The red haired male looked at the vampiress in amazement. Graciela shrunk under his gaze. He was much younger than her she could tell, but he had an air of dignity about him. He was confident and knew what he was doing. He stood poised against the wall of the tiny house. It wasn’t much of a base. She was expecting much much more. “Graciela Gray,” He said in awe. “Well, I’ll be damned. I didn’t account for you at all. Zinnia will be pleased to hear about this.”
“Listen kid,” Dionysus replied. “We just want to know how it is you got Lily here, especially undetected from those Dimension Police jackasses. And where the others are.”
“First of all, the name is Ellery. And, I can’t just tell you that,” Ellery argued. “Even if you are the missing Gray we’ve been searching for. Lily, I allowed you to tell Alexia but now you bring in two more? How will I maintain my cover? I have more at stake than the rest of the Deviants.”
“She’s my cousin,” Lily replied. “I haven’t seen my family in a long time.”
Ellery reached up to tighten his ponytail. “So Graciela, how did you get into this dimension without alerting the DP?”
Graciela bit her lip. She didn’t want to sell out Agent McKay. She didn’t know who was the good side and who were the bad guys in all of this. “I…well, you see….we uh…”
“Ran into them,” Dionysus replied. “The officer asked us a few questions about our traveler’s license and let us off the hook. Told us not to unlawfully travel anymore. That’s about the gist of it.”
Graciela agreed. “Yes, that’s about it! Please excuse me, I don’t have my full memory intact. I can only remember my childhood, but nothing else leading up to this point in my life. I’m sorry.”
“Memory loss as a result of traveling? It’s possible for those inexperienced, but very very rare. Not unlikely though. I think calling upon Zinnia is a good idea. She might know more than I do.” He reached into his pocket and found a device. “You weren’t there when we left the dimension. You were in the room with the others when everything began to destabilize, but for whatever reason you and two other girls were not transported with us. We thought that you were possibly still in the dimension with the others but then we came upon logs from the Dimension Police, looking for you too. So, we knew you must have left the dimension. Where have you been all this time?”
“A new dimension,” Was all Graciela could say. “I don’t know much about it other than the fact that we’re tasked with populating it. We came here looking for people to come and stay with us, but found Lily instead.”
“A new dimension? New how?” Ellery asked. He began punching numbers into the device.
“It’s completely empty. This guy brought us there, told us to make something of it. He said it was to make a new dimension for us to move our family and friends,” Dionysus interjected.
“If that’s the case,” Ellery began. “Maybe we can help each other. A new world would go undetected. Not only that…besides using it as a base of operations, it really is a good thing to move everyone from Audric’s dimension. Things didn’t look so good down there last I was able to check.” Ellery’s device beeped and he let out a groan. “Zinnia won’t be here until morning. Important business or whatever. I’m going to have to ask you guys to stay somewhere I can keep an eye on you. Not here. Too many people coming in and out of here is suspicious.”
“We have a base of operations ourselves,” Dionysus said. “We can stay there.”
“Great, do that. Zinnia and I can find you there in the morning then. You sure the DP won’t be watching you? They simply gave you a smack on the wrist and asked you to go on your way?”
“Are you hiding from them?” Graciela asked. “I don’t exactly know who they are, or what they stand for.”
“The Dimension Police are guys who were hired by Pandora Gray after she became headmaster of the Academy and Audric was sealed in his dimension. She turned the Academy into some kind of standard for traveling through time and dimensions. I don’t know who she thinks she’s trying to catch. All of the good travelers can go undetected by her little DP.”
“But why are they after you?” Dionysus pressed. “What did you guys do wrong?”
“We opposed Pandora. We think she’s making a mockery of the Academy that Audric and Quinn created for us. She’s sending her men on a wild goose chase to find whoever caused a rift big enough to need to seal a whole dimension away. It’s reckless and a waste of resources. Like I said before, her people can’t detect the real good travelers. The point is, they’re just trying to frame whoever it is to get the credit for it. They’re corrupt. We try to stop them and find a way to save the sealed dimensions.”
Graciela mulled over Ellery’s words. She couldn’t sleep, not in the rocking boat. She could feel the water lapping at the sides of the boat and it made her sick to her stomach. Even though the boat was docked, she imagined it being a very lonely life at sea. Just the sailor and the open water. She was feeling very lonely herself and wouldn’t wish that kind of lifestyle on anyone else. Though, she imagined the sailors must have liked the water to have spent the majority of their lives on it.
Maric was present in her mind. She hardly recalled him, but could tell from the way she wrote about him that she must have had a crush on the boy. The line where she spoke about texting him excitedly gave it all away. He was a breath of fresh air to her lonely and self loathing existence, it had seemed. But, maybe she hadn’t been getting the full picture.
Looking to the empty spot next to her in the bed, Graciela couldn’t help but wonder…did she have someone who occupied this space? Did she have someone who held her in the night when she was scared? Was it Maric? Or, was he just a few pages in her life’s book? It terrified her not being able to know what was real and what wasn’t. What was certain in her life and what was just some words on a page? Hell, would she ever truly know who she was? Would she remember or would she be living a screenplay from the pages of her diary?
She hadn’t noticed the tears falling from her eyes until she felt the wet spot on her pillow. She pulled her knees up to her chest and sobbed, trying to calm her nerves.
I can tell you who you really are, but it will cost you.
“I don’t want your help,” Graciela mumbled. “I don’t need your help.”
Of course you do. I was here from the beginning. I know what you felt and who made you feel that way. I know that there was someone who made your heart flutter. Someone worth waking up for. I know that much and more, little lamb.
“But there’s a price.”
There’s always a price, my dear. I can’t just let you have your way, only to forget about me when it’s all over. Oh no, I need something in return. A sign of your loyalty at the very least.
“I can’t afford your price.” Graciela’s breathing was heavy and labored as she convened with the darkness inside of her.
I even know where to find that boy. The one of your dreams. Who loves you as much as you love him. And my price is not that steep. I’m not asking you to give yourself to me. We’re already one. Why do you think the world is the way it is now?
“Wha…what?” Graciela stammered. “You’re not saying this is all my fault? You’re such a liar. You’ll say anything to get under my skin. We’re not one. I am not you.”
You don’t know that for sure. I can feel it within you. The doubt and the fear. But most of all, the loneliness. I can feel it tearing you up inside. We are one, and we will always be one. What tears you up, will tear me up. Fear and despair are not the same thing.
“Just….stop. I don’t want to hear anymore.”
Any more what? Any more of the truth? I speak no lies, little lamb. The end of your dimension is because of you and me. Say what you will, but that is the truth your friends are hiding from you. This big tragic event that happened is the aftermath of our joining. Your foolish little friends thing that they’re preventing something bad from happening by not telling you, but you will not implode. You are not a weak little child.
“What…what do you mean?”
I mean what I said. Asher wants you to read the diary in portions. To be reminded of what once was, slowly. But why? It’s because they think by reading it all at once, you will be overwhelmed and I will take over. I will cause another dimension to be destroyed. But, Graciela you must understand. The dimension was falling apart before you and I took the stage. And I didn’t destroy the dimension alone. It was our joining that created a surge of power strong enough to wipe out an entire world and cause it to collapse-
“Enough!” Graciela shouted, holding onto her head. “I didn’t do anything you said! You are a liar! You want me to trust you so that you can gain more power.”
You know nothing of the amount of power I possess, little lamb. All I am saying is that you cannot be overwhelmed enough for me to take over, because I already have. I am here to stay, Graciela. So, my offer still stands. If you’d like for me to tell you where to find Mr. Right, I can do so. All I need is a little something in return.
Whether the darkness was telling the truth or not, she didn’t know. But she needed something to hold onto. But there were so many people telling her different things, she didn’t know what to believe. And she knew, deep deep down, that listening to the darkness wasn’t smart. She knew in her heart of all hearts that it meant ill will, but the claims made sense. The darkness wasn’t pleading with her, demeaning her, or using it’s usual techniques. No, it was simply telling her things that she didn’t want to hear. To strike not fear, but despair. And as the darkness said, fear was not the same thing as despair. Could the darkness really feed off of the despair? Or did it only thrive on fear? More importantly, how big of a part did Graciela play in the so called tragedy of her dimension? She shuddered to think of it.