Author: Sarisaria PM
Still reeling over the loss of her friends, Claire struggles to survive in a landscape harmless by day and deadly by night. With the enemy constantly evolving into something even more dangerous and terrible than before, will Claire ever make it back home? Sequel to Lightning.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Supernatural - Chapters: 2 - Words: 2,074 - Reviews: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 03-11-13 - Published: 08-22-12 - id: 3052564
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The name echoes in my ears, screamed so desperately into the dawn that I wake with a start. I search around me with groggy eyes to find whoever screamed and tell her to shut the hell up, that we're not safe yet, and I remember I am alone.
Lightning flashes in the sky above me, so at least I've made it to sunrise. That makes three days. Three days of surviving by myself, floating down the river for as long as I can and sleeping on the shore during the day. I haven't seen anyone since Anthony died.
Since I killed him.
I can't stop thinking about it, his body falling backwards into the river with my arrow sticking out of his chest. Even though I tell myself it was for the best, and one of us had to make it out of there, sometimes I wish it wasn't me who made it out. I'm ready for this to end. When I'm not filled with guilt and grief over what I did, I'm numb, floating along the river and waiting for a sign of someone else.
And, I'm out of food.
I ate the last of my stores yesterday. I've been trying to save it, but the hunger is too great. I tried my hand at fishing, but I didn't catch anything and when I was floating down the river the hook snagged on something below the water, tearing it clean off. All the fishing pole is good for now is extra string, which I don't currently have a use for. It's sitting on the floor of the boat now, right next to the supplies we took from the keep. Luckily Anthony was wrong in his assessment of our supplies, and I managed to find a little bit more in his pack. All of it is gone.
I thought the hunger would fade away into a numbness, but with Anthony being gone, it weighs persistently on my mind. It's inescapable. Even now I feel it clawing at my chest, and for the first time I envy the monsters. They find food so quickly. Why can't I do the same?
So I float.
Another day passes.
When I see the docks on the shore, I'm certain that hunger is making me hallucinate. Surely there aren't docks there, and there sure as hell isn't a person standing on the dock watching my boat go by.
The person on the dock jumps, and I can see now that it's a boy, maybe nine or ten, and he's looking at me like I'm crazy even though he waves back. I gather what energy I have left and paddle to the dock, which is a lot harder than I remember it being a little while ago. My arms feel like lead at my sides. I still can't quite make it to him, and he seems to sense this because he jumps into the water after me. I can't push the oars anymore. I don't know how I ever managed to do this, or how it seemed so easy before.
The boy swims effortlessly over to my boat, grabs onto the side, and looks up at me. "Hi!" he says. "I'm Henry. Need a hand?"
I nod, and even that takes more effort than I expect. The boy nods and grabs onto the rope still tied to the front of the boat. He tugs me to shore with only slight difficulty, but when we're close enough I hop out to help him. I manage to stand in the boat okay, but when I go to step out of it my legs give way and I tumble out and into the water. I thrash to the surface, coughing out water as I go, and I feel a small hand on my arm. The boy pulls me up and out of the water and onto the shore. The look he's giving me says I must look as bad as I feel, if not worse.
"Let me help you back to my house," he says, and I nod. He pulls one of my arms over his shoulder, and even though he's shorter than me it works out. Henry leads me down a path through the trees, which extend all the way up a huge mountain that overshadows the forest below. The air is cooler here, and I find that the more I walk the more awake I am. Somehow I find the energy to walk on my own, and it isn't long before we're standing in front of a small cottage nestled in the woods. It doesn't look very strong, especially when compared to the keep, but I have nowhere else to go.
Henry holds the door open for me and I stumble inside. The interior of the cabin is a single room, bereft of furniture or anything that would suggest inhabitation. I frown as Henry shuts the door gently behind us, plunging the room into darkness. There are no windows.
"Hey!" I say, but Henry just pushes past me. I can't see what he's doing, though I do hear three sharp raps on the floor, followed by two more. A square line appears in the floor, illuminated from behind with a soft golden light. The line widens until I see that it's a trapdoor, complete with stairs leading to a concealed space beneath the cabin. Henry gestures for me to go first.
I take a few hesitant steps towards the trapdoor, and when I peer down into the hole I see a stout woman with a pink apron on. She's holding a wooden spoon, which she uses to wave at me.
"Come on down, dear," she says. "We've plenty to share."
A ladder leads down into the hole, and I climb down it so that I'm standing face to face with the woman. She's actually taller than I am, even though she seemed shorter from above. She smiles at me and glances upward at Henry, who has not yet descended.
"I'll be right back. We left her stuff in the boat."
The woman nods knowingly, and presses a button on the wall next to her. The trapdoor whirs once and falls shut. From the inside I see that it's secured by heavy metal bars, the kind that even the monsters shouldn't be able to tear through. I stare at the bars for so long that the woman beside me places a gentle hand on my shoulder. She says something that I don't hear.
"Are you quite alright, dear?" She says again. I look at the bars above me, tracing them with my eyes, how they slide so perfectly into the floor and keep this place completely safe from an attack from above. How did they find this place? Did they live here before? The bars above me practically scream safety, and I have to work to tear my eyes away.
The woman doesn't seem to expect an answer. She looks me over once, shakes her head and clucks her tongue. "How long has it been since you've had a bath?"
I frown. How long has it been? We didn't exactly have the luxury of soap at the keep. The memory of our hideout makes my chest grow tight and tears well up in my eyes. I haven't thought about the keep since Anthony died. I've been too focused on survival, trying to quell my own guilt about what happened and somehow keep it together long enough to remain undetected while creatures roamed the shores.
Now that the tears have come, they won't stop. My crying starts silent but quickly evolves into sobs that wrack my whole body. The woman folds her arms around me and holds me tightly, like a mother would her own child, and rocks me slightly, whispering that it's okay, everything's going to work out.
I hope she's right.