Josie runs. Tears running down her face she runs. She doesn’t stop when her dad calls out her name, she doesn’t stop when she hears Lizzie call out to her while she’s running after her and she definitely doesn’t stop when she almost collides with Penelope Park because she really can’t deal with her right now. So Josie runs. She runs through the school, outside and into the woods. She runs until she can’t anymore and then she’s alone in the middle of the woods. She collapses onto her knees and cries. She feels panicked, hurt and so incredibly hopeless. It feels like she’s never going to be able to stop. She cries for hours. She cries herself to sleep.
Penelope is having a normal if somewhat boring day at the Salvatore School and is walking down the hallway when a clearly upset Josie almost runs into her. Before Penelope can even think to say something or to go after Josie something runs into her and knocks her down onto the floor. Penelope opens her eyes and sees the unwelcome face of an upset Lizzie on top of her.
“Get off,” Penelope growls giving Lizzie a hard shove. It figures that when Josie looks that upset Lizzie is involved. Alaric comes towards them and helps Lizzie up. Lizzie looks ready to go after Josie again but is stopped by Alaric’s hand on her shoulder.
“Dad,” she hisses slightly panicked.
“She’s going to need some time,” Alaric tells her softly looking worried and panicked himself. Lizzie stops struggling and turns to her dad for a hug.
“Can someone tell me what’s going on?” Penelope questions irritated after she picks herself up from the floor.
“Nothing you need to concern yourself with,” Lizzie hisses.
“Look,” Penelope starts intending to give Lizzie a piece of her mind.
“Girls!” Alaric interrupts. “Enough! This isn’t helping anyone. Josie’s upset and is going to need some time so I suggest we give that to her.”
“Fine,” Lizzie huffs exasperated and secretly worried. “I’ll be in my room,” She says to her dad and leaves but not before shooting Penelope a look of utter distaste. Alaric nods and gives Penelope a look.
“I’ll go be elsewhere,” Penelope mutters while walking away already planning on finding MG and maybe Hope to go after Josie. She’s not sure if she’s ever seen Josie look that upset before and she’s not planning on leaving the other girl alone to deal with whatever’s going on.
Josie awakes with a start from lying on the ground in the middle of the woods. She’s disoriented for a moment. Not understanding were she is or why she has such a headache and then it all comes back to her. Overhearing Lizzie and her dad arguing about something called the Merge, finding out what the Merge is, being incredibly overwhelmed, feeling betrayed and ultimately running away. Josie sits up and sighs. It’s beginning to get dark and she knows she’s going to have to go back before it actually gets dark. She’s just not ready. She’s not ready to deal with her dad and sister who kept something this big from her. Big and terrible. She never expected something like that. Then again who expects to hear that you’re either going to have to kill your twin or get killed by her during something called the Merge. It sounds like a sick plotline in a horror movie. Josie sighs again already knowing how it’s going to go. It’s already clear what her destiny is. Her whole life has been preparing her for it. She’s so used to putting Lizzie’s needs before hers she already knows that she’s going to give up her life when the time comes. There’s no way she’s able to kill her twin sister. There’s just no way. Lizzie might be self absorbed and difficult but she’s her sister and she can’t help but love her. She’s not going to kill her but that means that Josie won’t live beyond her 23th birthday is just heartbreaking. That’s not enough time. It’s too soon.
Penelope would kill her for having such thoughts Josie knows. Penelope would say that she should fight and that she should stop putting her own needs before Lizzie’s for once in her life. What Penelope never seemed to have understood is that Josie did that already. She started dating Penelope knowing full well Lizzie would never approve and would definitely be upset but she went ahead and did it anyway. She couldn’t imagine not being with Penelope actually. She loved her and being with Penelope was something Josie did for herself. It had been wonderful and then it wasn’t. Penelope had dumped her and the pain had almost been unbearable. Putting herself first had not turned out well for Josie and killing Lizzie just to save herself wouldn’t turn out well for Josie either. She knew she couldn’t do it. She would rather die. Josie feels the tears overwhelm her once again knowing that dying was the alternative.
Josie’s crying is interrupted by a blinding light appearing to the right of her. A blinding light that stands out very clearly in the dark forest. Josie feels her heart beginning to race. What was she thinking being out in the forest alone without any form of protection whatsoever. It would be so typical for her to get herself killed while being upset over dying prematurely. She sucks in a breath preparing to run away from the light.
“Don’t run,” A voice speaks up softly before Josie can even move. “I mean no harm,” it continues sounding strained. “I’m going to need help,” it finishes.
Josie hesitates. On the one hand this too sounds like a bad plotline from a horror movie and she doesn’t want her tombstone to say naïve girl gets killed while trying to be helpful. On the other hand the voice doesn’t sound threatening and if this person does need help and dies because Josie’s a coward and runs she wouldn’t be able to live with herself. Her mind made up Josie stands and walks toward the voice.
What she finds isn’t what she expected. The voice belonged to a woman with fiery red hair and bright green eyes. The woman looks pale which is probably the direct result from the gaping wound in her stomach bleeding profusely.
“Oh my God,” Josie gasps kneeling next to the woman. “You need a doctor,” She says planning on getting up and running back to the school for help.
“No,” the woman stops her by taking her wrist. “It’s too late for that I’m afraid,” she murmurs self depreciatingly.
“You have to let me try,” Josie insists aghast that this woman has given up.
“It’s too late sweetheart and that’s not what I need your help with,” the woman insists gently.
“What could be more important than your life?”
“My powers,” the woman replies looking determined.
“What powers?” Josie questions feeling suspicious.
“I don’t know if you ever heard of the Unknown?” The woman asks and Josie shakes her head. “Well I am an Unknown. The last of the Unknown to be precise and given that the end of my existence is rapidly approaching I need to preserve my powers so that I wasn’t the last Unknown.”
“Are you sure we can’t just try to save you?” Josie questions not feeling quite as ready to give up on the woman’s life.
“I’m sure sweetheart. The survival of the Unknown is more important than my life. I need to transfer my powers into someone worthy. My powers will become their own and they will be able to pass these powers onto their offspring,” the woman explains in a whisper feeling her injuries taking their toll.
“So you need me to go and find someone worthy?” Josie questions ready to jump up and find someone before deflating. “Wait. How will I know if they’re worthy?”
The woman smiles and replies: “I already tracked someone down who is worthy. I have an amulet that can transport me to someone worthy.”
“So use it,” Josie insists not understanding why the woman is wasting her time talking to her.
“I did,” the woman replies smiling slightly and then seeing that Josie still doesn’t understand she continues: “It led me here. To you.”
Josie’s mouth falls open and she splutters: “Are you sure? Cause I think your amulet might be broken.”
“The amulet is never wrong about such things. It’s in your destiny to receive and be able to wield these powers.
“No really you’re wrong. I just found out it’s my destiny to die before I turn twenty-three so this has to be a mistake. Well it’s either die or kill my sister but since I could never kill my sister I’m definitely destined to die,” Josie insists shaking her head. “I doubt that I’m worthy too,” she adds mumbling.
“I don’t know your entire destiny but the amulet has sent me here to you so I doubt that it’s your destiny to die in a few years. I also doubt that it is your destiny to kill your sister unless she’s a danger to the world which I doubt since you’re so averse to killing her. The amulet has chosen you which means you will be the reason the Unknown live on and which means you’re worthy so please accept that.”
“I…” Josie breathes out hesitating. The woman seems so sure that she should give her powers to Josie but Josie was just told that she was destined to die.
“Please… I don’t have much time left. I need to perform the ritual.”
“What does the ritual entail?” Josie asks hesitating.
“We need to hold onto the amulet and I need to chant the spell so the ritual can be completed.”
“And then what?” Josie asks.
“Then the powers of an Unknown will be transferred to you and I can leave this life behind at peace with myself.”
“What are the powers of an Unknown exactly?” Josie asks still unsure that she should be accepting these powers knowing what her dad told her about the Merge.
“You’ll be stronger, faster and harder to kill. You’ll have very slight telepathic powers as well. You’ll also have another power specific to you. I cannot tell you what this will be. It depends on the wielder and is different for everyone. I feel I have to warn you though being an Unknown will come with responsibilities and will mean you’ll become hunted. There is a reason I’m the only one left. I’m afraid I don’t have time left to explain everything to you but I know we’re in the neighborhood of the Salvatore School and that given your age you’re probably a student there. The headmaster Alaric should be able to help you,” the woman whispers coughing up blood near the end of her sentence.
“God you’re really dying,” Josie said panicking.
“I really am,” the woman agreed. “So please just accept these powers and trust me. You were meant to receive them. You’re perfect,” the woman whispered.
“Okay, okay, I’ll accept it,” Josie agreed unable to refuse the woman her dying wish. “Could you just tell me your name?” She asks while taking a hold of the amulet that the woman is also still holding.
“My name’s Nora,” The woman replies smiling.
“I’m Josie,” Josie says figuring Nora should at least know the name of the one she’s giving her powers to.”
“It’s nice to meet you Josie and I want to thank you for making sure the Unknown can live on,” Nora replies before beginning to chant in a language Josie can’t understand. The amulet begins to glow and Josie can feel the amulet getting warmer. She looks at Nora who is still chanting and then suddenly she stops and the glow from the amulet becomes so bright Josie can’t see anything anymore and then everything becomes dark as she loses consciousness.
At the end of the ritual Nora smiles at the still form of Josie before closing her eyes and dying, her body disappearing into thin air.