3501 Words
There was nothing I could do. I stood helplessly as people I once cared for died. Some were burning alive, others were drowning in rushing water, and still others were falling into endless pits opening in the earth. I wanted to look away, to shut my eyes, anything. But I was forced to watch as my friends and family died appallingly. Because of me. I was making all this happen. I knew it, but I could not stop it. The worst part, fair worse than watching the people before me, was a part of me wanted to do this. That part of me was enjoying watches their skin melt, leaving bone, or watching them struggle to take in air where there was only water. These people had hurt me, banished me, hunted me, and now they would all pay the price. "AVA!" I turned at the sound of my name, and suddenly, everything stopped. The stench of burnt flesh was whisked away by a strong, fresh wind. Bodies were turning to ash, and swept away too. In an instant, all was calm. I watched as the boy walked towards me, a smile on his face. Tears started to fall down my cheeks. I was finally able to move, and I fell into his open arms. I sobbed uncontrollably. "Jace... Y-you're... alive! I thought... you were... d-d-dead!" I stuttered. His arms wrapped around me, and he whispered in my ear, " I am." I looked up at him. The tears stopped, and left a look of confusion on my face. "What?" I asked. "I am dead. You killed me. Remember?" He said. He gripped my arms, tight, and it hurt. "Jace... let go! You're hurting me!" His hands felt hot on my skin. Too hot. I looked at them, only to see scorched flesh. The smell of it made me gag. Looking back to his face, I watched as his smile began to disfigure. His lips were melting into a frown, and his cheeks were bubbling. His eyes were making a sizzling sound, or was it his tongue? They shrunk into their socket, and burned. I finally screamed, and tried to tear myself away from him, but he only held me tighter. "Don't you remember Ava? This is how you killed me. You had me burn alive. Now you will too." He smiled again, but it was more bone and teeth than flesh. It terrified me. Suddenly I felt my skin burn. The skin on my arms were melting too. And then we were consumed in flames. I felt us burning alive together, and I screamed in agony. "JACE! I'M SORRY! I'M-!" "NO!" I sat straight up in bed screaming. I was crying, but what else was new? My chest felt like it weighed a thousand pounds, and I sat in bed for a good ten minutes trying to control my breathing. Once I had calmed down a little, I threw my pillow across the room in anger. f*****g Jace. I knew what happened was my fault. Was it necessary for him to come to my dreams and remind me constantly? Immediately my mind went back to that day. The worst day of my life. The day that started all this. **FLASHBACK** "I'm so excited!!" I squealed. My parents just chuckled walking behind me. It was my birthday, I was officially seventeen. Which meant today was the day I could unlock my powers and discover whichever element I was blessed with, fire, earth, water, or air. I was so excited I couldn't contain myself, and I was practically skipping to the clearing where the Trials was held. The Trials were simple enough. The Elders paired those of age with someone older, someone who already had their ability. Whoever you were paired with used their ability against you, and the power within you came to life. Over the years, I've seen countless Trials. My older brother, Shawn, had his four years ago. I'd never forget that day. A water elemental used the stream to make a geyser against Shawn, but he raised the Earth into a protecting wall in front of him. It was glorious and incredible. Dad was super proud, being an Earth elemental himself, while my Mom was an Air elemental. I couldn't wait to see what I would be. "Ava, calm down sweetheart. You're going to work yourself up enough that you won't be able to concentrate." My dad chided me. "Leave her be Duncan. If I recall you were just as excited for your Trials." Mom said. I giggled. "AVA!" I turned to see Jace running over. Jace and I were best friends. He was seventeen a week ago. He was a little taller than me, about 5'11, and had straight blonde hair. His eyes were a light blue, and he had a few freckles across his nose and cheeks, and a clear pale complexion. He was on the thinner side, whereas I was more toned. He was just as excited as I was from what I could tell. The huge grin could have gave it away. "Jace! Oh my God, can you believe it? We're finally here!" I squealed again. "I know! And on your birthday too! We'll have to celebrate afterwards!" He was about to say something else, but then Elder Jonahs voice rang out through the clearing. "Thank-you everyone for coming. We are excited to have a new group for the Trials. It's been over a decade since we had such a large group too. We are thrilled to be adding a new age to our Clan. I must remind you all of the rules though, before we begin. As you all know, you will each be paired with a peer. They will use their element against you, but not to harm you. You will then instinctively use your element to defend yourself. Sometimes you will have to switch with another peer to awaken your element. It happens, so do not be worried. Lastly, you are NOT to use your new found element to attack your peer, nor anyone else. This is not a battle ground. We are here to welcome your new abilities, and give thanks to the Goddess who blessed you with them. Let the Trials begin!" And everyone cheered. I gave my mom and dad a quick hug each before I ran off with Jace. The other Elders and peers were placing people by last name, so I went to the back. "Ah, Miss Wentworth, move back two people please." I did as she asked. A couple minutes later, the Trials began. I watched person after person gain their element, and be congratulated by their peer and an Elder. When Jace walked forward, I cheered. He gave a smile and a wink, and then turned a serious face to the guy across from him. He shot a small fireball at Jace, and I watched as Jaces eyed widened before he threw his hands up and a gust of wind threw the ball back across the clearing. I cheered again as Jace stood there grinning. His peer went to shake his hand, and sent him off to the Elders to be congratulated. I was bouncing in my spot as the line continued to move. "Ava Wentworth!" I grinned and walked out to the clearing. I was the second last person to be called, but this would be worth the wait. "HI Ava, my name is Scott. I'm a water elemental and you'll be paired with me today." "HI Scott! I'm so ready!" I could hear the excitement in my voice. He laughed and gestured for me to take my place. I walked backwards a few feet and then I concentrated. Mom and Dad told me the moment you gain your ability, it feels like your soul receives a small shock. They said it lasts only an instant, but it was incredible. I stared at Scott at waited. I watched as he drew up water from the stream nearby and sent the water towards me like spraying out of a hose. I watched it come closer and closer, and when I felt no shock inside me, I raised my hands, but ended up soaked anyways. I stared at Scott with my cheeks flaming. I was the only one not to gain their element on the first try. This was so embarrassing. "Don't worry Ava, you'll get it!" I heard Jace call to me. I gave him a small smile. I saw Scott talking a woman. She clapped him on the back and walked over to me. "Hey, Ava? I'm Dawn. Me and Scott are going to switch off. I'm an Earth elemental." She said. Then she lowered her voice. "And don't feel bad. I had to go through three peers before my element came." she winked and walked across the clearing. I sincerely hoped I wouldn't have to go three like her. She stopped and turned around. She nodded at me and I nodded back. Then I felt the ground shaking, and before I knew it, it came up underneath me, fast. I lost my balance and face planted. Dawn was by my side in a second. "You okay?" I nodded to her. "Hmm... let me get the Fire elemental." The Fire elementals name was Tucker, and I really contracted with him. But again, my ability did not come. After picking myself up after dodging the fireball he sent my way, I could feel people getting anxious. I looked at my parents, who smiled but I could see the worry on their faces. Same with Jace. Then Elder Jonah stepped forward. I knew he was a Wind elemental, and this was my last chance. He gave me a curt nod, and I nodded back. He sent a strong gust of wind directed at me and I instinctively threw my hands up. When the wind hit me, it knocked me off my feet. I crouched down, and the wind stopped. I looked up to see a look of pure shock and concern on his face. He looked at my parents, who had the same expressions. Jace was no longer smiling either. This was it. I had no element. No ability. I could hear people whispering and I could feel them staring. I was the freak with no element. I felt tears in my eyes and I didn't even try to hold them back. Rage and disappointment welled up inside of me. It wasn't fair. I'd been longing for this day for as long as I could remember. Why had the Goddess not gifted me? What was wrong with me? I sobbed uncontrollably in the middle of the clearing. And then I felt it. The shock. But this wasn't a shock, this was like I had been struck by lightening. The force of it knocked me to my knees and I shrieked. Elder Jonah had gone over to consult with my parents, and I saw him whip around and stare at me. My parents looked terrified, and Jace took a step towards me into the clearing. And then.... the ground was shaking. It was coming up all over the clearing in sharp jagged rock formations. The wind started to howl, and water from the stream started to shoot up like a fountain. I felt my palms getting hot, but not just my palms, my feet, my legs, all of me. It hurt so much, it was like I was burning from the inside out. I saw people starting to run, and I saw the peers and Elders trying to use their elements to stop what was happening. And then I couldn't hold it in anymore. I screamed again, and the fire came out me like lava from a volcanoe. it set the grass on fire, and the trees surrounding the clearing. I saw a few people's clothes on fire and water elementals soaking them head to toe to put it out. I slumped to the ground. "Jace, don't!" I heard my mom scream. I turned my head to see Jace running to me. He dropped to the ground beside me and grabbed my hand. And then he started screaming. His shirt caught fire, and it spread so fast. Too fast for anyone to help him. I tried to break our grip, but I felt paralyzed. I watched as my best friend died holding my hand. And I was too weak and honestly, horrified, to do anything but watch. I watched his body slump down next to mine. He was dead. I killed him. I killed my best friend. **END FLASHBACK** I wiped away my tears, and got up. Reliving the past wasn't something I enjoyed doing, but nightmares like that always got it to replay in my head. It used to cripple me, but not anymore. I've accepted what I did, and even though I didn't accept my punishment, I've learned to live with it. Even after all this time, I still believed Jace wouldn't have wanted me dead. I killed him, but I have to believe he'd still want me alive. Although that nightmare could have changed my mind. After using the bathroom I washed my face with cold water. My hair had grown considerably over the last three years, the red locks curling down just below my chest. My eyes were ocean blue, contrasting with the red of my lips. I never had to wear lipstick because of their natural dark color. I had a pale complexion, but over the years, I'd become more pasty than pale. I'd grown skinnier too. Blame it being on the run for three years I guess. I was still toned, but definitely not what I used to be. I threw my hair up into a messy bun, and left the bathroom. I checked all my doors and windows. Two years ago, I opened my door and was met with a bomb with 5 seconds left until detonation. I opened a hundred foot pit and dropped it, thankfully, sparring my life. I left that house the same morning. Since then, I've been more careful, having a fifty foot wide, 50 foot deep pit all around my house. This house has lasted longer than any previous. And it's by far the nicest, so I'd like to keep it standing. It was a smaller house, with a total of five windows and one door. It was two stories, the basement and the main floor, with three bedrooms. I'd moved the big freezer from the basement into one of the bedrooms for easier access, otherwise two of the rooms were unused since it was only me. Every wall was a dark shade of gray, even the kitchen. All the cupboards and even the fridge was dark too. It didn't bother me though, and it's not like I could go buy paint anyways. I walked outside, and stopped. Nothing out of the ordinary. I relaxed a little. Even with my precautionary steps, I felt more relaxed here than anywhere else. My last place was set on fire. Thankfully, I'd been out hunting when it happened, and left before anyone could find me. My own fault I guess. I always tried to pick places that were abandoned, but far away from any civilization, even small ones. This time I opted for an abandoned house near the mountains. It was pretty worn down when I found it, but it only took about a month to fix it up. I've been here for just over 8 months, and nobody has come back for it yet. Even better, nobody has attacked me in that time frame either. I sat on the front porch stairs, and sighed. The nightmare was still clear in my mind, and I needed to focus on something else. I thought about my stock of food, and realized it'd been almost three weeks since my last hunt. I'd run out soon. The area I lived in was rich in rabbits, deer, and the occasional mountain goat, but they usually didn't come down this far. There was a river nearby that provided plenty of fish, and the forest provided all my greens. All in all, it was a great place. I always wondered why the people who lived here left, but it worked out for me, so I wasn't complaining. With another sigh, I stood up and headed back inside.Then I went to my closet and got out some hunting clothes. A good long hunt should take my mind of everything. I opted for dark green, thankful that whoever lived here before me left all their belongings. The female clothes, and even some of the men's clothes fit me well. I also found bows, guns, knives, and all other necessary hunting tools in the basement. After dressing, I went downstairs and grabbed my favorite bow set, and a medium sized hunting knife. I hardly ever used the guns. Too loud, and I tried to avoid unwanted attention. Which was all attention, in my case. And, truthfully, I didn't need any weapons, but I tried not use the elements if I could help it. The first time I used them after the accident, and after my escape, I had a crippling panic attack. After three years, lots of practice, and some heavy acceptance, I can use my powers without that happening, but again, I like to avoid attention. Before I left, I called Fire to make the door heat up. It took on a reddish tinge and I could feel the heat coming off it. It was far more efficient than a lock; anyone who touched it would immediately get third degree burns. Lucky for me, the door that was originally here was solid metal that didn't disfigure or melt when heated. Satisfied, I walked to the edge of the pit surrounding the property. I called Wind to support me, and allow me to walk across. This particular practice took me almost all three years since my escape to learn. I'm not dumb though. I started off with five foot pits and worked my way up. Sure, I was worried about others crossing this way, but so far, nobody has, and I knew for a fact that it more than likely render someone unconscious if they tried it with more than two people. Nobody has ever tried to take me out with any less than thirty people, so I wasn't overly concerned. Once I was on earth again, I thanked the wind and sent it off. It was a beautiful day. I hadn't noticed before, too preoccupied with distancing myself from my nightmare. The edge of the forest was lit up by the sun, giving everything a yellow tinge. The grass was slightly overgrown, with pink and yellow flowers scattered around. The raspberry bushes I planted last year were blossoming, and I could hear the river in the distance. Birds were chirping away in the trees, and I looked up to see a yellow speckled one fly into the forest. I took a deep breath, letting the scents around me fill my lungs. One of the few perks of being alone, I could enjoy this without fear. After a few more minutes, and some more deep breaths, I started towards the forest. I was engulfed by shadows as I entered, but they didn't scare me like they used to. If anything, I'd learned to use the shadows to my advantage. Ten minutes into my walk, I heard rustling in the bushes to my left. I stopped and calmed my breathing. A baby rabbit hopped out and stared at me. I smiled. It was too cute, all brown with white ears. Also too small for any good meals, so I walked on, hearing it hop away behind me. Another ten minutes of walking, and I came to the river. There was a wood bridge a few feet to my right, and beyond is where all the big game lurked. I was halfway across when I stopped in my tracks and groaned. The cart! I was so stupid! I always brought the cart with me to help me bring back whatever I killed. It could fit a nicely sized buck and about ten rabbits, and I could use the wind to push it for me. Otherwise, I'd have to drag back my kill, which was not something I wanted to do. And I wouldn't be able to get as much. I stood on the bridge, bitching at myself. In my hurry to get away from the nightmare, I'd totally forgotten the most necessary thing coming out today. I sighed and turned back. I was seriously low on food and a few bunnies weren't enough to stock the freezer. Grumbling to myself the whole way, I didn't stop until I emerged from the forest. And then I stopped dead in my tracks, and immediately crouched down. How the f**k were there people outside my house?!
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