Startled by heavy rain on her hotel room window, Amelia jolted awake. The sun was no longer shining, and everything was dark. After her breathing slowed a bit she slid on her shoes and pulled her hair into a tight pony, before making her way down the corridors and out of the front door. She didn't bother to freshen up. She didn't bother to check her reflection. She just needed to get out of there.
The wind whipped heavily at her face and hair tussling them into each other with each blow a little stronger than the last. Her stomach was in knots and she wished she'd eaten more the night before. He breathe still smelled like booze and she desperately needed to shower, but there was something she needed to take care of before she looked after herself.
It would be quite the hike from where she was now, but she didn't mind. The more exhausted she was when the sun came up, the only time she would allow herself to sleep, the more likely it was that she would get some real rest. Maybe sheer exhaustion would keep the nightmares at bay.
She shuttered at the thought. Those dreams had been with her since she could remember. She dreaded sleep because of those haunting moments. She had been searching for years for answers, some sort of understanding of what those dreams could mean, but she always came up empty. She thought for sure either her or Bennett would stumble across something, anything, but nothing ever came up. There was not the slightest explanation on where their parents had disappeared to. They'd been presumed dead long ago, but she didn't feel like all was lost on them. She couldn't help but feel like they were simply missing something for the longest time. She was beginning to wonder if she might be wrong. If Bennett couldn't survive, if a will had been found, and they had found no explanation to who was hunting them, her parents must be dead. There was no explanation to markings on their neck or why they had spent there whole life hiding. There were not hints, no clues, nothing. The only thing the twins had to go on, their entire lives, was a letter their parents had left the morning they were discovered missing.
The letter was short and sweet. It warned that they were being watched, followed, and that they needed to depend only on each other to stay safe. They didn't say whether they were dead or alive, but sometimes there isn't as much strength in numbers as you think. They cautioned them to look for the answers anywhere they felt strong draw to, but not to get themselves in any dangerous situations. There was no promise that they'd see them again. There was no indication that they were alive. This was a topic her and Bennett always disagreed on, heavily. He felt they were dead but she felt they were alive. He never really explained what made him feel this way, and when she'd ask he'd simply reply that he just knew it. Now she'd never know why he felt that way.
Her legs burned as she hurried across the desolate stretch of highway and into the woods beyond. She had to move quickly. She was sure she wasn't safe doing this alone. Her only hope was that her solidarity would help her remain undetected. The air was thick with their heavy eyes, watching her every stride, or so she felt. She could never be sure if she was actually being watched, or if it was all in her head. With every snapping twig or crinkled leaf in the distance, she'd lengthen her stride.
By time she reached the gravel path she'd been searching for, her calves were on fire and her lungs burnt deep in her chest. She took a moment to catch her breath. The earth was still and silent around her, and the wind had all but stopped. Something felt off. Something wasn't right. She was a mere mile from the cabin. She just needed to push herself. She couldn't stop now. She needed to find what she was looking for, and get out of there as fast as she could. After what happened to Bennett, it wasn't safe for her here.
"If it's even still here," she mumbled.
She moved a bit slower on the way up the gravel path. She was breathing more easy, and was able to pay more attention to her surroundings. Rounding the last bend, she could swear she heard voices coming from the clearing. She slowed her pace so she could listen closer. With the cabin in sight she could see a single oil lamp lit inside.
Hidding herself in the treeline, she silently made her way, listening closely. Rounding the edge of the clearing, she ducked down slightly and ran underneath an open window, settling herself gently against the house. The only thing between her and the clearing now was a poorly groomed bush. She could see the door clearly from her hiding spot, so she had to be careful as to not be seen by anyone coming or going.
"...It has to be here somewhere, Gabriel. Mom said it would be here. We have to find it." a young girl's voice near frantic.
"We'll find it." A young man's voice, Gabriel she assumed, followed, reassuringly.
"We couldn't find Amelia! We didn't get to Bennett in time! What if we fail at this too?!" She wailed followed by a loud thump.
"We can't fail at this, sis. We can't. If we fail at this, all hope is lost. We need three. We're down to three."
Muffled sobbing followed. Amelia imagined that Gabriel was embracing the girl, and she closed her eyes for a moment as memories of Bennett and herself flooded through her. She shook herself back into reality, and started thinking about what she'd heard more clearly. She needed to get a peak at them, at least one of them. She popped her head up and got a clear look at the girl, but the boys back was to the window. Thankfully the girl was still mid sob and didn't see her, but what Amelia saw, left her stunned. Realizing she'd been standing in plain sight for some time now, she hurried herself back against the house, losing her footing, and sending loose rocks flying.
"What was that?!" the girl wailed.
"I don't know Bee. Stay here!" Gabriel whispered sternly.
"I'm coming with you!" She insisted.
Before Amelia could move a muscle the front door to the cabin flung open, and light poured out just shy of her shoes. Gathering herself, she scoots herself into the protection of the bushes once more, holding her breath, hoping not to be noticed.
"Over there!" Gabriel had seen the bush sway ever so slightly.
They both run in her direction She stands quickly, trapped between the two young people and the house.
"STOP RIGH..." Gabriel stops dead in his tracks. "No. It... It can't..."
"AMELIA?" the girl shouts pushing past Gabriel. "Oh my god. Maybe we haven't failed after all." she sobs even harder throwing herself at Amelia's feet.
She says nothing. She moves not a muscle. She can't.
The nightmares come flooding in. Night after night, she'd seen this very girl in her dreams. This smaller version, almost identical to her younger self. Her hands were trembling. She'd always assumed her dreams were about her. She'd been running from something herself and hadn't made it to safety before this strange flash of light swallowed her. The only thing she couldn't explain was why she'd been so young. She never considered that she wasn't seeing herself, that she'd seen someone else entirely.
The shock must have been on her face. Gabriel reached for the girl's arm and pulled her off of Amelia.
"I'm so sorry. I hadn't considered.." the girl sobbed stumbling backward into Gabriel's arms.
"Come inside, please. We're not here to.. well, we want to help." Gabriel say quietly. We'd better go inside where its safe."
"Nowhere is safe." Amelia said still glued to one spot.
"We know, but it's more safe than standing out here in a clearing at night." the girl shuttered. "So rude. I'm Beatrice. This is my brother Gabriel."
"Enough, Bee. We can't talk about it here. We have to go inside. They could be watching." Gabriel whispered.
Suddenly, she understood she was safe, Amelia nodded, and the three of them made their way inside the cabin.
The sun was coming in through the dusty cabin windows as she listened intently to their story. When they finished, her mouth was dry, but she managed to speak for the first time in what seemed like hours.
"So, you two are siblings, my siblings. Mom and Dad are dead. You came here to look for Bennett, but got here a day or so too late, and thought that I'd met the same fate? You're here looking for his discovery journal, just like I am?"
"That about sums it up." he smiled.
"So, what do you know about us? What do you know about these markings on my neck?" She felt for her hairline.
"That, isn't so easily explained. We were only told what we needed to know. Mom and dad only said so much. They only mentioned you and Bennett just before they died. Mom had said Bennett had discovered the rest. We need to find that journal." Beatrice said frantically jumping to her feet.
"Shit, the suns up. We have to keep moving. We only have until midnight tonight." Gabriel was frantically rifling through stacks of books, covered in dust, like they'd been left for months, not simply a few weeks.
"What exactly do we only have until midnight for?" without warning, her body took her to a shelf with more archives of dust and started moving through them almost automatically.
They continued their search as Bee filled her in the best she could, with what she knew.
"There's a cult, Mom called them The Others. They aren't from this realm, but we were never sure what exactly she meant by that. In their studies, they found very little. The markings on your neck, my neck, Bennett's and Gabe's as well, are the key. The key to making sure The Other's stay in their plane. Under the light of the last full moon, 3 siblings must close the portal to the other side. To keep us safe," she paused with a ragged old book in hand. "Gabe, I think I found it!" She turned the pages quickly until she found exactly what she was looking for.
"That's it! He said hurrying to her side, "That's what we've been looking for!"
As he reached for the book a free page fell out. Amelia bent to grab it, unfolding what looked like a map. The drawings were marked in her brothers almost illegible writing, leading them further into the woods, atop a high mountain. Inscribed on the back, in letters almost too small to read, he'd written "It's waiting for you, when you find the other two, follow the map. You'll know what to do."
They stood still, huddled closely to one another, peering into the unknown.
"Do, do either of you know what to do?" She asked quietly.
"Trust Bennett?" Bee whispered.
Gabe nodded as he closed the map back inside the book. "Let's gather a few things and get moving! We've got about 12 hours to figure it out. The last full moon is tonight."
"It's safer to travel during the day. They seem to feel more comfortable traveling at night. It looks like this isn't too far from here. A few hours hike, maybe. If we can make it there and get an idea of what needs to be done." Amelia was starving and her eyes burned with sleeplessness.
As if he read her mind Gabe put his hand on her shoulder. "You look like you could use some food and maybe some coffee. The shower still seems to be working here, and I think we can find some clothes that might fit you. Why don't you shower and I'll make something for us to eat. It's only a few hours hike. We've got time."
She nodded, relieved.
"Great!" Bee shouted. "I can get some supplies from around here for the trip. Bennett has a few hunting knives and I'm sure he has some other weapons around here somewhere. I hope we don't need them, but just in case." She was already rifling through cabinets and stuffing things into an empty backpack. "First aid, that kind of thing." She continued as Amelia made her way into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.
She stood still for a moment with her back against the door. Carefully undressing, she turned on the tap, felt for warmth, and climbed into the shower. She didn't bother to look in the mirror. She knew she looked as warn out as she felt.
She let the warm water envelope her. Emotions flooded in with every bead of water. She thought about Bennett. She thought about her parents. The loneliness she'd felt while on the run all these years lifted slightly, but not entirely. She couldn't be sure that her dreams weren't real, or that she was going to make it out of whatever this was alive. She didn't think it conceivable that all three of them would make it back to this cabin. It would be silly of her to imagine a happy ending after all that they'd been through. All of it leading up to this, whatever this was.
She could hear Gabriel and Beatrice arguing over what items to bring. She could hear their voices turn to a whisper when they realized she might be able to hear them. A small, cautious smile returned to her lips as she thought about arguing with Bennett. Her heart melted as she let herself slide to the shower floor, giving way to her exhausted muscles.
She thought about never seeing Bennett again.
She let the memory of Bennett fill her. Memories from their home before their parents passed. Memories of surviving their foster families together. Memories of the visits that were few and far between as adults.
The memory of his cold, stiff body in that metal drawer like he was nothing.
They did this to him. They'll do it to everyone if they aren't stopped. I have to do this. I have to be strong and do this for Bennett. For Mom and Dad. For everyone. She thought as her breathing slowed and she relaxed.
Her eyes were so heavy she couldn't lift the lids. She was drifting further into the darkness. She was just so tired so couldn't stay awake any longer. Water still running warm over her aching muscles, she fell asleep.
(Okay, so I promised this was the final part, but I lied. I really want to make this great, and this story can't be told in this short of a period of time. So I swear. One more week!)