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I felt the water go over me, pulling me in although I fought. I felt the ground of the river, the mud and the rocks, the water too murky to see the anything but the sun. The current continued to pull and yank. I stopped fighting. I closed my eyes. I let it do as it wished, hoping for something to happen, something good.
I felt myself hit the ground hard, then a simple dripping on my head, water. I was able to breathe. I suddenly sat up, seeing myself surrounded by rock walls, brown and black. I torch stood in a little notch in the wall, safe from the water dripping in. I looked up but could see no exit, not even how it was possible how I could come in to such a place. It was quiet, so terribly quiet. The ground was hot from underneath and there was a slight vibration to it.
I stood uneasily and looked for an exit; I followed the wall as it became dim from the lack of light. I began to hear sound, it was simple, some voices although there was no deciphering what was heard. I followed it. There was a stench, both of stale air and putrid water and meat, blood. I followed it as well as if I had no thought of my own. In a way it was a pleasant. There was light ahead. I could see people standing around in loose clothing around a large table. The head of the table was a large wooden chair. The table was covered in meat. The people were talking calmly. I approached. None seemed to recognize that I was there until a little skinny boy yanked on my jacket, “Hello,” He said, “Why are you here?”
“I do not know,” I answered truthfully. “Can you tell me where I am?”
“No, I cannot,” He said but he led me forward. “You should not be around them. They do not wish for company.” There was a sudden screeching sound as we left and entered another. The boy did not respond. The light seemed to come from the walls surrounding us. In the center near the back was another tall wooden chair on a stand. It was lined with silver and some black metal. It was hideous. Behind it was a glowing blue wall, it seemed to move gelatinously. The screams were coming from it. Light airy substance floated inside of it. I could not look away. The sight was terrible and beautiful. “We need to continue on,” The boy said. To the left of the room was an open corridor we entered. The air became dank and it yet was still dark. We walked for quite some time. The ground was still quite hot.
We did approach something. The corridor was a corridor of jail like cells, each different and containing a different creature. The first was simple; it looked like a sulking man in chains. He hid in the back and his eyes were a piercing green that I could see in such dim light. The next cell had water in it. A little head peeped through the water at us, staring. I walked faster. Each cell contained something evil seeming, ready to be let out and to wreak havoc.
The boy pressed on and out of the endless corridor of cells. Instead we entered what seemed like an outdoor clearing. There was no sky, just blackness, there was no light and yet I could see. There was a long bit of rock below us and we walked carefully along a jagged path. “Can you tell me what this is?” I asked the boy. He shook his head no. “Why not,”
“I do not know the name. I have not been here that long,” He said. We passed another cave, “You should leave that one alone,” He smiled, “Something scary lives in there. I have seen it; it likes to eat new people like you, just to make sure you are dead.”
My heart beat a little faster but I followed him, hoping to access the exit. There was thunder now, I could hear but could not see any lightening. “Do you see that?” He pointed down to a dark river. I nodded, “Would you like to go down there?”
“May as well,” I followed him as he led. There was no spring in his step, he was somber like his soul was eighty and yet he had the simplicity of his age. He had a head of blond hair, a very thin body in dirty and old clothes. There were no shoes on his bleeding feet and no bandages on his wounds. “What do you do here?” I asked.
“I lead new people around,” He said, “Until I find a place you need to stay, but I do not think you are staying. You do not seem like the others. He did not look at you in the least like he could not see you,” I did not ask who he was; I did not want to know. I felt I was just hallucinating, like I had gone absolutely insane. The river that we reached was black, it seemed solid, so still it could be walked across, or so still it would be a crime to disturb it. The area around the river was cold, and it was serene, almost peaceful if there was a bit of peace in this place. I went to touch the water and the boy grabbed my hand immediately, “Do not touch it,” He said, “That is very bad,”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“It feels cold,” I said. He shrugged and we continued to look into the pool as if to buy time. I could see something swimming in it, fins like a fish but it was long. It appeared to be people almost, long haired women with long fingers and bright eyes. “Who are they?” I asked.
“I do not know. They have been here for a very long time,” He nodded. “They are very pretty but only some people can see them.”
“Can you now?”
“Yes, because you are here.” He pointed, “They got taken from where they used to be, I know. He does not use them anymore. He used to,” I did not ask again what he meant, all I knew was it meant something to him. We left the pool without seeing one of the bodies reaching the surface.
Ahead was a trail that we followed. The land was barren. I could occasionally see wanderers but they seemed like they knew where they were going. Nothing seemed lost. I continued to look to the sky, hoping to see the stars, but it seemed solid, not like an infinite large dome. There was absolutely nothing there. Or so I thought, soon fire seemed to fall from the sky, in little dots. It just poured onto the barren ground, but it did not hit us. The trail was safe. Those wanderers did not move, did not flinch. They did not even seem to register the amazing thing that was happening, destructive or not.
The fire did not break out when it hit the ground; it simply appeared like it went through it like rocks in water. There was no impact at all, just this glittering of the sky and yet the fire emitting not any bit more of light than the gloom before. “Does this happen often?” I asked the boy.
“Yes it does. It means that… well I do not remember. I was told once,”
“It is alright,” I mentioned. We continued on down the trail. The fire still rained for a little while until it slowly died down and the sky was still again. “What are we going to see next?” I asked.
“I do not know, I depends, the next thing down the road is a tree,” He pointed but I just saw a black mass in the distance ahead and yet the journey appeared quick. The tree was massive, it seemed to go as far to reach through the black sky and yet it was no color but black itself with leaves and all. The trunk was smooth, not rough and old, it seemed young. The roots were immediately in the ground, nothing surfaced through the ashen dirt below. There were no birds, nothing inhabiting the tree. “This is the Tree,” He said. I assumed as much as it appeared to be a tree and the only tree around, but there was something special about it. It was taller than any Redwood tree, wider than any other tree I had seen. “We should continue,” The boy said. I followed, still in awe. There were more rocks ahead but it seemed easier. There was wailing to my right, some crying, some anger I could hear but I could not hear the people.
“What is that noise?”
“They are the people up on that cliff over there. You cannot see them that is because at one point in life I suppose all that they wanted to be is seen, and now no one can see them. Ironic, is it not?”
“It is,” I looked as if I could hope to see a glimpse. The wailing ceased and we came to a tall monument. It was nothing but a rectangular prism that was on either side of a path. On the top of each prism was a symbol, a bit too high for me to see. The boy walked through the little thing and said, “Are you coming?”
“Oh yes, just looking again,”
“I understand, many people by this point were very much in distress, I see that you are not,”
“You said I was going home, I do not have to be here too terribly long, at least I sure do hope not.”
“You will not be,”
There was a growling now that I could hear, but it was below us. “What is that?” I asked.
“You probably should follow me,” He hurriedly went to the right and I followed. The ground furiously rumbled and shook. I held onto the nearest rock to me. The ground began to split in front of me. The crack was red and orange and a wave of heat came with it. There was a terrible roar.
The shaking ceased as a creature passed through the crevice. The crevice shut immediately and the wave of heat cooled a bit. It was a dragon like creature, long with scales and large eyes wings. It beat the air and flew immediately up, “What is that thing?” I cried out.
The boy look surprised, “I have never seen that before. It is new to me,” He smiled, “That was beautiful. Did you see it was red? Not black!” He seemed amazed as it flew away into the sky and out of sight, “I am not sure what it is doing,”
“Has that ground thing happened then before?”
“Yes, but different things came out of it,” he said, “But it was flying people instead.”
We hurried on, “We are near the exit I feel that I must take you out of,” We went back into a corridor that I felt I entered through. It was damp and stale again. The boy did not seem to mind, instead he look as if he felt welcome. We marched forward in the pitch black, I following the sound of his hard to hear footsteps.
We passed around a corner to be hit by a sudden wave of light. We were outside. The boy waved at me, “I hope you do not come back soon!” he said in a light voice.
I walked into the clearing although I recognized not where I was. There were rolling hills and tall trees. It was vacant of human life. I was alone.
I was wrong once again, wishing as well that I would stop assuming. A black mass came down evenly from the sky. Surrounding me were beautiful creatures, recognizable from the cells that I had seen. Some were not so pretty as others, all looked angry. And at the head was a very tall and angry looking man. He just smiled and said, “I was not going to let you get out that easily, was I?”