03-28-2007 12:37 AM
This week ain't looking much better. It'll probably be next week before I can get the next installation up. And it has to be good because it's important, big stuff. Confrontations, deaths, fight, trouble on the home front. Maybe five more updates and I'll be finished. I think. But I couldn't put any money on it.
03-28-2007 01:38 AM
you sly little mynx!!
03-28-2007 03:26 PM
It was so sad and ironic. Even the people who had lived her for generations had not yet realized the secrets of the Bloodlands. Perhaps Siverine didn’t even fully realize it, but he and Duke had learned that Merabyoyo granted wishes in its own twisted way. The dogs had always been with Siverine and their only desire was to protect her. Unknown to them, Merabyoyo sensed that desire and gave them forms and abilities to make it possible. Lan grew large and strong and developed the ability to speak and think like a human while Duke became able to see the ghosts that roamed the land and learn all its secrets and poisons. Even Siverine’s hair curling had been from Merabyoyo trying to fulfill a desire.
Perhaps this place wasn’t as corrupt as it seemed, it was just the corruption of the people who lived here that made it like this.
Look forward to your next post!
04-04-2007 06:54 PM
“Be safe,” she whispered as she set the stiff dog down. She gently stroked his head and blinked a few quick times before leaving him there.
Kane looked up as he and Lancaster pulled Emmett up. He raised his eyebrows, but didn’t say anything.
When the last man made it and the rope re-wound, they all looked at Siverine.
“This way,” she said softly, leading them away from where she’d left Duke.
Lan crouched lower in the crevice as Meryani ran around confused outside. Not only had his appearance stirred up the camp and confused everyone, but it would keep the Meryani from the doctor’s camp. They didn’t want to go to him only to say the ghost dog had been spotted, but not found.
He waited for a break in the action directly outside and slipped from his crevice. Siverine and Duke would be nearing the camp soon. Lan would lay one more false trail and go to them.
Siverine kept squatted low and Kane followed close. The scent of blood and gore became stronger as they neared the doctor’s camp. That wasn’t a good sign.
Kane’s hand brushed Siverine’s and he was surprised it was so cold and clammy. He reached out and grabbed her hand to give it a comforting squeeze. She was shaking too.
The group stopped soon and Siverine slowly stood, cautiously peeking over the rock they were hidden behind. Kane started to stand too and saw what very well appeared to be a mad scientist’s lab. A body as laid out on a large flat rock that worked as a table, the subject’s face and facial bones cut away to reveal the inner matter. The front of the chest had been removed, ribs and all to give an open display of internal organs. Thick, dark red streaks surrounded the examination table. Other animals and human bodies were scattered about the lab, awaiting their turn for dissection.
“Gross,” Jones whispered and Kane shot him a harsh glare to keep him silent.
“Where’s the doctor?” Lancaster asked and Kane’s glare was distracted as he realized there weren’t any live bodies to be seen.
“Just getting cleaned up for my guests,” a voice said and everyone jerked to the left and looked up as a man in a blood-stained and dirty lab coat stepped out of a dark doorway at the top of a flight of stairs. “So nice of you to visit, Siverine. And I see you brought guests. I hope you haven’t been telling them any of your lies.”
Siverine watched the doctor’s every move, her eyes like a cornered cat’s watching a stray stalking dog.
“We’re here to stop you, doctor,” she said.
“Stop me? I’ve done nothing wrong.”
“You can killing the research party ‘nothing wrong’?” Kane demanded. This man was physically smaller and weaker, but there was something in his eyes that made the hairs on the back of his neck shiver. Kane didn’t like that look or the feeling he was getting.
“Is that what she told you? And you actually believed a newspaper reporter? Cute, but naive. The others were killed by Siverine and her monster dog. She went crazy and ordered the dog to massacre them. It’s not too surprising—in a place like this it is very easy for a weak mind to break.
“The Meryani have been trying to stop her, but her bloodlust knows no limit. She just keeps on killing. And now she’s brought you here with some fictitious fabricated story so you can kill the only person standing against her. Me.”
“So you’re saying Siverine brought us to kill you because she’s the one who’s lost it and not you?” Lancaster asked.
“Would she have brought you through such a dangerous route otherwise? Do you think I enjoy it here, in a cesspool of a civilization, cut off from the conveniences of the world and scrapping for a living?”
“You might be right about Siverine not being all there,” Kepper said as he raised his gun and aimed it at the doctor. “But I’m not about to believe someone living in a place like this is any saner. Now come along peacefully.”
Kane glanced at Siverine and realized she only had one eye on the doctor. The other was looking for something else. He glanced at the man there were here to rescue—well, maybe arrest was a better term at this point.
He suddenly realized why Siverine wasn’t entirely focused on the doctor.
He was far too calm.
“Kepper, hold on,” Kane said and stepped forward. “I’m Sergeant Dallas Kane. I was ordered to bring my team into the Redlands and retrieve any survivors of the research team and take them home. I would appreciate your cooperation and we can all go home.”
“I thought you might be military. I’m Dr. Damus Fisher. I was in charge of the research team. Regretfully, I’ll have to turn down your offer. I worked very hard the last few years to be able to return here and I’m not about to leave now.
“You’re nothing but a pawn, Sergeant. An ant, compared to me and the power I possessed back home. But even with the power to silence heralds and lions and make kings weep, I still hadn’t the power I do now. Here I am a god. This is my Olympus and here I will stay until I learn all the secrets of the madness of the Redlands. Then I can descend to better rule over ants like you.”
Lancaster lifted his gun. “I ought to shoot you just for the attitude. You’re not doing anything for your case, Doctor Demento.”
“I told you, I’m a god. And like all gods, humans are just something for me to play with.”
“Look out!” Siverine yelled as a shadow sprung up over the rock they were standing next to and a nine-inch dagger plunged down into Kepper’s shoulder. Lancaster swung his gun around, but the assailant caught it with the other hand and jerked it out, bringing it around to connect with Emmett’s temple and the soldier dropped to the ground.
“Good lord, Kirk!” Jones shouted, recognizing his comrade. He paused long enough Kirk to pull back behind the rock and popped back up behind Siverine, holding her secure with one on the confiscated rifles across her throat chocking her and liftingher to her tiptoes.
“Put the guns down and no harm will come to her,” Fisher said and Kane realized he was aiming his own gun at a man who had once been his comrade. His finger shook. He should shoot and take Kirk out. He couldn’t miss at this range and although Siverine might get a little messy, she’d be free. But for some reason he couldn’t make himself shoot his friend.
He glanced at Siverine who seemed to be glaring at him to shoot Kirk and Fisher.
Kane sighed. He had told her it wasn’t his place to pass judgment and he still felt that way. Besides, he’d sworn to Lan he’d protect Siverine and being hasty or too aggressive right now might do more to hurt her.
“Jones, lower your firearm,” Kane said.
“What!” Lancaster asked from where he knelt with Kepper. The dagger had gone in at such an angle that it wasn’t fatal, thankfully. Emmett would have a headache, but he was still alive. No one was dead yet. Kane intended to keep it that way.
“Do it, Jones. Lancaster, say with Kepper and Emmett.” Kane moved his hand away from the trigger and raised his arms. Reluctantly, Jones followed. “We’re here to take you home, not hurt anyone,” he told the doctor.
“Whatever you were told your mission was is irrelevant,” Fisher said. “You were sent to serve me.”
“Like hell,” Jones replied.
“You’ll obey or watch this innocent girl have her head ripped off by your friend,” Fisher told them and Siverine tried to scream and Kirk tightened his hold, lifting her off the ground with the rifle at her throat.
“Stop it!” Kane shouted. “What do you want us to do?”
Fisher smirked winningly. “Maybe you’re not a complete idiot.” He walked over to a large hole in the ground that was nearly seven feet in diameter. “This is the Pit. It’s said that the powers of the Redlands intensify as you fall so that by the time you hit the bottom, if there even is one, you’ve forgotten how to even breathe.
“Now, either you throw your guns down there, or I’ll have my servant throw Siverine down.”
04-05-2007 12:55 PM
I LOVE that the mad doc is creeping doubt back into the minds of the military men about their guide and friend, but still the enigma, Siverine.
keep it up! I feel like we're coming to the climactic conclusion!
04-11-2007 05:55 PM
Fisher chuckled. “Ah yes, the first resource of the inapt mind, foul language. You were foolish to think you could step into my domain and take me unaware.”
“What have you done to Kirk?”
“I’m guessing that was your friend’s name. I did very little. From his behavior when he was found, I take it he was bitten by the blood ants. With their poison affecting his mind, I had most of the work done for me. It was a simple matter of introducing new memories with the help of a serum I’ve made while working here. It’s the same serum I’ll use on the rest of you, should it be needed. Along with who he was, my servant has forgotten he has limits. He’ll overpower the rest of you just because he doesn’t know pain or fatigue. You’d have to kill your friend with one blow or else he wouldn’t stop.” Fisher smiled. He knew that if they were going to kill Kirk, they would have done so by now.
Kane looked at Siverine, her she could barely breathe. Kirk had her arms held down with his elbows so she couldn’t lift herself up. Even as tough as she was, if they didn’t do something soon, she’d be strangled.
Unfortunately, cooperation was the fastest way of saving her at the moment.
They walked closer to the Pit. Kane felt something like a lonely chill seeping from that hole in the ground. Like the breath from the grave; a corpse that had forgotten warmth and life.
“Throw them in, gentlemen,” Fisher insisted and Kirk moved Siverine closer to the edge of the pit.
Kane obeyed, throwing his rifle into the oblivion and Jones followed a reluctant second later. Once thrown in, Kane never heard them make a noise. He wondered how deep it was because he never heard them hit bottom.
“Now what?” Kane asked, hands still above his head.
“You are just so moronic,” Fisher said. “Siverine is a perfect specimen to experiment on—she’s experienced much here and while some of her has changed, somehow he mind has been altered very little. Did you really think I would so callously dispose of one of my most coveted specimens?”
“You damn—” Jones started to say.
“Again with the cursing? You’ll learn better.
“The mongrels tried to make their way through the Meryani camp, correct? They too will finally be taken and I’ll have all three for my experiments. It’s only a matter of time before I’ll be able to unlock the secrets of the Bloodlands.”
Kane’s jaw clenched. What could he do? He wanted to save Siverine—if nothing else he wanted her safe. Acting would be endangering her. Not acting would be condemning her.
With all his heart, Dallas Kane wanted to save Siverine.
“Now, my pawns, I want you to—” Fisher was cut off as something black clipped his knees and made him stumble. Before anyone could realize what had happened, Duke jumped up, biting deep into Kirk’s arm and using all his body weight to jerk arm away, breaking his grip on the rifle and Siverine.
She hurriedly dropped down and darted away from the Pit and Kirk. Kane rushed to her as Siverine stumbled to the ground, her being chocked leaving her dizzy and faint.
“Siverine!” Kane said, grabbing her shoulders.
“Kane, look out!” Jones shouted and Kane turned his head in time to save himself from being completely knocker out as Kirk drove the butt of the rifle against Kane’s skull. It didn’t save him entirely and Kane slumped to the ground as his head spun.
“Kane!” Siverine called his name and shook him. That only made his head spin more and he wasn’t able to stop Fisher from grabbing Siverine by the hair and pulling her back.
Duke came to a stop next to Jones as Kirk aimed the rifle at the interfering dog.
“I thought that mutt was dead,” Fisher growled, cruelly shaking Siverine’s head. With his other hand her grabbed one arm and twisted it behind her back sharply. “How convenient to find otherwise. It seems Merabyoyo holds the secrets of life as well as the mind.”
“You could never understand the secrets of Merabyoyo,” Siverine said, holding onto the wrist of the hand trying to pull her hair out, digging her nails in—too bad her nails weren’t longer.
“Oh I will. And you and your dogs will tell them to me, one way or another.”
Kane tried to push himself up. He had to stop Fisher, but everything way happening to fast and his head wouldn’t stop pounding and spinning.
“This lot is too much trouble,” Fisher told Kirk. “Shoot to kill the men and injure the dog—I want his mind and heart in tact.”
“You never learn, doctor,” a voice from the shadows said and Lan appeared as suddenly as Duke hand and lunged for Kirk.
“Shoot him!” Fisher shouted and Kirk quickly reaimed for Lan. The bullet cut through Lan’s shoulder, but failed to stop him and Lan ripped the rifle from Kirk’s hands with his teeth and the weight of his massive body shoved Kirk hard back and into the Pit.
“Kirk!” Jones shouted and ran to the edge of the Pit, grabbing at air as their comrade fell into forever.
“Why do you have to kill everyone?” Siverine demanded. Lan was bleeding and limping, but was advancing on Fisher, Duke at his side.
“I’m a god,” Fisher told her, jerking her to her feet. “What does a god care for a worthless life? Unless it is to serve me, a life has little meaning.” He twisted her arm as he released her hair and reached into his lab jacket. “Now call them off, or I’ll inject you with my serum.” Fisher held a dirty needle out and pointed it at her throat. “All your precious memories will be gone forever and you will be what I make you.”
Lan and Duke stopped moving, realizing all to well how serious Fisher was. Jones was still on the edge of the Pit, unsure of what to do and fighting back the emotions of Kirk’s second death. Kane struggled to his knees. His head was clearing as he fought to focus and think.
“You’re not a god, just a beast,” Siverine said and grabbed his wrist again with her free hand, ignoring the pain as Fisher tried to twist her other arm to force her into submission.
The two of them struggled, fighting against over the needle, yet careful not to be scratched themselves.
Kane managed to make it to his feet. He blinked the stars from his eyes and realized where the two were stumbling toward.
“Siverine, watch out!” he said as she finally forced the needle from the doctors hand and into the Pit.
“No!” Kane sprinted for them as the force of the fight sent Fisher following after the needle, Siverine’s arm still clasped tight in his hand.
Fisher’s fall was stopped as Siverine kept hold of his wrist. She was flattened to the ground, the top third of her hanging in the Pit. She grabbed the top rim as she slid in up to her waste, digging her fingers into the red rock.
Kane dove and grabbed her leg, pulling to keep her from falling in.
“Jones!” he shouted as he could feel the doctor’s weight pulling Siverine in. He felt one of her legs strain and he glanced back to see Lan with one of Siverine’s feet whole in his mouth, putting her back and the much smaller Duke jerked on her pant leg.
“Just hang on Siverine,” Kane said. “We’ve got you.”
Fisher looked up at Siverine.
“I guess I was wrong,” he said as they clung to each other with one hand. “You’re god now; my life is in your hands. The time has finally come for you to get your revenge.”
Siverine’s arm hurt. The fingers of her other hand were bleeding.
Fisher was right. All she had to do was let go and she could have the justice she’d been seeking all this time. The doctor had met his end at last.
“No,” she said and let go of the rim to grasp his wrist firmly with both hands. “I’m not a god. Nor am I a judge. This land may have forgotten justice, but I haven’t. It’s not in my hands to judge you, Doctor. You will answer for what you’ve done, but to a higher law than me. Justice will be meted out by higher powers than me.”
04-11-2007 06:00 PM
Try this instead:
"Justice will be meted out by those who have the authority to judge.”
If anyone's got a cooler line, I'm open.
04-11-2007 07:28 PM
you go girl!!
I don't mind reading on the fly, especially considering the source; you got talent, you know it. They should name a holiday after you!! WOOOOO!
04-17-2007 04:47 PM - edited 04-17-2007 04:47 PM
Thanks for sharing,
Message Edited by bjstitches on 04-17-200704:50 PM
04-18-2007 10:58 PM
At least he thought it wouldn’t help. He was beginning to question show things could get any worse.
“Leaving Kane and the other out there is homicide, Sir,” Harrison said.
“Commander Kane made the decision to remain in the Redlands; he knows that he must live with the consequences of his actions,” General Baire replied.
If only Harrison dared used the word “asinine”.
“We can’t afford to make another trip into the Redlands. The danger and cost isn’t worth it,” Baire added.
Harrison had received a phone call yesterday that the return rendezvous had been cancel and since then had been making calls and trying to track down who had made the call so it could be reversed.
“But he’s following orders!” Harrison’s volume increased. “Our mission was to bring the survivors home and that’s what he’s doing. You can’t leave him stranded out there in abandonment. He has men with him and at least one survivor, if not two.”
“According to the men that returned with you, Ms. Nicholson may not be entirely sane. It could be there never was another survivor or Kane and rest could already be dead, killed by natives or treachery, there’s no way of knowing.”
“That’s why we have to go back—to find out. And I know Ms. Nicholson is not crazy, nor would she betray Kane and the other.” He was beginning more and more to realize how perfectly sane Siverine was. She’d said that the men had been sent there to die. If Harrison couldn’t get Baire to reverse the abandonment order, it would prove her right. “I trust Kane to survive long enough to get back to the pick up point. If he dies it’s because we turned our backs on him.”
“If he dies it’s because he took unnecessary risks. His mission was to determine what happened to the team that went in. All but two were killed; that should have been enough for him to realize he needed to return with what he had while he could.”
“Kane would never abandon his countrymen!” Harrison shouted. “How can you do that him?”
“That’s enough!” Baire shouted. “Kane signed his fate the day he chose to remain in the forsaken place. He’s picked his graveyard, he has only to dig the hole.”
Harrison couldn’t stand it anymore and pounded his fists on the desk. “No!”
“Now what?” Jones asked, adjusting the strap of one of the two rifles they had left over his shoulder. “Kepper won’t be able to run much with that stab wound and Emmett’s going to has too much of a headache to exert himself.”
“The turban is a nice look for him though,” Lancaster said, glancing over at Emmett as Kane finished wrapping his head. Emmett had a choice comment to make about that and Lancaster smirked as rested the other rifle in the crock of his arm.
“We can’t go back the way we came,” Jones said.
Kane nodded. “I know. That would have been difficult even if there hadn’t been anyone injured. With two men hurt and a prisoner, we’ll need a different route. Siverine?”
She looked up from where she sat, Lan’s head in her lap and Duke curled up next to her. The smaller dog’s amber eyes were fixed on a bound Fisher, watching for any tiny movement the doctor might try. A thick trail of red streaked down Lan’s front shoulder—he wouldn’t be able to handle anything too strenuous himself for a while.
“There is another route we can take to get everyone back safely,” she said.
“How?” Fisher demanded. “The Meryani are roused and will be combing every inch of the Bloodlands looking for you. Once they realize I’m gone, they will never relent.”
“You’ll be quickly forgotten, Doctor,” Siverine told him. “And the Meryani won’t be looking everywhere.”
“You have a plan then,” Kane said.
“Yes. There’s an ancient riverbank that runs only the west side of the mesa and through a tunnel under Kariokyarya.” Duke made a noise as he diverted his gaze to her. Fisher’s eyes widened. “The Meryani won’t go there and it’s a pretty straight shot to the other side of Kariokyarya.”
“Is it easy to get to?”
“Relatively—easier than most of the rest of this trip.”
“Then we’ll go that way.”
“Hold up,” Lancaster said. “Doctor Demento just got a funny look and nothing on this trip has been easy. Can we know what freaky weirdness is going on with this riverbank before we get there? Something has to be up if even the natives won’t go there.”
“What flows down that riverbank is not water,” Fisher said. “But it will drown you just as sure.”
“Oh great, another cryptic, just what we need.”
“At certain times, the souls of the ancient dead gather in the river. The original inhabitants that twisted the land,” Siverine told them. “Men whose souls have forgotten what they were.”
‘They flow down the river every night, shifting and trying to regain the form they were, but they can’t remember it,’ Lan added. ‘It’s from the river that the Whririnet comes.’
“I think I would have been fine with cryptic,” Jones muttered.
“Is it safe?” Kane asked.
“Safe? Last time I checked, we’re still in the Bloodlands,” Siverine said. “Safer? Possibly. We can get you down it and back to the pick-up in time; I thought that’s what matters.”
Kane nodded. “Good enough then. Once everyone is able, we’ll head out.”
“Oh joy, we return home on a river of souls. How poetic,” Lancaster drooled.
Fisher laugher. “No one has been able to navigate that river and keep their sanity. Physically safer and easier it might be. But there’s no way you can take it and keep your mind and souls.”
04-18-2007 11:13 PM
and I like it!!
04-19-2007 12:49 AM
I do write in Word and cut and paste directly on the page. I've noticed some of the spelling errors--mispellings really. Spellcheck won't catch a lot of words so long as they spell something right. If you forget the t in stay, it's still a word.
I'm afraid if I sat on anything it would take forever to get up or I'd change my mind--you can always find something to tweak, change or "fix". I rather like how things come off raw, especially for comment. But I do need to work on re-reading everything before posting. The mispellings are embarassing.
Thanks for reading!
04-19-2007 01:01 AM
I'm your biggest fan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
04-20-2007 01:44 PM
What? You're reading other posts? You're commenting on OTHER people's work?! AH!
Well, you always come back, so I'll fogive you.
Seriously, thanks for your support crAZe. You rock!
04-20-2007 05:05 PM
If Rick is your #1 fan then I claim the #2 spot!
I'm glad you let us know what's going on with Harrison and the River of Souls sounds perfect for a scary return trip.
04-23-2007 02:17 AM
I love hanging out with the group! Their back-and-forth gives the whole setting a more ominous feel. Their wisecracking underlines the tension.
OK. Ready for the next installment!
04-25-2007 06:53 PM
“You don’t have a say in the matter, soldier. It’s already been determined that the trip isn’t worth the fuel and manpower and risk to go back in. I suggest you let the matter go and move on with your life.”
“Kane is going to do his duty, he’s going to be at the pick-up site waiting for us to get him. Dallas Kane has never failed any mission. He’ll be there. And you’re going to—”
“This conversation is over, soldier,” Baire said, raising his voice. “Find your own way out. As I said, this matter is closed.”
Harrison clenched his jaw as he looked at the ground. He couldn’t abandon Kane like that. He couldn’t fail his duty, he just couldn’t.
There as a loud pounding on the door the men inside hardly had time to look up before it was thrown open, General Weathers followed by an older man with thick glasses and unkept white hair. Beyond them Harrison say a figure he recognize and the contraction in his chest relaxed as he snapped to attention, Baire following less enthusiastically in the presence of the superior.
“Baire, why isn’t there a team assembled for recovery from the Redlands?” Weathers asked.
“The mission has been canceled,” Baire started to say, knowing full well—as Harrison did—what would follow.
“I’ve never left a man behind. Even when fire and hell rained down, I brought out every man and I’ll be damned if I’ll start now because it’s inconvenient.
“You seem to have forgotten the scientific exploration that fueled this trip. Dr. Waits reminded me of it and informed me that the people who have been surviving there may offer the biggest clues to the only place on Earth we don’t understand.”
“I feel further exploration and monitoring would only aide in our understanding of the phenomenons that occur there,” the scientist said. “My department has already gathered many of the materials needed to build an outpost should it be possible and will also cover part of the cost of fuel, but we’re counting on the military to supply the manpower.”
“Which is convenient since we’re going back to bring our brave boys home,” Weather said.
Harrison caught Kevyn’s eye over the general’s shoulder. She smiled at him and winked.
Siverine led them down a twisted path to a shadowy canyon on the west side of the mesa. Jones and Kane helped the wounded men while Lancaster was in charge of Dr. Fisher with Lan and Duke prowling nearby and keeping untrusting, unfriendly eyes on him at all times.
They made it to the riverbed without incident and the men were actually rather unimpressed with what they saw. It as definitely a dried riverbed, but nothing was in it. Nothing weird, creepy, or unusual. After everything so far, it was part relief and part letdown.
“So what part of this is supposed to shake our sanity?” Lancaster asked Kane in a murmur as they stood on the edge of the riverbed.
“I’m not sure,” Kane admitted. “Siverine hasn’t said anything about it.” He knelt down to get another angle view.
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
“I’m starting to feel foolish,” Lancaster admitted. Kane started to reach out like he’d put a hand where a river had once been.
“Stop!” Siverine shouted and both men spun around, thinking she was yelling at the doctor. Instead, she was looking right at them. “Don’t disturb the water,” she said.
After an awkward moment Lancaster pointed out. “Uh, there is no water.”
“Tell me that in another two hours,” she said. “Come on. We can cover more ground yet.”
Kane and Lancaster glanced at each other, the empty river, and Siverine’s back. Lancaster lowered his voice as he moved his head closer to Kane.
“I dare you—”
“Right after you,” Kane quickly replied and they both looked back at the river.
“What’s that?” Jones asked, slowing his steps and looking to the left.
“What?” Kepper asked, panting. He was sweating although the group moved slowly. His wound hadn’t reopened, so Siverine kept them going.
“I thought I saw something from the riverbed.”
“Night is falling over the Bloodlands. Moonlight on the ground elsewhere reflects off the river,” Siverine said.
“The lost souls are being illuminated, gentlemen,” Fisher told them and Lancaster pushed the doctor along with a rude nudge.
Unfortunately, Fisher hadn’t been lying. The men could see strange shapes coming from the riverbed as the night wore on. Their curiosity drew them closer until they walked right on the edge. Then they realized it wasn’t curiosity, but the trail had narrowed so they were forced to the edge of the river.
The pale blue luminescent river barely lit the trail. In the waters they saw men and animal shapes, often combined in some gross, unnatural way.
Their reflections appeared in the water, as if their souls could be seen in the waters.
Jones watched his out of the corner of his eyes and soon realized what it wasn’t a reflection or shadow as the him in the water didn’t follow his exact moves and had claws instead of fingertips.
“Those aren’t us,” he said.
“No. It’s a river of souls of the dead. But they’ve forgotten what they were and how they looked. They can’t cross over because they first refused and now have forgotten. They cling to anything living for an answer as to how to leave limbo. If you disturb the waters they’ll cling so tightly that they’ll choke you to death. One misstep and the souls of the dead will overwhelm you and drag you into their hell in hopes that you hold the answers they seek.”
“One misstep?” Emmett said as his foot skidded across the path and Kane quickly grabbed him. “Could have mentioned that sooner.”
“I didn’t want to worry you. And…”
“And what?” Kane asked, still holding onto Emmett.
“And, maybe, we might be able to save you if the souls did wash ashore.
“Come on. There won’t be a spot to safely rest for a few more miles.”
“Miles?” Kepper asked. “We’ll be walking all night.”
“Yes. Try not to look into the water—the souls become more vindictive and angry as the night goes on.”
“You were one of the original team?” Dr. Waits asked.
“Yes sir,” Harrison nodded.
“Excellent. I appreciate you telling Dr. Haines so she could make me aware of the matter.”
“I’m glad to do it.”
“So, since you’re familiar with the terrain, what sort of supplies are we going to need, Rick?” Kevyn asked.
“Well, first off, you’re going to need a lot of dog food.”
05-03-2007 12:30 AM
Kane kept his eyes fixed on Siverine and the dogs ahead of him. Only Duke seemed to notice the disturbed waters and he would growl at them occasionally, his hackles starting to rise.
His eyes were starting to sting and his head ached with the effort of not looking at the water. That why he didn’t notice the water moving until he heard Lancaster curse and looked back in time to see and hand and wrist reach for Lancaster a moment before sinking back into the water. A moment later another hand lifted out, this time some of the arm showing.
“It’s reaching for me,” Lancaster shouted, pressing himself against the wall.
“Don’t reach back,” Siverine told him. “And keep moving. They’re persistent tonight.”
Fisher chuckled. “How you play with their mind, Siverine. Persistent? They want our souls to join theirs; they won’t give up and by the end of the night something that resembles a soul will rise from the water to drag one of these fools into the waters with them—the one more unstable and whose mind is the weakest. There’s a reason the Meryani fear this road.”
“No one will be dragged into the water,” Siverine said. “Unless someone is stupid enough to reach out or respond to the water, it won’t claim anyone.”
“Your vibrato is vanity. You toy with lives more than I.”
‘She is nothing like you!’ Lan said sharply, bearing his massive teeth as he looked back at the doctor. ‘If anyone is to be taken, it would be you.’
“We have to keep moving,” Siverine said, as if ignoring the exchange. “There’s still a long ways to go.
“Lan, you know better than to get angry here; it only draws their attention more.”
‘My concern is more for the living than the dead—the living who should be dead,’ he grumbled, still favoring his wounded shoulder.
Lan’s limp became more evident as the night wore on. As did Kepper’s labored breathing. Kane kept close as Emmett staggered and swayed, his head drooping lower and lower as he walked with hand running on the wall.
Emmett stumbled and sagged against the wall, Kane taking less than a split second to grab his shoulders and brace him.
“Emmett?” Kane asked, concerned.
“You know, it’s kinda funny,” Emmett said, panting as he caught his breath. “But my head is making it so I can’t tell whatever is going on in the water that’s freaking everyone out. I can hardly see at all—well, see straight at least.”
“How’s your leg?”
“Can’t feel it. Can’t feel anything but this headache. That’s two bonuses to make up for it; can’t be bothered by the water and can’t feel if my leg is even still attached.”
“Hey Siverine,” Kane called as the rest of the line waited behind him. “How much further?”
“Another hour or so. The trail will open up and you can rest there before continuing on.”
“You honestly think they’ll be able to continue?” Fisher asked with more than a hint of distain. “You think to enter the tunnel? These men are injured, they’ll never make it.”
“You say that, but they’re still alive. I’d say they’re doing quite well. Being alive is the only requirement to keep on living, after all.” She had slowed her walking a bit, but never stopped and Kane had no choice but to risk falling behind or get Emmett moving.
“Don’t worry about me,” Emmett told him. “This place hasn’t been able to kill me yet.”
“No matter how much you try to get killed,” Jones joked and Emmett smiled weakly before pushing himself away from the wall and staggering forward.
Limbs were rising from the water now and many body parts. The men all tried hard not to look—even if they did see, it was hard to tell what it was sometimes. A hand, a claw, a wing, a misshapen foot, half a head. All reaching for them, all seeking to pull them into the luminescent blue river of souls and wasted lives.
The men’s heads were all aching and they leaned against the wall. Even Fisher was effected and staggered along, half leaning against the wall as his arms and hands were bound to his torso.
Only Siverine and the dogs appeared to be unbothered as she kept marching dutifully and single-mindedly on, slowing only because it was necessary for the others to keep up.
She must have took pity on them as she would occasionally stop and look back to say, “Just keep holding on; you can do it. Just a little further.”
She said that about half a dozen times before adding “We’re almost there.”
Kane looked up, hopefully when she said that. His eyes were bloodshot and his face pale. None of the others looked any better except for Emmett whose eyes were almost glazed over.
“You chose a cruel death sentence, Siverine,” Fisher said, stumbling against the wall. His words were slurred and his mouth hung open when he wasn’t talking. “To walk us along this path until the souls of long dead corrode our minds away like acid.”
“I’ve dreamed up much worse fates for you, doctor. I told you, no one is going to die on this leg of the journey.”
“Oh, so you intend to just walk us to death so that we pass out right here.”
“Stop whining. We’ve reached the end of the trail.”
Everyone looked up—even Emmett although he was seeing three of everything—and watched Siverine walk off the narrow path and into a wide, open area. It was still surrounded by rock on three sides with the river on the forth, but they were able to get further away from the river and as the proximity to it grew, their headaches were mitigated.
Exhausted, sore, drained and mental frayed, the men collapsed as far away from the river as they could. Lancaster pulled Fisher over and made sure he was down before sitting himself, but once sat looked as if he didn’t want to move for at least a month.
“Please tell me, we get to rest now,” Jones said, rubbing an ache in his thigh.
Siverine nodded. “We rest here for a few hours. Only one more real obstacle and—”
“Holy sh—” Lancaster swore, his eyes going wide.
The river was boiling furiously and rose up, a vaguely humanoid shape reaching toward them. Two other’s joined it and the men watched in horror as a swirl of anger, hate, and malice stepped from the river onto the ground and started walking toward them. It was almost as if three tongues of the river were licking closer and closer to them.
It startled Siverine—perhaps it even scared her—and the took two steps back, her feet tangling together and she landed at Kane’s feet, her torso over his shins.
“Siverine,” he said and tried to move to pull her from harm—although where to had yet to be decided—but his body’s reaction was so slow he moved only sluggishly.
The nearest tongue lurched as if tasting their escalated fear and swelled closer.
Emmett had collapsed nearest the river and a hand/claw/tentacle wrapped around his ankle and started pulling me back. The other two tongues reached out for anyone who dared get close enough to help so they might share Emmett’s doom.
“No!” Jones shouted and struggled to stand.
Although he was too slow, something else darted out and sunk teeth into the soul form that had Emmett’s ankle, shaking fiercely until it let go. The tongue drew back as if injured and the other two turned on the intruder threateningly.
Duke started to bark fearlessly at the river’s grasping fingers, snapping at them as they wove around.
“I thought you said…the river…” Kane struggled to find the words to say. He’d finally managed to pull Siverine closer to him and had his hands on her shoulders.
“I told you no one would die and that there might be a way to save you. This is what the Bloodlands made Duke; he was infused with some soul sort of soul hound ability. In his mummy-like stage he can see all the souls and unnaturals that roam the lands and warns Lan and I about the dangers. He couldn’t be like that down here since the souls might have been able to suck him into the river without touching him. But like this—” she looked to where the small black lab cross was herding the tongues back to the river “—he’s able to retain himself enough that his soul can’t be drawn out, but he can still interact with souls that manifest themselves.”
Kane nodded and watched with her and the others as Duke forced the souls back into the river. He continued to bark at it from the bank as it boiled rebelliously at him and it finally settled.
Duke turned around, kicked dirt at the river with his back legs and went over to Emmett who’d been dragged half way and licked his face.
“Thanks buddy,” Emmett said, panting. He slowly sat up and looked back at the group.
“Why is it always me?”
05-05-2007 05:12 PM
Finally got caught up with your story and really love it! The ending with Duke and Emmett was great. It added just a touch of lightness without going too far. Looking forward to the next installment!