Stone Cold Fear

May 28, 2010
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“We have to leave this place now!” I snapped. As usual, there was something blocking the only exit. This time it was a statue standing akimbo, hands on hips like it was waiting for us to try to pass. His shadow undulated with the moonlight flowing through the door.
Johnny, a gaunt young man who was so thin he looked like a walking skeleton, and Samantha, a facsimile of Johnny, shared the same look of abject terror on their faces. “Where can we abscond? That thing is watching us and there is nowhere left to hide? We’re goners!” both shouted in one voice.
I guess I’m not really surprised. Those two were never meant to follow me around, and now they themselves are statues, aghast from the terror of this night. On the bright side, their incessant muttering that lasted this entire adventure has ceased. But now I’m the only one who has the will to face this thing.
“I guess my own ingenuity will have to suffice,” I thought. “After all Frightened and Terrified will be of no help.” As I considered how best to approach the situation, I heard a sigh of lamentation come from the pair cowering behind me. “Would you pull yourselves together?” I barked. I was beginning to doubt my volition about bring these two with me, but I had to keep my eye on them. Perhaps I’m incongruous about our situation. Maybe I should give them some kind of comfort… No! There’s no time for that. If we’re going to survive, I need to formulate some kind of a plan.
The statue in the doorway hasn’t moved. He’s savoring our terror, a rich, dark, warm chocolate cake. His unheard voice clamored within my head, hardly leaving room for my own thoughts. He told me about the precipice I stood over. How one wrong step would send us into oblivion. How oblivious we were to the answer. That all we had to do was look around. Now I felt sordid knowing his filthy mind was penetrating mine.
With all my willpower I turned my head to scan a room I had barely noticed before. Through the copious dark I began to see glimpse of the world we now inhabited. Along the crumbling walls and the peeling wallpaper, slouched desiccated bones of those who went before us. Time sucked the life from these poor souls, and now it was going to do the same to us.
What I saw would be indelible to Johnny and Sam, so I had to make sure that they didn’t gaze upon this horrible scene. “Johnny, Sam,” I said as perfunctorily as I could manage, “I need you to listen to me and do whatever I say, no matter what. Do you understand?”
The only reply I received was a faint “yes” spoken by two of the same voices. “I want you to close your eyes and don’t open them. Now picture in your mind a voluptuous breeze. It’s tickling your skin and it cleanses your mind. Let that wind take you to a place far from here. Where ever it is you want to go it will take you there.
“Once you reach your oasis hold onto it and don’t let anything take it from you until I come for you, ok?” This time no sound reached me, and I knew my plan worked. My triumph did not last long. As soon as I looked up the statue was closer. His fist wrapped ‘round the hilt of a knife. The polished stone blade gleamed in the moon light, sharp enough to painlessly tear flesh from bone. Not sure what I should do, I slowly reached into my boot to pull free a knife of my own, never taking my eyes off the statue in front of me.
“What good is a knife against stone?” I asked myself. With no better ideas coming to mind, I began to whet the knife on my belt. I began to wonder. If the statue could move, were the other two alright? Quickly I turned my head to look behind me. And there sat Johnny and Sam huddled together peacefully lost in the world I sent them to.
When I returned my attention to the statue, there was that knife a mere three inches from my face, and the statue poised to strike. The malodorous stench of rot and decay wafted from the things mouth. Its face was drawn in an expression of rage and blood lust. There was something familiar about the face, but, pardon the pun, it was not set in stone. One moment it would look like it could be me, and at the same time countless other faces all made to look like one. The face was a menagerie! It took on a varied mixture of its victims. It considered me one of its victims, even though I was still breathing.
If I moved it might try to go after Johnny or Sam. No matter what I did, it seemed that none of us would survive this night. My survival wasn’t important, theirs was. Hoping to save Johnny and Sam I asked the statue in front of me a question, regardless of what might happen to me.“Will you let the other two go?”
“No,” the unheard voice replied.
“I seek only the death of those who trespass upon this land.”
“We never hurt you or anything here.”
“I seek only the death of trespassers.”
“Yes I understand that. Is there any way to bargain with you?”
“Kill me,” I demanded of the statue.
“What?” the statue did not understand my reasoning.
“Kill me, but let the other two go. If anyone here is to blame for us being here, it’s me. So go ahead and kill me.” With this I let my knife slip to the ground and clatter against the rough stone floor. I lowered my head waiting for the blow that would end my life.
“No,” the voice said again.
“What do you mean ‘No’?” I demanded. “Let the other two go and take my life instead!”
“God d**n it! Just do it!”
“No. You shall not die this night. Neither shall your friends.”
“What do you mean?” I asked completely confused. “What about seeking only the death of trespassers?”
“You have proven yourself to be a truly brave and loyal person. Every one of these people begged for his or her life. Not caring for those who were with them.” While the voice said this I looked up, instead of the death I had seen before I beheld admiration and respect. “Tonight, is the first time I have ever allowed anyone to leave this place alive. Go in peace, and may the Lady bless you with her grace.”
With these final words, the voice went silent. I turned to rouse Johnny and Sam. As I set my hand on Johnny’s shoulder a cold wind filled the room sending goose pimples all along my body. I turned to see what caused this, only to find an empty room in front of me. No bones decorated the walls, and no statues blocking the lone exit.
“Thank you,” I whispered to the night around, silently elated at my fortune.
“Who are you talking to?” asked the double voice of Johnny and Sam.
After a deep sigh I replied, “Nobody. Just nobody.”
“You sure?” they whispered.
“Yeah, I’m sure.”

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