21

•April 15, 2009 • 2 Comments

Previously…

“But she still exists.”

Aura looked up at him, frowning.

“She still exists.” Xander repeated. He gave the picture back to her and took the can of Coke on the table. “Ember still exists.”

~

“All these… are yours?”

Aura nodded as she made her way to one of the towering bookshelves in that room. Except for the bookshelves and the two antique wingback chairs before the stone fireplace, almost everything in this room is the same as the living room. There was also a large oak desk on one side. On the desk, a black desktop computer and a small netbook were placed side by side each other. Around it, a mix jumble of open books and folders were scattered.

Xander walked around the carpeted floor and scanned the shelves for familiar titles. There were several classics that he recognized, like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Little Princess” and a hardbound book of Shakespeare’s complete works. There were also contemporaries like Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” in the shelf and non fictions like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”. There were thick tomes of old encyclopedias and several books and dictionaries on the Latin language. Majority of the collection focused on the New Age and Parapsychology. He even found a book on Satanism and a copy of the dark spell book, Necronomicon. Surprised, he took the latter from the shelf and began to skim its pages as Aura went to the desk with a black untitled book in her hand.

“What’s your attribute, Lex?” she asked.

“Attribute?”

“Your elemental attribute…” she frowned. “Your energy color. What’s the original color of your aura?”

“I think its Yellow.” He replied. “That’s what my Elder told me.”

So he is like me. I see. Aura thought as she typed the word on the netbook. A few minutes later, several files appeared and she scanned the titles of each one.

History of Energy Vampires…

Energy Vampires and Society…

Vampirism…

Psychic Vampires…

Classifications of Energy Vampires…

Energy Colors and Attributes…

A question popped in her mind upon reading the first title.

“Why did you do it, Lex?” she asked, clicking the file named Energy Colors and Attributes to open it.

Xander returned the book to the shelf and pretended to scan the titles again. “What do you mean?”

“You were a normal human being once. Why did you choose to become an energy vampire?”

He stopped pretending and turned towards Aura. She was sitting behind the desk, looking at him and waiting for his answer.

“Revenge.” He paused, walking over to the fireplace and studying the cuckoo clock that hang above it. “Someone died because I was not strong enough. I needed all the power I could get. I can’t forgive him for what he did.”

“You can’t forgive him, or you can’t forgive yourself?”

Next…

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20

•April 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

Previously…

It was already 8:15 in the morning when Xander woke up from his sleep to the sound of his ringing cellphone. He grumbled and turned to the other side. The ringing stopped for a few minutes, but returned again. Irritated, Xander rose from his bed and grabbed the phone from his bag. The ringing stopped for a while, and the screen displayed that he had already missed 15 calls…

From Aura.

~

Xander swore, not willing to back down on the argument without winning. He was about to argue when Aura turned around and answered him mentally. “It was to shake off Ember’s stalkers. Happy?”

He calmed down a bit and followed her inside. “This your house?”

“Sort of.” She replied, her voice distant again. “Have a seat. I’ll get you drinks. What do you want?”

“Anything. What do you have there?”

“Coke, iced tea, orange juice and water.”

“Coke.”

“Coke is bad for you.” She commented, before disappearing behind the now open fridge door. Xander ignored her and sat on the sofa, admiring the luxuries that Aura enjoys in the small house. She has a flat screen TV that hung inches above a fire place. There was even a small chandelier that hangs above the wooden coffee table before him. A black upright piano was hidden underneath an embroidered blanket that covered it. It looks like it hasn’t been used for a very long time. A group of framed pictures were displayed on top of the piano. Curious, Xander stood up and walked to the piano to look closely at the pictures.

“Don’t!” Aura yelled so suddenly that Xander accidentally dropped the picture on the wooden floor. The frame broke apart and the glass shattered on the floor.

“Look what you did!” she angrily said. Aura hurriedly put the two cans of Coke on the coffee table then ran to the piano to pick up the picture from the floor.

“I’m sorry.” Xander apologized. “Here, let me help.”

“NO!” she snapped. “GO AWAY!!!”

Suddenly the image of Aura from the nightmare resurfaced into Xander’s mind. Aura gasped, and blood began to ooze from the injured finger. Putting the earlier thoughts aside, Xander went up to Aura’s side and inspected the wound for glass splinters. Aura took her hand back immediately and stood up. “I’ll take care of it. Wait here. Don’t move.”

Xander watched Aura make a trail of blood on the floor as she ran to the nearest bathroom and disappeared. He carefully pushed the pieces to reveal the picture underneath.

It was a picture of a group at a beach. It was easy to point out who Aura was in the crowd composed mostly of brunettes. But what struck him most was her smile.

She was really happy in this picture.

Aura reappeared from the bathroom with a broom and a dust pan. The earlier wounded finger was already bandaged. “My fault. Here.”

Xander took it from her and carefully brushed the broken fragments off the picture. When he was sure that there are no more glass fragments to hurt them, he picked up the picture from the floor and gave it to her.

“You seem happy there.” Xander commented after throwing the fragments into the nearby trash can. “You like the beach?”

Aura was silent as one finger traced the happy faces on the photograph. “This is the last picture I have of Ember…”

She handed him the picture and Xander tried to find Ember among the smiling crowd. Aura went back to the kitchen to get a mop to wipe off the bloody mess she had made. “Which one of them is Ember?” he asked.

“This one.” She replied, using the bandaged finger to point to the empty space over the right shoulder of her in the photograph.

“There’s nobody there.” He said.

She used to be there.” Aura sighed. “When the existence of a person fades, even the things they had left behind disappear. Even in photographs.”

“If her very existence is gone, then why do you remember her?”

“I’m not really sure.” She said, opening her can of Coke and drinking from it. She began to finger the pendant hanging around her neck. “This was also from her.”

“The necklace?”

“The rings.” She smiled bitterly. “Sometimes, when I hold them, I feel that Ember is still alive, somewhere. That she had not been at the fire. That she had not been eaten at all. But… When I look at this picture, she isn’t there anymore. And that’s just proves that she is indeed… gone…”

“But she still exists.”

Aura looked up at him, frowning.

“She still exists.” Xander repeated. He gave the picture back to her and took the can of Coke on the table. “Ember still exists.”

“What do you mean?”

“The rings. Your memories. They are too clear, right? That means that she still exists. If she really had been consumed by a vamp, those things you remember about her should be gone too, right?”

“No.”

“No?”

“I’m a Perpetual, remember? Maybe it’s a side effect of being one. Maybe the reason why I still have her memories is because I am a Perpetual like her.” Aura sighed. “She’s gone, Xander.” Her grip around the rings tightened. “I saw what they did to her. They drained her existence. She’s gone. Forever.”

“But-”

Aura stood from the sofa, turning her face away from him so that he could not see the tears that threatened to form. “Let’s go to the library. Maybe we’ll find something that could help you there.”

She placed the picture on the table and walked to the kitchen. Xander heard the clunk of the soft drink can as it hit the bottom of the trash bin. He took one last look at the space in the photograph that Aura had pointed to him earlier.

Somehow, he was sure that Aura may be wrong about this.

And somehow, the Ember she knows is still alive.

“Xander?”

Aura reappeared in the room, motioning him to follow her.

“Sorry.” He apologized as he stood from the sofa to go after her.

Next…

19

•March 30, 2009 • 2 Comments

Previously…

The nightmare returned, but this time it was a bit different than it used to be.

Because this time, the vampire who was running after her…

Was Xander Astrophel.

“No… No… No…” she mumbled, rocking herself back and forth while tears streamed down her eyes.

“Please don’t hurt me… Please…”

~

It was already 8:15 in the morning when Xander woke up from his sleep to the sound of his ringing cellphone. He grumbled and turned to the other side. The ringing stopped for a few minutes, but returned again. Irritated, Xander rose from his bed and grabbed the phone from his bag. The ringing stopped for a while, and the screen displayed that he had already missed 15 calls…

From Aura.

All the sleepiness that muddled his mind earlier suddenly disappeared, now replaced with worry and regret for Aura. What the heck happened to her?

The phone started to ring again and Xander answered on the second ring.

“Hello!” he said suddenly, forgetting to check the tone of his voice.

“Ow! Keep your voice down. I can hear you loud and clear.” Aura complained over the other line.

“Aura?! Aura! What happened? Are you okay?!”

“Calm down. Do I sound injured or anything to you?” Xander heard her sigh in the other line. “Come over here to my house. I have some material here that we could use to—“

“You’re okay? You’re not hurt or anything? Ember didn’t find you?”

He heard her exasperated sigh again on the other line. “Yes. I Am. Okay. Now get a pen and some paper and I’ll give you directions on how to get here.”

After giving the directions and making sure that he had it clear, Aura continued. “Be sure to send a message to me if you are at the gate so I could open it for you. You have 30 minutes to get here. Good bye.”

The line went dead.

Xander swore as he stared at the phone in his hand. Now she’s ordering me around? This is insane. He thought to himself as he made his way to the bathroom to wash his face.

~

An hour and a half later, Xander arrived at the wooden gates of Aura’s house. Feeling a lot more irritated than when they had talked over the phone earlier. She had made him walk for two blocks, turn back and walk the same length again only to land in a house that was just a block away from their dormitory. He was tired and sweating and furious as he raised his hand to push the doorbell. But even before he managed to push the small button, the narrow door at the gate suddenly swung open and Aura was there on the other side, frowning.

“Get inside. Quick.” She said so fast that he almost didn’t catch the words.

Keeping his anger in check, he stepped in. As soon as he was out of harm’s way, Aura immediately locked the gate and kissed Xander in the lips. Surprised at the sudden reaction, Xander tried to step back. But Aura kept her stance firm and pulled him even closer. Again, Xander felt the surprising warm energy from Aura starting to fill his system and he closed his eyes as the sensation began to erase the anger he had been brewing earlier. But just as he was starting to enjoy the kiss, Aura pulled away, and suddenly slapped his face.

“You’re late! I told you to be here in 30 minutes!” she scolded.

The anger returned, this time with the renewed energy from the kiss. “Your directions kept me going in circles.” He yelled back at her. “You were just a block away from the dormitory, and yet you give me directions that made me walk for four blocks! And you expected me to get here in 30 minutes?!”

Aura crossed her arms over her chest, still defensive, her face showing no sign of submission. “You could have taken the bus or something.”

“You should have given me correct directions!”

They stared at each other’s eyes for a moment. Aura still remains unfazed, irritating Xander more. She turned around and walked towards the door of her house. “Come on. We have a lot of work to do.”

Next…

18

•March 25, 2009 • 2 Comments

Previously…

Aura dropped her grip from the doorknob and turned towards Xander. The pain in her eyes was back. “Are you sure about your decision, Alexander Astrophel?” she asked him softly.

“Yes.” He answered firmly. Suddenly, a memory of what Aura had said before flashed in his head.

“Because I can’t let another soul die because of me.”

He shoved that last thought away. He had decided on helping her and that’s it.

~

He was running.

Faster! His mind commanded him. Beneath him, his feet protested in pain. He can’t go on. He is already tired.

But if he took time to rest…

No. He can’t rest.

He heard a familiar scream. It was coming from one of the dark alleys ahead of him. Using the last of his strength, he pushed forward, hoping that it wouldn’t be too late for him to save him.

He rounded the corner and yelled out a name. The group immediately dispersed and ran away, leaving a crumpled creature on the cement.

His eyes squeezed shut. No! Not again. He thought to himself. Not this nightmare again.

He hurried to the crumpled creature and tried to help the creature up.

“Please… please help me…” a terrified female voice pleaded.

Confused, Xander slowly turned the creature over. To his surprise, a pair of amber eyes stared back at him, pleading.

“Aura?” he asked.

“Please… don’t hurt me…” she mumbled.

~

“Dude! Wake up!”

Xander slowly opened his eyes. “Jerome?”

“Dude, you okay? You were mumbling in your sleep.” Jerome answered. “Here.”

Xander sat up, took the glass of water that Jerome offered and drank its contents. “Thanks.”

“Nightmare?” Jerome asked. Xander nodded.

“Who’s Aura?”

“Huh?”

“You were mumbling her name earlier before I got to wake you up.”

“Aura? You must mean Aurelia.” He paused, as the image of the Aura in his dream surfaced again. She looks so helpless. Fragile. Too far from the Aura that he knows of. “She was in my dream.”

“You two call each other a nickname already? And now you’re dreaming about her? Nice move, man. You never told me you had the eye for Aurelia.”

“Shut up.” Xander grumbled. He could see Jerome grinning at the corner of his eye. He looked at the window and saw darkness outside.

“What time is it?” he asked.

Jerome stood from Xander’s bunk and walked over to the table to replace the now empty glass, checking the wall clock above it afterwards. “Around 3 in the morning.” Jerome walked back and was about to climb up his bunk. “You sure you’re ok now?”

Xander rubbed his face with his palms. “Yeah. Thanks.”

The top bunk groaned and squeaked as Jerome climbed back to bed. It only took minutes before Xander heard him start to snore again. Xander sighed and took out his cellphone from his backpack. It didn’t take long before he found Aura’s number among his contacts.

Hours after Aura left their dorm, she sent an SMS to Jerome’s phone (to the latter’s delight).

“If anything out of the ordinary happens, contact me.” Was all it said.

Is this one of the out-of-the-ordinary stuff you were warning me about? He asked, as if Aura was there to mentally answer his question.

But only silence of the night answered back to him.

He sighed again and put his phone back in his bag.

She did say that she would answer all his questions tomorrow, right?

He went back to bed and wished that he wouldn’t dream that nightmare all over again.

~

Aura wrapped her arms around herself, still shivering, even if the temperature in the room never dropped.

The nightmare returned, but this time it was a bit different than it used to be.

Because this time, the vampire who was running after her…

Was Xander Astrophel.

“No… No… No…” she mumbled, rocking herself back and forth while tears streamed down her eyes.

“Please don’t hurt me… Please…”

Next…

17

•March 3, 2009 • 2 Comments

Previously…

The raven haired girl smiled. “Well, where is she, Ember? I thought she’d be here right now?” Her smile widened into a sarcastic grin. “Or was she too much for you?”

“Shut up, you filthy little brat!” Ember snapped.

“He told you to wait, didn’t he? But you didn’t listen. You never do, don’t you, Ember?”

~

“It’s the same thing with you energy vamps, right?” Aura asked.

There was a momentary pause before he answered. “Yes.” “It was a risk I had to take.”

Aura stared at his face, thinking to herself. Again, Xander wished he could read her mind too. “Stop it.” He frowned.

“Sorry.” She said, looking away.

Silence.

“What can I do to help you, Aura?”

“You can’t do anything, Xander. You are too young… too inexperienced…”

“But…I can’t let them drain you!”

“After they drain me, it wouldn’t matter anymore.” She said sadly. “You wouldn’t even remember having met me.” She gave him a small sad smile afterwards.

“You talk like some sick patient whose days are numbered.” Xander frowned.

“Because I am! My days had always been numbered ever since I was born!” She snapped back. Tears threatened to fall from her eyes again. “He was right. I can only run. But I can never escape them.”

“He?”

Surprise passed Aura’s face. “I…It’s nothing…”

“You’re lying. Again.” Xander suddenly stood from the bed and started to pace in the small space . “You’re never a good liar, Aura. Tell me the truth. All of it. Who is this he and why is he sending energy vampires after you?”

Aura looked straight into his eyes. “Why do you want to know, Xander? You can’t protect me even if you want to. I’ll end up being drained anyway, so why do we have to prolong the ordeal?”

“Then why did you run away from Ember?” Xander snapped.

The answer caught Aura off guard. She fell silent.

“You want to live, don’t you, Aura?”

She turned her head away to the window and pretended to look at the windows outside, refusing to answer any more of Xander’s questions.

“You want to live. That’s why you keep running away. That’s why you try to escape.” Xander sat back on the bed and faced her. “Because you want to live.”

“Xander…”

“Aura, there must be anything that I could do to help you.” Xander pleaded. “If you make me your Collector, then maybe…”

“NO!” she yelled. “I can’t do that!”

“But Aura…”

“Please Xander. I don’t want to talk about this.” She started to get off the bed and make her way to the door. Xander quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

“Aura. It’s the only way. They think I’m your Collector already, so there isn’t too much of a risk there. Either you officially make me your Collector or leave me as it is, it doesn’t change anything much. They would come after me. They would come after you. It would be much easier to get out of this mess if we work together.”

Aura dropped her grip from the doorknob and turned towards Xander. The pain in her eyes was back. “Are you sure about your decision, Alexander Astrophel?” she asked him softly.

“Yes.” He answered firmly. Suddenly, a memory of what Aura had said before flashed in his head.

Because I can’t let another soul die because of me.”

He shoved that last thought away. He had decided on helping her and that’s it. Taking his hand into hers, she closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, Xander had an awkward feeling that she could see right down to his soul as she looked straight into his eyes. “Very well, promise me, with all your heart and soul and mind.

“That you, Alexander Astrophel, would take me for who I am.

Body and soul. You will be mine.

That you vow to protect me from all who come to hurt me, and would not hesitate to kill for my sake.

That you will serve no other Perpetual besides me.

That you will dedicate your own existence to my own.

And that only I, Aurelia Divina, would be the only Perpetual worthy for your soul.

So mote it be.”

“So mote it be.” He replied.

“And I, Aurelia Divina, promise you with all my heart and soul and mind.

That I would take you for who you are.

Body and soul. I will be yours.

That I vow to give you my energy, and would not hesitate to die for your sake.

That I will serve no other Collector besides you.

That I will dedicate my own existence to your own.

And that only you, Alexander Astrophel, would be the only Collector worthy of my soul.

So mote it be.”

“So mote it be.” He answered.

She stepped closer to him. Close enough that he could feel her breath against his chest. “And this, I vow.” She continued.

“And this, I vow.” He followed.

“Until the contract is broken by Death or nonexistence.”

“Until the contract is broken by Death or nonexistence.”

“Between me, your Perpetual.”

“And me, your Collector.”

“So mote it be.” They said together.

Taking her hands from his, Aura reached up and pulled Xander’s face closer to hers, sealing the contract with a long deep kiss. Xander felt the sudden burst of warm energy as soon as their lips met. The energy quickly made its way into his system and enveloped his soul in its warmth, comforting him and easing all his pains and doubts. It was the most incredible thing he had ever felt in his whole life. Like his soul has found the sanctuary he had been looking for.

He opened his eyes to look at Aura when the door suddenly burst open.

“Hey dude, they ran out of anti…bi…o…tics..”

Jerome stood there at the door, gaping at the two creatures kissing in front of him. He tried to look away, to leave immediately, but something about the two rooted him on the spot.

A bright golden aura surrounded both Aura and Xander. They were glowing.

It was Aura who broke the kiss, and Xander who noticed Jerome’s presence. The glow disappeared as soon as the connection between the two broke. Immediately, the latter moved away from Aura, startled at his friend’s sudden arrival. “J-jerome… I-I…”

“See you tomorrow, Xander.” Aura smiled. She then turned to leave. “Bye, Jerome.” She said as she passed by him.

“Hey, Aura wait up!” Xander yelled back. He was about to follow her when she heard her voice, loud and clear, inside his head.

“Tomorrow, Lex. I will tell you everything you need to know. For now, you have a lot of explaining to do to Jerome.”

Slowly, Xander turned to Jerome, who stood behind him, grinning.

“Not your girl, huh? Not your girl.” He mocked, shaking his head in disapproval. “You’ve been keeping a lot of things from me, dude.”

“Shut up.” Xander muttered. He took one last glimpse at the hallway where Aura had ran off before closing the door behind him.

Next…

16

•February 24, 2009 • 2 Comments

Previously…

“You can’t escape me…” the deep dark male voice in her head taunted.

“Yes I can.” her frown deepened. “Leave me alone.”

“I found you, Aurelia. And I will have you again.”

~

There was tension in the air as soon as Ember entered the room and shut the door with a slam. A black cat looked up at her as she passed by. She glared at it angrily and tried to kick it away, but it had quickly ran into the waiting arms of a raven haired girl sitting on one of the Victorian recliners in the room.

“Oh you poor thing, Noir. Did she hurt you?” Ashley cooed, stroking the soft black fur. The cat immediately responded to the familiar touch and begun to purr.

She glared at the two angrily, before continuing her march to her bedroom, her high heels making loud tapping sounds as she did so.

“Don’t mind her, Noir.” Ashley grinned. “She’s just like that because she lost the Perpetual.”

Ember stopped in her tracks and swiftly turned to Ashley. “I did not lose my prey.” she muttered under her breath.

The raven haired girl smiled. “Well, where is she, Ember? I thought she’d be here right now?” Her smile widened into a sarcastic grin. “Or was she too much for you?”

“Shut up, you filthy little brat!” Ember snapped.

“He told you to wait, didn’t he? But you didn’t listen. You never do, don’t you, Ember?”

A ball of fire appeared in Ember’s hand and was about to throw it at Ashley when a cold pale hand wrapped itself around Ember’s wrist. “Now, now, Ember. We shouldn’t keep on fighting among ourselves.”

“Jasper!” Ashley screamed in delight. Immediately, she wrapped her arms around the shoulders of the black haired 30-year old man and kissed his cheek. “What took you so long?”

“I arranged several matters, my dear princess.” he smiled, taking his free hand to brush the hair that had fallen into the 15-year old’s face. “I missed you so much.”

“Are we leaving already? Don’t we have to catch that Yellow?” she inquired curiously, a small pout forming in her lips. “He said–”

“You know why we’re here, my precious. We energy vamps have to help each other. And we can’t have everyone’s cooperation if you keep on messing up with their heads.” He then turned to Ember with a stern warning. “I was hoping you could extend a bit more patience with my princess, Ember. She is my Perpetual, after all, not yours. It will never be your choice to drain her. Or punish her.”

Ember grabbed her hand back swiftly and hissed. “Then teach her some manners!” she yelled, before storming out of the room.

“Wuss!” Ashley yelled out to her, sticking out her tongue afterwards. Jasper grinned and held out a finger to her. “Now, now, Ashley. What did I just tell you about calling people names?”

“Oh clam up, Jaspie.” she whispered before setting her lips on to his and gave him a long deep kiss. “Umm… How did you manage all these days without me?” she whispered in his ear.

“You know I wouldn’t leave you here with that bitch if I had the choice.” he murmured, kissing her lips again.

“Stupid bitch…”Ashley grinned. Jasper grinned back at her as he started to feed off her energy.

~

“Ungh…”

“Aura?”

Her eyes turned toward the familiar voice as several questions popped into her head. What happened? Did they make it? Were they able to escape?

“Aura.”

She slowly opened her eyes and found his worried face staring down at her. “Are you alright?”

“Xander?” she looked at him, confused. She started to sit up from the bed, only to notice that the musky scent she had been smelling earlier came from the black jacket that was draped over her chest. “What happened?”

“You fainted.” he said, helping her sit up. “You’re already knocked out when I got to you.”

“Oh.” She suddenly looked away from Xander, and immediately, he knew that she was hiding one of her secrets again. Her eyes began to scan the room. “Where are we?”

“In my dorm. Jerome and I share this room.”

“Its a mess. You should learn to clean up.” she frowned.

“Aura?”

“Hmm?”

“Can I ask you something?”

Aura turned back to look at him. “What is it?”

He was silent for a moment, thinking about what right words to use. “Aura, What will happen… if they catch you?”

The pained look in Aura’s face returned.

“Aura?”

“You know what happens to an evamp’s victim if the vamp isn’t careful, right?”

“The victim dies. Yes, I know that.”

“It’s different with us Perpetuals. Our very own existence disappears along with the Essence.” she paused. “Aurelia Divina will be no more than a mere name… It will be as if I was never born.”

Next…

15

•February 18, 2009 • 2 Comments

Previously…

“I failed to protect that person too, Aura. And I vowed to myself that I will never let that happen again.”

She stared at the door, where she is sure Xander was standing on the other side. He is an energy vampire. Just like the monsters who took Ember away. And the monsters who would, eventually, take her as well. But, he is different from them. He tried to protect someone.

Just like Him. She thought suddenly.

~

Xander took their stuff from the floor and was about to escort her outside when Aura suddenly swore. “She’s here!”

“What?” Xander frowned, confused.

She’s here! Ember! We have to get out of here!” she panicked. “Quick! Get in here!”

“But that’s-”

“Come on!”

Aura dragged Xander inside the ladies washrooms just in time. A young woman of around 20 years in age with short black wavy hair stepped into the narrow hallway that separated the men’s washroom from the ladies’. She was frowning.

I’m sure I felt her here. Ember thought.

The woman in the red coat turned towards the door of the ladies’ washrooms. She grinned then stepped away.

“I think she’s gone already.” Xander whispered, moving away from the door. “Aura?”

He turned around to see the girl sitting in the corner, her face almost deathly pale and her lips turned blue.

“Aura! Aura! Wake up! What happened?!” He shook her vigorously.

Slowly she opened her eyes, still groggy from her effort. “X-Xander?” she mumbled. “Is she gone?”

“I think so… for the moment.”

Aura sighed. Color was starting to creep up her cheeks again. “We have to get out of here.” She said as firmly as she could. She wobbled a bit as she stood and Xander had to help steady her or she would fall. “Thanks.”

“What was that? For a moment there, I thought you were dead.” Xander frowned.

“I suppressed my energy so that she won’t trace me in here. I can only do that if I pretend to be dead.” Aura replied as she looked around.

Xander was about to argue when she pointed to the small window located high above the toilet bowl. “There’s a small alleyway behind the restaurant. I think we could make a run for it before she notices me again.”

He looked up to the small opening. It looked too narrow for any of them to fit through. “Are you sure about this, Aura?”

“C’mon.” she said. “Give me a boost up, then throw down our stuff after I get to the other side.”

Footsteps started to come nearer.

“Quickly!”

There was a loud knock on the door. “Hello? Is there any problem in there?” yelled a man outside.

Aura stepped on Xander’s back and easily climbed into the narrow opening. It wasn’t long until he heard her jump down on the other side. “Hurry, Xander!”

Outside, the yelling got louder. “Hello?!” When there was no response, the manager asked for the key from one of the waiters. Ember stood by the side, watching the whole scene intently with a wide grin on her face.

Xander took a peek at Aura from the window. It was about 10 feet high from the window to the narrow street at the back. She then caught the bags that he threw down and waited for him to follow. When suddenly…

“Aurelia…”

Her face crumpled. “No! Get out of my head!”

“You can’t escape me…” the deep dark male voice in her head taunted.

“Yes I can.” her frown deepened. “Leave me alone.”

“I found you, Aurelia. And I will have you again.”

“Shut up!” she yelled suddenly.

Ember frowned on the other side at the door as the waiter stumbled with getting the key into the keyhole. “Hurry up, will you?” she complained. “I can’t stand here all day.”

“Aura! What’s happening there?” Xander yelled. There was no response.

Xander took one last look at the door before climbing over the small window. He had a lot more difficulty squeezing his average frame through the opening than Aura had. The door swung open right after Xander had jumped down to the other side.

Ember, together with the manager and the waiters, looked at the empty washroom, dumbfounded. The manager and the waiters inspected the door while Ember made her way inside.

“Stupid kids. They must have locked the door again.” The manager mumbled. “I’m sorry it took so long, Miss…” He looked up at her face. She was furious. Sensing her anger, he and his group slowly backed away. “If there are any more problems, Ma’am–”

She waved them away. The manager closed the door behind Ember as quietly as he could. As soon as the door shut, Ember scanned the washroom and noticed the still open window.

They had escaped.

Next…