Home > Soulless (Soulless #1)(5)

Soulless (Soulless #1)(5)
Author: Cerys du Lys

"This way," I said, pointing to the easily climbable tree and the student's secret sneak-out route. "There's a hidden way out."

Evan nodded and we ran for it. He ran slowly now, though, oddly. I looked over at him and realized his crossbow must have jarred his shoulder when he caught me.

"Your hurt," I said.

He brushed it off. "I'm fine. Where is it?"

I showed him to the nearby spot with the tree. There was no bench on this side to get started, but the wall wasn't too high and the tree branches grew lower than the ones on the other side. Evan nodded once we arrived and went straight to business.

Removing the quiver and crossbow from his back, he jumped up and slipped them onto the top of the stone wall. Getting to his knees next to the wall, he looped his fingers together and looked at me pointedly.

"I'll help you up. It'll be faster this way. Just step onto my hands and use the wall to brace yourself. I'll lift you up as high as I can. Can you jump to the other side fine if I get you to the top? If not, I can climb up after you and help you down."

"I can do it," I said. Breathing in deep, I stared at him kneeling on the ground. "I don't know if this is a good idea, though."

"It's not a good idea," he said with a grin. "It's a great idea! I promise I won't drop you."

I rolled my eyes at him and sighed. Stepping into his hand with one foot, I reached out and braced myself against the wall with my arms. Carefully, he lifted me up. He slipped when he went to stand and cursed under his breath.

His shoulder. I'd completely forgotten. I could climb the tree--I'd done it before. We didn't need to do it this way and I should've realized we shouldn't, too.

"I can climb on my own," I said. "You're hurt, Evan."

He ignored me, grimacing, and then with a grunt he pushed through the pain in his arm and stood up. I wobbled at first, but kept myself balanced against the wall. Worried, frowning, I watched him but he refused to accept my anxiety.

He lifted me higher. I reached out and grabbed the other side of the wall, then pulled one leg over the top while holding on. Lifting my other leg off his hands, I spun up and onto the top of the wall.

But I didn't jump to the other side.

The last of our group of chasers, the one who had never come inside to begin with, content with slamming his open palms against the glass instead, staggered around the corner of the building. The three inside approached the broken glass around that time, too. All four of them surveyed the yard, spying their fallen companion. Slowly, seeking, they scanned for Evan.

And then they saw him. Evan grabbed onto the tree and lifted himself up. Or, he tried to. He used the wrong arm and winced in pain, then jumped back to the ground.

The group of others saw him and regained their desire for the chase. The one already on the ground bolted forward, intent on getting to Evan before the rest. One of the ones on the second floor of the library furrowed his brow for a moment, but then leapt to the ground. Better prepared than his predecessor, he landed lightly in the grass, ready to hunt.

This time with his other arm, Evan grabbed the lowest branch again. He tried to climb one-handed, but wasn't making much progress.

I stared at him, then glanced towards his soon-to-be attackers. Back and forth, my eyes darted from one to the other. He couldn't get up, wouldn't be able to make it in time.

Laying flat against the top of the wall, I reached one arm down and stretched it out as far as I could.

"Evan!" I screamed.

He saw me, saw my hand. With one last ditch effort, he snatched a branch with his good arm and reached up for my hand with his bad one. I touched him, felt the heat flare into my palm. It shocked and startled me, even now, but I clenched my hand into a fist and squeezed his hand in mine.

Clamping my eyes shut, too scared to look, I pulled. Hard. Harder than I ever thought I'd pulled anything before.

Evan's shoulder popped; I felt it. My eyes opened, shocked, and I gasped aloud. I'd meant to help him but I'd hurt him even more. I couldn't bear to look, didn't want to see the others descend upon him in bloodthirsty panic. And yet I didn't want to never see him again, either. I wanted to hold his hand and feel his warmth. I wanted him to touch my cheek and smile at me and talk to me as if I was just a regular person again.

I wanted it so badly it hurt. Unlike physical pain, this pain wasn't dulled.

Dumbfounded, scared and panicked, eyes wide and fearful, I watched as Evan scrambled up the tree easily and leaped onto the top of the wall. He sat down next to me, legs dangling over the sides, while the others below us tried to grab his feet.

"Whew!" he said. "That was close."

"What happened?" I asked, staring at him. I didn't understand any of this.

"Oh. Thanks for that. I must have kind of popped my shoulder out of place a little when I caught you before. Nothing too bad, just really painful if you don't let it fix itself. I could have done it if I had some time, but, you know?" He offered a curt nod to the ground and the others snatching for his boots. "Your way was much quicker."

"Oh," I said. "You're welcome."

Evan grabbed his crossbow and quiver and strapped them to his back again, then twisted around and jumped off the wall into the alleyway below. Standing patiently and waiting for me, he held out his arms as if to catch me.

"I'm not letting you catch me," I said.

He laughed. "That might be for the best."

I jumped fine and landed beside him.

"Do you have a place to stay?" he asked.

I blinked at him, eyes hazy. "What do you mean?"

"I don't actually know how that works. I assume you go somewhere for the night, though? Or just whenever? I'm not sure. Do you have a home or, uh... do you wander around the city?"

"Oh," I said. "Yes. There's a house outside the city in the forest. It's off a side road. I usually go there. It's not too far away and it's quiet and nice. I..." I paused because I didn't want to say this to him, but I knew I had to. "I should go now, then. It was nice meeting--"

He stopped me. "I'll walk you home." Taking my hand in his, offering me his warmth once more, he smiled. "It's the least I can do, right?"


After sneaking through the city and leaving by way of one of the back roads, Evan and I walked easily the rest of the way to my home. My home, I thought. I was going to show it to him, but I hadn't expected to ever show it to anyone.

It wasn't truly mine, either. I'd claimed it, as it was, though who knew if the previous owners cared too much. I hadn't seen them--or anyone--in the few months that I'd stayed there.

The driveway was long and winding; hardpacked dirt surrounded on either side by trees. At the end, in a clearing, was the house and the yard. Whoever lived here before probably liked their privacy, and I liked mine, too. I never really went into the yard, but it was nice, with a fenced in section in the back and a more open space in the front and sides. A big place, but not in the grand scheme of things. Just a small cutaway section in the middle of nowhere, nothing that would ever really catch someone's eye.

Or so I thought.

"Wow," Evan said. We walked side by side, holding hands, arms swaying back and forth. "How did you find this place? Was it yours before?"

"No," I said. "They abandoned it. I don't remember how I found it."

"You don't remember?"

Halfway down the driveway, only a little more to go. I thought maybe I should've ignored his question and changed the subject, but the words came out of my mouth, unbidden.

"I think it's this way for everyone," I said. "Everyone like me; the zombies. We get lost. I don't know how to explain it besides that. Almost all the time I feel lost and alone and confused, like I should be going somewhere, but I don't know where to go. I wander a lot because of that. Just kind of in a daze, you know? I walked out of the city one day into the woods and then I ended up here."

We reached the end of the driveway, walking the last few steps in silence. I started to head for the stairs up a tiny hill that led to the front porch and door, but Evan stopped me. Pulling me back to him, squeezing my hand, he said. "You're not a zombie, Sadie."

"I know you're trying to act kind," I said, taking my hand away; feeling sad when he let me go. "I am, though. I don't have a heartbeat anymore. I've tried to feel it before, but I can't find it. I'm dead, Evan. I don't know how to tell you that and I don't want to be that, but that's what I am."

"Let me try," he said.


"I don't think you're dead. Let me see if I can find your pulse."

I furrowed my brow at him, harrumphing, but decided to give in. Shoving my arm out towards him, palm upraised, I said, "Go ahead, but you won't find anything."

His blazing fingers wrapped around my wrist. Resting his thumb on the outer part of my upturned hand, he went about proving me right. I stood there, watching him, knowing I shouldn't get my hopes up but wondering if maybe I was wrong. I knew I wasn't, though.

I breathed in and out, and still nothing. Evan waited patiently for a few seconds, shifting his thumb a little this way and that, but I recognized that look on his face. He hadn't found anything either and would soon need to accept what I'd told him.

He frowned, looking from my wrist to my face, ready to speak, but then he hesitated. His eyes lit up, a smile on his face, and he shook his head fast.

"No," he said.

"No what?" I asked. "What are you saying?"

I sounded desperate, I knew it, but I needed him to say something more than "No." What did he mean? Why did he look excited? What was going on?

"It's faint. A little weak, but I can feel it. Your pulse is very low, though. That's probably why you're body temp is lower. I can't say with absolute certainty, but I think it's maybe six or seven beats per minute."

"I don't believe you," I said. I wanted to believe him. I wanted to cry and hug him and tell him he was the only person who'd given me any hope in such a very long time, but I couldn't. If I believed him, I knew it would only hurt me more when I realized the truth later.

"Here," he said. "I'll show you."

"I appreciate the nice lie," I said, gazing off into the trees while he took my other hand and placed my fingers on my wrist. "I think it's nice of you to do that and I don't hate you for it, but you can tell me the truth. We're both adults here."

My fingers lay on my wrist, motionless. Everything was motionless. I had no pulse, no heartbeat. Maybe I had no heart? What if that's what happened? Four chambers in my chest, shriveling up inside me, transforming into nothing more than a hardened lump of muscle.

A throbbing bump.

My eyes widened and I stared at my wrist. It had taken awhile, but I felt something.

Evan laughed, excited. "See?"

"It was a mistake," I said. "Let me feel more."

He nodded and moved close to me, resting his hands on my forearms by my elbow. I felt glistening, warm, and giddy. Maybe ten seconds or so later, I felt it again.


I laughed. I wanted to jump around and dance and scream at the sky, but instead I grabbed Evan and kissed him. I didn't know where that came from, except maybe I needed to because he was the only person around? Was that all, though?

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