A powerful wind repeatedly whips at Apollo as he gets to his feet and looks around for Aurora. Standing at the edge of the lake shore, he can barely see the library through the tightly packed trees. Hearing a cough from his right, the young man hurries over the slick stones and twisted roots. Coming around an angel-shaped piece of driftwood, Apollo finds his sister crawling out from under the shifting pack ice. He hurries to help her out and is about to hand her his shirt when he realizes the air is warm. Looking up to the sky, he watches the clouds part and reveal a moon that looks twice the size as it should. Bathed in the light, he can barely see the stars, which are in their early summer positions. The twins back toward the trees, which fall backwards when thousands of ravens leave the branches. Circling the entire campus, the ravens sing with voices that send chills down Apollo’s spine.
“Are we dreaming again?” Aurora asks as she shivers. She groans at the icy sensation beneath her warm skin, the combination making her want to vomit. “None of this makes any sense. Even if reincarnation or resurrection is possible, why would her parts go into people who are already alive? We have no connection to what happened eighteen years ago. All of us were only babies. Why is this happening to us?”
“Because you were chosen,” Gemma replies while stepping out from behind a boulder. She draws her gun and scratches her temple with it, her finger twitching as if trying to pull the trigger. “Not by me or Dawn, but by dumb luck. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of this, so stop asking. Would you be this confused if a truck ran a red light and hit you? No because those are accidents that you accept as a possibility. Carrying the soul of a madwoman is the same thing.”
“Bad luck makes this even worse,” Apollo says, moving between the former cop and his sister. A pang of anger rises in his stomach, but the emotion vanishes as soon as he tries to focus on it. “What if you take me and let Aurora leave? Dawn can even take my soul if she needs to fill the space. It’s ridiculous to kill two people in order to revive one.”
Aurora pushes her brother way and staggers forward, her body wracked with pain. “I think I’m sick, so take me instead. A disease shouldn’t do anything to the soul since that isn’t a physical object. Maybe I’ve worked too hard and eaten poorly for so long that my body is giving up. Doesn’t really matter as long as you do what I ask. Last thing you want is for me to die and your savior’s soul goes running off somewhere.”
“It’s adorable that you think it works that way,” Gemma coos, her voice changing into Dawn’s for an instant. Slapping herself in the face, the red-haired woman screams until she abruptly regains her composure. “We’ll just pluck the soul out of the sky or wherever it runs away to. After all, you dying doesn’t save your brother and his half holds enough power to get the rest. This is becoming tedious. All of the other parts are in place and I don’t want this nightmare to last any longer than it has to. Now, shut up and come with-”
Gemma’s last word gets caught in her throat as she falls to her knees, a pair of sharp stones piercing her shins. Her eyes twitching and her head rocking from side to side, she is about to stand when her body locks up. Drool dribbles from her mouth as she collapses, the rocks bursting to create a cushion of mud. The twins get closer to makes sure Gemma is still breathing, Apollo tossing the gun into the lake. Seeing a chance to escape, they only make it a few steps along the shore before the soaring ravens shriek and land on the ground. The birds stare at the siblings and only move to block their way, the animals tightening the circle. With a human-like warble, eight of them hop onto Gemma and stand along her spine, which they peck at without ever breaking the skin.
“My little kitty had just enough of me to get my motor running,” Dawn declares as she walks through the ravens. Her naked form dances in the moonlight, which curls around her and turns an eerie crimson. “I may have taken a bit of her too, but I’ll give it back. She wasn’t using all of it anyway. Now, I need to decide on who I will take first. The one that was already mine or the one that used to be mine. It’s so hard to decision because you both smell so yummy. Reminds me of home.”
“Why do I get the feeling that asking for an explanation won’t help?” Apollo asks as he backs toward the water. Picking up a piece of driftwood, he swings at the ravens that come too close. “You seem fine now, so leave us alone. A person as powerful as you could find another servant, so keep what you took from her. It’s obvious that you have enough to make you live again. Right, Aura?”
“Home . . . Smells like home,” his sister whispers, a spasm making her lurch forward. She lands at Dawn’s feet and slowly cocks her head to the side, the woman’s wiggling toes mesmerizing her. “One that wasn’t one. Tearing bodies apart because the skin feels wrong. False beneath the fingers. The depths are greater lies that flow to poison all. Nothing ever smelled like home before.”
“I think somebody is sniffing at my naughty little prank,” Dawn whispers as she crouches in front of Aurora. Stroking the young woman’s cheek, the brunette licks her lips and grins like a hungry shark. “I always knew where my soul was, but that had to be the last part. No real reason aside from it feeling right. My fun wouldn’t be much fun if I was hunting a kidney or my liver at the very end. Unfortunately, my soul was rather potent and baby Apollo didn’t do well with his first dream. Odd how he went into the hospital with a fever and came out with a twin sister that nobody ever questioned. She helped take the pressure off and allowed my wounded spirit to ripen perfectly. Possibly my second-best creation. Nothing could ever surpass the one I will always miss, but she comes close. Now, I believe it’s time to put my affairs in order and take back what’s mine.”
Flexing her fingers, Dawn is about to drive her hand into Aurora’s stomach when her other arm lances out at Apollo. She gleefully punches through the young man’s skin and twists, causing him to scream. His voice is drowned out by the ravens as they take to the air, their calls echoing across the campus. Dawn digs around inside her victim for several seconds that feel like years. When her arm finally retracts, her fist is glowing from the ephemeral liquid coating her skin. She coos at the sight of her soul while sliding her fingers into Aurora’s face, the flesh parting with ease. With both hands covered in her missing soul, Dawn presses her palms to her chest and runs them down her body. Shimmering lines run along her skin, the energy following the veins and arteries below. A thin tendril leaps off her tongue and plunges into Gemma, who stirs and moans as she is revived.
Feeling a comforting warmth seep through her pores, a sense of euphoria washes over Dawn and she starts to dance. The instant her knee touches Aurora’s frozen chin, she growls and kicks the young woman over. The empty husk shatters against the stones and turns into dark green moss, except for a single eyeball. Plucking the slimy orb off the ground, Dawn blows some dirt off of it and rolls it between her palms. As her soul finishes sinking into its proper place, she claps her hands and transforms the body part into a golden patch. Wind whips her hair away from her face, exposing an empty socket that she covers with the protector. Delicious pain ripples through her body as flesh fuses with metal, the sensation making her coo and wiggle in place.
“Everything is in its place,” Dawn whispers as she sprouts a crimson dress. Fixing her skirt, she looks around for Apollo, but finds that the young man has disappeared. “Guess I should have done something about that. Maybe remove his legs or take his soul instead of turning it into a balloon animal. Oh well, what’s life without a few loose ends?”