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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4. Archer

At first there was nothing.

No feeling of cold on his skin or heat against his cheek. There was no whisper or light or guardian angel to transport him towards the heaven’s warmth- or hell’s fire if need be. He was just there, and then he heard a voice close beside him.

“Finny! What do you mean you just ‘found him outside’?” It was the stentorian voice of a woman. Slowly, he was coming through, to a lighted room with large windows and cheap furniture that was scattered in no particular fashion. The two people in front of him were squabbling, though neither seemed to notice that he was awakening.

“I mean that I found him outside,” the voice belonged to the teenage boy, whom the woman towered over in height and presence. Dallan’s vision finally cleared, and he focused in on the pair. The bright-eyed teen, Finny, glanced his way, his breathe stopping short when he realized that their prisoner was awake. “Bianca,” he hissed between clenched teeth, his eyes unwavering from Dallan. “Bianca.

“What are you blubbering on about?” The woman was pre-occupied by a smartphone in her hand. Finny did a double-take to see what she was doing.

“Put your phone away! Archer says that they can trace the signal and-“

“No, Rox says that,” Bianca corrected him, perhaps a bit too harshly. “Archer blindly goes along with it because he’s got a little crush on the girl. And besides, if Rox stays all day on her computer, so I’m calling that rule bull-“

Bianca’s gaze drifted up as her words broke, locking eyes with their now-conscious prisoner.  Her face did little to express any concern or shock.

“Hey,” Dallan nodded, as a greeting. His eyes flew up to the pair of handcuffs that bound his wrists to a pole in the middle of the room. “Do you think you could take off the cuffs? They’re starting to chafe.”

“They look so much alike,” Finny whispered, staring at Dallan inquisitively. Both of them seemed to disregard his request. “It’s almost as if they’re the same person.” 

For a moment, Bianca’s mask dropped, fear pooling in her dark eyes, her harsh features contorting to make her seem so much younger, so much more vulnerable. “Get Archer,” Bianca said, her voice wavering and quieter than it had been before.

Finny was still enthralled by Dallan, staring at it as if he wanted to remember every crease and color. Dallan had always been called handsome, but this was new to him.

“Get Archer,” Bianca repeated, with a bit more confidence and clarity. The boy turned around, about to question orders. “Just go, and don’t tell anyone else.”

He quickly darted out of the room, and Bianca’s mask was put up once again. Dark, cold eyes scanned him, her sharp features casting shadows on the rest of her face, making her appear more menacing than she actually was.   

“So just you, me, and a pair of handcuffs,” Dallan said with a smile, “Can’t say I haven’t been in a situation like this before.” Bianca didn’t react, her eyes just as steady, but more wary than before. “My name is-“

“Dallan Russell,” Bianca interceded flatly. “Though you are not related, you consider your sister to be Ana Luther. Your favorite color is green, you hate it when people are taller than you, and you love girls with dark hair. Yes, I know. We’ve been introduced several times.” She sighed and crossed her arms, clearly annoyed with this fact.

“I see,” he murmured, pursing his lips. “I thought I would have remembered someone like you.”

“You do,” Bianca replied, now studying him. “This is the first time you meet me, but one of the last times I will see you.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Dallan pulled at the hand cuffs, but he only made the pain on his wrists more apparent. He looked back to Bianca, and began to speak in a calm voice that he had forced. “Mind letting me out of these things?”

“I can’t,” she replied. “Out of everyone, I know not to trust strangers. It could be one of Sebastian’s tricks. This wouldn’t be the first time it has happened.”

“But, you just said that you had met me before,” Dallan shot back, a tension in his voice. Now he was annoyed by her contradictory statements.

Bianca moved quickly. In what seemed like only a second, she had pulled out a pistol and pointed it at him from her position above him. Her finger rested on the top of the gun- it was clear that she wasn’t planning on shooting him. It was merely a threat.

“So, Archer,” she began, her eyes unwavering from Dallan. “Tell me. Has everything been a lie?”

“Listen, sweetheart,” Dallan replied, tugging on his bondages as if it would change anything. “I have no idea what-“

“I wasn’t talking to you,” Bianca said bitterly. “And don’t call me ‘sweetheart’.”

“You would be wise to listen to her,” came a familiar voice. A door closed somewhere, but Dallan couldn’t see it. “She’s stronger than most, and knows a lot about what goes through the mind of the enemy.”

“And why is that?” Dallan called out, trying to find the source of the voice.

“Because,” Bianca replied coldly, “Not too long ago, I was the enemy.” She kept her gun up, but gave him a sly smile. “But you never treated me like one. I guess, now, I know why you did.” She glanced behind the pillar that Dallan was chained to, to the man who had entered the room. “I want answers, Archer. Real answers or I shoot Mr. Russel here. And you know I will.”

“That would re-write time,” Archer said, slowly stepped closer, though he was still out of Dallan’s line of sight. “None of this would have happened. The future would be completely different.”

“Precisely,” Bianca retorted proudly. “We could end it all right now. You would be dead, Ana alive and unsure, and I could be in charge. Remind me again why shooting him is a bad idea.”

“I promise to answer all of your questions,” Archer said, trying to coax Bianca out of her current state of mind. “I just want to talk to him, and then I will tell everyone the truth. After that, if you still think it is best to kill him, then do it.”

Bianca slowly lowered her gun, her eyes still cold and furious. “As you wish,” she said. “I’m going to tell Rox that both of you are here. You probably told her, didn’t you?” She spun on the balls of her feet and strode out of the room, not glancing twice at Dallan. The door slammed.

And then Archer stepped into Dallan’s line of sight.

            “There is one rule that needs to be followed,” Archer said, taking a seat on the old couch in front of Dallan. “Always keep Bianca close. She may be a pain in the ass but she’s worth it.” Dallan’s jaw was unhinged, staring in shock at Archer. It was little wonder the voice sounded so familiar. “Wow,” Archer laughed. “I look really stupid with my mouth hanging open like that.”

            “But,” Dallan mumbled, studying Archer. “How does this work?” He looked from Archer’s green eyes to tall height to the leather jacket. It was him. Archer looked just like Dallan. “You look just like me- no, you are me.” Archer chuckled. “Is this some sort of joke by Chase?”

            “Chase?” Archer raised his eyebrows. “No. This isn’t his style. I doubt he would attempt something this elaborate.” His eyes settled on Dallan, as if reminiscing the past. “No. You are me, but from a long time ago.”

            “I’m used to weird,” Dallan laughed. “A mind controlling actress, a janitor with super speed, a flying college graduate- I can handle all of that. But this”- he motioned to his surroundings- “is crazy.” He yanked on the hand cuffs. “How do I know you are telling the truth anyway?”

            “I’m not lying,” Archer replied, slowly getting to his feet. “I remember being you. I remember coming here, after attempting to deal with Vivian.” Dallan stopped struggling, looking up to Archer.

            “Okay then,” Dallan said, “Prove it. Show me someone else I know, like Chase or Ana.”

            Archer looked down, and then back to Dallan with a tight lipped smile. “Ana is… indisposed.” He swallowed. “And Chase isn’t the person he used to be. He doesn’t really see any one these days.”

            “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Dallan shot back at him.

    "It means you are going to have to trust me," Archer said thoughtfully. His lips twitched to a half-smile. "Or at least... trust yourself."

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