INITIATION ULTIMATE, Chapter 21.1:  Narrated by Tharseo

INITIATION ULTIMATE, Chapter 21.1: Narrated by Tharseo

A Chapter by A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)
"

It was only an accident...

"

Having consumed my supply of canned food, I’m roasting a rabbit over the fire pit when a crunching of leaves catches my attention.  I look over my shoulder to see Handal, who carries a bundle of fur over her shoulder.  “You shouldn’t be here,” I say immediately.  “Don’t you remember what I told you about the Creatorians?  And what they’ll do to you if you stay with me?”

“You know what, Tharseo?” Heaving the bundle of fur onto the ground and taking a seat beside me, she rolls her eyes.  “Eff the Creatorians.  I’m negatively impacting you by stealing your food anyways, so why should they care?”  Her fiery gaze falls onto the rabbit, and she licks her lips.  “Hmm, smells savory.  Can I have half?”

With a slight frown, I shrug.   “Well, that’s a diplomatic form of stealing… But okay.  I’m running out of food, so you’re going to have to find some for yourself for the next couple of days.”

“It’s actually not stealing at all,” Handal contradicts herself, flashing me an ever familiar glare.  With a sigh, she gives a careless kick toward her bundle of fur.  “Is this payment good enough for you?”

A sweet, sugary aroma fills the air.  Fresh raspberries, grapes, and blueberries spill onto the grass besides the fire pit.  “Where did you get those?” I exclaim, gesturing toward the rare fruits.

“If I told you, would I have anything to trade with you?  Let’s put it this way.  If you want to know, find it yourself.  I found my source two days ago, and I think I’m the first… You know, you’re not going to be the only one with a farm around here anymore…”

“I’ll take them.”   Ever since Unari passed on, his mini farm seemed to produce less and less until it ceased to produce at all.  Whatever he had been doing to it, he hadn’t shown me.   Anything not involving rabbits, canned food, or seaweed is greatly appreciated.  I grab at the bundle, but Handal kicks my hand away just as I’m about to snatch it.

Raising her eyebrows, she makes a tsking noise at my actions.  “No, not yet.  You have water?  Because my sources for that have disappeared, and I don’t really feel like drinking from a brown pond again…”

“You’re so…” I grumble through gritted teeth.  She wants half of my rabbit and water?  Do I really want these berries that much?

“I’m so what?” she coaxes, the accompanying smile as irritating the shrieking sound of metal on metal.  Her eyes challenge me as I strive to come up with an honest yet not too upsetting answer.

“Let’s just say that you’re right about the Creatorian thing.  They’re not going to kill you for hanging out with me,” I eventually reply, although not fully believing my words.  “Anyways, I already was planning on collecting more water today.  After we eat, I’ll show you how I purify it.”

We sit for a moment of tense silence, occasionally turning the spit that the rabbit stretches across.  “You act like the last guy who was here,” Handal comments unexpectedly.

Breathless, I turn to Handal.  “You knew Unari?” I ask, straining not to fall into a battering cycle of memories.  I have not fallen to prey to them in so long, and I can’t give in to them now.

Handal nods.   “Yeah, if you haven’t noticed, we live in a small world.  Unari would give me food during the first few days.   Like you, he’d often put on a hard front, but he took it a step further.  He’d begin waving his pistol at me and telling me to take the food quick, and then get off of his property.   Anyways, he introduced me to his friend Eleftheria, and she helped me get acquainted here for a little while before she was slaughtered.”

“Slaughtered?”

Handal looks away.  When she speaks, her voice is bitter.  “I didn’t see her die.  But she fought the Night Creatures " that’s what she called the Cantiko - and one night she never returned.   Thing is, when I found her on the beach, she didn’t look like she was bitten.  There was a hole through her stomach and chest, and she was curled up like she was trying to stop the bleeding.  If she was fighting the creatures and they overwhelmed her, she would have scratches and bites all over her body, wouldn’t she?  Not just a hole in her stomach?  It just doesn’t make sense… her injury.  So I’ve been on my own for a little less than a month, I think, but I’ve lost track of time.  What day is it?”

“March 2nd,” I say subconsciously, thinking about the time of this Eleftheria’s death.  She must have died near the time that Unari passed on.  I refuse to let myself think of the reason behind this coincidence, and instead focus on the beat of my racing heart.  Yet a little voice inside my brain whispers, your fault, your fault, your fault.


***


                “I can’t see a thing,” Handal gripes.  “It’s too dark.  Can’t you use your flashlight?  I’m certain you have one in your mansion back there,” she complains, pointing back toward Unari’s small house.

                “We’re almost there, I can see it.  We don’t want to attract attention from the Cantiko, do we?  I meant to get the water earlier, but our meal took a little too long.”  We continue walking, the sound of our feet crushing the underbrush filling the air.  As much company as this girl is, sometimes she can really get on my nerves.  If she hadn’t had me roast a second rabbit, we would have collected the water a long time ago, and now she has the audacity to complain.

                “Hey, watch where you’re going!”  Handal snaps abruptly.  I halt, barely colliding nose to bark with a tall oak tree, reminiscent of the one at Amor’s house.  The familiar texture of the rippled bark reminds me of my journeys to Old Sofos, and for a moment I’m caught in a state of nostalgia.  If only I could see the wise man, he’d be able to make everything right.  “Get with it, Thar!” Handal cries, interrupting my wistful thoughts.  “Why is it that you can see in the dark better than me, but you’re still crashing into things?”

                “Be quiet!” I demand frostily.  “The wall’s right there.  If there’s anything behind it, it’s bound to hear us.  Nobody guards us.”  

 

                Backs pressed against the wall, Handal and I listen as a volley of shooting picks up from the Initiations.  The faint yelps of dying Cantiko fill the air, a mournful and ghastly sound.  Handal shudders, and my respirations and heartbeat accelerate.  A singular male’s voice cascades over the action, shouting orders using a loudspeaker.  Every time the order of ‘Fire!’ is given, another torrent of shooting begins.  Finally, the order of ‘Fire at Will!’ is given, and the shooting and howls blend unappealingly in the air, a barrage of white noise.  “Come on,” I mouth to Handal, “we have to go back now.  It’s too late.  We’ll get killed.”

                “No, Tharseo, wait!” Handal cries as I start ahead.  I shoot her a quizzical look, and she shakes her head.  “Tell me you don’t hear that.  Tell me,” she pleads, her voice shaking.  All bravado has been burnt out of her, and now she stands with fear.  She’s not kidding this time.

                “What is it?” I ask sharply.

                “I think it’s a girl crying,” Handal murmurs faintly.  “Tell me you can’t hear her crying.”

                “What the hell are you..?”  Suddenly, I hear it.  It’s a high pitched cry drifting on the wind, alternating between a sobbing sound and various shrieks.  It sounds like a bawling human girl.  It really does.

                “You hear it?  Tharseo, we can’t just leave her…”

                “We have to get back to the house where it’s safe,” I insist, as a light rain begins, hastily evolving into a downpour.  “Come on!”

                “If you’re scared, stay here,” Handal states decidedly.  Without further warning, she darts away from me, sprinting towards the entrance onto the beach.  How rash can this girl possibly be?  Doesn’t she know that outside the walls, blood lusting predators are awaiting any human flesh that may stumble upon them? I race after Handal as fast as I can and tackle her against the wall.  “Don’t touch me!” she screams as I hold her back.

                “Think about it!” I shout, as lightning cracks over our heads.  “If there is a girl out there, she’s most likely dead!  And if she isn’t, you can’t just run out there like you’re invincible and save someone who is possibly being mauled by a dangerous animal!  Let’s... Let’s say you go out there.  What will you do once the creature sees you?  What will you do?  Do you even have a weapon?”  Crying, Handal reaches down to her boot and pulls out a knife, waving it at me.  “And you think that’s going to help you kill the creature before it kills you?  No!  We won’t have one dead girl on our hands... we’ll have two.  Do you really want that to happen?”

                “And what if there is no creature?” Handal sobs between tears.  “What if it’s just an injured girl on the beach?  Come on…  I have to go…  Someone is relying on me…  My value…”

                “Forget your value!  We’re going home.”

                “No!  I have the chance to make a difference, and you can't stop me.  I know the circumstances!  I know what can happen to me!  But you... Didn't you say your value is courage?  You have to take risks sometimes!  You should be helping me, not stopping me!" For a moment, Handal quiets, breathing.  A feeble hope worms its way into my mind; maybe she will find enough sense to follow me to safety.  

"What did life ever do to make you so pathetic?" Handal finally rasps, voice worn from her shouting.  Making a break for it, she takes another lunge towards the passageway.  My fist reflexively swings to stop her, to keep her from moving forward to what could possibly be her death.  I don't mean to punch her.  I just mean to catch her.  

Head flying backward into the rocks from the misguided punch, she hits the wall with a crack.  There's a brief moment where our startled eyes meet before she crumples into the mud, dead to the world.  It's then that my heart stops beating and the blood drains from my face.  What did I do?  What did I do?  What did I do?

 

A thundering boom rolls across the angry heavens.  I can’t change the past, can’t take back what I have done to this girl.  I do the only thing I can.  



© 2014 A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)


Author's Note

A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)
I should edit this chapter later, not satisfied with my work.

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Added on February 10, 2014
Last Updated on February 10, 2014
Tags: Initiation, Tharseo, Handal, accident, storms, trades, Cantiko

Initiation Ultimate


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A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)
A.M. Victoria (LostWritings)

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Once, when I was 12, I wrote a 365 page book. Then, it corrupted. So I rewrote it, and now it's even better than before. Some of my interests are archery, fencing, and the Civil Air Patrol. I als.. more..

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