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Level Nine: Pyrophobia

by Cyrus Calamba 7 months ago in Series
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Ang iyong ganday umaabot sa buwan (Your beauty reaches the moon)

"Blake! You have got to stop doing that! You can't keep dying like your lives are unlimited! You might have more than we would be granted on earth, but that doesn't mean that you can keep killing yourself off!"

It wasn't digesting properly, what went down before my eyes, and I don't know how to make him want to fight for the end. I don't get him. He's lost all hope, but he's seeing it wrong. There's one source of it left. Even if it's a slimmer, wouldn't someone who loves another hold onto that chance for dear life? Shouldn't he be helping us to make sure that happens?

"Idiots. I saved your asses. Without me, you babies would've had to repeat the level. Then who knows how many lives you would've lost? Maybe all of them. Then that's the end of the game. If anything, I may have extended it for you," He shielded himself boastfully, walking the floors with a click clack that could tear my lobes right off, back and forth, over and over, time and time again. "I don't know what you're making a big deal about. Let's say there was an earthquake and a man went in to save some children who got stuck under some debris. He got them out, but he himself couldn't get out in time. He's be rendered a hero who sacrificed his life, right? What makes it different with what I just did?"

"You see, I think there's something you're not understanding about the word, 'sacrifice'," Camdyn involved himself in the conversation. "It's not that I'm not thankful that you went out of you way for me, but what you did was not sacrificial. If you don't value what you have, and you give it away, that's more like— donating. If you value it and still risk giving it away, that's a sacrifice, and dude, I don't want your funds. I don't need them for a matter of fact, so don't try to make a lead with the term 'donate'. It's not going to be worth it."

Blake opened his mouth, but closed it again, and I could tell, he was planning on doing exactly that: claim that donating was a good thing. He sat there at a loss for words, but neither Camdyn or I took it as a chance for our advantage. I'm assuming we were both curious with how he'd pick himself back up after this. He finally got somewhere with that. "So why isn't a person that dies saving a life ever considered to be donating, but always sacrificing? What if that person did want to die and was using a heroic act to say goodbye?"

Nice move, I thought to myself, before I responded to him, but not nice enough.

"We can't degrade them. None of us know that person personally, at least that's how it usually is, and in our lenses they willingly put themselves out there to save someone's life. That's really all we know about them, but in your case, we know you and all your intentions, and can very easily label it as donating without a cause and not sacrificing. So thank you lots for your useless donation!"

"Are you really going to go sarcastic mode on me, Ell, like we haven't learned anything about you this past level?" He shot back. I should've expected that he'd used a tactic that would spin everything right back on me. "You were the reason why Soren tried to kill your ex-boyfriend. You did catch onto that, didn't you?"

Camdyn popped in. "Blake, that had nothing to do with her. She had no control of—."

"I think I'm starting to understand what happened here," Blake took the spotlight again, something that he didn't used to lash out for. Bad feelings really do change a person. "Camdyn must've liked you from the start, for Soren to be so full of rage and worry of what could happen to his power. Is this true, Sacar?"

He nodded, with no intentions to deny it. "It is."

We went so many years despising each other, it was still weird on my ears to hear him admit that.

"So that means Soren, who wants to keep his power, when you were in line for it, had two options. He can kill you off and have a slim chance that the power would go back to him if he could convince you to confide in him first, or he could kill Camdyn, who would lock your power in more tightly if you returned his feelings, since your power is fueled by your own happiness. If he's gone, your hurt would loosen that lock and could give him more room to take it back. Obviously, he chose Camdyn first, and Camdyn lived, so he went to you next.

"When he went for you, he kept it a secret that you were the target in order to get Camdyn very well trained to help him, and basically brainwashed him into believing that anything your father could do was never wrong, but when Camdyn showed up at your pageant and heard your name, all that effort subsided. This means that his younger self knew too much about Soren, and was slipping from being on his side, so he threatened Camdyn, saying if he wouldn't shoot you, then he'd do it himself, in order to make him have his own dirt on his hands, if he ever tried turning Soren in.

"Camdyn took it on on purpose with an aim that wasn't deadly, so you wouldn't get killed, and Soren considered it a minor win even if you didn't die, because if it ever came out that he was the shooter, it'd ruin whatever you two were meant to be, and that's exactly what happened. You let it get between you. It was all a part of his plan."

"So tell me, Ellie Reyes. Camdyn was in love with you, but he chose to get behind the trigger in order to save your life, as ironic as that sounds, even if that meant prison for him when the situation was not fully comprehended. Was that donating or sacrificing?"




It's human body reflex that the eyes automatically focus on what stands out, and in this room, it was the lamp's light over an old ordinary foldable card table. It was nothing out of the blue for the most part, besides little bits of paper, each with the same dimensions, that I'd guess to be about four by three.

They could be Polaroids, maybe. I didn't necessarily want to find out so soon. Things go down the drain faster that way, but then again, I couldn't help myself. I was curious, and I'd have to do it some time or another. The longer I put it off, the longer we'd be stuck here like this, without being able to move forward. We have to go through the deadly stuff if we want to get anywhere. The safe zone meant stunting the growth of success.

I flipped over the paper toward the very end of the table among the scatter. It was a photograph as I thought, but it wasn't just any. It was a picture of my blood father, my older sister, and my mother pregnant with me, in the short period of time that the family was still tied together. I didn't get to taste that, for even a second, and even if I did, it would be too little of a fracture of time to remember.

"Why did you want the family back together in the first place?" My mom scolded me, but I couldn't find her anywhere around. As if to create her, a fire exploded five foot up into the air, not gradually, but suddenly. It was there in the blink of an eye, and nobody could have gone about preventing it if it didn't show any signs.

"Ma?" I questioned, and when I did, I got weird glances from the accompanying boys. The photo in my hand slipped out of my grasp, landing itself right into the fire pit, and I just stared at it, stupefied, as it burned the faces into ashes.

"Mars, your mom isn't here," Camdyn said stepping closer to me, gentleness in his tone and his footsteps. "She never was. You're hearing things."

"No— but I swear," I shook my head, trembling as I went for another photo on the desk. My sister and my parents; they were such a happy family until I came into the situation.

"How selfish can you be? You know we were moving on just fine without your father, right?" I heard her again, but the second the picture would fly from my grip, and I'd lose touch with her. My feet were lit on fire though I hadn't moved them once, and they burned at an intense level of pain, but I couldn't let it go. I felt like I had to explain myself to her. Like I couldn't let her disappear with us on bad terms.

"Ma, it wasn't like that!" I yelled, picking up another picture like it was the token you'd need to talk on a pay phone, again and again, photos proving that I was the child that tore the family apart, like pages of a book that didn't go together. It was locking itself in my head; how much of a disappointment I'd been. I split everything up, and I didn't have to try. How Elha didn't have that affect on them. Why? Why? Why—? Why me? Why am I so abnormal? Why do I break everything I touch?

"You had me, and you had a father figure. Why would you decide to involve Soren in on your life again when I tried so hard to get rid of him? And it was for the better wasn't it? Look what he's done to you once he got in."

The fire at my feet was up to my knees now, but I didn't move. I couldn't. I was anchored still, another group of the photos held in my arms, only wanting time; time and nothing besides it. "Okay, Ma! I was a kid, I didn't know any better. You were right from the very beginning. I know I shouldn't have pretended you didn't warn me, but—."

"But you did anyway, didn't you?"

I felt the flames playing at my lower thighs. "Well yes, but will you just—."

"And look what happened. You got us all entangled into your little mess."

Up to my my hips. "Just let me explain, okay? Will you give me one moment to actually talk?"

"What can you possibly explain? There's nothing to explain! You got that?"

"Actually, it's you who doesn't get this, Ma. I was tired, alright? I didn't know it was such a bad thing to be tired, but what I do know is that I definitely was. I was tired of being known as the bastard child of the family, and apparently known that way by the entire neighborhood. I was tired of my half-brothers treating me like crap, and having to win over their love and their trust, when in other households they just got that naturally as they grew up. I was tired of being the odd one out; the one that didn't fully belong, and so I said, screw it! I don't care how bad my mom told me he is, I want him back in my life so maybe something can happen in my favor. I didn't care anymore about anybody else. Yes, I only cared about myself, because nothing— nothing ever went my way before and I wanted something for me. I thought I deserved it."

The flames teased up at my chest by now, and I could literally feel the heat in my lungs, but who could've known that there was a type of burn inside of you that hurt much much worse?

"And that was a mistake. A mistake that you made," my mom said, and her voice faded off toward the end of her words. I slammed my hands on the table for more pictures, but couldn't come up with anything. They were gone, and I used all of them up to explain something to her that didn't win any of her conviction.

"If we don't get her out of that state soon, she'll be burned alive." Blake said aloud.

Camdyn freaked to his words. "Do something then! Do something!"

"Okay sir, I hear you," Blake answered. "If the lovely Ell would just pay attention to me instead of whatever else you're being sucked into. You're 100% allowed to get angry with me, because I know you don't like when I do this and because the change in focus can legit save your life. No biggie or anything."

I gave him the attention he wanted, still in a full sweat, as he took on a sprint to the five foot fire still going strong to my side, and jumped right into it. No hesitations. I could see his figure burn away, and the nails on a chalkboard scream he bellowed out when he did, but what was coming back to my head wasn't him. It's what caused this fear to begin with.

In our backyard, from when I was a young child, first getting used to my mom being married and to another man than the one who gave birth to me, she had taken our photo albums and had sat there in the middle of the grass, and sobbed for what felt like days. I stood off to the side, and I could see the faces go up in that black it always did when it burned.

I was thinking it was entirely my fault and how I got in the way of what could've been a happy family, and there at her side, I cried too, whining like the baby girl I still was. I was hurt because I couldn't make her better. I was hurt because she was hurt.

But it wasn't my fault, truthfully, was it?

"Mars, it wasn't your fault." Camdyn reassured, as if he read my mind. "None of it was ever your fault."

"It wasn't?" I smiled slightly, the fire attached to my body taming itself. "Are you sure?"

"I'm sure, girly. I'm absolutely sure."





About the author

Cyrus Calamba

writing attempt-er + mystery/thriller enthusiast

that pretty much sums up my entire life

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