Chapter thirteen – Nile
Ooooooh just one more chapter after this and then Micah’s story is over! 0.o
…Well, plus the epilogue. And that other thing. Yeah.
My feet slowly slid over the sandy beach. Little pieces of sand got stuck between my toes as the wind tucked at my hospital dress, lifting it up a little. The ocean’s waves made a calm, soothing sound as they reached the shores. I slowly blinked with my eyes and gazed across the completely abandoned beach.
Ah… what’d I been doing over here?
The beam of the lighthouse shone directly in my direction and I looked the other way. The light was too bright; it was hurting my eyes.
I desperately tried to remember how I’d gotten all the way from the hospital to over here, but my memory failed me. What was going on? Had I really started sleepwalking? But even if I had, it was over twenty minutes by foot to get here from the hospital. Had no one noticed me?
Suddenly, I was overcome by a wave of dizziness. I moved my hand to my forehead in an attempt to keep my balance, when I noticed my entire arm was shaking. I frowned and moved it a few centimeters away again, trying to move my fingers. I could barely make a fist.
What on plumbob was going on?
‘Come on, Micah, snap out of it,’ I scolded myself, strongly shaking my head. ‘Get a grip on yourself.’
The words seemed to work, although my body still felt numb. If only I had my phone, I could call Ethan to come and pick me up…
That’s right. I couldn’t talk to him anymore. And it was my own, stupid fault for not realizing his feelings.
Just as I wanted to turn around and start the tiring walk back home to a surely furious dad, something on the other side of the shore caught my attention. There was someone standing on the rocks closest to the sea, all alone. Someone else that was all alone in the middle of the night.
Someone that looked a lot like Nile.
Go to her.
Anger spread throughout my body like poison. I needed to set things straight with Nile. Because this was her fault. Everything was.
Yes. That girl had some explaining to do.
Running around the shoreline took me longer than I thought. My legs were a bit wobbly, and they had already collapsed under me twice, causing me to fall flat-faced into the sandy beach. After a few minutes, though, I started to feel better, and by the time I reached the end of the sandy beach, I felt confident enough again to climb.
The rocky edge of Sunset Valley was harder to scale than I remembered from my childhood. Dad and I’d gone fishing on those rocks a few times, and I’d also had adventure scouting trips with Ethan an our dogs. The last time we’d done any of those things was years ago, though.
I made my way through to the rock, pushing the bushes aside that were blocking my path. I was almost there… just a bit more…
But when the place I was aiming for finally came into sight, Nile was no longer there.
‘Fudge,’ I mumbled softly. I’d taken too long to get here. Where did she go?
I could go to her house… if I’d known where Nile lived. But I didn’t, so that was no option.
I sighed and sat down on the grass, looking out at the sea. A group of fish were swimming around what looked like a rubber shark, perhaps left behind by a kid. My limbs were still shaking, and I had the feeling it wasn’t just because I was still recovering from the incident at the mausoleum. Something weird was going on. Mere numbness from passing out wouldn’t take this long.
I tried to stand up, but was immediately overcome by another dizzy spell and fell flat on the grassy rock. The word around me started to spin.
‘What… the… fudge…?’ I whispered, clawing into the ground. My vision slowly went dark until I couldn’t see what wasn’t right in front of my anymore.
You started this, I heard loud and clearly in my mind. And it’s too late to turn back now.
‘Who… who are…?’
The next second, my vision went completely black, and then there was nothing.
A pleasant warmth enveloped the front side of my body. It felt a bit like a warm bath on a winter’s day, where your chilled body was heated by the water in a quick and pleasant manner. I pressed my eyelids together and then opened them a little bit, trying to find out where I was.
I was greeted with the sight of a sparkling fire inside a tiny fireplace, that looked like it had just been lit. Someone was poking around in the fire, moving the logs about so the flames could breathe. The person was doing it quite skillfully, too.
My body felt terrible. I groaned softly and tried to lift my head up to see which person had taken me from the rocks.
‘Stay down,’ Nile said, not taking her eyes off the fire. ‘You were two inches away from falling off that cliff.’
Nile? Why her- why did it have to be Nile of all people to rescue me? She was gone by the time I’d reached that rock, so why?
‘Are you spying on me?’ I groaned.
‘I’ve tried. You just won’t stay in one place, will you?’
I shot her a deadly glare as an answer. My anger level was rising by just looking at her. Somehow, in my mind, I blamed Nile for everything. The state I was in. The fight I had with Ethan, and the fact that I had to abandon him. It was all her fault.
‘Where are we?’ I asked, trying to contain the sudden urge I had to hurt her- to make her pay for everything she did, even if I couldn’t remember what it was.
‘In an old cabin near the beach. Fishermen like spending the night here, though other people don’t seem to know where it is. I use this place a lot- the fireplace is nice for when it gets chilly outside.’
She diverted her gaze from me again and resumed her poking in the fire. One of the logs snapped and a small puff of sparks flew into the room, barely missing her clothes.
I slowly picked myself up from the bed and took a glance around the cabin. It was small and square, with two bunk beds and a tiny table squeezed in between the wall and the door. Everything seemed to be made of wood, save for the fireplace. There was only one tiny window, and the door to the beach seemed to be shut tight.
‘You carried me here? Why?’
‘I couldn’t let you alone out there in the cold.’
That wasn’t the question I wanted to ask her. There were tons of questions floating around in my head, questions that had made me seek her out, but now that she was within talking reach I did not know where to start. Another dizzy spell made my vision go funny and I quickly leaned against the wall.
‘Why did you tell Ethan to say what he did?’ I blurted out. Nile slowly placed the fire hook on the ground and turned around to face me. She looked different than normal. The look in her eyes was less cold, almost compassionate.
‘You’d gone too far. I thought you’d listen to your best friend, even if you wouldn’t listen to me. I guess I was wrong.’
‘You had no right to,’ I spat.
‘I do,’ Nile said. She took a step away from the fireplace and in my direction.
‘Just leave me alone,’ I rejected her, placing my hands over my knees in a physical attempt to block her out.
‘I know what you’re going through, Micah.’
‘Like hell you do. You have no idea how I feel- how my life has been. Don’t you dare to try and act like you know what I’m going through.’
Nile sighed shortly and suddenly dropped herself on the bed, making me shove aside.
‘What are you doing?!’ I protested. ‘Listen, I don’t want to be anywhere near you and-‘
‘I used to have brown eyes.’
‘My eyes. They used to have the color of tree bark and dark wood just before it gets burned. My mother- she had the exact same eyes as me, so I knew what color they were.’
‘I never found out who my father was. But that didn’t matter. The three of us were enough- my mother, my baby brother and me. Mum was great with both of us, always playing or cuddling to make sure we never felt lonely.’
Nile was silent for a short while, and then continued to speak.
‘We were a gypsy family, homeless but happy with what little we had. I loved our traveling and when we finally settled down at the edge of a town, it felt like a whole new world opened itself for me.’
For a little bit, the tiniest of smiles appeared on Nile’s face. She looked at the flames in the fireplace, lost in thought.
I was confused. Why was she telling me this? I hated her, and she knew it. Telling me her life story wouldn’t change that- it was completely irrelevant to this situation.
The next moment, her smile disappeared.
‘And then… my mother died.’
‘It turned out she had been fighting a disease since before my little brother was born. At that time, there was no treatment… and no way to save her life.’
‘We were alone on the world, my brother and me. The town we lived in looked down on gypsy children, and so no one wanted to take care of us. I hated them all, and on the day of my mother’s funeral, I vowed I’d raise my brother by myself.’
‘And I tried, I really did. But a little child can’t possibly take care of a newborn baby all by herself. Food was already scarce for everyone, and no one in town wanted to give what little they had left to a gypsy beggar.’
‘And then… then the day came that my brother wouldn’t wake up any more.’
Her story stopped. I glanced at her from the corner of my eyes. Nile was looking into the distance, her eyes slowly turning cold again.
‘When he died- it was like something within me snapped. I couldn’t live all by myself, not without my little brother to give me something to live for. So… I did something that humans were never supposed to do. I searched for a way to revive him.’
I went to see a woman that the country had labeled as a witch, and learned the secret from her. She said I had the talent, and even though I could do it, this method was taboo, but she told me anyway.’
‘The gate,’ I whispered.
‘I took my brother there, and placed his body inside to try and bring back his soul. It seemed so easy. I thought I had it all figured out.’
‘But what finally came back… wasn’t my little brother. It wasn’t human. A monster in the form of the body I’d put inside that gate, trying its hardest to crawl back out and grab me.’
It wasn’t human.
‘I saw what he had turned into and panicked, pushing the thing back into the gate with my bare hands. Something inside me changed the instant I did that, together with my eyes. Something I won’t ever get back.
A moment later the doors were closed and I blacked out…and I was all alone when I finally woke up. Mum was gone. My brother was gone. I’d failed. Again.’
We were the same. She and I, we were exactly the same. I fought against the numbness overcoming me as I tried to get the words to leave my mouth, but failed. Slowly, the entire room started fading from my sight.
“But you have to listen to me! Something really, really bad is going to happen if you try to bring him back!”
‘My growth slowed, and over the course of years- many years, I came across other children that were like me. Determined to keep them from going through the same thing I had gone through, I tried to warn them. But none of them would listen to me. None of them ever listened… and they all paid the ultimate price. They disappeared, and the things that came back in their place… The monsters mentioned in myths, vampires, unexplainable disappearances- they’re all a result of humans committing the thing that should never be done.’
Nile let out a sound between a sigh and a sob.
‘I’ve never been able to keep them from disappearing… But you… you’re different, Micah. You went to the gate, and you came back. You did not come out clean. There’s a red shadow clinging to you, slowly trying to take you over… but you can still be saved. And I won’t sit idly by anymore. This time, I’m going to do everything I can to save them… to save you.’
Her speech was abruptly ended as Nile got pushed away to the left, leaving room to stand up.
‘Micah? Are you all right?’
The flames shot up high and another puff of sparks and ash blew into the room. Nile shifted her weight a little bit and her eyes narrowed as Micah did not respond.
She got up as well and grabbed her shoulder, turning her around. Nile’s eyes grew wide with shock and disbelief as she saw her greatest fear come true.
‘Hello, big sister.’