Max looked back to see whether Ashfaq’s men were chasing him. After they had left the cave, Max immediately led his friends to retreat further back to escape from both Ashfaq and whatever that was inside the cave. He was surprised that the cave consists of people that probably had lived for so long. Despite the dark surroundings, Max could see that they were wearing torn clothings, barely covering. The three people just stood there, watching them as if inspecting who had entered their cave. Then it happened in an instant. One of the gunmen was dragged away followed by another a few moments later. Everything was blurry and the next thing he knew was they were running at their top speed from people they had just met. He did not realize that they had entered so deep and that the run back would be so excruciating.
They retreated further back, each of them exerting their last bit of energy to gain distance from the cave. It was a horrifying experience but also an eye-opener. It turned out at least one of the ancient civilizations do exist in the modern world. Max and their group found an ideal location to rest. A place that was far from the cave and one that is a walking distance to a river. Water is crucial to them as their water supply was running low and they needed to resupply themselves to last throughout the day. It was fortunate that Jane had seen the river which they could have missed. They made sure that no one was following them and had mixed up their trails to confuse any pursuers. Once they had settled down, they sat down to discuss their next actions. Jane shrieked when she looked at Max. They followed her line of sight and saw the reason why she had reacted. It turned out that Max’s arm was bleeding. When he saw the injury, the pain reeled in and Max winced in pain. The adrenaline’s effect had already subsided and now he was feeling the brunt impact of the pain. Wilhem crouched beside him and began to tend to the wound. When the wound was washed, it looked like Max was scratched on his arm. The scratch was abnormal as it was from his shoulder to his elbow. Max could not recall when it had happened as they were rushing away. Once the bandage was wrapped around his arm, they decided to stall the discussion to allow them to clear their mind from making any rash decisions. They made a small campfire as it was getting dark. This was their very first campfire and it did not spark any feelings of excitement. The mood was getting sour and it did not sit well with Max. Just as he was about to start a conversation, Jane and Haley had already begun talking.
“We saw them.” Jane said, while covering her face. “There were two other people in there and they took the two gunmen.”
Haley nodded and put an arm around her to comfort her.
The guys were shocked at this revelation. That meant that the three who stood there was just a trap to lure them in while the other two would flank and attack them from the side. They thought the three were there to converse with them but how wrong they were. They were the target.
Wilheim then walked towards his backpack and took out a skull. Max recognised the skull that was shown to him when they were at the village.
“Remember this. I took this skull with me as I wanted to study more on the biology of the people who had lived here. It took me the whole trip in the car to analyze and to put both puzzles together, I found something. Now, if you could take a look here.” Wilheim said and then pointed to different parts of the skull. “These were not any normal marks, these were bite marks. Preferable scraping off any last bit of flesh they could off this skull. We all had a brief glance at whatever was in the cave and if what I saw was accurate, they had canine teeth. From the distance apart the canine teeth were from each other, I would say that they were the ones responsible for these marks.”
The girls gasped while the guys could only look at Wilheim in disbelief. If what he had deduced is true, then the culprits were actually hunting them in the cave. Even with guns, they were able to outrun the trajectory and were hot on their tail. Max feared their future on the island and thought maybe it was time they depart from this island. The cave was supposed to be the barrier to keep whatever that was inside.
His hand suddenly felt like it was burning and the next thing he knew, he was alone in darkness. He turned around in panic, trying to find his friends. However hard he tried to call out, there was no response. From the distance, he could faintly hear footsteps. Approaching him at a calm pace, the figure stopped within a few metres from Max. Max could barely make out his face as there was a hood covering his head. He tried reaching for his phone to shed some light unto the figure but he could not find his phone. He tried to back away from the figure, but his legs felt like bricks and despite him trying his best to move, it was for naught.
“Peace be upon you, Max.” the hooded figure began, his voice was smooth and surprisingly calming. Max was alarmed the figure knew his name considering he only just met him. A pair of questions lie on the tip of his tongue.
“Y...You s...speak English? How d..do you know my name?” Max desperately tried to keep his cool and asked.
“I know all there is to you ever since you touched my chair Max. My name is Al-Khail, ruler of the land here but now just a lost memory and I reside in your consciousness. I know this may sound shocking to you but we need to talk, Max.” Al-Khail said. He then waved his hand, giving light to his surroundings. He sat at one of the two chairs and table which had appeared out of nowhere and motioned for Max to sit in front of him. Max looked at his surroundings once again to check whether he can escape from the person in front of him.
“In this space, there is only you and me. It is a futile effort Max. You cannot run from your own mind, Max. You can try though but it will be pointless. Plus, I know all the thoughts that reside in your mind too.” Al-Khail said, smiling at him.
“What do you want from me?” Max asked, feeling dejected, reluctantly sitting on the chair. He was baffled at this revelation. His mind was spinning and he needed answers. His thoughts went back to the chair which was the cause of everything that had happened to him, from his hands burning to meeting this strange man in front of him. As he had no escape route, he had to follow what was required of him to ensure his safety.
“Do not worry, my friend. Even though there is a time limit here, I will answer as best as I can for any of your questions. I will not hurt you as we will need each other to stop a massacre from happening in your time.” Al-Khail said, looking at him before gazing into the abyss as if longing for something. “Before we begin, please listen to what had happened to the land and my people here years ago. We were a peaceful tribe, living in bliss and harmony. Color filled our lives and we were content with what we had...”
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