The Runner

By Scott Rinehart All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Horror

River Run

The runner carefully traversed the rock wall above the underground river, finding the tiniest cracks in the surface that had been worn to near smooth perfection by the raging waters. At times his body was immersed in the waters as he progressed, and at other times he was able to wade through the slower flowing waters as the river widened.
Finally coming to an embankment, he laid down to rest again. After waking he crawled over to drink from the river. The water was cool and made him feel better. Gazing at his reflection in the water he noticed that he was healing again. Then he wondered how there was enough light to see his reflection. He looked up to see that the tunnel was awash with a dim light coming from further upstream.
He got up and continued on upstream. There was another waterfall, but he could climb up next to it quite easily. There at the top was a sort of ledge that paralleled the river. At times he had to cross back and forth across the river, holding desperately to rocks in the rapids as he didn't wish to be washed down and over the falls.
Suddenly up ahead he heard voices. Creeping ever nearer to see who they might belong to he noticed the light improving too. The light it seemed was from a raging fire pit on a large platform next to the river. Here on that platform the legion had set up camp, while others of the legion drove old Nazi army trucks from out of a cave.
He wasn't sure, but he may have heard of this place. If memory served him correctly, there was once a legion under the command of another lord of Hell that planned an invasion of The Garden of Eden, thinking they could gain the power to take on Heaven again. This must have been their staging area. He was close, too close to stop now.
From his vantage point he could make out the command tent. On the other side of the encampment was a set of steps carved into the rock leading up to a natural stone arch that crossed the river. He could see two guards upon the bridge, but knew he had to get there and get passed them somehow.
The river had slowed a bit here, and so he opted for swimming past the legion's camp. Swimming slowly so he didn't create much noise by splashing he proceeded on, carefully keeping an eye on the camp. He was about three quarters of the way past when he saw them back a truck up to the river and dump massive prehistoric crocodiles into the river. He had to move faster and still not make noise, so he dove under the water trying to make like a salmon upstream.
One of the ancient crocodiles must have seen him, since it came his way. Glancing around behind him he saw it coming. He dove to the bottom and under a rock, making it just before the beast could catch him. He wouldn't be able to hold his breath long here and could easily drown. He figured that if he drowned, although he would probably revive, it would only be long enough to drown again from the water still in his lungs.
The crocodile monster hadn't left, and was being joined by new ones now. He swam further under the rock, finding a way out on the other side. The crocodile and his friends didn't seem to be hanging around this side as much. Not trying to alert them to his presence he pushed off and floated towards the surface, trying to stay near the wall by the steps.
He was near the surface when he discovered that they had noticed him. Three of the creatures were coming straight for him in a hurry. Grabbing the wall he pulled himself out of the water and up out of reach before they got there. He continued climbing, now trying to remain out of sight of the guards on the bridge.
He wouldn't be able to fight the guards, so crossing the bridge was going to be impossible. Climbing up on the side of the bridge away from the camp he slowly traversed on the side of the bridge, quietly so he wouldn't alert the guards. It took a long time, but he finally crossed the bridge and continued on along the walkway carved next to the river.
A while later he noticed a new light source coming from up ahead. He also hadn't seen any more guards. He must be home free. When he discovered the source of the light, he stopped and stared in astonishment. It was like looking up from the bottom of a well with another waterfall flowing over one side of it into the river next to him. The light from the top seemed to that of a clear summer day. At the top was The Garden of Eden, or better still maybe Heaven. Circling the shaft that lead up was a carved stairway.
Not wishing to waste any more time the runner sprinted to the stairs and straight up, but quickly ran out of breath about two percent of the way up. He slowed to a walk, then a crawl, and eventually came to a stop about seventeen percent of the way, but looking down noticed that he was not being pursued, so rested up before starting again.
Tiring though it may have been, he proceeded onwards and upwards, knowing that he was near to being free. What seemed like days or a whole month were spent climbing those steps. Finally he reached the top of the stairs and collapsed in exhaustion. And suddenly he heard the sound of two hands clapping.
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