Time is limited. Maybe not for Aria and Jessica, but for those who's lives soon run out, Death will be waiting...


2. The Boy - Jessica

The cottage was tucked away, hidden behind the thin pine trees, but it had a strange smell: smoke and something sweet, which even my sharp sense of smell couldn’t identify.

 Aria trailed behind me, and I could almost hear what she was thinking. I want to be human. I…want…to…be…effing…normal. I used to think like that. Before I met him.

There were things you needed to push to the back of your mind if you didn’t want to go crazy. Eighty years is a long time to get used to the fact that you are trapped forever in the awkwardness of being seventeen, not quite a child, but not quite an adult either. To get used to the fact that you are, in everything that matters, technically dead.

I should be dead by now. I should have been resting somewhere, beside him, with a gravestone marked with something stupid that made it seem like people actually cared I was ever alive. Immortal because a hunk of stone said so. That was the only part about all this that I really loved. The fact that I could carry on living, breathing, tasting, not enjoying but enduring life.

And now I had Aria to worry about. Because of him.

“Looks like there’s no one home,” said Aria. I rolled my eyes: she gave up way too easily.

“Wait here, I’ll have a look around.” I walked round the side of the cottage, sniffing. The smell of smoke grew fainter the further away I walked, the sweet smell growing stronger, more potent. It tasted… like nothing I tasted before, like pine cones, and freshly mown grass and chocolate and roses. I could feel it all around me.

The cottage was at least a mile behind me now, and I stopped. Here, the smell was so strong, so gorgeous. I closed my eyes, breathing in deeply, almost light headed.

Someone grasped my arm, tightly. I turned, and stared at a glinting knife, held by a boy not much older than myself. Wild black hair fell over his piercing blue eyes, and he was shirtless, a slight sheen of sweat on his muscular torso. I stared at him. He was human alright, I could hear the faint pulse of blood, could see his chest rising and falling as he took breaths he needed to actually survive. How had he managed to sneak up on me?

And why wasn't I able to move? Why were my feet frozen in place, why did my arms feel like they were filled with lead? A feeling of panic washed over me, something I hadn't felt for years. Something I hadn't felt since before I Changed.

In front of me a bare-chested, blue eyed boy stood, yet my mind was suddenly filled with images of another boy, a brown eyed boy, who'd stood in front of me, with a knife, all those years ago.

The blue eyes pressed the knife against my chest, breaking into my reverie, my memories of another time, another place.

“Who the hell are you?” he asked.

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