Arik: Kait looked down at her new prosthetic leg in awe.
“I can’t believe she paid for this,” Kait murmured.
“She’s probably just trying to avoid a lawsuit for running you over,” I pointed out. Kait shrugged.
I helped her stand up and she tipped a little. She took a cautious step forward, then a few more steps, getting steadier with each one.
“It feels so real,” Kait gasped.
“We’re a month behind schedule. We need to get away from here, and fast.” I’m always the bearer of bad news.
She turned around and hugged me. “We haven’t been able to do this in a while,” Kait murmured into my chest.
“I miss it, too.” I ran a hand through her hair.
“Am I interrupting something?” an unfamiliar voice asked from the door.
Kait: I knew who he was immediately. There was something about him that was eerily familiar.
“Are you Rian Forrester?” I hesitantly asked.
“Yeah. You must be Kait.” He sounded so unfeeling.
I nodded. Rian didn’t seem excited at all to see me.
“I’m Arik.” Arik sounded a little too defensive.
“You’re Thom and Sera’s kid.”
“Do you know what happened to my mom?” I burst out, unable to stop myself.
“She died. A couple months after you were born.”
I did my best to stop the tears that threatened to escape my eyes. Arik pulled me tight against him, noticing my distress.
“I have news,” Rian said, breaking us out of an awkward silence.
“Good or bad?” Arik asked venomously.
“Both, I guess. You’re going to meet Thom and Sera in Oregon in two days.”
“That’s four states away,” I pointed out. “How are we supposed to get there?”
“These.” Rian pulled two one-way plane tickets out of his pocket.
Arik: “When will we go back?” Kait asked.
“I don’t think we’re going back,” I replied.
Kait tripped, and I caught her.
“This stupid damn leg!” She pulled up her pant leg to look at the prosthetic. I ran my hand along its smooth plastic.
“I think it’s sexy,” I told her, because I did. Kait laughed so hard I thought she was going to start crying.
“That’s the last time I ever compliment you,” I teased.
“Oh, you only wish.” She leaned forward and kissed me. I pushed her backward until she was lying on our bed. She kissed me again, and pulled me down on top of her.
“Am I interrupting something?” Rian’s cool impersonal voice seemed to say that a lot, maybe because he was prone to interruption.
“Kinda,” Kait said irritably. She hadn’t taken well to her father. The only things they had in common were their last name and hair color.
“Your plane leaves in an hour. You don’t have time for that.” He gave us an almost savage glare.
“We can decide what we have time for.” Acid seeped through Kait’s voice.
“Suit yourselves. I’m leaving now.” Rian turned and walked away, possibly forever.
Kait: “I’m not so sure about this,” I whined. We were standing in the airport terminal, about ready to board.
“I won’t let anything happen too you,” Arik assured me.
“It’s not that.” He saw where I was looking, and his eyes widened. Metal detectors.
Arik: The metal detectors were an embarrassing incident for both of us. But I’d rather not share the details.
Kait was sleeping with her head on my shoulder. I couldn’t sleep; planes freak me out. There were only a couple of hours left in the flight when she suddenly jolted awake.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I’m not sure.” She was on the verge of tears.
“Kait, what happened?” I held her face in my hands.
“Everyone was dead. There was blood everywhere.” Tears streaked down her face.
“It’s okay.” I hugged her tightly, feeling tears through my shirt.
Kait: We made up new names when we got to Oregon, the Carter family, and their friend Devvy Martin.
“Are you okay?” Arik asked as he drove us home from school.
“I guess.” I just stared out the window. He put his hand on my knee, the real one. I wrapped my hand in his.
There were no lights on in our house, which immediately made me worry.
“Aren’t Sera and Thom supposed to be home?” I asked.
“Yeah.” Arik looked nervous.
We walked up to the front door and unlocked it. I was surprised by who was standing inside.
“Emmy!” I ran forward and hugged her, ignoring all common sense. She didn’t return the hug.
An arm looped around my neck and pulled me backward.
“Jase?” I heard Arik mumble. I struggled to breathe, and wondered why Arik wasn’t helping me. Then my foot hit what I guessed as his shoulder and I realized he was hurt.
I slammed my prosthetic leg as hard as I could against Jase’s leg. He let go of me as he fell. I punched Emmy in the stomach, making her double over in pain. Her nose made a loud crunching sound as I smashed it with my metal knee.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked Jase, since Emmy was now unconscious.
“It’s what he would want,” Jase whispered.
“Who?” I asked, now kneeling beside Arik.
“He’s dead!” I shrieked.
“His vision still survives. You thought everyone around were rebels or their descendants. We’re descendants of the other side.”
Arik: I don’t know why I’d never thought of that. It made perfect sense, but, too late for that now.
“He was right,” Jase muttered. Kait elbowed him in the throat, making him sputter and wheeze.
“What did he do to you?” Kait asked. I gestured to the deep cuts on the backs of my ankles.
“He cut the tendons,” she breathed. “What about-” she cut herself off with an agonizing scream.
Emmy kneeled behind her, knife in hand. Another knife was lodged in Kait’s shoulder blade. I reached out and grabbed Emmy’s head. I turned it until I heard a snap, then let her limp body fall to the floor.
Kait fell down partway on my back, drawing ragged breaths. I reached into her back pocket, where I knew her cell phone would be, and called an ambulance.
There was certainly blood everywhere, but we weren’t dead, at least not yet.
Kait: A nurse rolled Arik into my hospital room.
“How are your parents?” I asked.
“They’re fine. Emmy and Jase didn’t hurt them.” A pained expression crossed his face. “What about you?”
“Emmy’s knife punctured my lung and scraped my heart. Crazy bitch!” I tried to keep a somewhat joking tone. Arik saw right through it.
“I hear they’re making bets, the nurses, on which one of us will get out of here first.” He suddenly grinned. “I bet it’s me.”
“You wish,” I said, returning the grin.
Arik: Kait hobbled into the physical therapy room on crutches.
“Where’s your leg?” I asked, noticing her empty pant leg.
“I broke it. Most likely while breaking Emmy’s nose. I’ll get it back in a couple of days.” She seemed pleased with herself.
“I know, you won,” I gave in.
“Which means you owe me.” She leaned over and kissed me. I could feel her pulse racing in her lips, just a little too fast.
“You need to sit down,” I told her.
“I’ll live. I promise.” Kait smiled.
Kait: “We’re graduates!” I yelled.
“Yay. Woo-hoo,” Arik said very unenthusiastically.
“I know that this pales in comparison to our other crap, but it’s still exciting.” I leaned over and kissed him.
The auditorium was full of graduates and their families. Arik and I wandered around aimlessly, struggling to find Thom and Sera. He had a slight limp since his left leg had been cut deeper than the right.
“I see them.” He nudged me and pointed to a group of laughing parents. We made our way through the crowds.
“You look so beautiful,” Sera fussed. I blushed and leaned against Arik.
We went off to college together in the fall, and have been almost inseparable ever since. And, as Arik always says, with our opposite screwed up legs we’re a perfect match.