Lux, p.1
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       Lux, p.1
 

         Part #3 of The Nocte Trilogy series by Courtney Cole
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Lux


  Lux

  Courtney Cole

  Lakehouse Press, Inc.

  Contents

  Untitled

  Untitled

  Lux

  Dedication

  Foreword

  Prologue

  1. Chapter One

  2. Chapter Two

  3. Chapter Three

  4. Chapter Four

  5. Chapter Five

  6. Chapter Six

  7. Chapter Seven

  8. Chapter Eight

  9. Chapter Nine

  10. Chapter Ten

  11. Chapter Eleven

  12. Chapter Twelve

  13. Chapter Thirteen

  14. Chapter Fourteen

  15. Chapter Fifteen

  16. Chapter Sixteen

  17. Chapter Seventeen

  18. Chapter Eighteen

  19. Chapter Nineteen

  20. Chapter Twenty

  21. Chapter Twenty-One

  22. Chapter Twenty-Two

  23. Chapter Twenty-Three

  24. Chapter Twenty-Four

  25. Chapter Twenty-Five

  26. Chapter Twenty-Six

  27. Chapter Twenty-Seven

  28. Chapter Twenty-Eight

  29. Chapter Twenty-Nine

  30. Chapter Thirty

  31. Chapter Thirty-One

  32. Author’s Note

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

  Genesis 2:20-25

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING THE END IS COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING THE END IS COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING THE END IS COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING THE END IS COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING THE END IS COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING THE END IS COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING THE END IS COMING

  THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING. THE END IS COMING. THE END IS COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING IT’S COMING

  Lux

  By Courtney Cole

  Book three of the NOCTE Trilogy

  Copyright  2015 by Courtney Cole

  Names, characters and incidents depicted in this novel are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.

  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental and is beyond the intent of the author or publisher.

  No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the author or publisher. If you are reading this book and you did not purchase it from the author/publisher, or it was not given to you directly by the author/publisher, then this book is pirated.

  Piracy is a crime.

  Please delete any pirated book and purchase it through an authorized distributor.

  * * *

  LET THERE BE LIGHT.

  My name is Calla Price and I’m broken.

  My pieces are all around me, floating on the wind, even as I desperately try to grasp them.

  Who is dead? Alive? Insane?

  What is the truth?

  I don’t know.

  I do know this: The darkness is strangling me. With every breath, I choke on another lie.

  My mind has protected me, but that shield will soon be lowered.

  All will be revealed.

  Every answer to every question.

  It’s all been leading to this.

  Don’t be afraid.

  Be terrified.

  Dedication

  Resurgmus a cinis.

  “We will rise from the ashes.”

  Because we always do, don’t we?

  This is for anyone who ever has,

  And for everyone who ever will.

  Foreword

  My dearest readers,

  The poet Dylan Thomas said,

  “Do not go gentle into that good night…

  Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

  My characters are not gentle.

  They raged,

  And raged.

  I haven’t been gentle either,

  Not with them,

  And not with you.

  My words have spun you around,

  Tilted you until you didn’t know which way was up.

  Because we’re all a little mad, aren’t we?

  You had to know Calla’s head.

  You had to be in her shoes.

  You had to feel what she felt.

  Because it all had to happen in order.

  Now you’re at the end.

  You’re faced with the darkness,

  With the truth.

  It looms ahead of you,

  So close you can touch it.

  Go ahead.

  Reach out your finger.

  Touch it.

  Do it.

  DoItDoItDoIt.

  I dare you.

  Prologue

  There’s a fork in the road and even though I see it, I can’t avoid it.

  One road goes left, one goes
right, and neither of them ends well.

  I feel it in my bones,

  In my bones,

  In my hollow reed bones.

  He grabs my hand and we walk…through a tunnel…through a hall… through the dark.

  “It’ll be ok,” he whispers.

  Will it?

  “We have to do this,” he says. “But I’m with you. I won’t leave you.”

  I nod because I believe him, because no matter what else, I know that much is true. He won’t leave me.

  The room is shrouded in shadows, in flame, in secrets. I step inside, and peer around, and the heat from the fire warms me, warms my blood, and the blood pumps through my heart.

  I sing a song of nonsense, and it sings back. The notes echo and twist in the air, and I swallow them whole.

  “Come out,” I call behind me, because I know they’re there.

  I can’t see them, but they’re always watching.

  The eyes appear, inky black, and glistening, and they blink once, twice, three times.

  “I can see you,” I announce and it growls and then I’m crushed beneath the dark, beneath the weight, beneath the oppression.

  “You don’t scare me,” I lie.

  Because it does scare me. It’s followed me my whole life, and finally, finally, I’ll find out what it is.

  Why it’s here.

  Why it wants me.

  Because above all, I know it’s here for me.

  I know it

  I know it.

  The walls around me pulse and hum and growl,

  There’s savagery here, there’s grace.

  But above all, there’s oblivion and no matter what I do, I will be sucked into it.

  I know it.

  I feel it.

  I’m crazy.

  “Are you ready? she asks and we nod, because we aren’t but it doesn’t matter.

  She nods and the flames lap, and the words start,

  One for one for one.

  I fall backwards from the precipice

  into oblivion.

  The endless

  Endless oblivion.

  Chapter One

  The room swirls white and medicinal, filled with beeps and blank walls and cold skin. Goosebumps chase each other in confusion up my arm, and I gulp hard.

  I’m in a hospital.

  I’m cold.

  I’m afraid.

  My dead brother stares at me, his pale blue eyes evasive as he skirts my question. I ask it again.

  “Finn, where’s Dare?”

  I ask him stiltedly, each word a sword that stabs my heart, because doom invades this room, in every inch, every breath, every moment.

  Finn looks away, at the wall, at the floor, at anything but me.

  “Dare is….you know where he is, Calla.”

  I don’t, though, and that’s the unbearable thing.

  My eyes flutter closed and the last thing I see is the white hospital blanket that covers me. I close my eyes against reality, and Finn picks up my hand.

  “Cal, you’ve twisted everything around in your head until you don’t know what is real, and what is not. You know where Dare is. You know what is real. You’ve just got to think. You’ve got to face it.”

  This hurts, and I hate it.

  “I…can’t.” My words are limp, falling onto the bed, tumbling to the floor.

  Finn stares at me, into my eyes, into my heart. It pierces me, it grabs me with both hands and doesn’t let go.

  “Calla, you can. You’re not me, you’re you. And that’s ok. That’s who you need to be. Please, for the love of God, come back. Just come back.”

  My eyes open because his words are confusing.

  “Come back from where?”

  I’m clearly here in the hospital with him, with my dead brother. I’m already here. He’s the one who’s not, because he’s dead. He’s not making any sense.

  He sighs, a soft sound in a silent room.

  “Come back from where you are. You’re needed here, Calla.”

  “But I am here,” I say hesitantly, because Finn is already shaking his head.

  “No,” he says. “You’re not, Calla.”

  Clouds surround me and lift me up and carry me away from logic, from reason, from reality. I fight to keep my feet down, to keep from being lifted away, into the sky, across the ocean.

  “How do I come back?” I ask, and my voice is like a child’s.

  Finn stares at me, and his eyes are blue rocks, blank and shiny and bright.

  “You focus. You do what you have to do. You think you have to be me, but you don’t. I’m fine where I am, Calla.”

  “But you’re dead,” I almost whimper.

  He grins, the crooked one that I love, the one I know like the back of my hand.

  “Is that what I am? And if so, is that a bad thing? When you’re dead, there’s nothing to worry about. I’m ok, Cal. Come back. Just come back.”

  “I can’t do it without you,” I say firmly, because that’s what I know in my heart.

  Finn rolls his eyes. “Of course you can. You were always the strong one, Calla. You always were.”

  “But I don’t know how to come back,” I tell him. “Even if I wanted to, I don’t know how. I’m too lost, Finn. I’m lost.”

  Finn is unsympathetic though, and his voice is firm.

  “Do you know what I always did when I was lost?” Finn asks, and he’s holding my hand again. I shake my head because I don’t, and so he tells me. “I re-trace my steps.”

  “But…” my whisper trails off, and so I bolster myself. “But where do I start?”

  Without Finn, I don’t know if I want to start at all.

  He stares at me because he knows me, because he knows what I’m thinking better than anyone else.

  “You start at the beginning, Calla. Choose a point of reference that you know is true, and start there. Don’t let anything get in your way, and don’t try to fool yourself, no matter how much pain you think the truth will cause. Do you understand?”

  I do.

  But I don’t want to.

  “Reality is real,” he tells me sternly. “I’m not. You’ve been given a gift, Calla. Don’t waste it. You have to find your new reality without me.”

  “But how can I do that when you’re my point of reference, Finn?” my voice fractures. “How can I decide what is real when you aren’t?”

  My chest hurts and I can’t breathe, because every breath I take is one more step that I take further away from my brother.

  “You just have to find a way,” he answers, and his words are cool and unflinching.

  My tears are hot and I squeeze his hand because no matter what he says, I’m not letting go.

  “I’m sorry, Calla.” Finn’s voice is small. His slim shoulders are hunched now and he’s angled away from me.

  “Sorry for what?”

  “I’m sorry for everything.”

  The clouds clear for a minute, then surround me again.

  “But it wasn’t your fault.”

  “It wasn’t?” Finn sighs. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter anymore. Fault, cause, roots. None of that matters. All that matters is you. You have to face what is real.”

  His hand starts to fade and he seems to slip into the air, away from me. I grab at him, but my fingers come up empty.

  “Finn!” I call. “Come back! Don’t leave me!”

  But he’s gone, and I’m alone, and all that is left is Finn’s soft voice, and it seems to come from nowhere, yet everywhere.

  “If you have to live for both us, then do it,” he whispers. “But live.”

  “Finn?” I ask hesitantly, but there is no answer.

  He’s truly gone.

  The room is empty and cold and stark.

  My entire life, my brother has been my other half. He’s loved me unconditionally, completely, with everything he has.

  And now he’s dead, and he’s asking me to do something.

  Something hard.

 
To exist without him.

  To figure out, once and for all, what is true,

  What is real.

  I have to do it.

  And to do that, I have to re-trace my steps.

  If Finn is gone,

  There’s only one thing in my life that is true.

  One true point of reference.

  One important thing.

  Dare.

  With shaking hands, I close my eyes,

  and try to think about Dare.

  Because it’s always been about Dare.

  I try to focus on his dark eyes, and his bright smile, and his swaying shoulders…but thoughts of him won’t form. They’re stubborn and elusive, and all I can think of is the beginning.

  The beginning

  The beginning.

  With a start, I remember scratched words from Finn’s journal.

  Mars solum initium est. Death is the beginning.

  The beginning, the beginning.

  I NEED TO START.

  My breathing catches then quickens, because maybe once again, like always, Finn is telling me where to go.

  Maybe the beginning is exactly where I need to be.

  Chapter Two

  The smell of the school gym permeates my nose. The dust motes float in the air, the floor scuffed and hot. Around me, the other kindergartners screech and run because Capture the Flag is our favorite game. Our skin smells like sweat, our breath is heavy and hot in our chests, and the sense of competition is so thick I can taste it.

  I look up to find my brother Finn grabbing the other team’s flag. He’s as surprised by this turn of events as I am because one thing about my brother… he’s not athletic. It’s not his thing. His smile is beatific as he sprints toward our side, because if he can just manage this, he’ll be the hero of the day. We’ll win, and it will be because of him.

 
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