I’m backed against the wall and alone with no way out. Harrison and Chester led me into a trap. I’m the only threat to Aishwarya here because I’m the only one who can alter her world. Or end it.
“I didn’t do anything,” I say, looking for anything I can use to protect myself with. She has no way of knowing that I’d given up on going back. That I’d decided to be happy here. There’s nothing around me. The only things I have are the tablet and the flask Aalim gave me before we left. Neither can protect me from the shining blade that looks as though it could shred the thick Yellow Pages without even trying.
“He’s gone! I know you visited his parents. I know they were coming for him,” she says. She swings the sword down and I duck, my arms raised above my head as though they could offer some sort of protection. I squeeze my eyes shut, anticipating the coming pain. And I’m also wondering how she found out I visited Harrison’s parents. Only Harrison knew, right? Or had I somehow let it slip to Chester?
Nothing happens. No searing pain or fire burning on my skin the way I imagine the bite of a sword might feel. Gasps rise from the crowd. Is this like a video game? Do I get more lives?
“Not again, Aishwarya,” Chester says through clenched teeth. I open my eyes to see him standing above me. He’s clutching the blade of the sword in one hand, Aishwarya’s arm in the other. Lines of blood drips from his palm to the ground in puddles that almost disappear on the dark flooring. “How many deaths will be enough?”