INFINITY: Part Two
Author's note: If you liked INFINITY: Part One, you'll love Part Two. It's chapters 8 through 14 of the... Show full author's note »
Chapter EightChapter EIGHT
Rain plunges down from a shifting gray sky as we huddle under the trees. For the past hour I’ve been telling Dad and Kaylee about how I got separated, my terrifying ordeal with the terrifying grunting creature, and the human foot I found in the stream, covered in ash. The rain doesn’t really help my coughing, so Dad puts a blanket around me as I tell them my dark story.
Finally, I finish telling them the story. Dad pats me on the back. “You went through quite a lot, didn’t you?”
Thunder echoes above me. “Yeah,” I answer. “Yeah, I did.”
“We were so worried, George! I thought we’d never see you again!” Kaylee exclaims.
“Well, I’m okay,” I tell her. “I’m kind of surprised.”
Then Kaylee turned to Dad. “Daddy, should we tell him what happened to us along the way?”
“Huh?” Oh, I guess I spent the whole morning telling them my story and I never gave them a chance to tell me what happened to them after we got separated. What did happen to them that miserable day?
Dad looks at me. “I suppose we should, Kaylee. Well, here it goes, George.”
Another thing I should tell you about Dad is that aside from his athleticism and knowledge, he’s also a really good storyteller. He’s really descriptive when he tells his stories, and everyone is always enveloped in his hypnotic storytelling powers really quickly. So I sit back and let Dad tell his tale.
“Okay, here’s how it started,” Dad begins. “After we climbed the rock face, we started hiking, and of course you know all this. But, along the way you were buried in your sketchbook and didn’t know when Kaylee and I heard a strange noise off to the side, in a darker patch of the woods.
“I told you and Kaylee I was going to investigate. Kaylee heard me completely, but you just said ‘okay’ and you didn’t even look up from your sketchbook. So I went into the woods to check it out, and when I reached the darker patch, I saw what it was. It was a dense clump of bushes...thorns all over it...and it had branching roots that even went up other trees in the area. It was enough to send a chill down your spine.
“The noise was coming from a grizzly bear that had become stuck in the bushes and its cries became much less audible as it was dragged underground by small, menacing black tentacles.
“Then. after the grizzly bear was pulled underground completely, the tentacles suddenly became much longer as they shot out of the ground and grabbed me. I was pulled through the air faster than you can imagine, and my stomach dropped violently. My hand grazed one of the thorns on the plant, and it was instantly bleeding.” Dad holds out the palm of his hand to show me a long gash. It’s been healed, but it’s still revolting to look at. “Fortunately, the cut itself wasn’t that bad. It was just bleeding a ton and I had to put pressure on it for a couple hours.”
“Huh,” I reply. “So, Dad...the story?”
“Yeah, so it flung me behind it, and it was still hanging onto my leg with one slimy tentacle. I grabbed onto a round tree trunk nearby, not caring about how many splinters I would get. I just was hoping I wouldn’t end up like that poor grisly bear that became its dinner. And I would’ve become dessert if I hadn’t acted quickly.
“I grabbed onto a piece of nearly detached tree bark and held on tight. It tugged hard at my leg with its grisly tentacle, and I gritted my teeth--it felt like I was being torn in half. I yelled out as loud as I could, hoping you or Kaylee would hear me, and then the piece of bark broke off. It was sharp at the edge and it could’ve sliced through any vine, but I wasn’t paying attention to that. I was just staring at the writhing tentacles and sharp thorns that would lead to my downfall.”
I’m so interested in his story that I don’t even think about what I say next. “Did you die?”
Dad lets out a chuckle. “Well...I’m here, aren’t I?” He sighs and continues with his story. “I heard someone coming and I saw a pink blur behind the trees. I yelled for Kaylee to stand back and as I got closer to the deadly thorns, I held the piece of bark in front of me without thinking. Thankfully, I held it at just the right angle so that it sliced through the thorns. Then the tentacle let go of my leg and as I rocketed through the air, my feet slammed against another grisly tentacle and I was propelled over the patch of thorns I hadn’t sliced, and only now do I realize how lucky I was for that. I flew over the thorns, into a large tree, and then I tumbled onto the ground.
“I looked back at the creature. Its tentacle were writhing everywhere and several of its thorns were scattered on the forest floor. My thoughts were stumbling over each other and I had absolutely no idea how I’d survived. But then Kaylee came over to me and asked me if I was okay about a dozen times. I told her I was fine and then I asked her about you, George. She said you were right back where we left you, but when we got back, you were gone.”
“I saw you walk away, George, but then I heard Daddy and I ran towards him,” Kaylee replies.
“And after Kaylee went away, you must’ve wandered off,” Dad tells me. “We spent the whole day trying to find you and we eventually got tired and decided to camp out for the night right here.”
“Yeah, I’m so glad I found you guys,” I say gratefully.
“We all are. I know we’ve only been here for a few days, but it feels like years,” Dad says, a tone of worry in his voice. He glances up at the dark gray clouds, the rain falling from them in violent crowds, turning the landscape around us into a giant puddle. “Well, I think we’ve gotten enough rest. We should get hiking.”
I really don’t want to start hiking again. My body still aches from the day before and I’ll bet it’s the same with both Dad and Kaylee. But I’m too exhausted to argue with anybody right now, so I hoist myself up on my feet. It takes a tremendous effort, but I manage to do it. Kaylee stumbles a little bit when she gets up, and I realize that she’s been putting up almost as much effort as me in this wilderness.
We all load up our backpacks and take off, not knowing what other unexpected secrets wait for us in the forest.