A/N: What is this, a new Lucky Four chapter? After how many months? Yep, I'm not dead. A whole lot of things came up, inspiration has been lost, you know. Every great writer has times of hiatus (not that I claim to be 'that good' or anything). Aaaaaaanyway, I'm back and with a whole new chapter! Hopefully, it'll be worth the wait (I kind of like the end myself, but that's just me). Also, I have a new project up, Love is Worse than Heroin, it's like the antithesis of this. So, I'll try to get chapter 16 up faster now that I'm back in the groove of Lucky Four. Thanks for reading and sorry if I turned some people away with lack of updates. I apologize again. Enjoy!!!
P.S- Whenever someone leaves a review under their profile name, I always click on their profile and check out their stuff. Just letting you know.
"Step one: make sure you are totally relaxed and sitting comfortably," Landon read aloud from Artemis' e-mail. I was going to attempt going to 'the land of the dead' willingly and I wanted Landon there to make sure nothing happened to me or, more specifically, my body.
"Done and done," I replied, lying on my back in bed. It's hard for me to stay relaxed while lying in one place, so I had to focus on lying still. Even when I'm sleeping, I roll around and fidget frequently.
"Alright. Step two: close your eyes and let your mind go completely blank."
"Damn, that'll probably be the hardest step. What do I do after that?"
"Let's see. Step three: when you see total whiteness, envision yourself stepping into the white. You'll know you've done it right when you see, oh God this is cliché, a pearly white gate directly in front of you. This step is generally the hardest for most people, for obvious reasons. You soul should be completely outside of your body by this point and you will feel funny. This is completely normal. Step four: push on the gates with all your strength. Since you are forcing your body and soul apart, the connection between the two will try to pull your soul back into your body. You will feel a tugging sensation, almost as if there is wind on the other side of the gate pushing you back. Whatever you do, don't let go of the gate, keep pushing until it opens. Step five: go through the gate and you will enter the land of the dead. If you want to leave, go through the gate again and walk into the white light. You will immediately be put back into your body. You will feel lightheaded when back in your body, this is normal. You will feel this way after the first few times you travel out of your body, but it gets better the more you do it, just like anything else in life."
"Thanks Landon, now if I look dead, don't say anything to anybody. I'll be fine. In fact, just don't leave this room. If I successfully make it over there, just put a blanket over my head and if anyone asks, I'm sleeping, ok?"
"Roger. So should I just be quiet now?"
"If you don't mind."
I laid there silently for what seemed like an eternity, but what was really more like two minutes. I started getting restless, so I turned over to my side. The funny thing about trying to not think of anything is that you start to think about not thinking about anything, which means you're thinking about something when you're trying to think of nothing. It exhausted me just thinking about that, before I realized that I was thinking. Something seemed to always be going through my head.
I must have fidgeted into a new position about five times before getting impatient. I just couldn't be relaxed lying down. Before Abigail invaded my head, sleep used to be hard for me. I'd lay there for a good half an hour before I even felt tired.
"No pressure, Demi," Landon said, seeing how frustrated I was getting.
"Not helping," I replied darkly, hanging my head over the side of the bed. I thought maybe if I became delirious due to all the blood rushing to my head, then it'd be easier to make my mind go blank. All it made me do was think about blood and have an urge to cut. I'd been cutting more ever since my conversation with Abigail, mostly re-opening old scars. My emotions were all over the place these days and cutting was a good way for me to straighten them out and have some sense of normality (ironically enough).
I sat up abruptly and started pacing around the room. I don't know what it is about me, but I can't sit still. When I was around six, a doctor tried to diagnose me with ADHD, but upon further examination, he must've realized that having a short attention span and wanting to move around a lot was normal at my age.
"I don't think that's a good idea, Demi," Landon said cautiously.
"I feel like I can relax better when I'm moving around," I replied.
"God, you're such an athlete," Landon scoffed. I stopped pacing and glared at him.
"Is that a complement or an insult?" I asked accusingly.
"Um…both?" Landon replied meekly. I rolled my eyes and continued to pace, trying to relax.
The next thing I knew, I saw all white. I can't quite describe it, but my entire vision was a perfect white. I felt something tugging at me in all directions, it felt familiar but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I walked in the direction the tugging was most prominent, feeling a bright light envelop me like when that voice spoke to me in the bathroom during my failed overdose. I kept walking until I felt something hard blocking my way. The mysterious barrier was cold and smooth and felt too real to be part of this process. Then I opened my eyes to see I hadn't run into some mental barrier, I'd literally run into my bedroom wall. Needless to say, I felt like a dumbass.
"I told you it wasn't a good idea," Landon said.
"Not helping, Landon," I replied sourly. Out of nowhere, my head started aching as if someone had stabbed me in the forehead with a steak knife. I felt exhausted and it felt like there were weights on my shoulders, pushing me down towards the floor.
"Oh wait, I forgot to read this one part: Let me just warn you right now, this is not easy. I think it took me about twenty-something tries until I finally got it. This is just me, but I got lightheadedness, extreme migraines, hunger pangs, mood swings, the feeling of being weighed down, heightened sensitivity in the five senses, dizzy spells, fuzzy-headedness (a.k.a stupid for a short amount of time), nausea and fatigue whenever I failed to do it right."
"You know, that could've been useful to know before now! I mean, I remember reading that part, but it slipped my mind, so it coulda been helpful to get a reminder."
"I'm sorry Dem, OK? Can we get over it now?"
"Fine whatever, I'll try again tonight."
"Are you sure that's safe. I mean, what if…?"
"I'll be fine Landon, you know me. Don't worry about me, OK?"
"Alright, I trust you. But if anything goes wrong…"
"…I'll call you. Let's just do something else." We stood there silently for a few seconds, then simultaneously we snapped and looked up at each other.
"Fire fight!" Landon and I said at the same time.
"Oh I'm so gonna kick your ass, don't you worry." I taunted.
"Maybe, but I've gotten better. I'll make sure to give you a challenge."
"Good, that makes it more fun!" We smiled and went outside, just so we wouldn't burn the house down. That wouldn't be good, believe me, I know.
* * * *
"Demetra? Are you OK?" Artemis asked me. I had spaced out in AP World for the third time that week and it was only Tuesday.
"What?" I asked foggily, as if I was waking up from a deep sleep, "Oh, did I space out again?"
"God Demi, you've been acting off this whole week, what's with you?"
"I dunno, I failed at the soul separation then the next thing I know I feel like shit."
"Maybe you're trying too hard. Maybe you just need to relax, so the side effects won't hit as hard."
"I don't think that's it, Artemis. I think my soul's pissed at me. I'm trying to force it away from my body against its will, it can't be too happy about that."
"True, but doing it over and over everyday probably isn't helping anything. In fact, I personally think it's making it worse."
"How do you know? Have you been trying it?"
"I did, but only once. My head hurts and I'm forgetting some stuff, but that's about it. You see what I'm getting at? The side effects get worse the more you do it."
"I know, Athena…"
"Stop calling me that! I know, I was named after the wrong goddess, but that doesn't give you the right to say the wrong name," Artemis snapped
I ignored her, "…I've figured that one out myself. But I have to do it; I get closer and closer every time. Last night, I actually touched the gate, but got pulled away. You don't understand how frustrated I was after that."
"Demi, I know how important this is to you, but you gotta take care of your body as well. What about Magi?"
She had a point. Ever since I started the separation process, my performance level in Magi has gone way down. I was getting winded more easily and I was acting bitchier to the other girls, even Phoenix. At one point, Coach Trassia even threatened to kick me off the team.
"Fine, I guess I'll take a one day break, but that's all I can afford. The quicker I can get this down, the quicker I can take out Abigail."
"I understand Demi, but it seems to me that the more you try to do this, the more depressed you get, which is ironic since you're going in there to stop it."
"Geez, it's not like I coulda figured that one out myself," I muttered sarcastically. Artemis just face palmed and sighed.
"You get my point. Just take care of yourself, ok Dem?" I sighed and nodded at her, still stuck in my stubborn thoughts.
We parted in the hallway to get to our next class and as I was walking alone I could tell Abigail was just dying to say something.
'You'll never get to my world unless you die. It's the only way you can face me. Either way, I'm gonna win'Abigail said smugly
'Well clearly, you have no idea of the power of an athlete's determination' I thought back. Now more than ever, all I wanted to do was prove her wrong.
* * * *
I knew I was changing. I felt the side effects of failed attempt after failed attempt getting stronger and stronger. Mom and Dad had already gotten suspicious and thought for sure it was Elemental Pressure. At this point, I'd let them believe what they wanted to since they would never believe the truth. What I hadn't accounted for was that Liam wouldn't believe me.
One night after Magi practice, I had just dropped my bags off in my room when Liam stuck his out of his door and called for me to come in. I followed him into the room, obviously confused.
"What's going on, Liam?" I asked, sitting on his bed.
"I could ask you the same question, Demetra," Liam replied, sitting down next to me, "You've been acting…bitchier than usual lately. You seem more tired, even though you've been going to bed early, you haven't been performing as well in Magi as I know you can and you've been snapping back at people more often. I thought everything was getting better, but apparently I was wrong. It seems like you're getting worse."
His accusation shocked me. He had hit the nail right on the head with my new attitude. I didn't know how to respond to him. I knew he wouldn't accept or believe any lie I told him, so I thought I might as well tell him the truth.
So I did. I explained everything that's been going on since October, about the spontaneous depression, the strange dreams, the suicide attempts, Abigail, the otherworld/'heaven', and my failed attempts to get there. Liam listened quietly, not asking questions or interrupting me when I was talking. When I was done explaining everything, the room fell silent. Then, the interrogation started.
"So basically what you're saying is that our grandmother, who died nine years ago, has been controlling your thoughts and planting suicidal thoughts in your head because she and her minions, whoever they are, want your powers?" Liam asked skeptically.
"Yeah, that's exactly what's going on here," I replied, staying quiet to let him think. He won't believe me; no one yet has believed me at first, no one sane anyway. Well there was Landon, but that was different.
"Hm, I knew it wasn't Elemental Pressure, but this is just so…weird. I guess it makes sense that people will want your powers; you are the fourth person in known history to be able to control all four elements. But dead people? That's just messed up, I can't wrap my mind around it. And Grandma Ederon, our Grandma Ederon, at the forefront of all this? I can't believe what I'm hearing, but I want to, believe me I want to," Liam mused, more to himself than to me.
"Liam, Grandma Ederon changed. She is nothing now like she was then. I didn't believe it at first myself, but it's true. Why the hell would I lie about something like that, really?"
"I never thought you were Demi, it's just…weird is all. To think that someone can change so quickly even in death boggles my mind."
"Boggles, what a silly word."
"I'm being serious here, Dem!"
"I know, I know, I'm just saying."
"You know what? This is something I'll just have to see for myself. Do you still have the instructions to get to the otherworld on you?"
"Psh, of course I do, it's in my room. Want me to get it?"
"Sure, I wanna try it and be bitchy with you." Liam looked overly excited at the prospect of acting bitchy, which made me laugh. I got the instructions from my room and came back.
"Don't be surprised when you learn that this is a lot harder than it seems. Also, if you make it there before me, I'm gonna make sure you're on the other side of the river, if you know what I mean."
"Does everything have to be a competition with you?"
"Duh, you know it does."
"Demetra, much as I love your not-so-friendly competition, I'm trying to be serious here. I wanna help you and fight Abigail with you and your friends. I'd be a failure as a big brother if I didn't protect my baby sister."
"Liam, I'm fifteen years old. I'm hardly a baby."
"So? You're younger than me; therefore you're my baby sister. But that's beside the point. I'm fighting with you, even if it's against our own grandmother."
"Aww, thanks Liam, you're the best." I hugged him so tight I could feel his ribs against my arms.
"Demi, can you promise me something? Can you promise me that you'll try to stop your cutting? If we're ever gonna win against this battle, you need willpower and the strength to beat your own addiction."
"I can't promise you I will, but I'll promise I'll try."
"That's all I need to know." Liam and I hugged again and I went to my room happier than I've been in months. Maybe, just maybe, we can beat Abigail and I can get my mind back. Maybe.
* * * *
Knowing that Liam believed me and was willing to help me was a load off my chest. He tried just as hard as I did to get to the otherworld; so much so that like me, he was tired, cranky, had chronic migraines, and starting sucking at Magi. As much as it confused Mom and Dad, it made me happy knowing he understood what I was going through.
I had told my friends that Liam was helping and they had all agreed that the more help we could get, the better off we'd be against Abigail. I had pushed the thought that I'd never make it to the back of my mind now that I was more determined than ever to make it.
A week later, my frustration had reached his peak. I was getting nowhere fast, and every time I thought I'd make it, I touched the gate and got immediately pulled back into my body. It was a weekend, so I was trying over and over again for two hours straight. In retrospect, that wasn't the best idea I've ever had, but I was just so desperate to get to the otherworld. I'd tried so many times in those two hours that I lost count of my failed attempts. After the last one though, a sting inside me broke and I just lost it.
"Fuck! What's wrong with me?" I shouted to no one in particular, "I'm so fucking close every single damn time! Why can't I do this? It's so easy! Is this Abigail's doing? Is she purposely pushing me away so she doesn't have to fight me? Fight me, bitch, let me into your domain and kick your ass! You're scared of me, aren't you? I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! That's it! The only way to get there is to die! Dead or alive, you're mine! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!"
I can't really remember what it was that made me think dying was a good idea. Everything after that is a bit of a blur to me since I think I was having a psychotic breakdown. All I remember are the words 'useless, stupid, weak and better off dead' floating around in my head and finding lighter fluid (although I don't remember getting it) and matches. I don't remember putting the lighter fluid on my skin or even using it at all, but I remember lighting the match and putting it against my arm.
"Let's see if Demetra can play with fire."
The fire spread quickly over my arms and legs as I fell to the floor screaming. I got flashbacks of when I was lit on fire in eighth year.
"Let's see if Demetra can play with fire."
I was on the floor of my kitchen (I think) thinking I was on the grass on the playground just outside of second building.
"Let's see if Demetra can play with fire."
I saw the faces of the girls who'd lit me on fire laughing. I heard their sharp laughter ringing in my ears. I screamed something over and over again; I think it was 'stop'.
"Let's see if Demetra can play with fire."
I clenched my fists as the pain surged through my entire body. I tried to cry, but my tears were seared on contact. I curled into a tight ball, clutching my knees. I had never felt so weak and powerless in my life.
"Let's see if Demetra can play with fire."
A thought popped into the forefront of my conscious. The fire danced around my palms and power welled up inside of me. 'I am not weak, I am not powerless, and I will not allow anyone to use my own element against me,' I thought, clenching my fists. The visions disappeared as fast as they appeared and I opened my eyes. I waved my palm over the flames, leading them all in a giant ball hovering above my palm. I walked over to the sink and poured water over the fire ball and my burnt skin. Once the smoke dissipated, I fell to my knees and started crying. The tears stung on my charred face and I'd never felt so much pain in my life, physical and emotional.
Just then, the phone started ringing, ripping through the thick silence that had fallen over the house. I crawled over to the phone and looked at the caller ID. It was Landon's cell phone. I quickly answered the phone and Landon's voice flooded into my ear.
"Demetra, are you ok? I haven't heard from you in a while and I tried to call your cell phone, but you weren't picking up, so I started to get worried and…" Landon said hastily. I curled up on the floor and started sobbing much harder than before, despite the fact it felt like my face was on fire again. I wanted to say something to him, but the words just wouldn't form on my lips.
"Sweetie, what's wrong?" Landon asked, his voice sounding anxious, "You know what, I'm coming over there right now, just hold on for a few minutes, ok? I love you, Demetra." The line went dead and I let the phone fall out of my hand.
It had only taken about five minutes for Landon to get to my house, but every one of those minutes felt like an hour to me. I knew he arrived when the doorbell started ringing incessantly. I walked over to the door and saw Landon pushing the doorbell frantically. I opened the door and Landon quickly ran in and threw his arms around me.
"Oh God Demi, are you alright? You have no idea how worried I was about you! What happened?" he said all in one breath.
"I…I…" I muttered. I was afraid to speak because I thought I'd cry again, "I…lost it. I don't remember why, but I…I did the worst thing I could do. I'm sorry."
"What is it, what'd you do?" he asked, then inhaled, "Wait… you smell…burnt. Demetra, did you…"
I burst into tears again. It was so obvious what I'd done and now that I was standing there covered in second degree burns, I was now embarrassed.
"I'm sorry," I said through my tears, "I don't know why… I… lost…control."
Landon didn't say anything at first; he just stood there silently and let me cry into his chest for a while. When my tears had died down, he took me by the hand and led me to my room, as if I didn't already know where to go.
"What do you remember Demetra?" he asked. I took a deep breath and thought about the placement of my words.
"I… was trying… to go to the otherworld and I was just so…frustrated. It felt…hopeless. I remember wanting to die and then…black. Somehow I wound up in the kitchen with a bottle of lighter fluid and the box of matches I always have on me. I started to remember eighth year, how much it hurt back then, and then I dispelled the fire. That's all I can remember." We both went silent and I looked down at my burnt skin.
"You should go to sleep Demi; I think you're exhausted from trying so hard. You can't overwork yourself, ok? Is there anything I can do to help with the burns?"
"The burns will heal. I haven't lost any skin, mostly since the fire was burning the lighter fluid instead of me at first."
"You sure? Because I don't want anything bad to happen…"
"Don't worry so much, Landon, you'll give yourself an ulcer. I'll be fine, ok?"
"I'm just making sure. Now get some sleep."
I curled up in bed and expected Landon to leave, but he stayed sitting on the edge of my bed.
"What're you doing?"
"I'm waiting until you actually fall asleep. I don't want you trying again, at least not for a few days."
I nodded and closed my eyes, darkness filling my vision and soon flooding over me. I was already asleep.
* * * *
For the first time in a while, I actually felt rested when I woke up. The room was completely dark, suggesting that I'd slept through the rest of the afternoon. I sat up in my bed and heard voices coming from the hallway. One of the voices I recognized as Liam and the other…Landon?
"…she oughta be awake by now, it's been like what, five hours?" Liam asked almost impatiently.
"Give her some time, it's been a long day for her, you know," Landon replied. He looked like he was going to say something else, but he noticed me standing in the doorway and smiled, "You're awake. Man, you really conked out there didn't you?"
"Yeah, I guess so. What time is it?" I asked.
"Like around 7:30," Liam cut in, "what happened today?"
"What, Landon didn't tell you already?" I retorted.
"He did, but I want your side of the story. What were you thinking?"
I really didn't want to repeat this story. I had enough crying for one day. But something in me was telling me that this was something Liam should know.
"Can we go in a room or something? I don't really feel comfortable saying this out here in the hallway," I finally replied.
"You do realize you're going to have to tell Mom and Dad eventually, especially since you can't really hide burnt skin that well." Liam had a point, I might as well just tell everyone all at once.
"Fine then, get Mom and Dad, if they're here. Let's just tell the whole world while we're at it."
"The sarcasm isn't necessary, Demetra."
"Whatever, you get my point."
Liam rolled his eyes and walked over to our parents' room. I had a feeling this wasn't going to end well.
* * * *
I was right. I couldn't think up a good enough alibi to explain my mood swings that led to the fire without mentioning Abigail. I couldn't say anything to them; they'd never believe me. They kept saying that I should go to the hospital, but I had to convince them that since the burns weren't as bad as last time that they'll heal faster. At least I didn't get in trouble.
"Hey don't worry about it Demi, we know the truth. We can help you, you know," Landon said afterwards.
"I know, I just hate lying to them, you know? I know they don't believe me and that's what hurts."
"So wait a minute, what really happened?" Liam asked. I paused, remembering that Liam only heard the abridged version of the story I told Mom and Dad.
"I tried all day, Liam. I couldn't do it. I thought the best way to reach her was to…was to…," I tried to explain
"Die," Liam finished my sentence. The silence that surrounded the three of us was thick and we all spent several seconds just staring at each other, "I don't say I blame you, Demetra."
"What are you talking about?" Landon asked indignantly.
"You were right," Liam replied, ignoring Landon, "It is harder than I gave it credit for, going to the otherworld. It's frustrating, I understand, and also exhausting. For how long were you trying it for?"
I shrugged, "About an hour…or two. I don't remember."
"Damn, that's a long time to be putting your soul under that much pressure. No wonder you snapped."
Landon just looked at both of us during this whole exchange with a confused look on his face. I didn't understand, since the last time we'd talked about it, he was having trouble as well.
"Um, not to downplay the situation, but I don't see the problem here. It's not about trying hard, but about not trying at all," Landon cut in. Liam and I just stared at him dumbfounded.
"What the hell? Why didn't you tell me sooner?" I retorted.
"You never asked. Honestly, I thought it wasn't a problem anymore since you stopped complaining."
"You are living in a dream world, buddy. I never stopped complaining, in fact, I was complaining more and more as this whole fiasco went on. Besides, if I had made it, I certainly would've told you by now."
"Geez, sorry Dem, I didn't know. I just assumed…never mind. It's not worth saying now."
"Whatever, I don't care anymore. I'm still exhausted, so I'm going to bed. Good night." I waved them off and went into my room. I thought about what Landon said about not trying. 'He has a point', I thought, 'I'll have to try that, but not now.' Then, I'd fallen asleep, again.
I had this strange dream where I was caught in a raging river, trying to keep my head above the water. The currents were unbearably strong and all my efforts to fight it were futile. I saw Abigail standing on the river bank laughing at me, laughing, laughing. Something was stirring inside of me, a feeling I couldn't quite place. Then, strength welled up in my body and I pushed the water to both sides of me, drying out the river and flooding the land. Abigail was knocked over by the water and was washed away from my sight. I was standing alone in the empty river breathing heavily, surrounded by the aftermath of my attack. The beautiful landscape that once thrived next to the river was suddenly brown and dying. The stone walls around me had crumbled to the ground. I had a feeling that everyone I've known and loved had died.
I was all alone.
* * * *
I rested for three days before trying to go to the otherworld again. As freaked out as I was from the dream I had the other night, it wasn't going to stop me from my goal. Besides, I'd had worse dreams just the past couple of months.
Before going to sleep one night, I decided to try again, this time without straining myself. I relaxed and let my mind go blank. Once I found myself standing in front of the gate, the wind pushing against me, I breathed deep and imagined myself weightless. I figured if I acted like the wind, I could get past the wind. It surprisingly worked, even though it went against my basic knowledge of physics. Once I reached the gate, I gripped it firmly with both hands and pushed it open. The wind stopped abruptly and I fell into a lush land of green. I had finally made it to the otherworld with absolutely no help from Abigail.
Just as I got to my feet again, I heard slow, sarcastic applause in the distance. I looked around me, but I couldn't find the source of the noise. Then, Abigail appeared out of nowhere, clapping and flashing a sadistic smile.
"Congratulations Demetra, you finally made it," Abigail said with a biting tone in her voice, "Unfortunately, you've fallen right into my trap."