“We’re going now!” Blake yelled, already heading for the door. He’d seen the video and, grainy as it had been, he’d known that Zack was in pain. That his friend needed him. The desire to save him, to fix this, ached in Blake’s chest, sending streams of fire through his veins, but for once he embraced the pain. Tremors shook his hands, but the adrenaline of actual, real action erased any fear he had of an attack.
“Wait, Vier. We haven’t refined the plan yet!” Dix screamed it behind him, but Blake ignored her. He was already getting into the car, Jamie behind him. She nodded wordlessly, her face cold and emotionless, but he saw that spark in her eyes. She’d grown to care about Zack, more than Blake thought she’d ever admit.
He was glad. It meant that Zack wouldn’t be totally alone after he died. He’d have someone to share his pain, to help him past it.
Olivia was the next one to pile into the car, sliding into the front passenger seat effortlessly. They were taking Dix’s car, so it was obvious that she would drive, and eventually she climbed in as well. And then they were off.
“So, everyone remembers the plan, right?” Dix asked once they’d started driving, pulling away down the street. They all nodded, and then silence returned, awkward and full of nervous energy.
“‘If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’” Olivia asked finally, unable to bear the silence. At first no one answered, but Blake didn’t care, because he was thinking. God bless Olivia, she’d given him something other than the fire and his racing heart to think about.
“Yes, of course it does.”
“You’re wrong,” she answered, glaring at him over the shoulder of the seat. “It doesn’t always make a sound. If you put a tree in a vacuum, it doesn’t make a sound, even when it falls.”
Blake smiled at her, enjoying himself more than he cared to admit. “If you put a tree in a vacuum, it won’t fall at all. I’ll just explode because of the zero-pressure or whatever. And it’s scientifically proven that trees always make noise when they fall.”
“No, you’re still wrong. Did you know that just observing an experiment can change the outcome sometimes? The chance is almost non-existent, but it’s there. Therefore, you cannot prove that the tree makes noise if no one watches.”
Jamie laughed beside him, her shoulders shaking silently. Blake felt himself smile too. It was always fun to argue with Olivia. Her mind worked so strangely, so differently from everyone else’s.
“I’m sorry, Drei, but you can’t change reality. And the reality is that trees make noise when they fall.”
“Nope. That’s your reality, maybe, but reality is infinite. My reality and your reality are perceived differently, and therefore cannot coexist. However, by observing through only one, you perceive what you term ‘truth.’ But there is no one truth. There is a truth in every reality, and no possible way to put them together. I’m just looking at all the different possibilities. That is my reality. Everything is possible, because I perceive it to be so.”
“That is actually kind of beautiful, Drei,” Jamie said, and Blake was inclined to agree. The argument died there, because he couldn’t bring himself to refute the statement, not when he wanted so badly for it to be true. If it was then there would be some way to free Zack, some scenario in which they all escaped unharmed.
“We’re here, kidies. Time to break Zes out of prison.” Dix’s voice startled them all, bringing them back to reality. In an instant, the pleasant debate was nothing more than a memory, a passing moment that meant nothing.
“Let’s go, then!” Jamie was the first out of the car, bounding ahead of them. Blake sucked in a breath at the way her flouncing made the mini-skirt Olivia had forced onto her bounce. She herself was either totally oblivious to it, or just a much better actor than he’d thought. Either way, Blake was not one to be shown up, so within seconds he was following her out onto the asphalt.
“Just a recap, we’re meeting at Lou’s in two hours. Don’t get caught before then. And if they’re following you, don’t come. Just lose them and head back to the house.”
“Yes, Dix, we know. We aren’t all idiots, you know.” Today, it seemed to Blake, was a very interesting day. First Jamie wore clothing that actually made her look like a girl, now Olivia was being sassy. Yes, very interesting indeed.
“Change of plans,” he said, deciding that the entertainment warranted a celebration. “Tera, not that I don’t trust your acting, but I’ll handle the distraction. You just get Zes out. But keep to your character, just in case I can’t get them all away from the hallways.”
Jamie nodded solemnly, dropping the act instantly. Blake was glad he’d said it, because he had the feeling they’d be breaking out not one but two of their company otherwise. Dix grabbed his shoulder, her eyes wide. “No, you can’t do that. Stick to the plan, Vier!”
“I’m in charge here. Drei is backup, just in case we need someone to cover while we run. You unlock the doors and the cell. Tera is going with you.” He smiled and reached back into the car, flipping open the mirror. The contacts came out easily enough, and Jamie practically jumped out of her skin. Blake realized then that she’d never seen him without them.
He wondered if it frightened her, terrified her. His eyes weren’t like his brother’s. Whit’s eyes were red, glowing demonically in a too-pale face, framed by silver hair. Blake’s were the bleached color of old bones, his skin barely darker, his hair – usually as pale as Whit’s – dyed a fake sandy blonde. The effect must have been at least a little unnerving.
He turned away without a word, heading to the front of the police station. Dix hesitated, but after a moment he heard footsteps racing away, and he was truly alone. Sighing, Blake relaxed and pulled the little silver box from his pocket.
Dix had misunderstood. She’d thought he’d do what Jamie had been meant to: go inside, distract the officers. But he had no plan of entering the building.
The palm trees planted outside the doors were convenient, if conspicuous. The little box’s lid flipped open on its tiny hinge, and Blake clicked the lighter on, a tiny flame dancing at his fingertips. The fire fascinated him, entranced him.
But today he didn’t have time to revel in it. And today he’d be burning something other than abandoned buildings or construction sites.
Setting fire to a police station though, he discovered, was not that much harder than lighting up any other building. A great deal easier, actually, considering the fact that he didn’t even have to enter the premises.
Clang. The lighter fell. Blake ran. The dry grass at the base of the planter ignited. Blake laughed.
The tree went up. He ducked into the alley across the street. The roof caught fire. The alarms went off. The sidewalk filled.
The hand came down over his face. The cloth covered his mouth. The chemicals burned in his nose.
The world disappeared.
The fire burned.