soothingly. She stood and looked at her husband, who couldn't take away his eyes away from the newborn. \"Well, if he stays with us, he's going to need a name.\" The woman looked down at the baby once more. He had stopped crying and was now holding up his heavy eyelids with trouble. \"How about Carter?\" The small child looked up at the mention of his new name. \"Baby Carter,\" the woman cooed. The man put his arm around her shoulder and led her inside, the baby resting in her arms. The colors swirled and disappeared as fast as they had come. I looked to Carter. He had obviously seen the same thing that I had because he would not meet my eyes. I looked to Mrs. Rose. \"Your lying,\" I accused. \"Dear, I can only show you the truth. And apparently,\" she looked between me and Carter, \"that one really hit home.\"I looked to Carter once more. \"Carter,\" I said, my voice pleading. Mrs. Rose released him from her curse and he collapsed to the metal floor below. \"Carter,\" I called to him. He pulled himself from the ground and made his way to me. Alex released me and instead put us in an electric box. Carter caught me as I fell. At first,I smiled brightly at him, but my expression soon fell. He placed my feet on the floor. \"Carter, I am so so so sorry. I stole everything that was yours, even your family. And I left you with what you have now. It's all my fault. I now know why I never fit in anywhere. Well, that is,\" I said with a slight smile, \"accept with you.\" I kissed him playfully. \"But I'm serious,\" I said, my expression solemn again. \"I stole everything from you.\" I couldn't make eye contact with him. Guilt was bubbling up in my stomach and I wanted to cry. \"Keirsten,\" Carter said in a comforting tone, but I still wouldn't look at him. \"Keirsten,\" he tried again. He lifted my chin up so that our eyes met. \"None of this was your fault. You couldn't help it. It's not like you chose for this to happen.\" Tears welled in my eyes but they didn't escape. I wouldn't cry now, in front of Carter and these witches. That's when the thought hit me. \"If I'm a witch,\" I asked in an even voice, \"why don't I have powers?\" \"Oh, you do,\" Mrs. Rose said matter-of-factly. \"You just don't know how to use them. You probably never will.\" A hint of a sinister smile posed across Alex's face. Deja vu: my mother was telling me that I couldn't do something. I'll just do what I always do: try my hardest to prove them wrong. \"So why do I have a different last name then you?\" After I said that, I realized the answer. Of course my name would be those of my fake parents. \"If I am you daughter, why have you made it your life mission to destroy everything I care about?\" Mrs. Rose laughed like it was the funniest thing she had ever heard. \"I was protecting you. I couldn't worry what it would do to other people.\" \"Oh,\" I said dramatically, \"so you whipped me because you wanted to protect me?\" \"Well, I had to put on a believable show,\" she said, irritated. \"We'll thanks,\" I said with the same amount of irritation. \"I'll always remember what a great show you put on.\" I indicated the scars on my back. \"Well it's my job to protect you and make sure no one can hurt you. You can make your own decisions but I can't let anyone hurt you.\" \"Oh! So you decide to abandon me instead?\" \"You have no idea what your father would have done to you. He had no idea that you were on the way. I put a spell on myself. He never wanted one child, much less two. He told me that if we did have a second child, he would wait until they were four, tie a rope around their ankles, and hang them from the ceiling, and keep them that way. If they were lucky, he would just slit their throats and wait for them to bleed out. I needed to protect you and I still do.\" Alex suddenly threw me against the wall once again. I opened my mouth in protest, but the words were snatched from my mouth as I hit the cold metal once more. I was taken aback and hurried to catch my stolen breath. Alex's magic was in use once more. Carter raced over to me, and this time they let him. \"Keir,\" Carter said. I couldn't read his tone, but it was something of worry. Not a second later, Carter was lifted off of his feet and levitating. I looked to Mrs. Rose (I still couldn't refer to her as my mother) who had her hand outstretched and moved Carter so that he was in the middle of the room. \"Alex, dear\",\" Mrs. Rose said, not taking her eyes off of Carter's face, terror swirling behind his beautiful eyes. \"Would you take over for me?\" Alex's hand that hung at her side shot out and took hold of the magic that held Carter suspended in the air. Mrs. Rose pulled an object out of her cloak. It took me a minute to figure out what it was, but once I saw it clearly, there was no mistaking what it was. A black metallic gun now rested in the hands of my mother. \"What are you doing,\" I croaked from where I was held against the wall. I couldn't avert my eyes from the 38 caliber pistol in the hands of the either murderous or overly protective woman. \"What I should have done a long time ago.\" I saw Alex become suddenly interested in the floor, leaning her head down so that her dark hair made a wall around her face and obstructed her view of Mrs. Rose. The woman pointed the gun directly at Carter's chest. My eyes widened in fear. \"Stop! Please don't shoot! Please!\" My voice was wild and squeaking. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. My breath was coming in short rasps and the air felt as if it was as thick as molasses. \"Calm down, honey. This is for the best.\" Her finger slid on to the trigger. \"Stop,\" I shrieked, \"please stop I'm begging you!\" \"Ok Keirsten, no need to be such a drama queen. Lets see if we can work something out.\" She lowered the gun to her side, but firmly kept her finger on the trigger, readily to aim and fire at anytime. She turned to Carter. \"Can you promise me that, if I let you go, you will never even look at my daughter and not talk to her ever?\" Carter looked at me longingly and I knew his answer, but it didn't make the delivery any less mortifying. \"No,\" he said, \"I can't promise you that. I couldn't do that.\" Tears immediately welled up in my eyes and spilled over. \"Keirsten.\" He looked over to me, sounding crushed. He looked to Mrs. Rose. \"Can I talk to her? At least to say my goodbyes?\" He was delicately set down by Alex and she allowed me down also. She used her magic to put a small dome around us. Her expression was sympathetic and her eyes wouldn't meet mine. Carter walked over to me and collected me in his strong arms. Tears flowed freely from my eyes and fell onto Carter's shoulder and neck. \"Keirsten,\" he said, sounding like he was also on the verge of tears. \"I want you to know that I will always love you whether I'm with you phisically or not. You have a special place in my heart and I hope I have a special place in yours. Your going to make it without me because you are strong and courageous and beautiful. You can survive on your own. I can't. I've never been without someone there for me. You came along and never left my side. I will love you forever\". I wiped my tears stained face and placed a kiss on his lips. \"I'll love you longer,\" . I wrapped my arms around his neck, his arms around my waist. Our lips met and I wished that this moment would last forever. We finally broke apart, but neither of us were smiling as we were the first time we kissed; we both knew how this one would end. Not a second later, Carter was lifted off of his feet once more. I couldn't take this. \"Stop! Don't shoot! I'll never talk to him again! Please don't hurt him!\" My calm demeanor was gone now that the moment was here. My brain was buzzing with memories of Carter and I: the first time we met, sneaking out at night, when I was hurt he came to comfort me, walking home together, our first kiss, our last. \"Darling, this is for your own good.\" Mrs. Rose lifted the gun once more and again aimed it a Carter. My breathing was shallow; as was Carter's. I'm sure the terror was visible in both sets of eyes. \"Once I pull the trigger,\" Mrs. Rose informed Alex, \"you release them.\" Alex nodded. She was staring dead ahead. I could see she pitied us. Mrs. Rose's hand tightened around the gun. I tried to scream but no sound came out. A deafening noise of a gunshot rang through the metal tunnels and I was released from the cove that held me. I looked to see Carter lying on the ground, a trail of blood coming from the wound in his chest. I raced over to where he lay and grabbed his hand. \"Keirsten,\" he whispered his words barley audible. I was sobbing and tried to quiet my breathing. \"I will always love you\" he whispered. \"I'll love you longer,\" I whispered in reply. The crimson red liquid stained Carter's shirt and my hands, but all I saw at that moment were his unseeing eyes. I wept for him, for what I had taken from him, for what I had stolen from him, for the life he would never have. Mrs. Rose dropped the gun on the ground and kicked it over to where I now sat. \"If anything happens, you know what to do,\" she said evenly. She and Alex turned to leave, and, with my blurry vision, I could just barely make out a tear falling from Alex's eye. I put my hands over Carter's heart and laid my head on top of them. Tears came constantly now. \"I'm so sorry,\" I whispered to Carter. Everyone who I loved was gone. 'If I weren't here, none of this would have happened' I thought. My hands were now stained red but I didn't care. I looked to the gun that now lay at my feet. I lifted my hands from Carter's heart and suddenly fell extremely tired. I had a major headache and contributed that to the crying. I picked up the gun, the matal cold in my hand. I turned the gun so that it was facing me. I placed my finger on the trigger. \"Keirsten?\" I would be left forever wishing I had heard Carter's voice before I pulled the trigger. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? \"Keirsten?\"The gunshot rang in Carter's ears. \"Keirsten,\" he shrieked. He scrambled over to where her body lay. \"Keirsten.\" He was whispering to her, holding her hand as she had for him. \"I'm so sorry,\" she whispered to me. \"Don't be,\" I told her earnestly. \"I will love you forever,\" I whispered to her. \"I'll love you longer.\" Her eyes slowly glassed over, the gun still in her hand. Now it was Carter's turn to grieve. \"Keirsten?\" He squeezed her hand. \"Keirsten?\" He said a little louder. Tears escaped his eyes and slid down his cheeks. 'It shouldn't be this way. This is wrong'. Carter thought. \"HELP,\" he called as loud as he could. \"Somebody help me!\" Carter collapsed next to Keirsten. Both of their shirts were now stained a crimson red, but Carter's chest was the only one with no wound. Keirsten had saved him. She had no idea but she had saved him. He tried to tell her but it was too late. She had pulled the trigger. \"Someone help,\"Carter said at a whisper. \"Please.\" ********* Alex wiped away the tear that had escaped from her eye. She had seen what happened even if her mother didn't. However, Alex knew that if she had turned on her, she would have gone back just to shoot her. But Alex couldn't take it anymore. \"How could you do that?\" Mrs. Rose turned to Alex with a questioning look. \"I was protecting her. You of all people should know that.\" The woman turned forward and began walking, faster now. \"Did you even see what you did back there?\" Alex was in disbelief. \"Of course,\" Mrs. Rose waved a dismissive hand at her. \"The boy is gone and he can't hurt her. Problem solved.\" \"Mother,\" Alex said, trying to get her attention. \"Mother!\" She grabbed the woman's arm. Mrs. Rose whirled on her heel and her glare seemed to sent daggers at Alex. \"Did you see anything else?\" She was staring her mother straight in the eye. \"No Alexis! I didn't. Now will you let go of me.\" The woman wretched her arm away from the young girl's grasp. \"Mother,\" Alex nearly screamed at her. Her voice echoed off of the metal walls of the tunnel. \"Mother, the boy's not dead.\" \"Don't be silly Alexis, I,\" \"Mother! The boy's not dead! Keirsten is!\" The woman stopped in her tracks. \"Even better. Now no one can hurt her,\" Mrs. Rose said simply. \"How could you say that? She is your own daughter and she killed herself because of you,\" Alex blurted. \"That was her choice.\" \"You can't just leave them there!\" Her voice cracked and her mother turned to her. \"Are you showing weakness for them?\" Mrs. Rose's voice was filled with disbelief. Her eyes then turned darkly furious. \"Are you showing weakness, Alexis?\" Alex was silent, her breath even. Mrs. Rose's eyes flashed and she sent Alex flying down the tunnel. She landed on her back 50 ft away. Coughing and coughing, trying to catch her breath. She ran up till she was about ten feet away and her hand shot out. Her mother flew from the ground and levitated in the air. The woman tried to fight her daughters magic but Alex was determined: she had to save her little sister. \"I always did like Keirsten better than you,\" Mrs. Rose said. \"It's ok,\" Alex replied, \"I always liked Keirsten better than me too.\" With that, Alex threw the woman into the wall and slammed her to the ground. \"I am ashamed to call you my mother,\" Alex spit at the woman and trapped her inside of her own electric dome. She then turned on her heel and ran down to where her little sister lay. ********** Once Alex arrived, she saw Carter lying next to Keirsten. He wiped at his tear-stained face. \"Carter,\" she whispered to him, \"Carter, I am so so so sorry. It wasn't supposed to be this way.\" \"Says the girl who held me up to be shot,\" he screamed at her. His eyes were puffy but wild. \"Carter,\" Alex said \"let me explain. I-\" \"No! No, you can't explain! Nothing can be undone! This is your fault! You and that stupid woman! You should be ashamed of yourself! Look what you did!\" He motioned to Keirsten's lifeless body. Tears were pouring from his eyes and streaming down his cheeks. \"Carter, listen to me,\" the girl pleaded. \"Why should I?\" \"Because I want to help you. Can I please explain?\" \"Fine.\" Alex took a deep breath and began. \"The only reason I helped that woman is because I knew that Keirsten was going to save you. I knew you would live. It wasn't magic or anything but I knew. You probably don't believe me but its true. The only problem was that I thought that Keirsten had known she had saved you. I had specifically told her about how she would feel after using her powers.\" She stopped rambling and looked down to where Keirsten and Carter lay. She knelt down and whispered to Carter \"we need to get out of here.\" \"I'm not leaving her here,\" he told her firmly. \"We'll that's good,\" she said,\"because neither am I.\" She reached over to pick up Keirsten from where she lay. Carter instinctively jumped out in front of her. \"Don't you touch her,\" he growled. Alex was taken aback, but backed away from her younger sisters body. Carter scooped her up in his strong arms. \"Can you help her?\" Carter was sincere and looked on the verge of tears that he had just wiped away. \"Yes, but not here. We need to get out of here first. i know just the place to go. We can do it there.\" \"Why should i trust you?\" \"Because i came back to help.\" The gun that had fallen from Keirsten's hand now lay at Carter's feet. He looked to Alex as if to ask if she needed it. When she shook her head, Carter kicked the gun as hard as he could and sent it flying through the tunnels. \"Let's go.\" Alex placed her hand on Carter's shoulder. \"Are you ready?\" Carter nodded. In the blink of an eye, they disappeared, Alex's magic in use once more. ************ Together, they had arrived, Keirsten in Carter's arms. They were standing in front of a white house in the middle of nowhere. \"What is this place,\" Carter asked. \"A safe house.\" Alex walked up to the door. She picked a clip out of her hair and inserted it into the lock. \"Are we really supposed to be here if we need to break in?\" \"God,\" Alex murmured, \"will you shut up for a second?\" Carter didn't say anything. \"Sorry,\" Alex muttered. \"Anyway, this isn't breaking it. Trust me.\" Alex didn't even need to turn the clip. She just inserted it into the door and it opened. She walked through the open door. \"Just lay her on the couch for now,\" Alex said, gesturing to s pillow-strewn sofa. Carter stalked over and gently placed her on the couch. Alex turned to the refrigerator and grabbed two bottles of water. She tossed one to Carter and he caught it easily. \"Thanks,\" he murmured. He unscrewed it and gulped down half the bottle before taking a breath. \"Geez, slow down will you? If you puke, your cleaning it up.\" A small smile played across Carter's face. Alex let out a light laugh when she saw him trying and failing to hide his laughter. \"Shut up,\" Carter said playfully, laughing himself. He looked to Keirsten and his expression grew solemn. \"Can you help?\" He never took his eyes off of Keirsten as he asked Alex the serious question. Alex paced over to where Carter sat on the floor next to the sofa. She put a gentle hand on his shoulder. He turned his head so that his gaze met hers. Her eyes were rimmed with tears that were ready to spill over. \"I can try my hardest,\" Alex managed, looking into the eyes of the grief stricken boy. \"I hope she knows how lucky she is going to be.\" \"It's not luck, it's magic.\" \"I'm not talking about bringing her back. I'm talking about what will come after. Once she wakes up, I hope she knows how lucky she is to have someone who loves her as much as you do. Don't you ever let that girl go. I don't think either of you can be whole without the other.\" A lone tear streaked down Carter's cheek. He was in no hurry to wipe it away. \"Thank you,\" he whispered to her. \"Don't thank me until I'm done,\" Alex said. She knew that's not what he had wanted to hear but it was true. Alex took a deep breath and braced herself for the reaction she was about to get. \"I need you to know I have never done this before,\" she stated, staring at the boy. However, his response came as a surprise to her. \"I believe that you can do this. I know that you can. You love her almost as much as I do. This is going to work.\" Alex gave him a warm smile and stood. She walked around Carter and knelt next to where Keirsten lay, the wound in her chest, right above her heart. Alex looked at the face of her death stricken sister. Her eyes were closed, which helped a lot; Alex had always loved the way the light had played off of Keirsten's dark blue eyes. They were unlike anyone's in her family. They seemed to laugh whenever Keirsten did. Alex took a deep breath. She had no idea if this would work or not. She had no idea what she would feel like afterwards. She feared for what would happen if she failed. She would never be able to forgive herself. She cleared the thoughts of failure and replaced them with pictures of her little sister, seeing her smiling and laughing, dancing and twirling. She placed her hand over the wound and focused her energy on saving Keirsten. Almost immediately, the wound closed under Alex's hand. Not soon after Alex's hand started to shake. She tried to focus on keeping her hands still, but a fog seemed to cloud her thinking. Alex forced her magic to her shaking fingertips. Her breathing was labored, her mind unfocused. Alex could sense that her magic had been drained on the laborious task. She lifted her hands from Keirsten. Alex drew in a sharp breath. She fell from her knees and collapse to the floor. The pain in her head was monstrous. She could barely move, could barely hear Carter shriek her name. He gathered her in his arms. He brought her over to a couch next to the one that Keirsten was laying in. \"I'm so sorry,\" she whispered to him. Her eyelids drooped and she fought to keep them open. Tears streaked down her cheeks. She had failed. She had let herself down, Carter down, and, worst of all, she had let Keirsten down. Carter gently placed the weeping girl on the couch. \"Its fine,\" Carter said, trying to convince both Alex and himself. He honestly couldn't picture his life without Keirsten. \"I'll try again later. And if that doesn't work, I'll try one million times after that. For God's sake, I would trade my life for hers in a heart beat.\" Alex had to stop talking for she no longer had the energy. All she wanted to do was curl up on the couch and cry herself to sleep. \"Alex, you can't keep using your powers until your like this. For all I know, you could eventually die.\" Alex had thought about that, how easy it would be, but it was her partially fault of her sisters death; she couldn't leave Carter all alone. She had to stay alive for him. \"I have to at least try,\" she insisted, her voice a soft whisper, her breaths shuddering. \"Alex, you did,\" he assured her, \"but you can't always cheat death.\" Alex nodded, still crying. Carter sat next to her and put his arm around her shoulder. She looked at him with her puffy red eyes to make sure he was sincere. As she expected, he was. Alex was too tired to keep her eyes open and gave into the darkness. *********** Alex had no idea how long had passed, but when she opened her eyes, Carter was gone. It was completely black outside. She heard snoring from the nearest bedroom and knew that he had left to sleep. Alex had waited and waited for sleep to come, but it never presented itself. She had simply laid with her eyes closed until she had heard a scream coming from the couch where Keirsten lay. ************* My eyelids fluttered open to reveal a white ceiling and white walls to match. It took me a moment to realize that I should be dead. I lifted my hand and realized that I was most definitely not dead. I screamed subconsciously, not aware of my surroundings. Thoughts flooded my brain. Thoughts of Carter's limp, lifeless body; his bloody shirt; my bloody hands; Alex crying; the cold gun I'm my hands; the gun facing me; pulling the trigger. I screamed in confusion. I squeezed my eyes shut and put my hands over my eyes, trying to block out the thoughts. All that did,though, was make them play on the insides of my eyes. I screeched once more, apparently incapable at the moment to produce any other sound. \"God,\" I heard a voice say, sounding tired and irritated, \"will you stop that screaming I'm trying to sleep.\" The voice was muffled and weak but familiar. I opened my eyes and searched the room. I tried to prop myself up on one elbow, but the pain in my head put my thoughts against it. In fact, it wasn't just my head; I was genuinely tired in and out. My eyes searched the room until they found a couch where a slender girl now lay. The light played off of her dark brown eyes, her dark brown hair cascading from where her head lay to about her shoulders. Her eyes were tired, her eyelids staying open with difficulty. \"Alex,\" I whispered in disbelief. \"Hey there, lil sis,\" she said with a sweet smile, her tired eyes twinkling. \"What happened to you,\" I asked, worried. She looked like she could pass out right then and there. But Alex just laughed lightly and shook her head. \"I'll tell you in the morning, hun.\" With that, she turned to face the other side of the couch. She pulled the blanket over her head. I normally would have objected, but I could use some sleep. I curled up on the couch, too tired to move. I draped a blanket over myself and caved in to the temptation of sleep. ********** I awoke on a comfy armchair, my legs over one arm, an intricately designed quilt draped over my body. On the arm of the chair, I found a pair of striped pajama pants and a faded t- shirt from a Mariah Carey concert. Cautiously, I sat up. The pain in my head was gone and I was no longer tired. I carefully swung my legs over the arm so that my feet were planted on the floor. I picked up the clothes. My bare feet made no noise on the soft white carpet. It was still dark out and I didn'


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