Our Dark Lies

Olyxe “Ash” Heregale is not to be messed with. She lives for violence, laughs in the face of danger. She’s driven by a rage so bright and fierce, it’s not wonder she does so many stupid things.

Freeing the prisoners of Isolation, a place haunted by living and dead alike, perhaps the most stupid of all.

With a handful of people like her, Cursed and misfits, she will either change Haven forever or bring the demise of all her kind.

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Author's note

I don’t really know what genre this fits in. It’s a bit sci-fi, with a good dose of dystopia and apocalyptic, and intermingled fantasy and supernatural. Also, a healthy amount of violence and strong women beating up bad people.
AA

18. Guilt

Chapter XVII

~ Guilt ~

“There’s nowhere I belong, no one I love.”

 

 

I ransack my brain in search of people I could potentially seek out for aid. Tenjey is first to come to mind, followed by Kissija. I could blackmail Camisa into working with me as well, threatening to expose her as Cursed if she refuses to come to my aid. However, I don’t want to risk needless lives, and likely all the “special” blades that they crafted for me have been tossed in storage somewhere. The chances of being faced with real peril are less than slim. 

Regardless, I will need to sway a handful of people to my cause, so there will be someone to rush to my aid in case something goes wrong. 

I begin my quest for allies with Kissija, who is rather easy to find. Slowly but surely, I pick my way across Haven until I find myself at her doorstep, fist raised, ready to knock. Fear knots in my throat. 

The gloves muffle my pounding slightly, but I’m still heard. A young woman bearing  remarkable similarities to Kissija opens the door. Unlike Kissija her hair is straight and limp, several shades darker but still coppery. Her eyes are muddy brown, but don’t resound well with me like Kissija’s do. She swings the door open wide. 

“You best be thankfully my mother isn’t home, she’d have conniption if she saw one of your kind on our doorstep.” The sister smirks, her lips quirking up deviously. “Come in. What is it your after?”

“Uh, is Kissija around?” I glance about, the house equally as bland and empty as it was last time I payed a visit. 

“Yup. Let me get her for you.” The sister bawls our Kissija’s name, who responds with an angry cuss and halfhearted grumbling. The sister only smiles, calling out again. She must enjoy irking her sibling.

“What could you possibly want now, Ilnessa?” Kissija appears suddenly, face slackening in surprise when she sees me. A few heartbeats pass before she begins to rub her lips against each other, watching me intently, as if she expects me to spring forward any moment and slit her throat. When I don’t, she visibly relaxes. “Ash. You’re honestly the last person I was expecting to see.” 

“Yeah, I can tell.” I try not to take offence to the apathy to her tone. Despite what I’d been telling myself, I’d been looking forward to seeing her. She clearly doesn’t feel the same way about seeing me. 

“Well, why are you here?” 

“Kiss!” Ilnessa exclaims, suddenly aghast. “In case you didn’t notice, Ash here is a guest. The least you could do is treat her with proper manners, you undereducated imbecile.”

“Watch what you’re calling me,” she warns, playfully shoving her sister before turning back to me with a slightly less stern disposition. 

Ilnessa shoves her sister back, and I watch the interaction, bemused. 

“In all seriousness,” Ilnessa starts, and now turns to me, and I catch the barest flecks of brilliant ultramarine in the muddy depths of her eyes. “Why are you here?”

“I came to tell Kissija something,” I answer. The turquoise glimmers within Ilnessa’s eyes are transfixing, enrapturing. They appear to swirl about, gems almost lost to the ordinariness of their brown surroundings. “Something I would like to stay between just us.” 

“No problem,” she declares, shooting us a knowing look before exiting the room. I turn to fully face Kissija, wanting to soak in every detail of her unruly hair, her mundane yet still stunning eyes, the familiarity of her face. She clearly wants to do the same, and we stand in uneasy silence, each trying to work up the nerve to speak. 

“What was it you wanted to tell me?” She is the first to break the silence, surprising herself almost so much as she surprises me. 

“Well,” I pause to take a deep breath, readying myself for the admission to follow. “I’m going to free my friends from Isolation. I wanted to let you know, in case things go horribly wrong and I won’t get to see you again, a-and to ask for your help.” 

“My help?” She appears genuinely perplexed. “What could you possibly need me for?” 

“I’m not superhuman.” I quirk a slight smile at her, which she returns in the form of a slight flick upwards of her lips. “I need help sometimes. Believe it or not, there’s some things even I can’t do alone, like breaking into a highly secure prison. By the way, I don’t even know where the entrance to Isolation is, much less how to actually get inside.”

“In my opinion, you’re definitely not an ordinary human. You’re also crazy with a possible death wish.” 

“Or maybe I’m sick and tired of being stagnant. Maybe I want to finally do something, to break from the droning monotony of my life.” Fiery passion burns within me, sharp, strong and insistent. I must free my friends, my family. 

“I think you’re mad,” she declares. “And good luck trying to change my mind.”

“Will you help me or not?” I scowl, clinging to the precipice of my words as I await her response. 

“I don’t have much choice, do I? When you promised to help me with Kednit, I told you I owed you. This is one fitting way to pay you back.” She sighs, making the victory much more somber. “Let me know what I need to do, and I’ll do it.” 

“Not the next time the lights are bright, but the time after that, come to my house. I’ll be doing it when the lights go dim. When you get there, I will tell you exactly what it is I need you to do.” I take a pause, smiling genuinely at the young women I’d come to call my friend. “Thank you, for doing this for me. I’m the one in your debt, now.” 

“Ash Heregale, I’d say your a pretty useful person too have in my debt.” Despite herself, Kissija smiles. 

“We’ll see.” I shrug carelessly, hating the ominous tone to her voice. A tone suggesting she has every intention of calling in that dept when the opportunity arrives. Hopefully that opportunity isn’t coming anytime soon, I have enough on my plate already. 

“Is there anything else you need?” She glances around at our sparse surroundings. “I mean, you’re already asking a lot, but anything you require my help with...”

“No, I’ve got everything else under control.” I frown at the small dune of dust which is after accumulating in the corner. It is entirely out of place amongst the otherwise immaculate backdrop. 

“Then you should leave. As much as I’d love you to stay, my mother is due home any moment now.” She sounds mildly ashamed of driving me away. 

“Alright. See you soon.” I almost bounce out of the house, elated with the knowledge I will have Kissija by my side.  As much as I don’t enjoy risking the lives of the people I’m close to, I know this will be hard to undertake alone. 

I slip outside. There should be a good few hours left before full darkness, so I decide to make the most of the time and search for Tenjey. I know of a handful of places, so I venture there first. She proves to be allusive, and I go so far as to visit her house. She’s rarely ever home and for some reason, dislikes it when I show up unannounced. 

I’m raising my hand to knock when I hear the footsteps. I whirl around, preparing to see Tenjey returning home after a long few hours of manipulation. 

In place of a familiar face, I see a heavyset man ambling along, muttering under his breath. My heart sinks in disappointment. Tenjey always finds a way of being around when it’s inconvenient, but always ends up disappearing when I actually need her. 

The damp corridors of Isolation are a prominent thought in my mind. I will willingly go back there, and willingly bring Tenjey back there to face all her worst nightmares, all over again. I know I don’t want to go down into those catacombs, come face to face with all those horrid memories, how could I ask Tenjey to do the same? 

I hardly have to worry about what I’ll say to her, anyways. Hours of searching and all I find is more patience than I ever thought I had. 

After what feels like an eternity of wandering futilely along the danger-fraught roads of Haven, I finally head back to the safety of myself. My heart yearns for a run, but my legs ache in protest. I set a quick pace, sharply aware of all the disgusted sneers tossed carelessly my way. After awhile, you develop an acute sense for how people see you. Thankfully, I’ve also developed a strong skill with tuning them out. Sometimes, though, I’m just too tired or weary to block them out. I see each time a person widens their eyes or scrunches their nose, each time they refuse to meet my gaze or look away when I pass. 

I can understand what Ridser was saying when he told me he hated the way people looked at him, and I can even sympathize with him. I understand, at least somewhat, why he’d want this Remedy. What I can’t understand is why refusing the Remedy was a blasphemy to him. I could respect his opinion, but he couldn’t even attempt to comprehend mine. 

A scowl deepens on my face, as I slip into an absentminded daze. I’m almost home, but at the same time I’m not close enough. Exhaustion weighs down each step, and I want nothing more but to lie down and sleep until all my problems have miraculously solved themselves. 

However, that is not possible and despite my physical weariness my mind refuses to rest. My thoughts are spinning on an endless loop, never actually getting anywhere but constantly chasing one another around and around in circles.  

By now I’m only a handful of steps away from the entrance to my abode. I snap myself out of my funk, crossing the distance in a single lunge and collapsing to the floor once I’ve passed the threshold. Knowing there is no one around to see me, I pull my knees up to my chest and wrap my arms tightly around them, turning my head so that my ear rests against my kneecap and staring off blankly at my familiar surroundings.

The clutter, the dust, the sloping walls, all of it is recognizable but does nothing to slow my thumping heart or ease the anxiety tightening my airways. None of it resounds with the sensations of being home, like it should. I simply am, this is simply here. 

I can’t keep myself from wondering if Tenjey ever feels like she’s at home, that there’s somewhere she belongs. Does everyone else? No matter how hard people have it, all of them have a place which makes them feel right, which fits them. If not a place, then a person. I am an anomaly. There’s nowhere I belong, no one I love. I have friends, sure, but not I’m not close with them like most people would. And I always end up doing something to make them angry with me. 

My eyes burn, but I refuse to cry. I cannot afford to be weak at a crucial time like this, with people relying on me to save them. If I let my sadness get the better of me, I will drown. I need to keep my head up, keep fighting, always keep going. Tenjey needs me, all the other need me. I have to keep it together, I have to stay strong. 

Regardless of how hard I fight against it, a hot tear burns it’s way down my cheek. I wipe it away furiously. 

Guilt smoulders in my chest. If I had turned myself in as the killer of Inneo whatever-his-last-name-was, wether I’m innocent or not, I wouldn’t be in this situation. I would be in Isolation, but this time I would be strong enough to get out. This time, I wouldn’t let them break me. I know what’s down there, my dreams are still haunted by the bones and pale, gaunt faces of those still alive. My Curse could’ve got me out last time, if I hadn’t been too broken down to use it. If I were to have gone back, I wouldn’t have let myself fall to pieces like last time. 

Now, I’m in even more danger. I’m putting Tenjey and Kissija in danger because I need their help. If something happens to either of them, I’ll be the sole one to blame. That is, if I manage to find Tenjey or if Kissija doesn’t change her mind and decide I’m not worth helping. 

Finally, the lure of unconsciousness is too much, and I close my eyes. Another tear leeks out, tracing a scorching path down my face. 

It takes several more minutes before I finally drift off to sleep, several minutes of sitting there and contemplating what is to come. My mind is haunted by images of bones and bodies, ghostly pale faces with expressions empty of everything. Beneath it all, I keep getting snapshots of green eyes piercing into me. 

When I finally drift off into sleep, my dreams are infected by the plague of my waking days. There’s no longer any escaping from horrid memories, nor horrid thoughts about the future. I must relive it, again and again. 

There’s darkness, all around. It begins to encircle me, closing in tighter and tighter until I start to choke. I never thought the dim lighting of Haven posed a threat to me, but now the shadows are creeping in. I cry out for help, but of course no one comes. Until Noko appears, standing the cusp of my peripheral vision. 

You didn’t save us, she declares, her voice echoing around inside my head with the force of a building collapsing, as loud as the rumbling which ensues. You could have saved us, but you refused. Why did you do that? 

I don’t answer, I can’t. My mouth is glued shut, rendering me incapable of defending myself as Noko throws insult after insult my way. Tenjey emerges from the smoky fog slowly consuming all the light, burning me with a scorchingly furious gaze. Not the friend I know. Her eyes are cold, hard, distant while her mouth is twisted into a grim line, which slashes harshly across her face. 

This is your fault, Olyxe. You brought this on yourself, you condemned yourself to this fate and no one can save you from it. Tenjey joins in on Noko’s berating. You are worthless, you don’t deserve to walk in life anymore. 

My mouth may be glued shut, but I can still produce an angry growl from deep in my throat. The images of Tenjey and Noko take a step back, only to be joined by Katpin. 

Every person who ever called you an abomination, a disgrace, they were right. You’re Cursed, you are twisted and vile as they come. Katpin takes a step forward, and so do the others. Her eyes are scalding. 

Fenly materializes from the fog next, tilting her head and smiling with a mixture of contempt and malice down at me. I’m still on the floor, hugging my knees, and despite my best efforts I can’t move more than my head. Instead of any verbal accusations, Fenly communicates with looks alone. Her disgust, belittlement and hatred are all written plain on her face for me to see. 

Jasma is suddenly standing directly in front of me, and she says nothing as well. She simply throws a heavy, accusatory glare my way, before turning around and dissipating into the fog. 

When I foolishly assume the dream is over, a pair of acidic green eyes pierce through the haze, coming closer and closer until they are framed by a face. A handsome face, yet a sinister face with sharp lines and lips stabbing downward into an angry frown. His eyes are like daggers, blazing with intensity, and they are glued to me. 

I wither, the fog finally reaching out and grasping me, dragging me deeper into my own mind where no dreams dare to go. Here, it is only blackness. On and on it goes, until there’s nowhere left. 

 
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