Jen’s eyes burned as they filled with blinding light and hot tears.
The light was coming from her own eyes, she realized, and reflecting off the tears pooling in the corners of her eyes.
Tears, along with blood from her nose, balled up and floated in front of her, only for the wind to send them splashing back into her face.
Her face was so wet her hair was sticking to it, but she resisted the urge to wipe it. She couldn’t break concentration and risk dropping everyone, losing them to the abyssal darkness below. Her head spun like she was on the world’s worst carnival ride, but she held everyone steady. She wasn’t going to let them fall like Sam had let her fall.
The thought conjured up another round of tears in her eyes that floated away, then crashed back into her forehead.
How could he have done this to her? How could he have basically sacrificed for someone he’d met a couple days ago?
She’d had a crush on him for months before they’d dated, and she’d worked so hard to get him to notice her, trying to be smart enough for one of the smartest guys she’d ever met. It had been almost fun in a strange way; he’d been hard to impress, but not impossible, so every time she’d managed to make him laugh or say something clever, she’d get a little dopamine hit like she was playing a video game.
She’d finally been feeling like all her effort had been paying off, like he’d finally been starting to fall for her like she’d fallen for him.
Then they’d ended up in the Pit with Lachlan, and it was like she was invisible. There was no competition. She’d invested months into this metaphorical Sam-themed video game, where Lachlan had breezed through it in a few days.
She hadn’t realized what was going on at first, but she’d seen the way they looked at each other, even if they were both too boneheaded to realize it.
“Well,” boomed the otherworldly voice. “How interesting. It appears some of you are not what you seem. But it matters not. You will never escape the all powerful–“
“Shut up!” screamed Jen. “Would you shut up? Nobody cares!”
“You dare speak this way to the almighty She-Who-Wears-The-Stellar-Crown?”
“Jen!” Sam shouted over the wind. “Maybe you shouldn’t make her ang–“
He floated nearby, his arms around an unconscious Lachlan, clinging to him like he was the most precious thing he’d ever held.
“You shut up too! You let me fall!”
“Jen, I could only grab one person! I only had a split second to make a decision!”
“Yeah, and you didn’t…” She tried to shout her reply, but another round of tears broke her voice “You didn’t choose me.”
“Jen, come on! Are you seriously getting mad at me right now?”
She took a deep breath, though she wasn’t sure there was even air around them. She wanted to make sure he heard her next words loud and clear.
“If we survive, it’s over between us!”
“Jen, come on, please–“
“Enough of your paltry human drama!” thundered the voice. “I tire of this! Prepare to meet your doom!”
“No!” said Jen.
“No?” said the voice. “You think you have a choice? You think you can defy the all-powerful…”
Jen stopped listening. As her eyes cleared of tears, she realized she could see so much more than she had before. Her vision was so sharp now, and she didn’t understand how the darkness around her could have ever looked like a blank void. It was full of impossible shapes, full of incomprehensible angles that made the inside of her head buzz. An onslaught of dizziness wracked her mind and body, begging her to close her eyes and block it out again. She kept them open.
She looked down, and saw a door.
Well, it wasn’t really a door, exactly. She didn’t know what to call it exactly, but a door was the easiest way to conceptualize it that didn’t make the her head buzz even more violently than it already was.
She had to get to that door. She had to open it. She had to save everyone.
Even the two stupid jerks floating in front of her.