World of Radiation

Igniting Embers

Continued from ‘Something More

Glancing sidelong at Alice, I keep pace with her. What’s she looking for? What does she really think is out here?

“You shouldn’t have come,” she mutters.

“It’s too late to go back now,” I answer, settling my gaze on the blank expanse of land in front of us.

Adamantly, an edge creeping into her voice she returns with, “it’s not.”

Stifling the urge to groan I continue walking. “Look,” I begin, letting the stubborn tone settle. “I made my choice to come with you just as you made your choice to leave.”

“But I knew what I was getting into,” she returns.

Control relinquishes its hold on me as I counter with, “how could you possibly know what you’re getting into, Alice? You don’t even know what’s out here!”

Her feet pull up abruptly. “You’re right,” she agrees. “I don’t know what’s out here, but when I left the only person that it was going to effect was me.”

Halting my strides next to her I face her full-on. “Are you serious, Alice?” I question, pausing for her to agree or disagree. She does neither. “You leaving doesn’t affect just you. It effects your parents. It effects your siblings. It effects…” My voice fades until it’s barely nothing as I add, “me.”

A storm rages behind her eyes. The air around use thickens with the heat of her temper, but I don’t step back, I don’t cave. When we were younger, that fire of hers may have scared me. Not anymore. I found something stronger than fire: water.

“It didn’t have to effect you,” she snaps, the aggression building within her.

“Are you kidding me?” I return, my cool anger keeping my voice level. “What on earth would I do without you, Alice? We’re best friends.”

“Exactly!” She shouts. “Friends! Damn it, Kyle!” Air heaves from her lungs and with a burning heat. “You would’ve been just fine without me!”

The temperature heightens. Sweat trickles from my brow as I hold my gaze against hers. “Thanks a lot,” I toss back with a blunt tone. “So happy to see how much our friendship matters to you.” Setting the chip on my shoulder I turn from her, continuing in an arbitrary direction since I have no landmark to reference our course with.

Yet before I take two steps, the air explodes with heat. A blast of it rushes towards the nape of my neck just before I dive to the ground, my breaths catching in my throat. Dust kicks up around me, clouding my vision. Tears swell to clear the grit away.

“Alice!” I shout, my cool temper doing me no good against my fear. “What are you doing?!”

“You should’ve stayed home, Kyle!” Another burst of heat blazes towards me, but I don’t move fast enough. It catches me on the arm.

Pain streaks across my skin as the flesh melts and bubbles from the fire. A howl of pain emerges from my throat. My fingers instantly reach to grab the injured limb, but recoils when more pain sparks from the touch. “Alice!” Coughs overtake me as my lungs fill with kicked-up dust.

“Get up, Kyle,” she demands. “Show me that you’re not the weak water adaptation you’ve always proven to be.”

Regaining my breath I respond, “I’m not going to fight you, Alice.”

Fire lashes against the ground above my head, singing my hair with a gut-wrenching smell. Alice growls. “Get up, Kyle!”

Rolling onto my side I manage to pick myself up off the parched ground. Through my tears I catch a glance of Alice. Anger burns across her face, no doubt igniting the embers deep within her, the ones I knew would break out eventually. I just never thought I’d be the one to give them life.

“I’m not going to fight you, Alice,” I remind her. “You’re my friend.”

My words do me no good as she draws one hand across her body to clap the other, fire sparking to life from the interaction. “Because you’re weak, Kyle. You’ve always been weak,” she taunts. A simple flick of her wrist and the fire hurls in my direction.

Swiping my hand down my sweat-soaked arm I snap it towards the flame. Smoke drifts skyward from the meeting of fire and water.

“Nice trick,” she sneers.

“It’s not a trick, Alice. I’m a water adaptation. You know that.” I don’t have the energy or desire to fight her. It flattens my tone to one of disinterest.

Unfortunately, my words and tone do me no good. They don’t quench her anger.

“Well, water adaptation, try this one!” With more force she claps her hands in front of her, the resulting flame big enough to burn my entire being to a crisp.

Next Installment: ‘No Pain, No Gain


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