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Excerpt from "The Fall"

By , West Des Moines, IA
I don't think it can get any more awkward. The storm rages outside, shaking the hole in the mountain we occupy. A fire sits in the middle of the cave, emitting a small glow. My soaked shoes sit next to the fire, my frozen toes inching closer. Eden is at the mouth of the cave, yanking branches off trees ferociously, the sharp cracks just as loud and annoying as the thunder. That creepy girl is still with us, she staring out into the rain, not moving, not speaking… breathing?

"Ah, f***!" Eden drops the branch at his feet, his hand coming away bloody. Rayne doesn't even flinch as Eden rushes toward the fire to get a look. I leap from my curled and cozy position, grabbing hold of his hand.

"Holy s***!" I exclaim, his blood trickling onto my fingers. "What the hell where you doing?"

"Just… getting more firewood…" he musters, biting his lower lip. My eyes glance at the monstrosity of a pile we had already collected while looking for shelter. More like violently coping with his issues, whatever those may be.

I grab a water bottle from our bag, popping it open with my teeth. His other hand comes up to stop me. "Don't waste your water," he commands quietly.

"I'm not wasting it. Besides, its yours, not mine. I'm not stupid." He cracks a small smile as I pour the water over his hand. He grimaces as the puddle of blood flows onto the rocky floor, revealing a deep sore, pieces of bark stuck inside.

"The suns are approaching. They will be upon us in 3 hours." Rayne's quiet voice echoes around us with a creepy tenor.

"You should get some sleep," Eden says, pulling an extra shirt from the bag. He rips a bit off and wraps it around his hand.

"I'm not tired," I state firmly.

"Do what you will but we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow."

I groan dramatically. "When is there not a big day on this never ending journey?" I fall back upon my blanket, letting out a whoosh of air.

"It'll all be over soon, Jezabelle. Only a few weeks more." Rayne's voice makes Eden turn sharply toward her.

"You and I will talk… soon." He looks back at me, his face hard, eyes icy. "Get some sleep. I'll keep watch."

He looks back at Rayne's white form, hugging his knees to his chest like a child. I just roll my eyes and turn over, wrapping the blanket around my shoulders. What's he got against this Rayne anyway? I hug the blanket tightly in my fist, staring at the rocky wall. We used to be able to talk about everything… now its just commands and sarcasm. I seriously consider getting up and pushing Rayne down the rocky hill just to get some privacy with Eden, but I can't force myself up.

Before I know it I'm asleep, dreaming odd things, the woman with the long blonde hair and gorgeous wings appearing again. An angel I think.

"Jezabelle," she whispers, her voice like music. "Come sit with me." She smiles wide, revealing pearly white teeth. She gingerly pats the seat next to her, beckoning to me with her other hand. I stare at the pale, long fingers, now outstretched and awaiting me. I reach out and grasp her open palm, it chilling to the touch. And then the angel's eyes grow fierce, turning black, her grip tightening, her fingernails pricking my skin. I grimace and try to yank my hand free. She lets go and I fall backward, never hitting the floor.

"I'm waiting for you, Jezabelle." Her melodic voice echoes throughout my skull when I wake up. I close my eyes for a minute more, taking in a few breaths.

And that's when I hear Eden's voice, heated and ugly. I barely tip my chin toward the cave opening, sunlight pouring in. Rayne sits cross-legged on the ground, she facing his pacing form.

"I honestly don't know what you are suggesting…" Rayne notes in that pleasantly annoying voice of hers.

"You're supposed to be neutral!" Eden roars, throwing his hands up in the air. He glances quickly in my direction, to be sure I haven't woken.

"And I don't believe I've over stepped my boundary, now have I?" she responds.

"Then tell me what you're doing here." My brow crinkles. I've never heard his voice so… menacing. It almost makes me wonder… do I really know this man? The one who I thought was my best friend?

"I'm merely here to assess the situation," Rayne says indifferently.

"There's no need. You can't do anything to stop us." Eden's stare is cold and harsh. For a minute or so they stay silent, staring each other down. Something twinges in my stomach. The word "us" rings out, echoing in the cave, though it's hard for me to discern whether or not he means he and I, or someone else.

"May I at least offer you some advice?" she asks finally, coming up to stand right in front of him.

"What?! What could you possibly tell me without breaking your bonds?" He's getting completely exasperated. He's not even looking at her, but outside at the huge trees.

"Just a hint. Nothing more, nothing less." It seems like she's pausing for effect, just to make Eden even more annoyed. He finally looks at her and raises his eyebrows expectantly. "You are correctly going the wrong way." And then the creepiest smile appears on her face. Definitely time to wake up.

I yawn loud and dramatic, stretching my arms above me head. They immediately stop talking, Eden's head arcing upward to get a look at my expression.

I try to put a confused face on as I sit up, swaying a bit. I scratch my pile of curls and squint at the pair ahead of me.

Eden clears his throat. "Morning," he says, running a hand through the thicket atop his head.

"Morning," I reply, yawning again just for effect. I glance at Rayne, then do a double-take. She is staring at me intently, a small smile displayed on her lips… almost as if she knew I were listening.





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