She cuffed me and placed me in the back of her unmarked vehicle. Hatred and Jealousy slipped into the car with me. I scooted into the middle, creating the proper barrier between the two of them.
On my left, Jealousy shook his head repeatedly as he stared forward. On my right, Hatred scowled at me. I smirked and chuckled.
“This isn’t funny,” Hatred growled.
“You need a sense of humor then,” I replied, watching the woman outside the car give the surrounding officers orders.
“This is serious,” she barked.
“I don’t like this, Din,” Jealousy added.
“Yeah, I know. You said that,” I said, glaring at him.
“I don’t care for the feeling I’m getting. I know you feel it too, so why are you going along with it?” Hatred asked.
“Because it’s interesting,” I answered. “It intrigues me, and I want to see where it goes.”
“I thought that’s what this little road trip was for,” she snapped. “Wasn’t that why you left us behind? So you could see where the road takes you? Find yourself?”
I peered at her from the corner of my eye. I didn’t like how she spoke to me, and I wanted her to know it. She cowered down into her seat and folded her arms, turning away from me.
“Din, look, this is uncharted waters we’re treading in,” Jealousy said, leaning forward to look at my face. “What I’m feeling, what we’re all feeling, doesn’t feel natural. We’re just confused as to why you are willing to go down this road, feeling something so unnatural?”
I looked at him, answering his question with my eyes before I spoke. “I’m doing this because, for the first time in a long time, I feel something. Mortal hate or jealous rage doesn’t make me feel anything. Those are emotions that fuel me, make me powerful, but they don’t give me a sense of purpose or make me feel alive.”
“Why do you need to feel alive?” Hatred snapped.
“Because I’m tired of just existing,” I snapped. “At home, I didn’t belong. I never felt like I fit in, and no matter how hard I tried, it never made a difference. I know I don’t belong up here either, but at least I’m free to make my own decisions without being influenced by my past. This place provides me a clean slate, and I’m willing to see it through, no matter where it takes me.”
“Even if it’s somewhere we don’t want to go?” Jealousy asked.
“Or be?” Hatred added.
“Yes,” I said.
My two minions stared at me. I could tell they were both attempting to provide a witty comeback or say something with weight that would pull me away from my decision to be taken into custody by a mortal. They didn’t have anything to say and slumped in their seats.
“You’re changing, and I hate it,” Jealousy muttered.
“You care more about your existence with these mortals than being with us,” Hatred mumbled.
I didn’t respond. They were right. I had changed and was changing with every experience I’ve had above ground. I wouldn’t change it because it jarred something loose within me that I didn’t know existed. Through these different occurrences, I’d understood myself better and been able to accept my past. That was why I decided to hit this altercation head-on instead of run from it like I always had before.
The woman finished her orders and climbed into the car. She adjusted the rearview mirror to look at me. I could see her hazel eyes study me intently. I locked on them with my own, feeling captivated by her gaze and excited for the conversation to come.
“I trust that you’re going to behave back there?” she said.
I nodded, holding eye contact with her. She started the car while keeping her eyes on me and drove away from the scene.
“What are you going to do with my car?”
“It will be towed to impound. Don’t worry. I’m sure it will have minimal amounts of scratches and dents by the time you retrieve it if you are ever able to.”
“Why wouldn’t I be able to? The last time I checked, assault wasn’t a serious offense.”
“You’re not being detained just for the assault,” she replied, glaring into the mirror at me. “As I said before, you are wanted for questioning in the matter of a scared woman, fleeing for her safety.”
I leaned forward. “Where was this woman?” I asked. “Did she say where she was going?”
Her head snapped around. “Are you serious?” she said. “That’s not something an innocent man says.”
Hatred and Jealousy giggled. I turned to Hatred, confused by the simultaneous laughter. She grinned widely and pointed ahead. When I turned back to the woman, who was still looking at me, I saw the bright lights shining through the windshield.
I couldn’t warn her verbally, but my widened eyes told her that something was about to happen. She turned just as the truck smashed into the car.
Glass sprayed as we were whipped around uncontrollably. The car spun and rolled down the neighboring hillside. My minions laughed as they bounced around inside the car. I tried to focus on anything, but all I saw was the woman’s hair flailing about as we rolled.
I heard a crash and felt weightless. I didn’t understand what had happened until I hit the snow-covered ground. I tumbled, flipping until the thick snow grabbed me, and I slid to a halt.
My face was buried in the cold snow. I lifted my head, and a flicker of light caught my eye. The hood had flown off from the crash, and flames sprouted from the exposed engine.
The woman was unconscious, her head against the steering wheel. Hatred and Jealousy climbed out of the wreckage, laughing hysterically at what had just transpired.
“What a ride!” Hatred exclaimed.
Jealousy ran over to me and helped me to my feet. “That was smart to get her attention when you saw that truck veer into our lane,” he said.
“Brilliant, Dinlas,” Hatred added. “I almost believed that crap you were shoveling at us back there. You really had me.”
“Let’s get back to our car, Din,” Jealousy said with a smile.
I didn’t know anything about the truck. I was so mesmerized by her gaze and the idea I was close to my target that I’d ignored everything else.
“Let’s go,” Hatred said, turning to lead the way.
“I can’t leave her there,” I said, looking at the unconscious woman who had captivated me.
“Yes, you can,” she replied.
“She doesn’t matter, Din,” Jealousy said. “She’s just a mortal. They die all the time.”
“Exactly, it’s nature,” Hatred added.
I didn’t know what was worse, the dilemma of leaving the woman to die, or the fact that my minions agreed with each other. Amidst their unnatural alliance, I decided to save her from death. I couldn’t ignore her, and I couldn’t ignore what I’d inadvertently caused. I broke the handcuffs apart and rushed to her aid.
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