Return to Lazarus

After eight years of hunting ill-willed people with superpowers, nicknamed Talents, and recovering from tragedy, childhood friends Dallan and Ana battle an enchantress. During the process, Dallan is sent forward in time to see what the future- a future without Ana- really holds. As Ana struggles to have him returned to his proper time, Dallan faces his future-self and the mysterious girl, called Rox, that knows so much about what is to come when he returns to the present.

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1. Ana

       With a slap to the face, and string of curses following her, Ana ran out the door, hopping on a red bicycle and flying down the gravel path, pedaling as fast as her legs would allow her to. She raced down the main road, meandering through the evening traffic with utmost dexterity, despite the way the tears had impaired her vision. The pounding in her ears drowned out the honks from annoyed commuters as she cut through the lanes, pedaling past the office buildings and the downtown. She saw Dallan in the corner of her eye, watching her from the football field where the school’s practice was being held. For a moment, she swore she could hear someone shout her name through the chaos. After all, it was a small town, and it wouldn’t surprise her, but she didn’t want to talk. Not now- not to anyone- not even to Dallan.

     By the time she had passed the last street light, her legs burned, her lungs gasped for air, threatening to give up before they reached their destination. She willed herself on until she reached the top of the hill, and the town could be looked down upon at a distance. Ana jumped off the bike, slamming it to the ground carelessly, the jagged rocks denting and scraping the frame.

            She sat down under the base of the weedy tree, wrapping her arms around her legs for warmth against the frigid gusts of air that blew up from the valley. The adrenaline began to fade and her cheek felt warm, stinging from the hit. But his words hurt more. The constant shouting and one-sided hatred her own father threw her way. And then there were the unyielding reminders of just how useless she was.

            She wasn’t beautiful- with her big frame and freckled, sickly complexion- nor intelligent or athletic. She was just…. Here.

            “You’re worthless,” she mumbled, unable to see her arm through the blur of tears. Ana then added bitterly, “Who would even miss you?”

            Then she glanced at the knife in her hands. It was Dallan’s pocket knife, the one he had given to her. “Just in case your dad gets to close,” Dallan had said, handing her the black switchblade cautiously. “Don’t be afraid to use it.”

            He would miss her.

            “Drop the knife, princess,” came a different voice. It wasn’t Dallan. This voice was almost cleaner, lighter, and smoother against her ears. “Heaven doesn’t need another angel just yet.”

            Ana spun around, her grip tightening on the blade. Sitting behind her was a boy about her age- 19 at most- with dirty blonde hair and bright eyes that looked at her childishly. His back was pressed against the tree as he gazed at her, his hands effortlessly whittling a stick with a knife of his own. But unlike Ana, he looked like he knew how to use it.

            “I’m Chase,” he added as an afterthought. Ana’s blue eyes warily glanced over him, her feet shifting nervously. “But don’t worry- I’m not here to kill you yet.” He said that with a straight face, and Ana wasn’t sure whether he meant it as a joke, or not. His remark did not ease her apprehension.

            He laughed as he stood up, though it was nothing more than a deep rumble in the back of his throat. Ana didn’t know what to think of it. His feet skid over the gravely soil as he walked towards Ana, fidgeting with the knife in his hands in an almost ominous way. Even if she had wanted to move, she found herself frozen in place, hypnotized by the golden glow radiating off his skin, and stars she found in his green eyes.

            It wasn’t because he was beautiful, though Ana couldn’t deny that. It was the fog that seemed to surround him, as if there was a filter, causing her to see things that weren’t actually there. For a moment she wondered if he wasn’t even there, if a glimmer was hiding his wings and angelic form from her perception.

            Perhaps he’s the angel. Ana thought as he approached her. And I’ve already done it.

But he didn’t touch her to take her away from the world she hated. Chase did not strike her down, then and there, just as he had promised. Instead, he brought forth a sword, though Ana was unsure why she hadn’t seen it earlier. He held it out to her, flipping the blade around so that the handle faced her.
            “You’re not an angel?” Ana hadn’t meant to say that out loud, but before she knew it, she heard her own voice echoing the words. Chase smiled at her, and in one swift motion, he dug the sword into the rocky ground.

            “Me? An angel?” He laughed, fiddling with the knife in his hands again. He looked up at her with a grin Ana would have defined as more devilish than angelic. “Sometimes. But not today. It seems I have fallen from God’s grace.” Chase glanced over his shoulder, to where Lazarus, her city, was, and his face stiffened. “I saved my own skin to save yours.” He shrugged. “Not a bad bargain if you asked me, but he’ll turn this back around to bite me in the end. He always does.”

            “He?” Ana echoed.

            Chase raised his eyes brows at her, clearly a you-don’t-need-to-know-now look. He gave a quick, but reassuring, grin before pointing to the sword in the ground. “Just take the sword. You’ll need it.”

            Ana glanced at it warily, but didn’t reach for it. “Why should I trust you?”

            “Well, for starters,” Chase said, pointing back towards the city of Lazarus, “I saved your life.” His eyes refocused on Ana, finally setting on the knife in her hand, with remnants of her dried blood on the blade. “Twice,” he quickly added. “Give me that.” Chase grabbed the knife  out of her hand, holding it up to her. “This is not the way to go out. There is too much of the world to see, too much life to live and so, so much to do.”

            “I don’t think you get it,” Ana mumbled, silently promising herself not cry. “Nobody would miss me. The sun would still shine. The world would be better off without me.”

            Chase rubbed his chin, shaking his head. “God, it’s almost if you want to thank the psychotic pyromaniac that is burning your town down!” Ana paused for a moment, thinking he was joking again but as she heard the screams in the distance, she tensed.

            “THE WHAT?’ Ana sprinted to the top of the hill, and among the gold and rose colored sky as the sun sank lower from the sky, came the glow of red and ember as the town she grew up in began to burn.

 

 

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