I would say that hiking up the mountains was a challenge, but that would be a lie. The railway was still in place, slicing a clean and easy to climb path up the mountain side, the wooden planks giving me support when I needed them. I climbed with my mother's words in my mind and a heart deflated from being broken in my chest.
Soon, I finally parted my splintered hands from the jagged rock and fell upon the uneven ground at the peak of the mountain. The city of Korehtz spread before me in all of its glory, lighting up the night like frozen fireworks. Small rectangular houses were lined up with military accuracy and stood like soldiers on a battlefield in the ink black surroundings, lit with a single torch by the door. The government building was the brightest star in the sky, lights reflecting the glass structure and dragging your eyes towards it.
In short, Korehtz was beautiful.
While one section of Korehtz was bordered by mountains, the rest were protected by the ocean, brimming with ships. People were flooding desperately down the streets to get to the boats before they ran out of space and set sail for safety. I didn't have to ask anyone to know that they would be trying to escape before the Stolen usurped the city.
Usurped, that was a word I read in Lukas' book in one of my days of mourning in the second safe house.
There's no point in saying if the Stolen usurp the city when you know that they will do it. We need to make a plan for when this does happen. We can't just stroll on into the government building and expect for all of our problems to right themselves!
Clambering down the path which had been cut into the side of the mountain, it was only his image that conquered my thoughts and seized my vision. His blonde hair falling across his forehead, his lightly tanned skin with burns from protecting me from the flames, his eyes crinkling whenever he smiled at me. Oh, those ocean blue eyes and that smile...
Stop it, Laure. You can't think about him like that.
But I was.
I saw the glistening lights in his eyes peek out of windows in the empty buildings. I could smell his familiar sea-scent hanging in the ocean air. I heard his footsteps match mine when I tripped on the path and almost tumbled down the side of the mountain. I felt his heartbeat echo my own as my feet landed on the gravel path. I knew he was with me in spirit, and, somewhere far away from Korehtz, wishing he could help me.
Wishing that he could arrive with me in the city of Korehtz.
“I miss you, Lukas,” I said, standing still and looking up at the sky. “I miss you and I need you. I hope I'll see you soon, I know I will.”
With that, I entered the nearest house, door left unlocked and wide open from the rush of getting onto one of the boats, and curled up onto the first comfortable surface I encountered. Dreams cascaded into my head the second I closed my eyes, none of which were particularly blithe or amiable (more of Lukas' words).
Laure... Laure... Listen to us, Laure...
“Who is it? Where are you?”
The voice had been young and childish and sounding as if it was right beside a young me, even though I knew I was alone in my room.
We're here, Laure...
I turned slowly, expecting to see someone standing there. At the time, it was a surprise when there wasn't but I eventually grew used to the idea of there being a colony of voices living within me.
“I can't see you!” I sobbed. “Why can't I see you?”
Because we are the voices within you, Laure...
I stood with my mother, laying in a pool of her own blood on the floor, lifeless eyes staring directly at me. Stab wounds in her throat. A rope wound tightly around her neck. My father, pale hair stained with red, all limbs broken before his neck snapped by the once-innocent hands of a ten year old girl.
That girl was me.
I felt a strange sense of peace waver over me as I stood there inaudibly and watched crimson blood well around my mother's neck like a ruby bead necklace. My father reminded me of a doll I had broken accidentally a few weeks earlier, just for fun.
It was silent and peaceful until I heard footsteps thundering up the path and the front door crash open.
The authorities. They had come for me.
Don't sleep, Laure. Get out.
The voice snapped me back into reality, reminding me that there was a stranger tapping through the halls of the hospital and inside one of the supposedly locked rooms.
Instantly, the darkness surrounding me pressed down like four walls, trapping me inside of them. I felt incapable to move. It was now silent outside of the room and the voice had silenced itself. The only thing I could hear was Lukas, still snoring. Even the sound of something which was clearly human wasn't enough to comfort me, especially when a voice spoke up to warn me about something.
My breathing quickened. My heart thundered. My head pounded. The single candle placed on a small table between our beds flickered out, a finger of smoke snaking towards the ceiling.
Down the hallway, someone screamed.
I slept all of the way through Three-day, 28, April. I guess I needed it after a week of nights that were either sleepless or brimming with nightmares. However, I woke up very early on Four-day, 29, April, just in time to see the sun rise.
When it did, the sky was red.