The day slowly faded away, leaving a purpling sky in its wake. Ira hadn’t said a word since he lost the image of Kali in his mind. There was a sliver of hope that this boy could be found but Ira seemed more upset at my optimism than anything else. His sudden change in demeanor made me even more wary of this young boy who insisted on helping anything that moved. I sat alone in his bedroom while he sulked somewhere on the other side of these four white walls. I retrieved the mirror Julian had given me before I took my leave. Concentrating on the one person I wanted to talk to the most, I chanted her name over and over before waving my hand over the reflective glass slowly. The aquamarine light stung my eyes as it erupted from the glass. I squinted against the blaze and for a moment it was just my reflection staring back at me. Then it went blank.
“Hello,” I called. “Hello, hello, hello?”
“Huh?” I smiled, hearing her sleepy voice. Mariana’s face along with delectable bed head appeared in the glass as she picked up her mirror. “Kai?”
“Did I wake you?”
“Obviously,” she grumbled, wiping her eyes. “Where did you get a mirror?”
“That’s not important.”
“Are you stealing again? You better not get caught. Don’t even think about calling from prison because I can’t save you even if I wanted to.”
“Relax. I didn’t steal it.” I was delighted to hear her nag me once again. “How are you? Are you eating properly?”
“What kind of question is that?” We both knew the answer to it, however; I still chose to ask. “More importantly, when are you coming back?”
“I have to tell you something. Promise me you won’t get mad.” She nodded, yawning in the process. “I’m not in District. I’m in Central.”
“What?” she screamed.
“I told you not to get mad!” Mariana rubbed a hand over her face and clamped her hand down over her mouth. “I’m helping someone find his brother and in the process I hope to get a peek at my birth certificate. I want to find out who I am, where I’m from, stuff like that. I can even look at yours if you want!”
“This isn’t a good idea, Kai. I get that your parents didn’t leave you anything to go by and I understand your frustration but this is really dangerous. Do you have any idea what you’re getting yourself into?” Mariana frowned at me and my heart twisted painfully. This wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for. “I’m coming to get you.”
“What?” I blurted, unsure if I heard correctly.
“I’m coming to Central and dragging your butt home.” She was already running around her room gathering her things. “Just give me an address and I’ll be there in about three days.”
“Mariana, I can’t let you make that journey by yourself. It’s dangerous.” She shrugged, continuing to flit around the room. “Are you even listening to me?”
“No, because I could care less about what you’re saying at this point.”
I sighed. She was making it difficult to love her at the moment. “What if I come get you? You can help me find Julian’s brother. We can get all the questions we have answered. Things don’t have to stay the way they are!”
“Kai, do you even hear yourself?”
“Mariana, just shut up and trust me for once!” I screamed.
“For once?” she repeated. “I’ve trusted you with my life since day one and now you are asking for trust as if I never trusted you in the first place? Now I see who you really are. You care about no one but yourself. I can’t believe I had even a shred of faith in you in the first place. I should’ve never accepted your help. I’d be better off bleeding to death in Austral than with a moron like you determined to answer questions that are better left unanswered! Don’t call me again.”
My heart shriveled up and died the moment she disconnected the call by smashing her mirror against the wall. Mariana knew very well I cared about her more than anyone else in this world. The day I found her, she was attacked. They took everything she had. She was practically left for dead in the alleys. On my way to another job, I found her lying in the pathway in a pool of her own blood, barely breathing. I took her back to where I was living, cared for her, fed her, and watched over her until she was strong enough to stand on her own. Her parents abandoned her, claiming she was a liability because she had a strong sense of adventure. I allowed her to stay with me for three years. We were inseparable for those three years. I became her family and she became mine. Mariana was my everything.
“Is everything alright?” Ira asked, poking his head into the room.
“No. I’ll be back.”
I pushed past him, running through the building and out the door in seconds. I was at the gate in minutes thanks to my newfound power. Now if only it’d transport me farther than a few feet at a time. The sky was completely dark by now. My eyes scanned the cracked clay road ahead of me as I propelled myself faster with each tap of my feet against the ground. The city lights faded behind me and the mechanical hum of technology died down the farther I got. I was in District in thirty minutes flat. I slipped through the desolate and eerily silent streets undetected. I considered stopping by Julian’s place but I needed to get to Mariana quickly.
My lungs burned, protesting the brutal treatment I was putting them through; however, I refused to stop running. Clay gave way to coarsely powdered earth and earth to finely grained sand. The decrepit buildings of Austral came into view. Slowly, I went from running to jogging to walking. I completely stopped and placed my hands on my knees, gasping for breath. Despite my wheezing, I focused all of my attention on channeling my power. I wanted to be at Mariana’s side. I visualized myself there. My heart stuttered painfully when the initial shock hit me. It felt like I flew for a nanosecond and suddenly I was at my destination. I opened my eyes to find myself in front of my own house. The pain of teleportation forced me to my knees. The world was spinning around me. I’d never gone so far using my power. It took a great toll on my body.
“Mariana!” I called, unable to move.
My muscles refused to move and remained locked in place. I gently brought myself to the ground and just lay there, staring up at a starless, impassive sky. My head was still spinning. I felt sick. Mariana hadn’t come out and I didn’t want to attract attention by yelling once more. I remained in the dirt just catching my breath. Once I was sure I wouldn’t vomit all over the place, I sat up and let myself in. Mariana was curled up in bed oblivious to the fact that I was right beside her. I touched her shoulder gently. Her turquoise eyes gleamed as she startled awake, producing a knife from God knows where. I threw my hands up and she didn’t lower the knife until she realized it was just me.
“Kai? What are you doing here? How did you even get here?”
I snapped my fingers, transporting myself back a few feet. “Like this.”
Her eyes widened and she cowered to the farthest corner of the bed, clutching the knife in her hand. “Is this a dream?”
“No, it’s very much reality,” I answered, teleporting forwards again.
She screamed, swinging wildly. “Stay away!”
“Back away you…monster!”
“I won’t do it again,” I assured her. “I’m just Kai. I’m not a monster. I won’t hurt you.”
“Says the boy with Kai’s face, flying forwards and backwards in like two seconds.”
“Oh come on.”
I sat down on the bed and took the knife from her, ignoring the fact that she still cowered from me. If I had known that my power was so dreadfully alarming, I wouldn’t have shown her. I wondered if that was how I looked to Julian when we first met. Lighting a candle, I showed her my face in an attempt to prove that I was the one and only Kai. Releasing a shaky breath, she stared at my face a little longer than necessary.
“Where did you learn that?” she asked.
“I didn’t really learn anything. I always had it. Julian helped me find out that I’m the Force of Austral.”
Rather than laughing, Mariana pulled me into a bone-crushing hug. “I knew you were special.”
“Special?” I snickered. “As if.”
“I’m serious!” Mariana insisted. “Now you know what you wanted to know, right? We don’t have to look at your records.”
I pulled away from her. “I still want to know who I am. I know what I am now but I’m not done.” Mariana raked a hand through her hair, clearly disappointed. “So you’re going back?”
“I want you to come with me. We’ll both be happy that way.”
“Are you kidding? I’m not going there!”
“And why the hell not? You were completely ready to come drag me home; why is now any different?”
“I have no reason to go there! You’re here now! Just stay.”
“I’m not going to fight with you about this. I’m leaving in the morning whether you’re coming or not.”
Hoping she didn’t realize I was lying, I stood and exited her room. I didn’t want to leave without Mariana and I couldn’t give up on finding out what my parents had been keeping from me. In my room, I collapsed onto my bed which wasn’t really a bed at all. It was simply a decaying mattress covered in an old bed sheet I stole months ago. I lay face down just breathing. My body was aching and the last thing I wanted to do was get up in the morning and go all the way to District alone. At least if Mariana was with me it’d ease the pain of my newfound travel method.
Turning over, I stared blankly into the darkness. Millions of unanswered questions swirled around in my head and the thought of them all being answered made my stomach flip in excitement. I was nervous as well. What if nothing was what I expected it to be?
My eyelids grew heavy and I gave in to the slumber overcoming me.
“Ready?” I asked Mariana. Somehow I convinced her to come with me back to Central. She nodded tentatively and climbed onto my back. “Hold on tight, okay?”
“As if I’d do anything less,” she scoffed.
She was still slightly terrified of me but not to the point where she wouldn’t come near me. Baby steps. She secured her legs around my torso and practically choked me to death with her arms around my neck. The pain from the night before had subsided, leaving a dull throbbing in my head that I chose to ignore. I put all my focus transporting us both to Central in record time.
Teleportation was becoming more of a chore the harder I tried to perfect it. I supposed that was my body’s way of telling me to just let it come naturally; however, I didn’t have time for that. I wanted to know the extent of my ability. I had a feeling I’d have a lot of decisions to make in the near future and an extensive knowledge of my power was going to be necessary.
This time I made it to Central without collapsing halfway there but the toll on my body was evident. I stopped at the gate and let Mariana down, wheezing in the process. The world was spinning and I tried my hardest not to let Mariana know I was slowly falling apart. I took deep breaths, trying to calm the wave of dizziness that washed over me.
“How are we supposed to get through?” Mariana asked, inspecting the gate.
“We wait. I can’t take you through. You’ll get hurt.”
“Are you all right?”
“Fine,” I breathed, still hunched over with my hands planted on my knees.
You’re back. I jumped, not expecting the sudden voice in my head. Yeah, I replied. How did you know? It was quiet for a moment and I thought Ira might have left. I don’t need to be near you to speak to your mind anymore. We have a bond. A bond? I didn’t understand what kind of bond but I let it go, too tired to overthink things as usual.
The gate is closed. What time does it go down again?
In about an hour. Should I come meet you?
No. We’ll wait.
I brought a friend.
I thought I told you to stop picking at my brain!
Ira was quiet after that. I assumed I scared him off.