It was dark; pain flooded through Adeline's head; Fallon was coughing in the billowing smoke. They were alive and mostly unharmed, but where were they? What had happened with to the house, the room, the Ouija board? All the two teenagers could see was thick, enveloping blackness, swirling before their eyes, along with the coal-dust smoke that smothered every inch of you - inside and out, or so it felt.
"Fallon..." Adeline croaked as she sat up, wincing at her pounding head, "what did you do?" Beside her, Fallon sat up, still choking, and answered.
"He...he told me to...I...I promise it wasn't," She coughed twice, "it wasn't my choice...I just wanted you to, to, to know what I'd been forced to do...but...Addy, Dominic promised me that he would make sure I ended up somewhere way away when they discovered who had done it." Adeline just stared at her, not sure if the energy flowing through her veins was anger or confusion.
How could it all have changed so fast?
"I...I...I-" Fallon started, but Adeline cut her off.
"Stop, please - I need...I just can't, can't take it all in right now." Closing her dust-heavy eyelids, Adeline sank back down onto the floor, ignoring the constant press of the stone on her delicate shoulder blades.
Her best friend...her best friend was a murderer. What was she supposed to do? And anyway, now they were stuck in some dark, smoky place, with a hard floor that scraped you all over and no light to identify any of the other features.
Surely, she was doomed?
Fallon, on the other hand, wasn't so panicked: to her, this was her new life, free of the police and the detectives and the whisperers. She hadn't quite realized it would be like this though...would they be trapped in this bottomless void of a room forever? And then there was Adeline...would she ever fully understand why Fallon had murdered Dominick? It was impossible to see Addy in the pitch black, but her voice was backed with harsh, angry tones, not to mention the awful, tearful disappointment that was all-too-prominent in her words.
Suddenly, as if to answer her questions, a shaft of light beamed out into the room. It had come from a wall on the left - a door, in fact. The room was illuminated instantly, and the girls looked around, eyes blinded in the sudden light. Adeline saw Fallon lying across from her, covered in black soot and blinking wildly. But despite the obvious terror, there was relief in her brilliant eyes, and her midnight hair practically sparkled. Fingering her own hair, Adeline found it to be thick with the same black soot that had been covering them from the start.
"Follow me." Fallon shrieked as a figure suddenly appeared at the doorway, his voice gruff, but cold as the breeze that was now blowing through the open door. Slowly, the man turned at stalked away, the girls both scrambling to their feet.
"I think we should go..." Said Fallon, edging towards the door. Adeline was not convinced, tentatively following, but keeping a huge gap between her, Fallon and...well, whoever this was. Did he want to kidnap them? Had he been sent to bring them to their execution?
Even Fallon felt confused. Then again, perhaps this person had brought answers from Dominick!
But deep down inside, she was feeling the same way as Adeline. This supposed paradise was...wrong. She'd pictured a beautiful village full of others like her, new friends and a care-free life. But now, all she could think about was that one question: what would become of them?
After a few minutes of walking, the girls found out that his name was Aerin and he seldom spoke - only when necessary. Adeline was desperate to find out some information about their present and future situations, but Fallon wasn't bothered anymore: she knew she had escaped, and even though this place wasn't great, it wasn't awful either. Dominick had fulfilled his promise and she hadn't asked for more than that. Her life of secrets was gone and she was freed. Wherever Aerin took her, she would follow.
"Please, just tell us where we're going!" Adeline cried, tagging along at their guide's heels, her voice broken and desperate. Guilt seized at Fallon's chest, but she ignored it: Addy would understand, wouldn't she, at some point? She always did.
Adeline herself, however, felt very differently. How could Fallon be so calm when she'd just killed someone? Had he asked her to? Had she just done it for the sake of it? For God's sake, they were just sixteen! After what felt like hours of walking along corridors, she decided to just come out with it.
"Fallon...why...how-how did it happen?" She whispered. Her companion sighed and shook her head, opening her mouth to speak:
"It was...a deal. You know...just one of those things-"
"Just one of those things?! You killed him!" Adeline hissed. Fallon put her head in her hands just as they turned a corner.
"Look, Dominick and I knew each other well. He was...well, pretty unhappy - suicidal, in fact. And...well, I never told you - but only because I was scared! - that my mum and dad were sort of ignoring me. They stopped coming home for me and then there were no cooked meals and then soon I never really saw them. I mean, I rang them constantly; I called their work; I searched all over. But, well, I guess they were gone. And so Dom asked me to, well, you know, kill him, and in return, he'd figure out a way to get me away from my life, into somewhere better. So...here we are." Adeline just stared at her, eyebrows furrowed as she tried to figure it all out. Finally, after a long period of silence, she spoke:
"Okay, okay, it was some deal between you and him...but...but why am I here? Why am I not at home, with my parents, where I live?! What did I do?!" Her sorrow was so awfully visible in her eyes that Fallon felt like weeping.
"I didn't know when he would take me away! I didn't know that you'd be with me! Today was just about...I just...I just wanted you to know the truth before I left! But he...he took us both, dragged us both here. I...I'm...sorry. I'm so damn sorry and I know that this place doesn't seem great, but I'm sure we'll make do!" She cried.
"But my PARENTS are back there! My life, my school, my family - all of it! It's gone and who knows if I'll ever get back; for God's sake Fallon, surely you knew that when you contacted him, he'd take you?! Why didn't you just tell me instead of that whole stupid, stupid Ouija board thing?! I don't know what I'm going to do - I don't even know where we are!" Tears started to fall down her face, blemishes of anger and sadness and memories of all that she'd lost.
This, this - this place they were standing was not her home, and it never would be. Fallon could plead and cry and beg at her all she wanted, but from now on, all Adeline was going to do was search for a way out.
And if she didn't find one, boy, there would be hell to pay.