Alana Romeo 2019

The Clearing

Prologue:    

 

A year ago from now, everything was normal with mum and dad. We had just moved to an old house in the woods for mums work. She works with some kind of Environment Company called “Save the Trees” or something. I didn't think much into the place at first, it wasn’t that bad, I mean, it was hard to say goodbye to all my friends. Only a few weeks before we moved an exchange `student came to live with us for a while. His name was Jason and he was shy at first but, he got used us after a few days.

Jason didn’t seem to mind the old, haunted-looking house at all. In fact, he seemed pretty comfortable. Dad always encouraged us to take walks in the forest, but we prefered to stay inside. The forest surrounded our house, it was massive. The first thing that I noticed about the land when we moved there was that most of the trees on the edge of the forest were dead, and dozens of crows had claimed them. They sat there and watched, like guardians, protecting something. Even Jason knew something wasn’t right, and he’s not very observant.

About a month after we moved in, Dad went to England for a business trip to sell houses because there weren’t many opportunities around where we were. So, he packed his bags and left. A week passed, then two months before we knew it, it had been a year without hearing from him. He had left us, I knew it. But mum refused to believe it.

“He’ll come back, I know he will.” She'd say to me over the silence of dinner.

Jason often excused himself from the dinner table to have some alone time in the attic. It was like our little cubby up there, with a small window at the end of the room that displayed a sky of twinkling stars. There were two beanbags up there, a big blanket and a TV that only had three channels. It was a small space but it was cozy. Sometimes we would sleep up there and bring a stale packet of chips to snack on while we watched the static crackle and flash of the TV. Jason practically lives here now, or maybe that’s just what if feels like.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Jason and I had just gotten home from the shops with bags full of food, the plastic handles were cutting into our sweaty hands. It was a long, silent walk. Our driveway is basically the road to the city where we are forbidden to go near. Fog is the only thing that is barricading us off from the rest of the world. No Wi-Fi, no signal, nothing. The closest petrol station is half an hour away, not too far from the city, which has a 10-foot barbed wire fence around it with one gate and an officer to let people in and out of the city. I have to admit the security is pretty full-on, for whatever they need it for, I mean, what could they possibly be trying to keep out? And what happened to the people who lived in the house before us? I keep trying to ask mum, but she just ignores me.

 

It was late, but mum called for me, her voice strained with worried guilt.

“Kara, we need to talk”

“Hmm? What is it?” I was still half-asleep when I came downstairs from the attic.                                         

“Can you get Jason too?”

“Sure,” I said, with a sigh, I turned around back to the ladder and looked up into the darkness.

“Jason, Judie wants you!” I waited. Silence. Then Jason’s face popped out from his sleeping bag and squinted at me, baffled with the weight of sleep.

“Kara, are you serious, what time is it?”

“3:30” I replied dully.

“Ugh. What do you want?”

“Its Judie, she wants to have a talk to us or something”

I waited for Jason to say something, but he just shrugged and half climbed half slid down the ladder. We both sat sluggishly at the dinner table, whereas mum sat alert, upright.

“Well,” Judie mumbled after a long 30 seconds.

“Now that we're all here…” she trailed off. I shot her a concerned glance but she seemed to be transfixed on her hands as they fumbled over each other in a clammy mess. She looked up, tears welling in her eyes.

“Sorry” she babbled.

“I.. I've been keeping something from you” She claimed.

“What is it?” questioned Jason.

Judie took a shaky breath and continued.

“We are hiding from something. And the people in this house before us, well, they were found. And, Jason, your parents didn’t send you here as an exchange student, they sent you here because there was a virus about to wipe out your village, so there was ”

“What?” I said.

“I mean, what are we hiding from?”

“Yeah, Kara’s right, your not telling us the whole story. And what about my mum and dad? Do they know anything about this?”

“Maybe tomorrow ok?” Mum said shaking her head.

“No Mum, I need to know now!”

“Alright fine.” She put her hands up, refusing to start an argument.

“Grab your coats”

“What why?” I demanded.

“We’re going on a walk,” she said subtly.

Jason gave me a worried look as we grabbed our jackets.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“The forest,” Mum said as she turned around to read our expressions.

“I know you don’t want to go. But we're going anyway”

“But Judie-”

“Listen!” Mum snapped

“I don’t want to go either. But here we are, and there's nothing we can do about it!”

Jason shuffled back a few steps, frustrated and scared. I was scared too.

 

The door clicked open as an icy breeze swept us out on to the driveway. I looked back to see the door ajar, I was about to step back to close it when mum called for me and I realized her voice was muffled because she was a few strides ahead of me. I didn’t want to be left behind so turned away from the door, leaving it unlocked, to find my way in the darkness to mum’s voice. Finally, I saw the dull yellow flickering light of the candle that she held in her hand.

“Come on, hurry up!” her voice was now clear and hung in the air for a while before a gust of wind stole her words.

Her hands were cupped over the candle, as the sound of gravel under our feet became a loud crunch of foliage. It sounded like broken bones. Jason’s eyes strained into the distance, trying to see the horizon.

 

 

 

 

“So, Judie, where are we going?” He asked.

“There is this little cabin where all of the survival records are kept”

“Survival records?” Jason echoed. I quickly changed the subject.

“Hey mum, why didn’t we bring a torch?”

“Couldn’t find any batteries” she responded.

As we continued to walk Jason kept pestering mum with questions about the little cabin and all the records.

I felt so guilty, remembering the day that we moved into the house and I wandered to the brink of the forest and stumbled across the little cabin, that contained supposedly ‘secret’ information about people surviving traumatic experiments and hiding in the forest for safety. I didn’t tell Jason about the cabin though, he would have probably thought I was mad. So I kept it to myself. I had no idea what these little books were about, but every night I would sneak out and take one back up to the bed and read it, then another, and another. They were diaries or something, like journals, written about my house. But there were so many books in different handwriting all about the same thing, the same house. My house. How many people had lived in this house before me? And where did they all go?

“Here we are.” mum announced as she pushed against an old rotting door with red paint peeling off and a brass handle that was beginning to rust. It didn’t budge at first, but eventually, with enough force, the door burst open. Mum walked in first, leading the way around the small space, lighting other candles with hers until the little room could be seen clearly. Everything was covered in a fine layer of dust and cobwebs hung in corners. It felt strange to be back in this room. I guess because I could see everything in light for once. I never brought a torch when I came to collect a book, I was too scared I’d get caught. So I would be stumbled through the forest in darkness every night to the cabin. And my hands would lead me around the room until I found the bookshelf with all the books that were packed into it, my hands would glide across the frayed books, until there was a gap, where one might be missing, so I put that missing book back and traded it for another that my visionless eyes chose.

The room felt smaller, with Jason and mum in it as well.

We all fell silent. Waiting. But not quite sure what we were waiting for, so mum was the first to speak.

“These are diaries,” she announced.

“I know” I replied.

“How do you know?” she asked suspiciously. I paused for a second before explaining that I've read all of the books and that I've known about the cabin for ages. After my secret was revealed, she looked almost relieved, probably because she wouldn’t have to explain as much about the books. So, she turned to Jason.

“You on that same page too?”

“Yeah” Jason nodded.

“Ok then,” said, mum.

“I'm guessing you want to know what these books are keeping track of and who wrote them?” without giving us a chance to answer, she continued.

“A long time ago, an outsider delivered information about an unknown creature to the Mayor in my city. The details are classified. And no one really knows what it's about. So that’s when rumours started to spread about something that lurked in the dark and took the lives of innocent souls every night. rumours to heart and started to lock their doors and windows. But for those that left them unlocked, well, they were going to be in for a fright the next morning. The next day, shrieks of horror awoke the city, as some found dead rodents under their pillows, on kitchen counters, or even tied to ceiling fans. Each and every person stepped outside and gathered the central park, where they found a small patch of dead grass, which seemed to be decaying by the minute. Everyone was speechless, but as it grew, people began to step back, but one little boy stood there and watched as it expanded out, and as soon as it reached the tip of his shoe, it began to dissolve, along with his socks and then as it revealed his toes, he howled in pain as the flesh of his feet began to wither away. By the time it reached his knee, he passed out and collapsed to the ground where the strange grass was growing. Facedown to the ground, he began to blister and melt until his flesh and his skin had completely flaked away, reviling the bone dry remains of his skeleton.

As everyone continued to slowly step back, their eyes shifted from the boy’s remains, up to where an old tree loomed over his corps and the toxic grass.

“What’s that?” someone pointed out.

“Is that something hanging from the tree?”

Everyone followed his gaze to find an old rotting corpse.

“Mummy? Is that you?” asked a little girl from the crowd.

Without any further comment, she ran to the tree and began to climb. Her mother’s old corpse had toxic acid dripping from her fingertips, which then spoiled the grass. Her feet were bound tightly by a rope and then was tied to an overhanging branch. The crowd of people began to run away. Leaving the little girl and the rotting corpse. As the little girl began to climb, she yelped every so often as her hand slipped in the acidic goo, it burnt away at her flesh, but she kept climbing, desperate to reach her mother.

“Leave her!” Someone shouted as they turned around to see the girl halfway up the tree.

“She's already dead. Don’t touch her” The man began to run back towards her.

“NO!” He shouted, as her outstretched hand was about to grab ahold of her mum’s shoes.

“STOP!” But he couldn’t get any closer because of the deadly circle of dead grass was growing. With nothing to do but watch, a few other people turned around as well. Everyone waited in silence as her hand grasped her mum’s ankle. Her hand was around her mum’s foot for only a split second, before she recoiled away.

“Ouch” she whispered. She carefully examined her wounded hand which was raw and bloody. Even from a distance, you could see the skin on her hand, slowly folding back over the wound. Healing itself.

She instantly jumped out of the tree onto the dead grass, and for a moment, she stared at her shoes as they dissolved into nothing before she ran to a safe patch of ground where she watched the burners and blisters on her feet, disappear.

“How did you do that?” someone asked in ore, at her unexpected ability. She turned around to see the young man that had warned her not to go near her mother. He knelt down and looked her in the eye.

“How did you do that?” he repeated, but more forced this time.

“Do what?”

“That thing that you did with your hand and your feet… just then!”

“I don’t know?” She whimpered.

“Shhh it's ok, don’t cry, please don’t cry now, shhh” But her quiet sobbing drew the attention of many witnesses, they gathered around to see what the matter was. Then came the questions that demanded answers. The man took her hand in his, and 99977together they both ran aimlessly through the crowd of people and out of the central park. Away from all the commotion and unwanted attention.’’

Just as Judie was about to continue her story, Kara cut her off.

“Wait, wait, mum, hang on a second, who was the little girl? Who is she? ” Judie hesitated briefly before answering.

“Me.” she said.

 

Chapter 2

We stared in wonder and astonishment, not knowing what to say. “I don’t believe it.”

Jason nodded and agreed with me. “Cool story, Judie, but this was not worth getting up at 3:30 in the morning to listen to.

 

Mum looked mad. She actually scared me a little.

Just then there was a rapid rocking at the door.

“Shhh” Mum hissed.

“Both of you, hide under the bed and don’t make a noise.”

“What? Mum, who is that?”

“GO!” she demanded in a stage whisper, as she opened a drawer, revealing a handgun, it was shining in the flickering light of the candles, it was old but it hadn't been scathed and had been kept in good condition. Mum took it out, and from under the bed, I could see her slowly edging towards the door. Jason and I lay there silently, as the sound of light rain bounced off the timber roof. She shuffled closer and closer to the door, holding the handgun in her outstretched hand, while the other was on the door handle.

 

“Who’s there!” she said. No answer.

“I'm opening the door” She commented. She opened the door ajar, just enough to see through, and for a moment, there was silence. But just when the coast seemed clear, mum dropped her handgun and took a few steps back. Her hand covering her mouth, as tears rolled down her cheek.

“Adam?” she whispered.

“Is that you?” Mum opened her arms and a tall, lanky man hobbled into her arms.

“Who’s that?” asked Jason.

“I have to no idea” I confessed. They both continued hugging for several minutes until I had enough.

“I’m going out there,” I said.

“No!” demanded Jason.

“Judie told us to stay here”

“I don’t care, this is too weird, I need to know what's going on”

 

“I missed you soo much” mumbled mum as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I thought I’d never see you again”

It made me sick, seeing a stranger hug my mum. Just as I was about to crawl out the form under the bed, a loud ‘CRACK’ echoed from outside, and mum’s face dropped from happiness too utter fear. Her legs wobbled and gave way, her head lolled back and the man guided her to the floor as mum’s eyes fluttered in an unsteady focus. She whispered something in the man's ear before her head hit the floor.

“Judie?” he asked

“Mum!” I yelled as I frantically pulled myself out from my hiding place, with Jason close behind.

The stranger whipped his head around to look at us.

“Who are you!” I snapped. I glanced at Mum, noticing a single bullet puncture in her stomach “Did you shoot her?!” accused Jason. He was mad. He was scared, and so was I.

“Who are you? What do you want with Judie?” Jason threatened as he took a step towards the man, taking a grip of his collar. I looked at mum, her brown eyes were glazed with a lifelessness. Her brown wavy hair lay still over her shoulders and the dusty floorboards. Blood seeped from her back, soaking her hair. No breath, no pulse, nothing.

“She’s gone” I babbled in shock. It had all happened so fast, my vision was blurry with hot tears that ran down my cheeks witch I hurriedly wiped away.

“It wasn’t me!” Said the man.

“Judie and I…we’re just old friends.” I could see he was holding back tears. A moment of silence was disturbed by yet another crack of a gun, I shot a stare at the man, he looked just as confused.

“Jason, it wasn’t him. Let him go.” Jason took a second before releasing him.

“Then who was it?” he asked sternly. We both looked at the man kneeling before my dead mother. He jumped to his feet and rushed to the open door and locked it. He then reached for the handgun on the floor, reloaded it and peeked out the window.

“Under the bed. Now” He glanced at me with fear in his eyes.

“Why?” I said.

He was pacing up and down, mumbling something.

“Listen, kid, we don’t have much time, you have to trust me, it’s a long story, but I and Judie go back a long way, and there's unfinished business that needs to be done.”

“How do you know my mum?” his pacing footsteps come to a stop.

“You're Judie's kids?” he said proudly.

“Well, I am, my name’s Kara” I confessed.

“This is Jason, he’s an exchange student”

“Well, I’m Adam,” said the man. Jason eyed Adam, suspiciously.

“What did my mum say to you?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” said Adam.

“Just then, before she… died, what did she say to you?”

“I'll tell you later.” Adam sighed.

“Jason, can I have a word?” it seemed more like a command than a question, so he stepped aside to chat with me.

“What is it?” He asked.

“I’m not sure” I said.

“I have a feeling Adam is from mum’s story, what do you think?” He looked at me, surprised.

“Really?” He whispered.

“You think that this guy is the man that saved your mum from her made-up story?”

“Well, yeah, do you think there’s any other explanation.” Jason shrugged. Adam was sitting beside mum, and he gently shut her eyes with his fingertips.

“I am” Said Adam.

“What?!” Jason yelled.

“I knew it!” I said.

“Yes, I am the man who saved her.”He said dully,

“Who needs saving from some people who just want to ask some questions?” asked Jason.

“Judie, obviously,” remarked Adam.

“The answers to those questions could’ve revealed how Judie uses her powers.”

“Who would want to know how to use my mum’s powers?” I asked.

“Bad people,” he said.

“Very bad people.” I felt uneasy like I was guilty of something.

“What kind of powers did she `have?” I asked.

“Healing ones” replied Adam.

“So, all of this is true.”Confirmed Jason.

“Yep” sighed Adam. We all fell silent for a second, everyone avoiding each others eye contact, and every now and then gazing at the pool of blood that creeped out from underneath mum’s back and seeped into a crack into the floorboards. That’s when I noticed it, a trap door.

“I know how we can get out” I blurted. Before I knew it, we were gazing down into the darkness of the trapdoor.

“I’ll go first,” I said.

“Wait!” said Adam.

“We need to take your mother with us.”

“What?!” we both said.

“Us?” said Jason.

“No, you're not coming with us,” I demanded.

“Your right.” Sighed Adam.

“You're coming with me. Because before your mother died, she told me to take care of you two.”

“Fine,” I said.

“The person who was shooting at us works for some kind of secret agency,” he continued sternly.

“they are tracking down those who have unique powers, especially healing ones, if they find Judie’s body, they will take to their autopsy and try to find out how she uses her power and once they find the source, they will destroy it. That’s why we need to take her.”

“Wait, hold on,” interrupted Jason.

“You mean, there are other people out there who have powers?”

“Yes” sighed Adam, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and took out a crumpled piece of paper, with black ink scribbled all over it.

“What is that?” I ask as he hands it to me.

“It’s a list o fall the powers these people are known to have”

“What kind of people?” I ask as I read the list elements.

 

 

Life

Death

Growth

Communication

Protection

 

“Warlocks and witches, that’s what they're called.”

“My mother was a witch?” I say as I look up from the paper.

“Yes. And this is where these people would sneak out to hide, and these are their diaries.”

“What were they hiding from? And how do you know so much?”

“Hold on Kara, slow down, I’ll explain later, ok?”

 

 

Chapter 3

 

The ladder was slippery and moss and algae grew on the shadowed walls, the candle that I held in my hand flickered as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Something splattered on my head, I looked up to see blood leaking through the floorboards. I shuddered.

“All good down there?” echoed Adam.

“Yeah, all good. You guys can come down now too.” I heard it in my own voice, I was scared.

While I was waiting for them to come down, my feet slushed in the puddle of water on the ground, it reminded me of a sewer. Just then, my attention turned towards the candle as some wax dripped off onto my hand. It burnt, so I brushed the wax away, revealing a patch of blistered skin. I know it was quite dark down there, but I remember quite clearly, the peeling skin on my hand-folded back in place as if it was healing its- NO!

I thought no, no, no!

I turned around to see Adam and Jason, I stared at them with wide eyes.

“What?” said Jason.

“Nothing” I managed to rasp out. My mouth was dry, and my arms and legs were quivered for the rest of the day.

We walked in silence, the tunnel seemed to go on forever.  Adam began to lag behind, after all, he was a caring mum in his arms.

“Good fight back there” Echoed Jason.

“Thanks,” Adam said to himself as he replaying the scene in his head when he shot the shooter.

“why was he shooting at us?”

“He was sent by the mayor of the city to find your mother’s body that’s why we need to be careful not to leave behind any traces of evidence that we were here,  so they won't find us.”

we came across a fork in the tunnel, and we all slowed to a halt.

“Stay here,” he said as he gently lay mum on the floor.

“I want you to wait here while I check both tunnels. I don’t want you two getting hurt”.

Jason and I waited as we watched him peek down the left tunnel, then the right one. He ran back to us with a concerned look on his face.

“I’ll check one tunnel and you can check the other, once you get to the end, well meet back here and from then on we’ll decide what to do.” Adam scooped up mum in his arms, brushed some hair away from her eyes, smiled weakly, and began to lope down the left tunnel and disappear. Jason and I waited a bit before we started to wander down the Right tunnel.

“Hey Jason,” I said.

“Do you really believe that mum had healing powers?” he looked at me, confused.

“Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering I guess” I shrugged.

“Shhh” hissed Jason as his arm struck out in front of me.

“Did you hear that?” he whispered.

“What is it?!”

“I don’t know,” he said. Something stirred in the murky water that slushed at our ankles. We both looked around the walls of the underground passageway.

“Adam? Is that you?” I asked myself. I heard the sound of splashing of footsteps behind us increase. We had only walked a few paces into the right tunnel still, we felt scared all over again. Although I held the candle out to see Adam, it was barely making a difference, the curved grimy walls seemed to swallow the light.

The sound of footsteps was drowned out by a growl that echoed down the tunnel. Jason and I froze as we hear blood-curdling screams and the sound of thrashing limbs in the murky water. The struggle, of something being dragged on concrete, got louder and louder.

“Adam? Stop mucking around!” Jason demanded.

“Yeah, it's not funny,” I said. Although we tried our best to believe that it was all a joke, we still backed further and further into the tunnel. The water got deeper and deeper the more we backed away from the sound of a limp body being dragged. Something stirred in the water again, around my feet. A human skull bobbed up to the surface. I gasped and jumped back. Jason had seen it too. He took the candle from my quivering hand and stepped away, leaving me in the darkness.“Wait!” I called out, but it was too late, he was gone. I stood there in the darkness shivering in the still air.

 

Chapter 4

 

I felt bad leaving kara back in the darkness, but I had to do something. The candle's flame wavered in my hand as I took a shaky breath. The light reflected in the water. I searched for Adam, hoping that he had just fallen over or something, Kara stopped call for me after a while and eventually I found her by my side, searching with me.

The candles light was dull but I could make out shadows and shapes, that’s when I saw it, a large pair of feet, each about the size of a mattress. My heart dropped. There, standing right before us was a huge troll figure.  Long hair covered its sunken eyes. It stood still and motionless, until I wavered the candle in front of it and it went berserk, light, I thought, its afraid of light, it was holding an unconscious Adam in its large hand. With the other hand, it thrashed it wildly as it roared.

“Yeah, ” I said, trying to sound brave.

“be afraid!” he continued to flail his arm until he swooped his arm just inches above our heads. The candle went out. We were in darkness now. He must have swung his arm too fast because I heard a crashing sound. My eyes adjusted to the dark and I saw it turn around, dropping Adam, and running away in heavy strides that shook the ground. Without hesitation, I ran to Adam, but he jumped up before I got there. His eyes were glazed with fear. Without a word, he ran away from us towards and slumped figure a far way back. He scooped it up, and in an instant, I realized it was Judie. Now, we were all standing in a circle of silence that grew.

“What was that?!” croaked Kara, breaking the silence.

“Water troll, ” Adam echoed. We all turned out heads towards the smashed wall were it had hit it with its fist.

“I scared it off,” I say

“with the candle, but when the candle went out, it fled”

“No, you didn’t scare it,” said Adam

“that did” we looked at the stone wall, cracks grew and grew, and the puncture where the troll hit the wall was crumbling away. A gurgling sound of water rung in my ears. Then a gushing sound. The wall gave way, rocks and rubble burst out and water spurted out.

“RUN!!” screamed Adam.

My heart was pounding in my ears as I ran with Kara. Adam ran ahead of us with Judie slung over his shoulder. I looked back, and once again my heart sunk, a huge wave the size of a tsunami roared after us, it raced up the walls as it swirled closer and closer. My eyes were watering from the thought of drowning. All of a sudden, I stopped next to Adam who blankly stared at the dead end. This was it, this was the end, we all walked back to the wall and held each other, I was scared and angry. Adam held Judie, and Kara took a hold of my hand, I looked at her, for the last time, gosh she was beautiful. I smiled, we all huddled around Judie, holding each other. Any second now, I thought as I braced my self. I heard the crashing of water come down on us, and I waited. But nothing happened. I looked up to see a buzzing purple field around us, the water flowed over it, we were safe. Protection. I looked at my hands, they felt tingly and warm. I looked over at Kara who had her eyes tightly closed. And I watched the shield that was protecting us. I was protecting us. I glance at Adam who also had his eyes shut, hands still clutching Judy. I relax and realize that we are alive. The tinted purple shield flickered and went out like a light. The wave hit my chest like a tone of bricks, the wind escaped from my chest as I was tossed up against the wall. My wrist slammed against a rock and I could hear the crack echo through my skeleton as something hard hit my chin like a metal pole. I reached for something to grab onto but instead, something grabbed me. I grabbed the hand that was pulling me under, it was cold, colder than the water that surrounded me. I opened my eyes as the bubbles died down, and in the murky depths of the muddy water, I could see Kara swimming towards me. The last thing I saw was two pale hands grabbing ahold of my collar, my head lurched back as I was pulled to the surface.

I slowly become conscious of my surroundings as I wake from my unconsciousness. At first, I hear the strange noise of bird calls, then a familiar voice, Kara. My eyes flickered open Kara was sitting beside me with a worried expression on her face, Adam was nowhere to be seen. Water rushed up to my throat and I turned away from Kara and spewed it all up. Kara looked over at me and whispered: “you’re gonna be okay”. We were sitting on a large concrete slab, smack bang in the middle of the forest. A small drain sat next to Kara, the faint splashing of water came from underneath us. She scootched over and sat next to me, “you got that all up?” she asked. “yeah” I answer as I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, I sat up, we were both soaked and Kara shivered as a cold gust of wind blew her dark hair in spirals. I see Judy’s pale face and body submerge out of the small well of water, Adam’s worn hands pushing Judy up to the surface. Kara stands and helps drag the limp body of Judy gently towards the grass, she places her mother’s head gently onto the ground. She helped Adam out of the drain by pulling on his drenched flannel shirt. We sat silently as Adam explained how he had pushed himself against the top of the concrete tunnel and found the loose crate and if he hadn’t, we all would have drowned. We shivered in our wet clothes that felt like sheets of ice in the wind, but we had to keep moving, I could tell from the way Adam was looking at me.

We hauled each other up, now accepting that we would forever have to fend for each other side by side.

“We have to go back home” Kara broke the silence.  As we weaved aimlessly through the trees.

“I think its this way,” she said to herself.

“we forgot Jack” I remembered, we had forgotten Jack, Kara’s German Sheppard. Adam followed us to the edge of the forest, A golden light was rising behind the house which looked as if we had left it for years not hours, vines and plants strangled the house like python slowly killing its prey. The house seemed to emerge from the early morning fog, we wandered cautiously towards the front door, it was open ajar, Kara must have left it open. We all exchanged worried glances, but Kara kept her h