A scream is heard through the night, making cats yowl and dogs bark, leaving only an empty silence. Blood-red tear drops form on the concrete floor, sparkling in the streetlights and causing more pain. The night is what made this game. Deep down, the girl knows that this is true, but she cannot help but blame herself. “Your name! What is your name?” shouts a voice, breaking the heavy silence that had imposed on the world. The girl scrabbles for her name, trying to remember before he punished her any more. Her head pounds, like someone is beating a drum inside it. The man grows impatient, his threats echoing off the stone walls. “Aya,” she finally manages to push out of her lips in despair, “my name… is Aya.” The man snarls and puts his fingers around her throat, lifting her off the ground. His expression was murderous, and Aya’s heart filled with terror at the sight of it. She tried to scream for help, or at least for mercy, but as his fingers tighten around her throat, her words are choked off. She cannot breathe, and before the end, she thinks one more thought. Help me.
The man screams out in agony as an invisible force starts to rip him apart, molecule by painful molecule. His fingers release their grip on Aya’s throat, as he crumples to the ground. There is no one to save him. As his body slowly disappears from this world, his last screams are sucked in with it. A figure steps out of the darkness, and towards Aya, but his intentions were not murderous. His intentions were full of brotherly love for his sister. Tears threaten his eyes as he sees her still body, unmoving. He watches her limp body for a few more minutes, and exhales a breath he didn’t know he was holding as her chest rises and falls, the colour returning to her lips. Lucky I was here, he thinks, exuberantly. If he hadn’t been here, Aya would be dead.
To her own amazement, Aya opens her eyes in her own room. The only clues that last night wasn’t a dream are the scrapes on her arm. They are bandaged now, and her head is no longer pounding with frustration. Her brother, Azakiel, wanders in, the relief plain on his face as he realises that she didn’t die overnight. “Ever since we have discovered these powers we have, they have never really left us behind. We need to find a better place to hide, or they’re going to eventually kill us.” Aya nodded briefly, then smiled at her brother with affection. “Have you ever heard of the Dead Man’s Graveyard?” Aya asks him. Azakiel shakes his head. “Precisely,” she murmurs darkly. They were both going to go to a place where no one would ever find them again.
“Are we almost there?” Asks Azakiel. “Sadly, no,” Aya replies, genuinely annoyed at his frequent questioning. He was acting like a bored five-year-old on a car trip and it was getting on her nerves. They were climbing a particularly steep mountain, one that seemed higher than Everest itself. Finally, they arrived at a clearing on top of the mountain. It is dark and cold and reeks of terror and death, but nevertheless Aya stops and stands there, surveying the scene. Azakiel stops too, and says, “Come on, lets move on.” But Aya just stands there and shakes her head. “We’re here,” she mutters. She doesn’t sound too pleased with the location either. “I thought you said we were no where near!” cries Azakiel, who was clearly deterred by the evil feeling that surrounded the dark clearing. It is as dark as night, although it was the middle of the day when they were climbing the last rock up the mountain. Azakiel looked scared. “You are such a wuss.” Aya says, rolling her eyes. “Where are we, anyway?” Azakiel asks. “Welcome to Dead Man’s Graveyard.” Those whispered words echo off the thickness of the dark, until it seems like a thousand voices are whispering at once. They know that they are not safe there, but it is obvious that they will never be safe anywhere. No where is safe for a freak. “Come on,” whispers Aya, “we need to find a place to make camp.” Azakiel doesn’t seem to agree with that idea. “Are you sure we should go in there? It looks dangerous.” Aya just shakes her head and replies, “Everywhere is dangerous for us, but this is our only option. Only an idiot would dare to enter Dead Man’s Graveyard.” “That makes me feel much better,” Azakiel mutters under his breath, ignoring the death stare that Aya shot him over her shoulder.
As they travel deeper into the increasing darkness, Azakiel begins to feel uneasy. The only source of light that they have emanates from a small, electric, rechargeable torch. Something isn’t right. Something is very wrong, but Aya seems oblivious to that. She just keeps walking, not even noticing Azakiel falling further and further behind. Then Azakiel freezes, as cold as the ice in his veins. A snapping sound reverberates through his head, making him scream out in agony. “AYA!” Aya turns and stares in horror as her older brother crumples to the ground in subdued pain. “Azakiel… what happened?” She asked, in a quiet voice, that was almost, but not quite, a whisper. Azakiel doesn’t answer her. He can’t. “Azakiel!” She cries, terrified of whatever force made her invincible brother crumple. “Who’s there?” demands a voice from the shadows. Aya’s eyes widen in fear, but she stands up straight, trying to be brave, for her brother’s sake. “Aya Longsmith,” she says, confidently. She could her the hesitation in that voice, an ever so slight shake surrounded by rock hard bravery. “Why have you come here, Aya Longsmith?” Aya draws in a deep breath, summoning up all her courage and says, “I have come to seek sanctuary from those who might want me dead. This is the only safe place left for people like me.” There is a pause, then Aya hears more voices around her out of the darkness, whispering. They are doubtful and hopeful and scared and worried. They are her own voices, the ones that once told her that she wasn’t good enough, but now they are real. They are real voices, belonging to real, dangerous people. Aya can only catch snippets of each conversation. “… might be one of us,” “Is it safe… try…” “She’s trouble! We can’t deal with more…” “ENOUGH!” shouts the first voice, and all the conversations cease. The circle of light around Aya is touched by many shadows, but Aya cannot see who those shadows belong to. Someone steps out of the shadows, so terrifying that the very sight of him makes Aya want to shudder and collapse onto the ground. Somehow, she manages to hold herself together for a few more minutes, at least until he introduced himself. It is difficult to describe just how horrible a sight he is. His charred bones are visible through his tattered skin, almost as old as time itself. His body somehow holds itself together, but Aya could see where he was falling apart, where his skin rotted and his bones began to crumble. He is bald, for all his hair must have fallen out long ago, and all that remains of his scalp is rotting bones. His clothes and skin were both equally tattered, so Aya can’t tell what part is flesh and what is cloth. She gasps in horror as she realises that the thing standing in front of her is the rotting corpse of the Dead Man. “I am Consentius Churn, the One Who is Dead, and these are my people!” he roared. Aya almost has to put her hands over her ears to block out his echoing cry. “If you don’t mind me asking,” she begins timidly, “What are your people?” Consentius studies her for a bit, then says, “Mine are the ones who experience things that many others may not. Mine are those who possess powers of the mind so strong that men fall at the sound of a thought.” Aya thought for a long time, then said, “Then that means my brother and I are your people too.” Consentius looks at her with renewed curiosity, but, “Prove it,” is all he says. Aya nods, then looks around for something to focus on. Her eyes settle on a boulder, bigger than any she had ever seen. Aya closes her eyes and visualizes that boulder, concentrating as hard as she possibly can. She imagines the boulder floating up into the air, and then hurtling towards a wall, smashing upon the impact. She scrunches her eyes and thinks a single word, injecting it with all the power of her body. Go! She begins to feel dizzy, and far away from the world. Through the broken silence of her mind, she hears the sound of granite exploding. It sounds so distant, like it is a million miles away, but in truth Aya knows that the sound is real, and merely metres away. By that time, however, she had already collapsed. Her mind slips away from her, but somehow, she knows that she would be okay.
Aya awakens in a patch of light in a darkened room. She can’t see much, but through the shadows she sees her brother’s limp body in another patch of light. She looks below herself, and is astonished to see that she is suspended in the air. She had a hunch that if someone turned off the light above her, she would fall to the ground. She isn’t surprised to discover that she cannot move. It almost feels like she is a bug stuck in a spider’s web, preparing for the worst. Somewhere in the darkness, a door opens, then clicks closed. She is ready for the end. She closes her eyes, braces her head and waits for the last strike. It doesn’t happen. “It’s okay,” comes an unfamiliar, raspy voice, “You passed out after you shattered that boulder. You are in a regeneration facility, underground.” Aya breathes a relieved sigh. “Is it safe here?” she asks, desperate to know. “Shhh. Nowhere is safe for you, child.” Aya opens her eyes, getting the answer she needed. She sees the woman with the raspy voice and just stares for a long time. She is beautiful, with long, rusty-blond hair flowing past her waist. Her face is heart-shaped and beautifully tanned, but the prettiest part of her face is her eyes. They are sea green, giving all the colourful illusion that the sea does. If you stare at them long enough, they become a sort of sparkling blue, but if you look away quickly, they are a twinkling green. “What is going on?” Aya wants to know. “There is going to be a war,” says the pretty lady, “and you are going to be in the front line.” “War? What are you talking about?” The woman sighs. “I suppose I’d better tell you the whole story. My name is Zana, and I am just like you and your brother. We know what happened with the Mistake and the scientists involved. We know that there are millions of those scientists worldwide and they want to destroy all evidence of their Mistake, including those who were results of it.” Zana pauses, and Aya takes that chance to butt in. “What is the Mistake?” Zana exhales, and says, “So you want to go back that far. The Mistake happened years ago, when a certain group of scientists called Melovent started experimenting on children. They were prepared to take any risk, prepared to kill hundreds of children for their project. They justified this by saying that it was ‘all in the name of science’. They wanted to see if they could improve the human brain, so that it had an almost animal sensibility. Needless to say, the experiment went horribly wrong, and the children ended up with incredible powers of the mind, such as levitation, telepathy, and in rare cases, empathy.” “What is empathy?” Zana chooses her words carefully. “Empathy is when a person has the ability to literally feel what other people feel. People who are empathetic can also soothe others’ minds, and make them feel better. We haven’t seen any Soothers in a hundred years, so it is incredibly rare to have the power of empathy.” Aya looks over at her brother, who is still unconscious, in wonder. “Azakiel?” she whispered, shocked, and awestruck. Her brother, possibly the only Empathy left. He might be the most important one out of them all. Zana looks confused. “What?” Aya looks back to her, and said softly, “Azakiel has empathy.” Zana’s eyes widen and she just stares at Azakiel for a long time. “He hasn’t woken up yet. We are beginning to wonder if he ever will,” she murmurs regretfully. Aya’s eyes fill with tears. “No… please! There must be something you can do to save him!” she screams. Azakiel stirs, and murmurs something in his unconscious state, and the tears of despair in Aya’s eyes turn into tears of hope. “Please, please, please, please.” Aya whispers to herself. She can’t ever imagine not having Azakiel there; the thought is unthinkable. Her brother, who she has known forever, her brother who has bandaged her scraped knees, protected her from danger, sang her to sleep every night, since she was little, dead. Aya’s eyes widen in sadness and horror. “NO. He can’t die. Please.” she says, her voice getting more and more feeble as the hopelessness sets in.