A/N: Yeah, posting this fic is literally only for my own entertainment these days. Oh well. I promised myself I'd finish it. For the few reading, enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Teen Titan characters.
Chapter 14 Dead End Future
With bored and weary eyes, I watched the rock I had thrown boil and melt in the large ocean of lava. Black bubbles popped and hissed as the torrid sea protested against the scorching, perpetual heat. A gust of ash laden breeze blasted rudely into my face. It did nothing to cool me down. It was just heat moving from one area to another.
I had been stuck in that miserable heat world for about ten hours. I couldn't tell exactly how long it was, all I knew was that I was alone in a freaking burning wasteland with absolutely nothing to do for hours! All I wanted was a nap or at least be able to sit down for a rest. The scorching ground prevented me from even stopping, though. The soles of my shoes felt on fire each time my heel rested against the ground.
By this time I was ready to collapse in the heat. I felt like I was taking a bath in my own sweat, which is disgusting but true. The odious liquid plastered my hair and clothes to my skin. I was starving and dehydrated beyond belief. I was ready to amputate my arm for a drop of water. That's how pathetically desperate I was.
And I was bored. Bored out of my mind! My suffering kept me pretty occupied for a few hours, but after a while the heat had lost its pain and had been firmly conquered by ignorance. So I had decided to explore the territory.
For a few miles there had been nothing but the same old lava lake and red desert. I was starting to understand where that demon guy was coming from. These surroundings got tiring very fast. No wonder he wanted out so much.
Looking up, I saw a black haze on the heat streaked horizon. I didn't consider that it could be a mirage as I picked up my pace to a run. I arrived to my sought after location a half an hour later in a very out of breath state. When seeing what I had chased after, I wished it had been an illusion after all.
The place was a deserted and dismantled city of some sort. Slowly now, I walked down a street, my eyes taking in the sight. What was left of buildings was only black, charred bricks and rusted metal panels. Everything else was scattered haphazardly on hissing, heated concrete streets. Other buildings had simply caved in on themselves and sat in giant rubble ruins.
A chill made its way down my spine. That demon had done this to this city. He had completely annihilated the place. Nothing was left alive or distinct. I could feel the loss of life as if it was actually in the heat waves steadily coming up out of the ground. I suddenly felt sick. My head and stomach spun uncontrollably.
"Gene," a soft voice suddenly whispered past me, as if flying on a gust of wind.
I looked up in surprise, forgetting my illness. What I saw made me stop in my tracks and my heart skip a beat. There she stood on a hill of fallen and crumbling debris. Her long black hair wisped wildly around her head while her vibrant green eyes bored hollowly through me. There was no expression on her face. She looked dead.
"Rose," I whispered back, barely able to get the name out of my mouth.
"I miss you, Gene," she said in a monotone voice. She suddenly turned and ran away from me.
"No! Come back!" I screamed after her. I took off in a sprint to catch up with the supposedly "dead" girl. I jumped and climbed up the mountain of rubble that she had been standing on. The heat was nothing but an annoyance at the back of my mind as I frantically ran after Rose.
Almost killing myself, I rolled down the hill of wreckage. I quickly picked myself up to my feet and sprinted down the crumbling street. The street led to a large intersection. I could see Rose in the middle of the intersection. The vision of her dimmed and brightened at random times as I ran to her as if she was an apparition.
I skidded to a stop only a few feet away from her fading form. She seemed to be looking right through me. I held my breath as I watched her void and lifeless eyes stare at me. This was breaking my heart. Tears welded up in my eyes. Inside of me I knew she was just gone and this was only a glimpse of a ghost of her.
"Gene," she whispered. For a fleeting second her eyes came to spontaneous life. She looked at me and smiled faintly. I lifted my arm to try and touch her. She did the same while whispering with the wind, "I miss you."
Tears spilled down my cheeks as I whispered back with a sob, "I miss you too, Rose."
The second our fingers touched, she was gone. She scattered into the wind and blew past me without even a goodbye. I turned, not wanting to let her go and watched the invisible wind blow away from me. The ache in my heart seemed to weigh me down. I missed her and Zach so much.
At least she was in a better place. Rose had no place in my life. It was true. She was too fragile, too good to deal with me and my burdened life. She would have only suffered. At least now she would never have to suffer again.
"She's one of the few lucky ones to die before I got to her," a booming voice bellowed down upon me.
A spark of fear drove down my spine at the sound of the demon's voice. Instantly I broke out into a cold sweat. Part of my mind told me to run and get out of there, away from the giant towering behind me. But another part of that mind had frozen, preventing me from doing anything but glance back at the demon with dread.
Those four red eyes stared back down at me. Even without my powers I could feel the evil in them. The demon smiled wickedly down at me, as if I was a helpless mouse cornered and he was the victorious cat about to play with his doomed snack.
Finally, out of desperation, my mind snapped back into motion. I took off in a sprint down a random street without daring to look back to see if the big dude was following after me.
It's amazing what adrenaline can do to someone under pressure. I flew down that deserted street at break neck speed. I easily jumped over rubble and debris like I was some Mayan warrior who knew every twist and turn of his own jungle. All I could function with was running.
The demon gave a booming laugh as he gave into the chase. The ground I sped over suddenly became shaky as the giant demon casually walked over to scoop me up.
Swearing profusely under my breath, I skidded to a near stop just as the demon bent down to pick me up. I threw myself to the side, rolled back to my feet and sprinted for my life down another street. I was desperate to stay out of the hands of that demon.
At the end of the street I spotted a narrow alley way. I blasted into it and stopped to catch my belabored breath. I gasped in the hot air greedily as my mind tried to break through the block it was experiencing. I wasn't used to having brain locks. Fear had somehow gripped that part of me and was not letting me go.
Rest time was done as quickly as it had started. I was in the tight confides of the alley no more than five seconds before the demon got smart and brushed one of the buildings away. All the guy had to do was slam a fist into the weakened brick building to make it crumble.
I gave a short scream as the wall I had been leaning on suddenly decided to come tumbling down. I ran out of the alley on the side the demon wasn't. A look of sheer panic was on my face as it clouded my mind. I didn't know what to do and it was scaring me half to death.
And suddenly I wasn't in the city anymore. I made the mistake of stopping and turning around to try and get back into the destroyed metropolis. I had a better chance of avoiding the demon with buildings in his way. The wide expanse of the desert would only get me caught and possibly tortured to death.
No warning at all. One second I was turning to catch my bearings, the next I was soaring through the air and feeling like a wall had whacked into me. I landed on my shoulder, did a few flips off the ground, and skidded to a stop on my stomach. I had been thrown like a rag doll, or more like hit like one. The demon had decided to whack me all the way into tomorrow, probably from the boredom of chasing me.
For a second all I did was lay there on my stomach, sucking in lungs full of ash laden hot air. Pain poured throughout my body, paralyzing me with its agony. Urgently, I struggled to my feet; fighting for my life anyway I could now.
I rose to one knee and gave a short, loud scream as I tried to use my right arm that I had landed on. It was broken. No doubt about it. Any movement of it would shoot intense, hot pain exploding down my arm.
Profanity was like a prayer now. The colorful words flowed off my tongue as if I had grown up using the vocabulary. Just as quick as the words had come, I was out of them. Soon the horror had hit my core and silenced everything in me.
I forced my burnt, bruised, and beaten body up to its feet and ran forward at what seemed like a lethargically slow pace. I could see the large shadow of the giant behind me as he walked closer to me. He slammed a foot down onto the ground and laughed as I fell to my hands and knees. A darker shadow suddenly appeared around me.
Glancing up, I saw the foot of the giant coming down on me. In a futile attempt to avoid the murderous stomp, I put my left arm above my head. I seriously thought I was finished.
I counted five excruciating slow seconds of nothing happening.
The booming laugh of the demon made me uncover my head and open my tightly closed eyes. I swung my head around and upward to see that the demon was pleased at my fear of almost being crushed to death. He leaned down so that his face was a feet away from me. I gasped in fright and tried to get to my feet. My fear made me pathetic and clumsy, though. I got nowhere very fast.
"You, child, are mine to control," the demon said in his haunting voice.
And suddenly I wasn't in control of my body. I was completely under the spell binding power of the demon. He drove me to the ground so that I was on my knees. He forced my hands behind my back. I flinched as pain drove down my right arm that was surely fractured.
The demon saw my pain and started to make that arm move up and down. At first I tried not to give him the satisfaction that he was hurting me really badly. I had tightly set my jaw and barely grunted through that raw experience. It was when he twisted that arm around that I let a scream slip. This produced a smile from him once again.
"Every passing day I get stronger," the demon told me. He said the words slowly, but I could feel the triumph and confidence in them. "Soon I will be able to break free of my bind to you. After that I will be all powerful. I will shape the world that God has spent years molding in one single blow! The world out there will soon become like this, my beautiful wasteland."
I listened to these words as they were shoved forcefully into my ears. My heart hammered against my chest. The demon had plans of turning earth into this destroyed and desolate place. I knew the guy had bad plans for when he was free, but never did I imagine this kind of destruction to be on the top of his to-do list. It was just plain heartless.
The demon bent down so that we were nose to nose. I had never been this close to him before. I would have turned away if I wasn't still trapped in his controlling spell. I was surprised that I hadn't peed in my pants or had a heart attack yet.
"And you will be the fault for your world's annihilation, child," he told me with a cruel, knowing smile. "Soon, you will let me free; release me into your precious world."
"I won't free you!" I yelled back at him. I could already feel his magic on me diminishing. He had power, but he couldn't use it for too long. His red eyes narrowed dangerously on me but I kept going. "I'll never let you get anywhere near my world! You'd have to kill me first!"
The demon laughed again at my words. I gritted my teeth. I knew that laugh all too well. It meant I didn't have any clue as to what was going on. I was out of the loop. His laugh had that harsh, knowing tone in it that drummed into my ears. Instantly I knew I was in way over my head with this demon.
He lifted my chin upwards with one of his large forefingers. I could feel the power in him. I jerked my head away in rebelliousness. He simply came back by pouring more magic into me then forcing me to look back up with his finger. I was forced to stare straight up into my capture's blood red eyes.
"You will wish to be dead when I am done with you every night, my child," he told me. "The only place you will be safe at is your own world when you wake up. But you will never feel rested or restored after sleep because I will be in your dreams. This place will be your second world.
"You will scream and plead for the mercy of death after only a few more nights. You will dread every time you close your eyes for sleep. Every night I will be here to persuade you to let me free. And the only time you will be able to escape back to the world you care too much about is when I kill you every night. When you wake up you will dread the return to darkness, the return to another death.
"You are mine, child."
This whole time I was forced to stare up at this beast, this demon. His words were true. He was going to kill me every night. I was going to have to stare death in the face each time I closed my eyes for a night's rest. How long would I last? How long would it take me to crack, to freak out, to be beaten, to give in?
As I stared up at the demon and listened to his merciless words, I began to become terribly scared. I knew no amount of screaming, pleading, or crying could change this fate. There were only a few times in my life that I got pretty scared, but it was at this point in my life that I think I was the most scared. The fear gripped my body, seizing every hope and passion out of me.
The demon brought his foot up again, more slowly this time to let the panic, the fear linger in me. I watched him with wide, dread filled eyes. I was powerless as to defending myself or getting out of the way. I was about to die.
The death was quick but painful. The foot smashed into my body at full force. I don't remember much after that. There was brief flash of unbearable and indescribable pain and agony. I couldn't scream or move as all the bones in my body were crushed into the hot, burning ground. And then my skull caved in and burrowed into my brain, immediately killing me.
And then I was screaming.
I woke up feeling like a chewed up piece of meat that had been spit out of someone's mouth because it was unwanted. I bolted up right, gasping in salty wet air. It was pouring rain where I was. Fat, warm rain drops splattered against me. I was already soaked to the core and shivering on the wooden dock I was on.
It took a second for me to realize Arabell was on her knees next to me. For a brief moment all I did was stare at her while at the same time not really seeing her. Then I saw her through the rain. Her wet auburn hair hung in front of her face, but I could clearly feel all her concern, worry, and fear for me…for me.
Before I knew it I was in tears. "I was so scared!" I wailed as she watched me in disbelief. "I just died! He-he literally killed me! He crushed me to death! And Rose is dead and never coming back! She died just like I did! I was so scared!" I continued, not caring that I was totally breaking down in front of Arabell. I had reached a point that I had to crack to go on, to live.
And then Arabell did something totally amazing.
"Oh, Gene, I'm so sorry," Arabell whispered to me. She wrapped her arms around my shoulders and let me sob into her shoulder. I rambled on about my fear and feelings to her as she ran her slender fingers through my hair and held me there. At times she would calmly say, "Shh. You're okay now, Gene. Shh."
After a few minutes she pulled me away from her shoulder. She delicately held my head in her warm hands so that we were looking into each others' eyes. I could feel her strength and care for her in her touch and in her gray eyes that studied my face. I held onto her strength like it was my only life line.
"Gene," she told me in a whisper. I could barely hear her above the driving rain, rushing wind, and the roaring waves. But somehow all I could hear was her voice and her words. "I'm here for you, Gene," she said. "I know you haven't trusted me since the beginning, but this is the simple truth. I'm here for you. I will always be here."
The only thing I could think of doing was wrap my arms around her and hug the girl. She hugged back. After a while I realized she was crying out of pure relief. I smiled as I felt this from her. We were both going to be okay. The future didn't look so bright, but at least I had someone with me to go through it beside me.
Arabell pulled away from me finally. We held each other at arms length and smiled before laughing. "I hate crying like that," Arabell muttered as she wiped away tears with the palm of her hands. Like it mattered. It was raining so much that her tears just looked like rain droplets on her face. I grinned at her for this.
"You weren't the one sobbing like a baby," I pointed out.
"You needed to do that," Arabell said softly.
"Yeah," I agreed after a small pause. I then got to my feet with determination in my eyes. Arabell got up beside me with her eyes pinned on me. I felt tired and beaten, but I wasn't defeated at all. Slade had given me a second chance, and it was time for me to do something right.
"What are we going to do?" Arabell asked me. She wasn't scared, just uncertain about the future.
I looked down at her and allowed myself to grin wryly. "We have some Titans to save," I told her. "I think we better get started with this rescue mission. Better late than never."