The Lost Prophecy
© Copyright 2021 byDivine Walker
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
“You have to live. You’re the only one who can save everyone as I’ve failed,” the man says in a very soothing and somewhat calming voice.
He falls on one knee and rests his right arm across the other. The man caresses the boy’s head gently and places a notebook into his arm. “Do not lose this,” the man says before leaving the boy in the cold.
He can’t open his eyes wide enough but he manages to catch a glimpse of the man, who has a well-built figure and a fatherly form.
It took him a while before he could move his hands and feet, and eventually his body. He raises himself up with his back against the hard rocky surface of the cave. The cold sends a shiver down his spine and every breathe forms a plume of white steam before drifting away on the icy-cold breeze.
“Where am I?” he says, still barely able to stand without placing his arm and his back against the wall.
He almost bites his tongue due to the sudden headache as he tries to recall something from his memory. He tries closing his eyes while clenching his fist but nothing comes of it except the blood stain on his arm. It says Run and don’t look back!
“Wait…Who…,” he mutters. He can’t remember his name or why and how he ended up in this cave. For a short moment, he wants to quench his curiosity by looking back.
“No, don’t look back,” a voice says. He turns his head to the direction of the voice. A faint silhouette of a woman is standing outside the cave. She is waving her hand as if telling him to follow. His hunch tells him to follow. She looks familiar, like someone he knows well.
Without hesitation, he runs as fast as he can and away from the cave. As soon as he makes it outside, he finds himself running into a terrible snowstorm and several inches of snow. Well, this couldn’t have been better, he thinks.
“Hey! Which way?” he shouts, hoping that she could hear him in the snowstorm. His vision becomes blurry due to the heavy storm and he can’t find her anywhere. It almost seems like she has disappeared into thin air.
From that moment, he knows that the woman is all in his head. Piles of snow begin to collect on his shoulders as he shivers in the cold. He has to keep moving or else he will die from the cold. He tries to keep his hands warm by rubbing them against each other but it’s all for nought.
The snowstorm just keeps getting heavier and he can’t feel his feet anymore. Every limping step delivers a sharp pain throughout his body as if his limbs are shouting in agony.
It is so tormenting that he almost gives up by plunging himself into the snow. But he doesn’t have the strength and courage to do so. What a coward! He scolds himself.
He finds himself pushing against a huge mountain wall. He looks up and all he could see is the thick snowstorm that’s been on top of him ever since he escaped the cave.
He runs his hands along the wall and follows to where it ends. He can’t cling onto the hope for anything but to keep moving. Until he bumps into a group of kids standing under the mountain while holding something.
They are all dressed in the same tattered clothing stuffed with animal furs and worn out leather boots, just like him.
“Who are they?” he mumbles as he walks cautiously toward the group. At the same time, he clenches his fist in preparation to protect himself in case things went horribly wrong.
“Hey, you made it out!” a boy in the group says. He turns to his back to see if anyone is behind him but no one is there. Everyone in the group is looking at him and some are beaming.
It feels really amicable and warm as everyone huddles close to each other. But the persistent look on their faces suggests that they are in need of help.
“We found this but there’s a problem,” the boy says. They seem to recognize him but he doesn’t recognize them.
To avoid any suspicion, he decides to put on a strong face. “Tell me about it,” he responds confidently.
“This spot right here,” says the boy. He examines the spot that the boy is talking about. “It’s uneven but there’s a lot of space for footing. We could climb up but we’ll fall since there’s nothing for us to hold onto,” the boy explains. The rest of the kids nod in agreement.
“We could use this,” he says as he finds something hidden beneath the snow deep within the wall. It turns out to be a rope. However, it looks old, unsafe and dangerously close to snapping anytime.
Everyone is looking at him and wondering what sort of trick he’s trying to pull. He takes a few steps back and pulls the rope with all the strength he has left. Get Back! Someone shouts. He stumbles back and falls onto the ground Ouch! He winces. Lucky for him, the piles of snow act as a cushion beneath him.
“Why is it so heavy?” he says. He tries to stand but he can’t as he feels something heavy or more accurately, someone heavy on top of him. As he brushes the snow from his eyes, he found a slim, tiny girl lying helplessly on his chest.
“I’m sorry. I’ve got no choice or else it’ll fall on you,” the girl apologises. As soon as she gets up, she shies away and hides behind another kid.
He stands up and almost trips over a small pile of rocks that fell from the top, right where he yanked the rope. That could have killed me if she had not shoved me.
“Thank you. You just saved my life,” he says with a slight nod. The girl nods back in response but doesn’t come out from behind the other child. I guess she’s just really shy.
“Will we still use this to climb?” the boy asks, still shaking after witnessing what could have been a horrible accident.
He knows that there’s no other way but he needs to think of a way to convince them or else he’ll need to leave them behind. But his conscience tells him not to. “Well, there’s only one way of getting out of this freezing and tormenting place. It’s either you go up or choose to stay here,” he responds convincingly.
Fear and hesitation are all over their faces. They have never stepped out of this place and are afraid of what might lie ahead. I guess I have no choice but to do this.
“I’ll be the first and the rest of you can follow,” he says confidently but he too is unsure of whether he can make it. But he has to step up or else everyone would freeze to death in no time.
He stands in front of the icy cold rope and pulls again just to make sure nothing is going to fall on him. He does some stretching to warm up his muscles. After wiping off the cold sweats from his palms, he grabs firmly onto the rope and knots it around his waist. With a strong push on his feet, he launches himself up and begins to climb.
Some of the kids put their hands together and clap softly in amazement at his courage. They don’t know that he’s scared to death.
His pulse pounds like a freight train. Even though his palms start to sweat, he clings onto the rope as if his life depended on it—which it is. It’s going to be okay. Keep your head up and don’t look down. He repeats to himself in the cold.
As soon as he gets to the top, he lets out a loud and relieved sigh before untying the rope. He throws the rope back down so that the others can use it too.
“Look! The rope!” it only took seconds for the rope to reach them at the bottom.
“Does this means he made it to the top?” the shy one asks.
“Yes, now let’s get moving,” the boy says while helping the others tie the rope onto their waist and lifting them from their feet to start the climb.
“Don’t look down and keep moving,” the boy says as the youngest starts his climb. The young one almost slips when his left foot is too short to find a good hold.
A warm and windy breeze blows past his arm. “It’s warm and breezy up here,” he says as he checks on the rope to make sure it’s perfectly secured to a large rock. Someone is behind all this, he thinks.
He is stunned as soon as he turns around and finds himself standing on a grassy hill.
It’s a complete reverse of what he experienced at the bottom of the mountain where the cold bit through his skin. Up here, trees and grass fill a wide plain. Leaves tumble from the interlocking branches above, branches that grow so thickly only slivers of sunshine break through. Overgrown vines cover the trees. The wind carries along a certain sweet scent that only flowers can produce.
“Help…,” the young one pleads as he peeks over the edge. He quickly helps the young one up before resting with his back against a stump flourishing with mushrooms.
The boy is the last one to join them. “What a place,” the boy says, in awe of the beautiful landscape.
“Yes, it truly is,” he says. Some of the kids are joyfully running through the trees.
“I haven’t seen them laugh for a very long time,” the girl says. He’s shocked about how different she looks up here. She looks really pretty and charming.
“Yes, you’re right. Things must have been tough for them,” he says, feeling a bit sheepish. “Hey, I forgot to properly thank you for saving my life back there.” The girl runs off and hides again in response.
“You must live…,” a voice whispers.
“Who’s there?” he asks but to no avail. The others don’t seem to hear.
He stands there idly for a very long time, staring into nothing. The rest of the kids begin to tour the beautiful plain. Some of them find a bunch of flowers and begin to make crowns and chains out of them. Others are hugging the trees and sniffing the plants. The youngest kids are running around until they flop on the grass out of breath.
“Look! Look!” says the boy, tapping his shoulder to get his attention. He doesn’t pay any attention to the boy as his eyes are fixated on something else.
“Hey, look over there!” This time, the boy yank his shoulder so hard that it annoys him and eventually gotten his attention. He’s pointing at something in the brush.
“I’m sorry. What are you trying to show me?” he frowns at the boy.
“A railway track, right over there,” the boy says, pointing at a railway track that’s almost fully covered with fallen leaves and tall grass.
Without a second thought, he walks toward the track with his head tilted slightly as if trying to see beyond the branches.
The railway track looks like something from the olden days. The metal rails look rusty, yet still fully intact, though covered in weeds. As he walks on it, the loose screws clatter against each other and the rusty rail. I guess someone didn’t finish his job.
The clanging sound of the screws against the rail brought everyone rushing over curiously. The kids shuffled their feet along the old track and kicked the screws to see who could make the most noise.
“You must live…,” a voice says.
“Did you hear that?” he asks.
“Hear what?” the boy replies, confused.
“You didn’t hear anything? Someone is whispering something,” he looks around, puzzled.
“No, not at all, all I could hear are the young ones playing and it’s starting to annoy me,” the boy covers his ears.
He could make out some sounds in his head. It continued to get louder as if someone were constantly ringing a bell. All of a sudden, he starts to feel lightheaded and his vision blurs, making him wobble on his feet.
Before he can say anything, he’s already falling helplessly to the ground. The last thing he remembers is the scent of the flowers and someone shouting to help him.
He sits bolt upright and as he opens his eyes, finding himself somewhere completely unfamiliar. Even so, he feels warm and comfortable.
He’s inside of a small wooden shed. It seems aged yet sturdy with sparse decorations. Nothing except a broken table, a few chairs with broken legs and a ceiling full of cobwebs. This place must have belonged to the one who didn’t complete the railway.
“Finally, you’re awake,” the girl breathes.
“How long was I out?” he asks.
“A week, Keion,” the boy says while making food with some berries and salted meat. He isn’t sure where they’d found the food, but he assumes it came from a storage box on the wall.
“My name is Keion?” he asks while trying to stand with the girl’s help.
“Yes, you told me back there,” says the boy while pouring the hot slimy liquid into a bowl and hands to Keion. “You said your name is Keion Castemoux.”
“I can’t remember…,” Keion says. He presses his palm against his forehead as he tries to remember.
“Did you hit your head or something? How ignorant of me, you just woke up after being unconscious for a week,” the boy says as he sits down on the floor with his back against a table.
“Let’s refresh your memory. I’m Chase. This little one here is Zealiot. The little girl beside you is Sylvia,” Chase motions at Zealiot and Sylvia as he speaks.
Sylvia quickly hides herself behind a girl with a shapely figure, rapture-blue eyes and pouty lips. She wears the same shirt as everyone else but somehow Keion feel that it matches well with her wafer-thin body.
“I’m Calla,” she says with a soothing voice followed by a smile. Keion forces himself to look away from her.
“I’m Helion,” a boy says without looking up from the book in his hands.
“And these are the twins: Greydon and Gordon,” Chase tries to catch hold of the twins but they break free and run off as if they are playing a game of catch me if you can.
There are a dozen of them and before he knows it, everyone has introduced themselves. Keion can hardly remember any of them except Calla. Her name is somehow already stuck in his head.
Keion struggles to hold the bowl of hot berry soup without spilling it while he hastily gulps down every last drop. Chase tries to warn him before he burns his tongue but Keion doesn’t care at all. In just seconds, Keion empties the bowl.
“This is delicious,” Keion praises. He holds his bowl out towards Chase, asking for seconds.
“Take it slow, we have plenty and enough for everyone,” Chase says. He scoops a spoonful of berry soup into the bowl. Keion takes it and resumes gulping down the soup as if he has not eaten for weeks—which he hasn’t.
“Do you really not remember any of us?” Chase asks. Keion cleans out every last bit of the soup and places the empty bowl on the wooden floor.
“No, I really don’t remember any of you. I just remembered my own name,” Keion says, looking around at all of the other kids.
“You don’t remember how we met back there, how we came up with a plan and escaped?” Chase interrogates him. “None of it?”
Keion can feel a headache building. “No! I can’t remember.” The pain grows by the second. “My head... The pain… It’s too much,” He kneels with his head against the floor, his body writhing in pain.
Calla rushes over to his side and caresses his head softly until he calms down.
“He’s in a lot of plain. Let’s not force him,” Calla said.
“I’m sorry. I just wants him to remember everything,” Chase apologizes.
“You need to rest,” Calla helps Keion lay down and soothes him to sleep.
“I want to go out…,” Greydon complains after a few hours. “I’m bored.”
“Yes, let’s go out and play,” Gordon replies, scrambling to his feet.
“Quiet! Both of you. It’s too dangerous out there! We can’t go out,” Sylvia says sternly, before the twins can leave. Greydon and Gordon look like they want to cry but don’t.
“I think the twins are right,” Helion says as he puts down the book for once.
“Why do you think so?” Calla asks out of curiosity.
“Look at our food supply. We have to accept the fact that it’ll run out sooner or later. We can’t be having berry soup all the time and even berries run out in time. We can’t stay in this tiny shed for too long. It’ll drive us all insane. We have to get out of here if we want to survive. We’ll end up killing each other if we don’t,” Helion explains.
“You may be right. But let’s wait until he wakes up,” Calla agrees. She is still caressing Keion’s head without realizing that she has been doing it for hours.
“We don’t know what could be coming for us. You know, from the cave,” Helion adds.
Keion wakes up to a soon-to-be heated discussion. “What is going on? Why is everyone so tense?” he asks, still half awake.
“Are you feeling a little better?” Calla asks, trying to ease the tension from the earlier discussion.
“Yes, much better. Thanks to you,” says Keion. Everyone starts exchanging eye contact as if they are talking without actually talking.
“It seems like you guys have something to say,” Keion sits up and looks around at the others.
“Supplies are running short and Helion doesn’t think that we should be staying here much longer or else we might end up starving. That, or we drive each other crazy. We need to get out of here before something from the cave catches up to us,” Chase explains.
“Helion isn’t wrong. The sooner we get out of here, the better,” Keion says. He glances at all of them as they nod in agreement. He finds the strength to rise to his feet and starts looking around the shack. “How do we get out of here?”
“There,” Sylvia points at a rope in the top corner.
“This will work. We just need to stay close to each other while we’re outside,” Keion says confidently. It’s the only plan he could think of.
The girls start to collect all the salted meat from that peculiar storage box and pack it into an unused jar. Meanwhile, the boys ransack the place in search of weapons.
“Look what I’ve found,” Greydon says, holding up a scythe in his small hand. It looks blunt but better than nothing.
“This will be useful too,” Chase hits the ground with a rusty crowbar, punching a small hole in the floor.
“Be careful with that!” Calla warns.
As soon as they finish preparing, they start to climb up the rope one by one, starting with Keion. “I will let you know when it’s safe. Wait for my signal.”
As soon as Keion reaches the top, he slowly peeks through the opening. Once he confirms that it’s safe, he climbs out and waves his hands to tell the others that it’s safe to follow. The twins climb up first, then the rest.
Helion is the last to climb. As soon as his foot touches the ground above the shed the whole thing collapses and falls off the cliff it was built against. Keion catches his hand and pulls him up before he can fall too. “Thanks,” Helion says.
It’s only been a few weeks and yet everything still looks the same; untouched except for the shed covered in piles of snow at the bottom of the mountain. It’s been there for so long and it falls apart now? Keion thinks.
“Are you boys okay?” Sylvia asks, looking them over to check for any injuries.
“Yes, yes… I’m fine…,” Greydon answers.
“I’m fine too…,” Gordon replies. The twins brush the dust from their clothes. Then they start running around the tracks and kicking the screws, making the pinging sound that Chase hates. Sylvia gives them a stern look and they go back to being well-behaved little boys.
“So what do we do now?” Chase asks as he slowly swings the crowbar around.
“I don’t know,” Keion replies as he follows along the tracks to see where they end. As he walks he finds that the track is built by the side of another tall mountain. Hmm, I guess there’s no other option.
“But one thing is for sure: we have to keep moving,” Keion says. The others nod. “We can follow the railway track,” Keion continues.
“But we don’t know where it’ll lead us to,” Chase worries. He has the same look he had when they were going to freeze to death at the foot of the mountain.
“Look, I know you’re scared and believe me, I am too. But if we never climbed up, we never would have found this place. This is the same; we need to keep moving so we can find a better place. And we can stay longer once we find somewhere better,” Keion puts on his most convincing tone.
The others start whispering. Some of them are shaking their heads in disagreement. This is not going to be good, Keion thinks. But he’s sticking to his decision with or without them.
“I’m with Keion,” Calla says, moving to stand beside him.
“Me too,” Sylvia joins them, bringing the twins with her.
The others soon join too, leaving only Chase and Helion out of the group.
Helion, as usual, is engrossed in his book. Chase notices his lack of attention and slips behind him to whisper, Hey, Helion …
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing. Quit it before I hit your nose with the back of my head,” Helion smirks.
“Well, that’s because you kept quiet this whole time when everyone else agreed to go with Keion. I just want to know whether you’re with all of us,” Chase says with a smile. “I just want to make sure you’re included.”
“Can I keep reading if I agree to go with you? If yes, then I’m in,” Helion negotiates. He walks towards the group with his book in hand. Chase follows closely behind him.
“Okay. I guess everyone is coming. Let’s go!” Keion says as he takes the lead at the front of the group.
Everywhere around them is soon covered with thick mist. They couldn’t see hardly anything in front of them. They can only rely on their sense of touch as they trace their hands along the side of the mountain. Keion kicks a small pebble off of the edge, listening for it to hit the bottom. No sound comes back. It’s a long fall down.
“We just have to keep moving,” Keion mumbles to himself, trying to calm his mind.
They instinctively start walking in a single file line as the path narrows. As usual, the twins stay close and walk in front of Sylvia where she can see them. Their nervousness keeps them quiet, for once. The entire group is quiet—who wouldn’t be nervous walking along a sheer cliff’s edge? One misstep, and they’ll free fall to their death.
Helion is the second to last in line. He looks intensely focused with his right hand tracing along the rocky surface and hugging the notebook with his left.
“Ugh…My head…,” Keion begins to faint with his body wobbling towards the left side of the mountain and open air. Fortunately Calla catches him before he can fall out into nothing.
“Are you okay?” Calla asks.
The mist soon starts to clear, revealing a wider path and a split road. Relief overtakes the group as they finally make it off of the narrow path and onto firmer ground.
“This is taking a toll on your body. You need to rest,” Calla insists, drawing Keion in to lean against her shoulder.
Keion doesn’t know what has happened to him but he is very sure that someone is pulling his arm over their shoulder and grabbing his waist, helping him. His entire body feels numb and drained of energy. Even his lips are sealed tight. Keion wants to speak but words just won’t comes out of his mouth.
“Let’s sit him down,” Sylvia says, helping Calla as they carefully sit Keion down against a lonely, tall primeval tree.
“What happened?” Chase hastily comes over.
“I think he just needs some rest, all this travelling is taking a toll on his body,” Calla says as she nestles Keion’s head against her shoulder.
Chase nods and decides to leave them alone. Thankfully the split road is spacious enough for all of them to spread out without being cramped against each other.
The girls take the salted meat from the jar and distribute it to everyone to replenish their energy. No one knew how long it could be before they had the chance to eat and rest again.
Keion squeezes his eyes shut against a ray of bright white light. The light would be blinding if he opened his eyes. But he fears being trapped in darkness forever if he doesn’t open his eyes.
Keion’s fear of the dark has never been more obvious. He tries to force his way through the fear but his body won’t let him.
“You need to wake up…,”
“Before it’s too late…,” the voice whispers again.
The familiar voice wakes him up from the darkness and his energy returns as he wakes. Keion tries shading his face with his hands, hoping to lessen the exposure of the blinding light. Then he slowly opens his eyes.
“Where am I?” Keion asks as he sits up straight and looks into the sky with half-open eyes. He sees Calla waking up on his left. Her shoulder is bright pink and Keion knows that his cheek probably is too from resting against her.
“I’m sorry,” Keion murmurs apologetically.
“For what?” Calla replies as she stands up and stretches.
“I must have slept for a long time,” Keion says, still feeling guilty.
“Are you feeling better now?” Calla looks at him. Keion quickly turns away as soon as their eyes meet.
“I’m feeling much better now, thanks to you,” he replies sheepishly. “How long have I been asleep for?” Keion asks.
“Hmm…More than a day?” Calla replies, trying to guess the time while rubbing her eyes.
“More than a day?!” Keion exclaims. “We need to get going now,” he says as he stands.
“Are you sure you’re okay to move after what happened?” Calla questions him, sounding worried.
“I’m fine. We need to wake everyone up and get moving right away,” Keion says. He runs around, waking everyone up despite the fact that most of them are already up due to the ruckus and his sudden exclamation.
“But which path should we take?” Chase asks, staring down the split road.
On the left is an abandoned tunnel without a sign of life and only darkness. It reminds Keion of the darkness he felt earlier and he doesn’t want to return to it.
A large rock completely blocks the path on the right. Trees peek over the top and green grass is smashed underneath the rock. The breeze wafting from behind the rock smells of flowers and fresh air. It’s very inviting, but risky. They would all have to climb over the slippery rock without any rope or tools to help them.
Wait, there’s a rope from the cliff where we come from. Keion thinks for a moment but he realizes it’s impossible for them to go all the way back to retrieve the rope.
“Hmmm,” Keion takes a long glance at everyone as if he’s looking for someone to step up. But no one says anything, leaving the decision up to him.
“Let’s go to the left,” Keion suggests as he points at the eerie looking tunnel. “Follow me! We don’t have much time to waste,” Keion says as he leads the way. Everyone follows him quietly, even the twins.
His heart is pounding as he enters the darkness. Again they have to rely on their senses as they pass through the tunnel. There’s not even a single sliver of light.
Keion’s hands are shaking and his palms sweaty as he feels his way along the tunnel wall.
The tunnel reeks of death even though there’s no signs of any corpses anywhere. Yet it reeks so much that they have to cover their faces and fight for fresh air. The wall is wet and, at times, their hands brush strange jelly-like things on the wall. How long is this nightmare going to last?
The tunnel coldly curls into infinite dark, faint light from the outside revealing glimpses of slimy walls dwindling away into the dark. Whoever built it tunnelled for the softest soil, not giving a damn about how straight the line was. In just meters there was no sun from behind, the dark earth absorbing every ray.
The stagnant rotten smell only gets stronger as they continue down the tunnel. His skin prickles and Keion can feel his brain starting to lose focus, only searching for a way out. He looks over his shoulder and all he can see is pitch-black darkness.
He hits something with a resounding thud.
“What’s the matter?” Calla whispers. Her body collides with Keion’s back, making another thud. So does everyone else.
“It’s a dead end,” Keion whispers.
“Are you sure?” Calla asks. He could feel her trembling as she holds onto his arm.
Keion runs his fingers against and all over the wall. “Wait—I think this is a door, not a dead end,” he says as he finds the doorknob. It won’t turn.
“Damn! It’s locked!” Keion throws the weight of his body against the door but it won’t budge, not even one bit. Panic begins to creep into his mind.
Looking at how far they’ve come, there’s no option but to keep moving forward. Keion continues desperately pushing against the door. Calla joins him, pushing with all of her might.
“Let me help too,” Chase says as he pushes his way to the front. The twins and Sylvia follow closely behind.
“1… 2… 3… Now! Push!” Keion shoves his whole body against the door with Chase and Calla. Still, the door won’t budge.
“Let’s try again,” Keion pants, trying to motivate the others for another push.
This time, everyone comes to help by lending a push from their back. The door creaks as the bolts loosen. The door starts giving way on their third push. At long last, the door bursts open, sending everyone tumbling to the ground.
“Is everyone okay?” Keion asks as he pushes himself off of the ground.
Keion soon realizes that the darkness is gone and he can see his hands again. The once dark and pitch-black tunnel is now bright and radiant with light. Am I still alive or am I already in heaven?
“Where are we?” Calla asks. She struggles to stand upright with both her hands holding onto the wall, trying to open her eyes.
Everyone else looks mostly unhurt. Some are nursing small cuts and bruises from the fall.
“I’m not sure but I guess we’re still in the tunnel,” Keion sounds unsure. The tunnel is so blazingly bright that they can see all the way to the end. It’s great to not needing to walk in the dark again. He feels relief because he doesn’t have to walk in the dark any longer.
The remnant of the door that they shoved open is still lying on the floor beneath them. It looks heavy and unlike anything that they have ever seen before.
All of a sudden, Keion hears some rumbling and sees shadows lurking along the walls. Shhhh … Everyone goes silent.
“Who’s there?” Keion calls. Nothing responds. “We won’t hurt you if you show yourself,” Keion warns with his shovel in his hand, taking a defensive stance.
“We’re armed but we don’t want to hurt anyone,” Chase adds, scraping his crowbar against the wall and making a shrill noise.
A few figures emerge from the dark. There’s quite a few of them. A dozen to be exact, almost the same number on Keion’s side. They look bulky and well built.
They aren’t armed, but their sheer size is threatening. Keion knows he and the others can’t beat them.
“Look. We just escaped from the cave back there. The snow covered our tracks but we don’t know what’s following us so we don’t have a choice,” explains Keion. He sees that they are all wearing the same clothes as Chase and the others. That’s a good sign. He realizes they must have escaped from the same place as Keion and the others.
“It’s okay. We know where you lot came from and we know you, Keion,” a man says. He looks tall, burly, and heavily built. His eyes are stern and his voice is calm. Looks like he is the one making the call here. “I guess you must have forgotten who I am. I know you said your memory gets fuzzy and you have a hard time remembering people.”
“Did I?” Keion asks, feeling disoriented.
“It’s all right. I’ll just tell you my name again. I’m Braun,” he says, offering a hand. Keion shakes it.
“So how did you and the others end up here?” Keion asks. A dark tunnel that reeks of death couldn’t be a great place for anyone.
It seems as though Braun and Keion have come to an agreement, a peace treaty. They are gesturing, smiling, talking and even shaking hands. Chase and the others relax a bit and lower their weapons. Keion turns around, gesturing to everyone that it’s safe and come forward.
“Is he asking us to join them?” Sylvia whispers, squinting her eyes to see them.
“Is it safe?” Greydon, asks. Gordon is hiding behind Sylvia next to his brother.
“I believe so. It’s Keion we’re talking about. I would trust him with my life,” Chase responds confidently.
Chase and the others make their way slowly towards Keion. So does Braun’s group, creeping toward Keion and Braun.
“We came from the cave, the same way where you came from. Then we followed the old tracks to the split road outside of this tunnel. We tried to climb across the big rock to see what’s beyond but it almost got one of us killed. This tunnel is our only choice,” Braun explains. Keion nods in full agreement.
“Yes, I was thinking the same thing. But I realized that we can’t possibly climb over it without a rope. I couldn’t risk the life of everyone else just to go back to where we come from and untie the rope at the edge of the cliff,” Keion says.
“Wise choice, Keion,” Braun compliments.
“How long have you guys been here?” Keion asks, trying to probe further.
“A very long time. Weeks. Months. Maybe even years. We don’t know the time anymore,” Braun says.
“But how did you guys survive? You have some food and water, don’t you?” Keion asks.
“Despite the putrid smell, there’s actually a clean water supply and a huge storage filled with frozen food that’s enough for all of us. But…” Braun hesitates to finish his sentence.
Chase and the others gather behind Keion, looking like a group of abandoned kids being adopted into a new family.
“Is everything okay, Keion?” Calla asks, looking unsettled.
“Yes, it’s all good. They are the same as the rest of us. We all come from the same place. Apparently he knows me but I don’t remember him,” Keion says, starting to feel a bit wobbly.
“Keep living on…” a voice whispers.
“Who are you?” Keion says, his head hurting again. He sees a small fragment of his memory. He remembers being held captive in a capsule pod and someone speaking to him from outside of the pod.
“What are you talking about?” Braun asks. He catches Keion as he stumbles and falls, keeping him from hitting his head on the ground. “Hey, what is happening to you? Are you okay?” Braun asks anxiously.
“It’s all right, he just needs some rest. This happens quite often. Remembering things from his past gives him a headache and it takes a toll on him,” Calla explains as if she’s his caretaker or partner.
“I’ll be fine if I just get some rest,” Keion says. Braun carries him on his shoulder to a place where soft rags are laid out. He slowly sets Keion down onto the rags. Calla joins them, drawing a look from Braun.
“He needs someone to be with him,” Calla says.
“Hey, you’re free to stay with him for as long as you want,” Braun says. Calla’s cheeks turn pink.
“Get some rest, okay?” Calla says, brushing his hair out of his face. Keion closes his eyes and falls into a deep slumber.
“Hey, let me show you around,” A tall, lanky boy comes to Chase. Chase nods and follows him to tour around the tunnel.
The tunnel seems never-ending, taking 15 minutes for Chase to reach the other end. A huge silver room opens out of one of the walls. Cold and chilly air wraps around Chase as he and the lanky boy walk in. Though it isn’t as cold as the snowstorm, it still reminds Chase of being stuck out in the snow.
“This is where the clean water comes from,” the lanky boy says, pointing to a peculiar machine where clear water flows into a bucket.
Chase takes a few sips. “This is tasty,” he says, and takes a longer drink.
Sylvia and the rest are mingling with the others, chatting and treating mild wounds. The twins run around and play with a few newfound companions.
“I’m sorry that we broke down your door,” Helion apologizes while helping the others rub ointment into their wounds. He’s a bit friendlier when he isn’t completely focused on his book.
“Wake up, my child…” A voice whispers again.
Keion opens his eyes and all he can see is emptiness. Everywhere around him is white, like an open void enveloped with blank canvas. It looks nothing like the place where he went to sleep. All he can hear is a voice whispering to him. Who is talking? He asks but to no avail. He finds his way to the end and stops right before stepping off of a cliff. Everything is white but he catches a glimpse of something lurking behind him. All of a sudden, he’s shoved by an invisible force and falls from the cliff. He yells.
It seems like an endless fall.
Keion’s eyes snap open and he finds himself staring at a ceiling of ancient carved rock. His body is covered in a cold sweat and shivers wrack his body. His heart is still pounding from the rush of adrenaline.
The floor is cold but the rug keeps him warm and comfortable. It must have been a nightmare. He would have kept sleeping if it wasn’t for the nightmare. He looks around without moving an inch, paranoid that the horror from his dream may have followed him here.
He senses a presence of someone next to him. An alarm goes off in his mind, telling him not to turn but another part of his mind tells him to do so. In the end, he lets his curiosity get the best of him.
Sleeping beside him is a girl with a slender and slim figure. At least she’s a human being and not some kind of a monster. Phew! She has a really pretty and charming face with pouty and pink lips.
Keion blushes as he imagines himself kissing her.. He rubs his eyes, making sure nothing is clouding his view. I think her name is Calla. Yes, I think that’s right. He is very sure of it as her name has been stuck in his head since he learned it.
He gently stretches to avoid waking the sleeping beauty. She seems very tired and continues sleeping soundly. Keion pulls the rugs out from under him and drapes them over Calla’s sleeping form.
“Oh! You’re awake. How are you feeling?” Chase asks while inspecting his crowbar.
“I feel much better,” Keion answers.
“What are you doing?” Keion asks when he sees Chase fiddling with a peculiar object.
“Oh, this is something I found while I was exploring this place. It’s so awesome. They have food—and I mean proper food. Not the berry soup with a weird goo. I know what you’re thinking, Keion,” Chase smirks. “And they have an endless supply of fresh water. It’s really good. Here, drink some,” Chase hands a small canister full of fresh water to Keion.
He took a sip. “It’s delicious,” Keion says before taking another drink of the water. It’s been a while since his last taste of fresh water.
A fragment of his memory flashes into his mind. In it, he can see a long rectangular table. It seems to be made of fine wood. The table is full of plates of fresh meat and cups of clean water. At the other end of the table a tall burly man is talking and smiling. Keion can’t clearly see who it is but the man is speaking to him. Who is that man? And what is this place?
“Anyway, where is Braun?” Keion asks after taking one final drink of the water.
“He’s over there,” Chase says, pointing to a crowd of 3 or 4 people about ten or fifteen steps away from him.
“Hey, good timing, you’re awake. Come, join us,” Braun invites him.
“I need to ask you something in private,” Keion replies.
“Okay, sure. Let’s talk over here,” Braun ushers Keion into a small room. It’s rather empty but well lit. A clean rug is folded nicely on the floor. That must be his bed. There’s also a table and a chair without any broken legs. A partially unfolded drawing sits on the table.
“So what do you want to ask me about?” Braun says as he sits on the edge of the table.
“I can see how this was a safe place before we broke down the door. I’m sorry about that,” Keion apologises.
“Yes, and you’re not wrong about that, but it’s not going to last long with or without the door,” Braun says.
“Why is that? There’s plenty of food and a fresh water supply, isn’t there?” Keion asks.
“It won’t last forever,” Braun says.
“So what’s your plan?” Keion asks.
“We could have left this place a long time ago but now we can’t,” Braun says grimly.
“Something must have happened,” Keion could sense that something had gone wrong.
“Yes. Indeed. There were more of us back then. We decided to leave this place and the only way out is through the door at the end of the tunnel. It came with a huge cost and we lost lives.” Braun looked down at his feet. “No one would have thought such a thing would be living there. You can never go further more than ten steps without getting devoured by this thing.”
“No one has ever seen what this creature looks like. All I know is that it’s nimble despite its huge body, yet small enough for it to slither through the tunnel,” Braun stutters in a shaky voice.
Keion decides not to ask any further because of the evident fear on Braun’s face.
Braun’s eyes widen, as in surprise, but his brows begin to draw together. His knees begin to shake and he leans his weight against the table.
“So many of them…Dead and bloodied…” Braun’s voice trembles. “They were all great people,” Braun’s body is wobbling the table as he shakes.
“Are you all right?” Keion asks, moving closer to catch him if he falls.
Braun rests his arms on the table and puts his head in his hands. Sweats droplets begin to form on his skin as if he saw the horror itself. Keion doesn’t doubt that he has.
Braun waves Keion off as he tries to stand upright. It’s as if he’s telling Keion that I’m strong and I will stand up on my feet without any help.
“I’m all right. It’s just that the memories that I had long since forgotten are now coming back. Piece by piece. It’s reminding me that we are not going to be safe forever, especially not living in this tunnel with that creature lurking behind the door,” Braun murmurs.
Braun suddenly clenches his fist and slams it on the table, breaking the silence. The table almost falls apart, startling Keion. Never anger a frustrated man.
“Feck this! Feck all of this!” Braun bellows furiously. Keion backs away. The last thing he wants is to be punched by one of Braun’s massive calloused fists.
“Calm down, Braun,” Keion puts his hands out in an attempt to comfort him.
“No! I will not calm down! And you’re right!” Braun shouts, slamming his fist against the table one more time.
“About what?” Keion asks, perplexed.
“About leaving this place. I think we need to leave for everyone’s good,” Braun mutters, the rage leaving his voice. He seems to be calming down, his energy spent on shouting and slamming his hands against the table.
“I’m glad that we’re on the same page. We can work together on this. But first, we need to prepare,” Keion says.
“What do you mean?” Braun asks, trying to get an idea of what Keion means.
“I do not wish to see more deaths. Preparation is necessary. Food, water and weapons to defend ourselves. We have to avoid any confrontation with the creature—that’s our only chance to get out of here alive,” Keion says, determination written across his face.
“I see. That’s wise,” Braun says. “We have a place where some weapons are stored, but they’re all ancient and old. No one knows how to use them—forget about wielding them effectively.”
“Show me!” Keion urges him.
Braun hastily ushers Keion out of the room and towards the armory at one corner of the tunnel.
The twins are playing and chatting with their new friends outside of the armory. They get up and move out of the way when they see Keion and Braun approaching.
“Based on what you said about the creature, it might be a reptile or something like that. A snake, perhaps. It’s a big one either way,” Keion says as they push the rusty door open. Braun nods in agreement.
To his surprise, the room is enormous, much bigger than what he expected. The walls are lined with all kinds of firearms, from light weapons to heavy battery. However, they are as old as the door and coated in dust.
Keion picks up a pistol and aims at the furthest end of the room. Braun takes a step back and out of the line of fire. He releases the safety and racks the chamber as if he’s used guns for years. He pulls the trigger. Click!
The gun doesn’t fire. Keion unloads, checks and reloads the magazine. Then he pulls the trigger again. Click! Click! Again, nothing happens.
“Bollocks!” Keion shouts as he throws the pistol onto the floor, sending it clattering across the stone.
“These are all unusable. They can’t fire. This one too!” Keion explains as he picks up another pistol and tries to fire it.
He takes a look around the room and realizes that every gun is in the same condition: ruined.
“What about this?” Braun single-handedly pulls a huge crate away from the wall. Keion opens the crate to find a collection of knives, swords, pickaxes, chains, and ropes.
“Will this work in our favour?” Braun asks.
“Yes, better than nothing. Any weapon is better than no weapon. Though we may not be able to kill that creature with these, they will definitely help us escape this place.” Keion says as he picks up a sword and swings it around.
Braun pulls a heavy chain from the crate and pulls it tight between his hands. “That suits you well,” Keion says.
“But it won’t be enough for all of us,” Braun mutters as he counts the weapons in the crate
“Maybe not enough for all of us, but enough for us to defend ourselves,” Keion says. Hmmmm. Braun slightly disagrees.
Braun hauls the crate out of the armory with all of his strength. The sound of the crate dragging on the ground attracts everyone’s attention, drawing them into a circle around him and Keion.
“What is this?” One asks.
Greydon shuffles his way through the crowd, standing next to the crate with a wooden doll that one of his new friends gave him. “What’s in the crate, brother Keion?” asks Greydon, fidgeting with his new toy.
“Let’s open it,” Keion says, looking at Braun.
Braun once again cracks open the crate with his calloused hands. Everyone gathers closer to look inside.
“We found weapons to use,” Keion explains. He jumps a little when he realizes Calla is behind him. She looks as if she just woke up, which she likely did.
“What for?” another asks.
“To defend ourselves,” answers Chase, resting his rusty crowbar on his shoulder.
“Yes, it’s to defend ourselves from the creature when we are passing through that tunnel,” says Keion, pointing towards the door in the distance.
Everyone starts whispering to each other, a sense of uneasiness filling the air.
“A creature?” Calla whispers to Keion. Wondering what is Keion talking about. She and the others seem confused, while Braun’s group is apprehensive.
“I know what you went through in the past and I will never be able to understand how it felt. But we have to move on from that dark history and from this place,” Keion says, looking at Braun to allow him to speak.
“Yes, Keion is right. We have been talking. We need to move beyond our past. We can’t live here for the rest of our lives. It won’t last and you know it,” as Braun continues, the whispering stops as the group considers his words.
“And the only way is to get out of here. Alive. All of us.” Braun says with a commanding tone.
“The weapons won’t be enough for all of us and so not all of us will have one.” Keion explains. Everyone nods in understanding. “Carrying too much will only slow us down.”
“What about the creature? It killed our friends. We need revenge,” one says.
“Yeah, revenge for our friends,” says another.
“Kill the creature!” another yells.
The whispers start again as tension grows within Braun’s group.. They are anxious and edgy. Calla and the rest are quiet, as if they’ve had enough danger for one day.
Sylvia looks as if she wants nothing to do with their plans, as do the rest of them. But they know that if they were to challenge Braun and his group, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
“I know that all of you are angry. And you want to avenge your friends by killing the creature. But as Braun says, we must make it out of the tunnel alive. All of us,” Keion says soothingly.
“Yes and to make it out alive we have to avoid any kind of encounter with the creature,” Braun adds on. Everyone seems to quiet down as he speaks. “Listen to what Keion has to say. He has a plan to get us all out of here alive.”
“Strong boys of my age with strong arm should come and pick a weapon from this crate. The rest of you should prepare and gather supplies like food and water. We need all the help we can get,” Keion instructs.
“What about me?” Greydon asks, jumping up and down excitedly.
“Yeah, I want to fight too,” Gordon adds on, trying to pick up a pickaxe that’s far too heavy for him.
“No both of you are too young and small to fight,” Keion says sternly. “Instead, you will be helping out with the supplies. We need all the help we can get. Same goes to the rest of you,” Keion says, pointing to the rest of the twins’ friends. They nod obediently without any complaining, though they look like they’re about to cry.
All the boys Keion’s age swarm around the crate to find their weapons of choice. Keion recognizes how strong each of them looks. They will put up a good fight if there is one. I’m glad we didn’t fight them when we broke down the door.
“This feels great,” Chase says, easily swinging his pickaxe around. He’s clearly one of the strongest in the group. That is, until he nearly hits one of the boys with his pickaxe. “Oops sorry, I’ll be careful with this,” he apologizes, patting the boy on the shoulder.
Some of them settle for a sword or an axe, while others choose a club or a dagger. Braun seems to have taken a liking to a very heavy chain, and he’s likely the only one strong enough to wield it.
Keion is the last one to pick. “I’ll go with this, then,” he says as he pulls an armored vest and a sword out of the crate. This is perfect.
“We’ll move out in the morning. No one leaves by themselves,” Keion warns, hoping no one will run through the door for the sake of vengeance.
The night isn’t quiet. The boys are practicing with their new weapon. Sparing and clashing with their weapons. Some of them are staring into the void, lost in thought. They must be very nervous. A small group is whispering amongst themselves. Keion isn’t sure what they’re whispering about—he just hopes they’re not planning something bad.
Piles of rugs line the hallways as Keion makes his way to Braun’s room.
“How are you doing?” Keion asks. Braun is swinging and whipping the chains onto the wall, making a loud clanging. Keion waits in the doorway to avoid being hit.
“Pretty good. Just swinging my new baby and I think I’m getting a hang of it,” Braun replies as he sets the chains down on the table.
“That’s good to hear. Everyone is done preparing as well. We are good to go in the morning,” Keion says.
“Just …,” Braun contemplates.
“Just what?” Keion asks, eagers to know what Braun is about to say.
“I’m afraid that something bad will happen tomorrow. Someone might die.” Braun replies worriedly.
“I know,” Keion agrees with his concern. “Which is why I want to avoid any encounter with the creature as much as possible.”
“And if we encounter the creature, we need to run and never look back,” Keion adds.
“Yes. That’s what we have to do. No one is going to die,” Braun mumbles.
“You should get some sleep and get ready for tomorrow,” Keion says as he turns and leaves the room.
He walks and rejoins his group in one corner. The twins are sleeping with their heads in Sylvia’s lap. She really looks like their mother. And the twins seem to have taken a liking to Sylvia as well.
Helion is sleeping a little ways away with one arm wrapped around his knee.
He seems like a good kid when he’s sleeping.
Chase is making some new friends as he spars with them. They are all talking, laughing and showing off their skills with their new weapons.
“Aren’t you going to sleep?” Calla asks.
“Well, aren’t you?” Keion replies.
“I will after a little more practice,” says Calla, stabbing her dagger into the air.
“Where did you get that? Never mind…,” Keion shakes his head. “You don’t need to fight, though. We have the boys to do fight.”
“There’s no harm in knowing how to protect myself. You’ll never know when you might need to use it one day,” Calla retorts, angrily slashing her dagger through the air.
She quiets for a moment, lowering the dagger. “You really should go and get some sleep. You’re looking like you haven’t slept for days,” she finally says in a softer tone.
“All right,” Keion says. He trudges his way back to his rug and sits down on top of it.
“I’ll join you afterwards,” Calla turns away to continue practicing.
Wait… What does she mean by that? Does it mean she’ll sleep beside me again? Keion thinks as he stretches out on his rug. He continues thinking about what she said, even as his eyes begin to close. He didn’t realize he was so tired.
However, he can’t help but think about waking up with Calla by his side. His face grow hot as a blush covers his cheeks. What am I thinking?
“Wake up! Wake up!” a voice says.
“Wake up, Keion!” He jerks upright, realizing he’d fallen asleep.
“What’s the matter?” Keion asks, rubbing his eyes.
“We have a problem,” says the voice. It sounds like Chase.
“What happened?” Keion asks, his eyes half-open.
“Some of the group left last night, saying they were going to get revenge. They went through the door to kill the creature,” Chase explains anxiously.
“This is really bad. Where is Braun?” Keion asks, pushing himself to his feet. His worst nightmare has come true.
“He is outside now, trying to calm everyone. It’s a mess outside, you need to come now,” Chase urges as they make their way towards the door. Braun is standing just inside the open doorway.
“I’m glad you’re awake. I’m sure Chase told you what happened,” Braun says. Keion nods.
“What should we do now?” Chase asks.
“We need to leave now. We have to find them before it’s too late. They can’t kill the creature by themselves,” says Keion.
“It’s all yours, Keion. You’re our leader now. And we will follow your orders,” Braun says, placing his hands on Keion’s shoulders.
“I can’t…” Keion says.
“You can and you have to. Only you know what to do. And it’s only right for you to lead us out of this. Just like how you lead us out of the cave,” says Chase in an attempt to convince him.
The group begins to chant Keion’s name. He realizes he doesn’t have a choice—he’s the leader now.
Keion never thought he would be leader of the group, never thought he’d be responsible for the wellbeing of the entire group. Everything hangs on his decisions. One wrong move and the creature will win again.
“But I need help. I can’t do this alone,” Keion says, looking around the group. Some of them avoid his eye contact and look at the concrete walls around them.
a Malaysia-based writer who was born in a bustling city. In the day,
he works as an IT specialist in a multinational company. It was an
accidental discovery that he came to realize that writing was his
passion all along. He’s best known for writing fiction of the
romance and fantasy genre. He
always been a fan of the romance genre. He undertook the writing of a
book so that he could share his story and experience to the world,
whilst hoping that it could help and change someone’s life. He
has written a novel and is developing numerous projects, including a
few book series.