(Chapter song ‘Game Of Survival’ by Ruelle)
TWO YEARS AGO…
The night is black, his dead heart is blacker. The moon rises and his murderous intentions hang over my head.
The trees stand unforgiving and unhelpful in stopping the creature so vile, hell itself, spat him out.
It is on this dreadful night, he cannot win.
The sounds of sticks snapping and leaves crunching under my feet, almost drown out my whining, panting breath as I run for my life.
I smack twigs and small bush branches out of my way and try to muster as much speed as I can. My heart is pounding and body burns at the thought of my impending demise.
I dodge and weave through tree trunks as I run faster. I whip my head over my shoulder in a panic only to see the two yellow/green eyes right behind me.
As if time slows, I turn, jump back into the air and throw glowing red magic balls at my pursuer. The forest lights up red as my magic shoots through it. The orbs push through the air like missiles locked onto their targets. When they’re just about to make contact, his large arms and hands bat them away like flies. His glowing eyes dig into my soul.
I land on my feet and turn. I fill with dread as I command even more power out of my quickly dying legs. My whines become more pronounced as my ears pick up his deep, dark growls.
I hear the launch of magic and prepare myself. Tree trunks on either side of my path of escape, explode as he returns his magical attack. I cover my head and stumble my feet as I try to avoid wood chunks and splinters soaring past my head from all directions. I keep moving side to side to not give him an easy target. Trees continue to blow up with every magical hit. My terrified voice stutters in whines and yelps as I continue to run.
I come to the edge of a small hill and slide down it on my feet. At the bottom is a small creek. My dress shoes are soaked, but right now, that's the last thing I’m worried about. The water bursts up in columns as he misses his next shots. I jump the up onto the bank and rejoin the path.
“Where is it?” I grit. My lungs burn so bad. It has to be here somewhere.
More magical onslaughts and I think I’m done until I see what I’m looking for. I turn the corner on the path and almost slip. The forest dirt explodes in a tall wave right at my side.
I quickly look behind me and the creature has not faltered. His pursuit is hot and angry.
I run past a tree just a glowing ball hits it. It explodes right by head causing me to lunge to the side and put my back to it. I turn and look back. He has another ball ready to throw. My eyes widen and I burst back into my run for survival. The cave entrance is just beyond a grove of trees. I see it’s dark mouth even in the dim light of moonlit night.
I serpentine through the trees heading in its direction. Breaching the tree line, a feeling of hope fills me. I may actually outsmart the Devil.
As I get to the cave, I stop. My dress shoes pushing soil to the side as I do. The devil is coming at me through the trees. I launch a barrage of magic his way. Trees explode and topple. He pushes them out of his way. His hellish, dark face seeks me out and like an out of control train, bolts my way.
My face fills with shock that even fallen trees didn’t slow him down. I turn into the dark cave tunnel. Still running full tilt, my shoes tap on the stone floor and my heaving breath echoes off the walls. I hear the growls, feel the eyes and his thoughts of killing me in his mind.
In a deep state of terror, I frantically search the pockets of my yellow suit. “Come on…where are you…” I check my pants and jacket. Finally, inside the lapel, I find the key. I pull it out and see the wooden door up ahead. I nervously laugh.
I can make it. I can make it.
Right to open, left to move. Right to open, left to move. I repeat the mantra in my mind to the tune of my racing heart.
The walking Death throws more balls in my direction. They hit the stone and it shatters into small rock pebbles, pummeling my body with gravel. I cover myself and yelp.
The walls and tunnel shakes with every hit that I’m trying to outrun. The door is so close yet so far. I ready the key in my hand as I make a mad sprint to the finish, one turn of the key and it’s over.
I slam into the door. My face is dripping in sweat and fear. My shaking hand tries desperately to find the keyhole. I hold it with my other hand and slide the key in. Just as I’m about to turn in to the left, my front is slammed into the door.
“I’m taking the vault.” He growls in my ear.
“Over my dead body, you idiotic twat!” I growl at him over my shoulder as he pushes me harder into the door.
“That can be arranged.” His eyes glow and his voice is demonic. His massive muscular body is stronger, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve.
Before I make my move, the feeling of being stabbed by a solid, thick pole, explodes from my side. The shock of it forces my hand to the right, I hear a click. Oh no. My pain filled eyes look at him. He grins.
I reach behind me, place my hand on his body and blast my ball. The devil flies back down the tunnel and I get blown into the room behind the door. I bounce across the floor and scream as I land in the gaping hole in my side. I try to hold it with my hand as I whine and fight the excruciating pain. I feel my blood pouring out as I lift my head to the open door. I watch as Death rises to his feet. He balls his fists, stares me down and sprints for the door.
I have to move and move now before…
The room fills with cackling laughter. I get to my feet, my body fighting the shock of my injury as I try desperately to get to the door.
“No…” I struggle as reach out. Death is mere feet from the door. I mentally prepare myself as I choose the lesser of two evils. What’s out there will kill me, but what’s in here is worse than Death. I can’t let it out.
Wind spontaneously blows around the room like a tornado touched down. My hair whips in all directions as I stumble as fast as I can. “NO! DON’T YOU DARE!” I yell to the wind that’s making it almost impossible to move against.
I cover my eyes from the flying dust and papers circling around the large room. Chairs fall over and slide across the floor.
“DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT DOOR!” I see Death has now begun to struggle against the gale force winds coming from inside. He’s slowed and is protecting his face with his hand. Our eyes meet and the challenge to get to the key first has begun.
I’m almost at the door when I feel the energy. The life of this room. It cackles a high pitched laugh as it spins around me.
“YOU CANNOT LEAVE!” I yell to it as it blatantly defies me.
“And you can’t either, Cedric.” The energy hisses. I see Death reach for the handle.
“NOOO!” I hold out my hand just inches from it. The key is pulled out of the handle by an invisible force and thrown to the floor in the room.
“DON’T CLOSE THE DOOR!” I scream in a panic. The room is a storm inside as I see the wood door slam shut. I fight the last foot and place my hands on it. I move to the handle and try to open it. Frustrated pulls sends my fears to their highest level.
I whip around and place my blood covered back on the door. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”
I hear the click from the door. “Oh God. Please God, no.” I hitch as the reality of my situation hits me.
The room shakes violently. Books topple off shelves, glass breaks and tables overturn.
I slam my eyes shut, turn my head and hang on for dear life. “WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE?!”
Like landing on the surface of the sun, the room fills with blinding light. An ever-growing whine increases as my ability to see is taken away. I scream as I shield my eyes. The room shakes even more and the cackling laughter feels like it’s right in my head.
“YOU’VE ENDED US ALL!”
The room disappears in the light. The shaking stops completely for a blip of a second.
I open my eyes wide.
“Help,” I say quietly.
With massive energy, the room implodes on itself with a loud, zapping, energetic bang.
We’re completely removed from reality.
Sent on a journey through the cosmos.
The problem? Its driver is dying inside with absolutely no clue how to get out and no way to steer.
Only hell knows where and if we ever stop.