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Neon Hearts: Chapter Five, Running Away
I hurried out of Razz-Dye. The boy Lazlo had been talking to was standing outside the door. I turned to look at him. He glanced up from the floor and looked into my eyes. I paused for a second. He was afraid. I could tell he had been crying. A chill ran down my spine. Dex jabbed me from inside my pocket. I shook my head and rushed down the hall. I could feel his wet eyes burning into the back of my head. I tried to ignore it as I went into London’s Lenses. It was a place to buy color lenses for your eyes. Before, contacts were to help people with eyesight problems see better. Now it was just a new trend kind of thing. Oh change your eye color to match your latest outfit. Ridiculous to me, but right now I was in desperate need of a new eye color. A new everything. I was wanted by the Global Tech authorities.
London was a rich preppy little daddy’s girl. You know the one who always wears pink and gives you the stink eye if she thinks your not good enough. London put her Pretty Popular magazine down and looked me over before she gave me a sneer. “Yes what do you want?” she growled. “Uh, Are you London?” I asked. She pointed a pink, polished finger to the sign on the door. “What do you think?” she hissed and rested her chin in the palm of her hand. I glared at her. “Well I’m here for some lenses.” I said quietly.
London groaned and walked over to the wall. She ran her hand across the surface. The wall flickered once and disappeared. A Graphic Wall. They were used to keep robbers out. There were tons of lenses on rows of white shelves. Red, blue, purple, green, orange, yellow. Any color ever thought of sat in pairs of little dots lining the shelves. “Pick any color.” London grumbled and strutted back over to her desk where she resumed reading her prep magazine. I bit my tongue. I could have been a b**** right back, but I figured she wasn’t worth it. Besides, I had more important things to do than insult little rich girls.
I carefully examined the lenses on the shelves. The whole time my heart was fluttering a thousand beats a second. I had to get out of there quick. Finally I settled for a pair of purple, and a pair of yellow lenses. I paid for them and hurried out. By this time, Voxiez was about to close and there was hardly a soul anywhere in sight. I quickly put the purple lenses in and hurried towards the elevator. The strange boy was still outside Razz-Dye. I paused as he stared at me with his watery, blue eyes. I noticed he wasn’t human. He was one of the Exaviors’. An alien like Tox. I could tell because his blue eyes were twitching with his rapid heartbeat. I shook my head and hurried on into the elevator. The pod doors started to close when a tennis shoe stopped it. The sad looking boy walked in and stood beside me.
I sucked in a gulp of air and focused my now purple eyes out the windows at the glowing metropolis as dusk began to fall upon our side of the Earth. The elevator slowly sank towards the ground. I could feel his eyes on me. Watching me. Cutting into me with the twitching glass shards in his pretty, frightened eyes.
The pod doors whooshed open and I hurried out, sliding my shades back over my face. I would have put them on sooner if I hadn’t forgotten about them. Dex crawled out of my pocket, up my arm and clutched to my shoulder. I unlocked my hover bike and it rose eagerly. I jumped on and sped away, not bothering to look back at the strange Exavior boy. “Where are we going?” Dex called over the blaring wind as we sped down the speedway, dodging hover cars and other bikes. “Home. I need to talk to Tox. Bat hunting will have to wait.” I called back. The time in Voxiez had shaken me up and I was paranoid as ever. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide.
We finally pulled into the ghetto gates. I parked my hover bike and hurried across the street. It was dark now. The sun had recently sank behind the tall city buildings. Mars… or the new Exavior was a small glowing circle in the sky. I tried my best to stay clear of the security lights and keep my dark figure hidden in the shadows. Dex’s eyes glowed yellow in the dark as we approached Tox’s dorm house. I knocked twice. “Tox!” I said. No answer, just the muffled sound of….. Music?” Tox usually didn’t listen to that much music because the sound waves hurt his sensitive ears, and when he did you could barely hear it with human ears. I knocked again. “Tox? Remi? Hello?” I shouted. Remi should have opened the door by now. Something wasn’t right.
I heard laughter and someone’s muffled voice. It sounded like Tox. So I knew he was in there. I knocked a few more times only to be answered by more muffled laughter. Something was wrong. I slid my fingers over the security pad beside the door. I slowly punched Tox’s security number in and the door slid open silently. I looked at Dex. He looked back at me and hovered up beside my head, drawing his six mechanical legs up into his bug-like body. I slowly stepped inside. An unfamiliar, sweet scent hit me with tremendous impact that nearly knocked me back outside. With Tox’s sensitive nose I would have puked right in the middle of the floor. The sickly sweet smell masked the usual forest smell of Tox’s eco-candles.
The whole house had a dim light to it. I could hardly see. I spotted Remi, sitting lifeless on his charge pad in the corner of the front room. My eyes swept over towards the bedroom. The faint glow was coming from there. I slowly started walking down the hall towards the glow, Dex hovering beside me the whole way. As I walked silently down the dark hall, the sweet scent got stronger along with the volume of the music. When I finally made it to the end of the hall, I turned on my heels and faced the curtain covering the doorway to Tox’s bedroom. The faint glow bled out from under it, leaked out onto the floor and crawled up the walls.
I gently slid my fingers around the right side of the curtain and slowly pulled it back. The green eco-candles had been replaced with blood red candles that were floating on hover plates above the bed. The old stereo system I had bought Tox four years before had been drug out of the deep dark pit of his closet and was softly playing classical music in the corner. The usual mountains of dirty clothes that covered his floor were absent. The room was tidy and organized except for the T-shirt Tox had been wearing earlier, an unfamiliar long sleeved sweater, and one of Tox’s favorite belts were laying together on the clean, carpeted floor. His only pair of shoes were laying at the foot of the bed along with a pair of cute little black flats.
My heart, that had been thundering in my chest, had finally gave out. I had a sick feeling tumbling around in my stomach. A furious scream of horror and sorrow lay at the back of my throat, threatening to jump out and tear through the calm, sickish air. Searing hot tears stung my eyes and ran down my cheeks. Tox stared over at me from his cushy pillow. Azailia’s wavy black hair was draped down and resting on his bare chest. She was looking at me too. She wasn’t smiling but I could see something like satisfaction in her big, pretty, blue eyes. Tox was still half way caught in a daze as he lay under Azalia.
I took a step back. The ground was jerking under my feet. I stumbled, trying not to fall. The house, the world was spinning around me. I was being thrown and battered in a fuzzy battle with my combined emotions. I gritted my teeth as the pain, sorrow, and fury gripped me from every angle. I tried to pry myself away from it but It sank into my skin. It poisoned my blood and pulsed throughout my body. My dead heart was ripping itself apart from the inside out. Tox…. He was gone. He had slid between my fingers like tiny grains of sand. And now…. she had him. Azalia Octave had my Tox. In her heart. In her arms. And I was falling into a bottomless black pit, surrounded by the terrifying emotions that began to overcome everything.
“Rahli?” Tox said quietly. I opened my eyes and gasped loudly. I was hunched over, my arms wrapped around my stomach, trying to keep my insides from falling apart. A pitiful, loud sob escaped from my throat and uncontrollable tears poured from my eyes without mercy. I looked up at him, sitting there with Azalia. I narrowed my eyes at her. I wanted to hiss and screech in fury. I wanted to throw myself on her and rip and tear at her with my fingernails and teeth. Make her hurt to no end. Cut her pretty locks into hideous black ribbons. Attack her with all my rage and fury as if I were an angered Deam-on. But more than anything I wanted to curl up next to Tox and cry. Cry all the pain and frustration away. But I didn’t attack. I didn’t curl up next to the young Exavior man that I had longed for, for so long. I simply stared at them crying from the hallway.
They were over there. Together. Their own pretty little picture of romance. And I stood pitifully in the dim hallway away from them. Lost and alone. I could see Tox felt pity for me. Azalia stared at me in shock and confusion. So innocent. My hands shook in temptation. I wanted to claw at her pretty, porcelain face. Finally I got the strength to hurry down the hall, out the door and across the street. I heard shouts behind me, but they were blurred together. I just wanted to run. Run away. Away from it all. Run. I jumped onto my hover bike and punched in the unlock code with shaking fingers. My bike whirred and rose from under me.
I flexed my hand back and the bike lurched forwards and sped off. Dex flew up from behind and clutched onto my shoulder with his mechanical legs. Tears flew back behind me as I soared down the speedway, swerving between other hovercrafts. “Where are we going now, Rahli?” Dex asked. I didn’t reply. His voice was far away. I didn’t know where I was headed. I just wanted to get away.
We rode for what seemed like forever. Finally I was beginning to get tired. I didn’t want to go home, so I turned off onto the next exit. We had drove all the way to Central Deams. A good sixty five miles from home. I was much too exhausted to turn back. Plus my heart still ached from the recent wound. I sniffed and pushed my shades back on. Staying at an inn would be too risky, especially in the central part of the metropolis. I coasted along the speedway. There were people everywhere of every shape size and color. There were street performers and advertisements around every corner.
I had only been here a few times with Tox, but it was always day time. Never had I ever been there at night. It was so different. Neon lights flashed every color imaginable all around. Music echoed off the walls of the business towers and flooded the streets. The vibe of the place lifted my spirit’s a bit as my eyes and ears feasted on the beauty of it all. We passed lots of concert stadiums. I could hear thousands of people cheering and screaming in a rapture of excitement as their favorite bands played before their very eyes. I suddenly started to think of when Tox and I had went to a concert on his sixteenth birthday. It was one of the most fun nights of my life. The sorrowful feeling returned to my heart and a single tear escaped my eyes.
We rode for hours. Soon we came to the edge of the city, where old brick buildings and cracked asphalt roads snaked around the deserted graveyard of the past city. A few old metal cars sat rusted and bashed around the crumbling buildings. There were no lights out in the forgotten piece of the old city. Everything seemed to be covered in dust. Even the sky above looked dirty and smoggy. I looked around wearily as we passed the creepy creations of the past. Glass windows were shattered and top halves of sky scrapers lay in pieces on the ground by their base. It was as if we had warped back in time.
“I don’t like it here, Rahli.” Dex whimpered. “Hush, Dex.” I whispered and continued to ride around, slowly hovering above the asphalt roads. I soon spotted an old brick building. The most stable one yet. I rode up and stopped in front of it. There was a faded sign on the face of it. “Walnut Ridge Orphanage” it read. I got off my bike and pushed it around the back of the building where a wooden shack sat abandoned and alone. I carefully pushed my bike in. “It’ll be well hidden here.” I whispered. I peered into the dark doorway leading into the building. Dex hovered off of my shoulder and flew into the dark room, his eyes lighting up the place. I followed in after him. The old wooden floor was rotted and creaky.
Old time sofas and toys were turned over and laying on the floor. Rats scurried around trying to hide from the intruder’s light. I had never seen such a place. So many illegal things sitting around. I looked at the walls. People had spray painted gang symbols and names all over the place. “Rahli!” Dex called to me. I snapped out of my trance and turned around. Dex was hovering over by a crumbling concrete stairway. I carefully walked over to him, the floor creaking under my weight with every step. I looked up the stairwell that seemed to go on forever into the shadows.
“We’ll probably be hidden better if we are upstairs.” I whispered. They’ll be less likely to find us.” Dex hesitated but hovered on ahead, lighting the way. I started thinking about Tox again. If only I had told him I loved him that night in the basement…. Maybe he wouldn’t have been with Azalia. Or even better… maybe that would have been me. I sighed and took another step and continued to carefully climb the crumbling stairs, going up flight after flight. Suddenly I heard a cracking sound and I was falling. I yelped in surprise as the concrete gave way under me and I began to fall along with the hunks of the crumbling stairs into a void of shadows.
I suddenly stopped falling and something jerked me to a stop from above. “I’ve got you, Rahli!” Dex called above me. The little robot then began to hoist me upwards, his hover plates whirring loudly at the effort. I scrambled to pull myself up onto solid ground again, my legs were shaking. “Thanks, Dex.” I said panting, my heart pounding. Dex nodded and waited for me to get to my feet and we continued on. I picked up a strip of a rusty metal beam and pressed on the stairs before I went on. We climbed on through the darkness. Finally we came to a room. Toys and shredded blankets were strewn across the floor along with dirt and leaves. Moonlight shined into the hole in the roof, dimly bathing the room with a white light. There was an old mattress laying a few feet in front of the stairs. Suddenly I felt too exhausted to stand. I hobbled over to the mattress and belly flopped onto it. Only then did I realize how tired I was. I gave a heavy sigh. So much had happened lately. My brain was still catching up with it all. I was asleep in seconds.