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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2. Dallan

     As Ana approached the once bustling town, she gasped in horror at the sight of the flames blazing on the oak trees and the skeletal frames of houses that were clinging to life. She past burning pyres but refused to look closer for fear of seeing a corpse. The buildings were desecrated, their windows smashed outward onto the streets and their rooms strung together by flames. Ash rained down from the blackened red sky.

            And in the middle of the massacre lay Dallan, practically unharmed compared to the rest of the unfortunate residents. She cradled Dallan’s head in her lap, his dark eyes widened in terror, but frozen in death. Her fingers traced his hairline, they ran down his nose and across his cheeks tenderly. Tears welled in her eyes, falling from her eyes and her cry was kept silent, attempting to escape her lips.

     Footsteps echoed off the cracked pavement, and a shadow appeared over her, created by the dim evening sun. She didn’t move, her arms caught by fear around Dallan’s neck. Ana didn’t fear anything now.

            I don’t care, Ana thought. Take me… so I don’t have to be alone.

            But there was no pain, no grim reaper standing above her.. It was her father, the closest person to the devil she had ever known.

            But it was different now.

            His eyes were light with kindness, not pierced with threatening anger as they had once been. The gray streaks from his brown hair had faded and the creases from his constant furrowed brow had vanished. When his hand was laid on her shoulder, it was gave her great comfort, not the fear and pain it usually carried. It was clear to her that it wasn’t the person she called ‘father’. He was too perfect, too unlike the one she had been burdened with for months.

            “Anastasia,” he said, with a somber, yet warm tone as he kneeled beside her. “We have to go.”

            “Not with you,” she murmured, looking back down to Dallan. “You aren’t my father.”

            “Of course I am,” he replied. He cupped her face with his hands, kissing her forehead kindly.  Tilting her face up, he looked to her with a warmth Ana hadn’t felt in a long time. “Who else would I be?”

            “My father called me many names,” Ana replied, with more strength than she thought she had. Without much thought she pulled herself away from the man’s soft embrace. “But none of those names were Anastasia.”

            The man sighed, a smile crawling along his lips. “I knew you were smart, Ana,” he began with a different voice, less jagged and more eloquent. “But I have to hand it to you- finding a shape-changer based only a few flaws? Now that takes talent.” Ana looked up at him, the owner of the voice coming forth in her memory.

            As the man stood, she watched as her father’s blue eyes brightened in intensity, the tanned, wide face became pale, as cheekbones became prominent. The long dark hair she had once known so well grew short and bled in color until they became blond. The face was relatively new, but still all too familiar.

“What… are you?” Ana whispered, her eyes rolling up and down Chase, the boy who had come to her on the hill, the boy who looked like her father only a second before.

“You handled that better than I expected,” Chase laughed, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, though it wasn’t out of nervousness. “Usually they scream.” He pursed his lips before adding, “Or tazing me, in Bianca’s case.” He shuddered. “I knew you were smart, but noticing a shape-changer in less than a minute with no training? Now, that takes talent.”

            “What the hell are you?” Ana repeated, this time with a fresher intensity and through grinding teeth.

            “They call us shape-changers,” Chase replied. “Boring I know, but” he shrugged “I didn’t decide the name.” With no immediate reaction from Ana, he went on. “People with powers, like super-speed and are called Talents. That’s what I am.” Chase’s eyes widened as his line of sight was directed towards Dallan. “And apparently… so are you.” Ana’s brow furrowed but she refused to follow his line of sight to Dallan.

            She hated seeing him like this, with no light in his eyes, nothing but empty space in the dark abyss of his orbs. Chase made a quick motion of dismay, moving Ana’s sorrow to the back of her mind for a quick glance at her friend.

     And then Dallan blinked.

     It was nothing more than a quick flutter of his eye lids, but it was enough, enough to fill her with hope. His chest began moving, fresh breath entering his lungs that had once been sealed by death.

     “So that’s why he wanted the suicidal over-emotional teenage girl on his team,” Chase muttered under his breath. He said ‘girl’ as if it was some kind of disease and it made Ana sick.

     “I’ve been through hell and come back alive,” Ana shot back, bitterness filling her words. “I’ve been abused at home in a world dominated by power and beauty, and I have none of that. My hometown just burned to ground and everybody I have ever known just dropped dead. Dallan is all I have left. Remind me, how is crying being ‘overemotional’?” Tearing her rage away from Chase, she turned her attention to Dallan, who slowing seemed to be reviving himself.  

     Though his eyes had been open, he finally seemed to be awake, fear shaking in his features. He paused for a moment, analyzing the situation: the fire, the people standing above him, and the death that had once taken him.

     “Ana.” He smiled dryly, looking up at her. His voice was cracked and gravely like hot pavement in the summer. He blinked and the fear disappeared, replaced with concern. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” Ana replied quickly, a false smiling spreading across her face. “You’re fine,” she added, as if trying to convince herself.

     “I’m surprised he didn’t ask why everything was on fire,” Chase said with a smirk. Ana sent a icy glare his way, though he didn’t seem to care much.

     “I was getting to that,” Dallan replied, sitting up with unnatural ease.

     A moment ago you were gone, Ana thought, studying her friend carefully. And now you’re back with more ease than before.  

     “I was going to start with the creep that’s been giving you ‘bedroom eyes’,” Dallan said, giving twin glances to Ana and to Chase. He caught Ana rolling her eyes, her sole focus on her best friend.

     “I…. don’t know what you mean,” Chase replied, giving his best attempt at nonchalance. He did his best not to look at Ana, though she had noticed the edges of his lips curling upward.

     “Whatever you say,” Dallan murmured, running his hands through his hair to shake away the ash and dirt.

     “He’s called Chase,” Ana finally put in, feeling the coming of an awkward silence. “He is a… shape changer.” She said the last word, suddenly realizing the strange situation she found herself in.

     “I’ll believe it when I see it,” Dallan chuckled, though he didn’t seem lightheartedly, though Ana saw no happiness in his eyes.

     “Sorry, pal,” Chase replied, bringing forth Ana’s pocketknife. “No party tricks today.” His eyes wandered to his surroundings, watching as the fire devoured dumpsters in a side alley. “We need to go,” he said suddenly. Chase straightened himself and stepped forward to Ana, who was still kneeling next to Dallan, and placed a steady hand on her shoulder.

     “No,” Ana pulled away, jumping up to a stance. “Not until you tell me what happened.” She felt heat rush to her face again. You won’t cry, she promised herself. You don’t need to cry. “Thing like this don’t happen by accident.”

     “It was collateral damage,” Chase replied ruefully.

     “It’s carnage.”

     “There was nothing I could have done,” Chase responded, taken aback. He pointed to Ana. “You’re lucky to be alive if it weren’t for your Talent, you would be gone, just like the others. The only one he wanted was-“ He stopped midsentence, his posture straightening as if it were his default.

     And then he changed.

    One second he was bright-eyed Chase with cropped blond hair, the next a pudgy woman with dark curly hair. His image flickered again, this time to a lean-faced man with dark, narrow eyes dressed in a fine suit. A girl with thick orange hair and eye liner took his place, a scowl growing on the face that once belonged to Chase.

     “Dammit,” Chase muttered, looking down with disdain at the yellow cotton dress that clung to the thin figure of the teenager. “Of all the forms…”

     “Wow, you look like a chick,” Dallan stood up as well, suddenly believing that the person before him was indeed a shapechanger.

     “Yeah, thanks for that insight,” Chase snapped back at him. “I kind of noticed.” The voice of the girl was so much different than before, high-pitched and squeaky, though the threat in the voice rang clear. “Now, we need to go. I can’t explain much but if you come with me I can-“

     “I’m not going anywhere with a physcopath.” Dallan held up his hands, taking a step back. “We need answers, but I’m not going to push around a girl.” Ana rolled her eyes.

     “But I can,” she said. Ana stepped forward, slapping the freckled girl hard across the face. With the sudden shock, Chase returned to the blond boy Ana had met him as. Chase smiled with relief, though from the red mark on his cheek, Ana could tell that the hit had done him harm.

     “Thanks for that,” Chase smiled, though his voice remained severe. He turned to Dallan. “I can’t offer answers, but I can offer you guys a chance.” His eyes ran over Ana quickly. “I have a car on the outskirts of town, and I can give you money and a ride to the nearest town.”

     “But we can’t leave,” Ana remarked,  her eyes darted through the burning city. “There are people here. Dallan, your mom and dad and little brother must still be here. Somebody might have survived.”

     “Nobody is left,” Dallan said quietly.

     “What?”

     “I was here, Ana,” Dallan added, biting his lip. “It was chaos and there was a man… with bright red hair, and others but I don’t remember much. They crowded everybody into the school, burned it with everybody inside. Cassander and I escaped.” He faded off, closing his eyes for a moment as if he were trying to fight back the memories and the tears they brought with them. His eyes opened again, now red with pain. “My brother… I don’t know where he is now. I woke up here and…” Dallan took a deep breath. Ana had never seen him like this

     “Dallan, I’m sorry,” she stepped forward, wanting to hold him in her arms. She wanted to shelter him, just as he had done to her in times of need. When she was in arms distance, his hand went up, a sign that the affection was not welcomed now. He needed space.

     “I’ll take that chance,” Dallan said shakily, brushing past Ana. She recoiled, wrapping her arms around herself, and not because of the cold that was brought by the fading sun. In fact, she was warm, and she hated it. That heat was her life, melting away, and no matter how much that life had pained her, she felt like she was missing something inside of her.

    “Me too,” Ana added quietly.

     Chase looked them over, offering the warmest smile he could muster. It wasn’t much but it still seemed to comfort Ana. “Alright,” he said. He turned without another word, marching off towards the outskirts of town. Ana cautiously followed them as Dallan matched his stride.

     They walked out of town,  just as the fires behind them began to die down. Ana didn’t know where she was going but she was certain it couldn’t be worse than this. 

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