Finding The Soul Bridge (The Soul Fire Saga Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Finding The Soul Bridge (The Soul Fire Saga Book 1)
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15

 

 

Thist drooled.

His entire left cheek was sticky from it. His mouth tasted bitter and he was weary from the nightmares.

“Why is this happening to me?” he groaned.

There was nobody nearby to hear him. He was alone in the cave, in pure darkness.

“It is your fate.”
rang a voice in his head.

“This?”

“Everything.”

“Who are you?” groaned Thist.

“I am you.”
said the voice.

“No”
said another voice
“He is lying”

“Who is lying?” asked Thist in a feeble whisper

“Destiny, it controls everybody's fate.”

“But I don't want to be controlled,” whimpered Thist, “I want to live my own life”

“You can,” said another voice, “You must make a choice. Choose to live or choose to be.”

Thist lay in a puddle of drool, cold, hungry, thirsty and alone. He had come to accept the voices and the madness as a part of his existence and had stopped trying to fight them.

“Make a choice” said a voice in his head. “Make a choice.”

“I choose to live my own life.” said Thist.

“Then live it.”

“How?” croaked Thist. “How?”

“Just do.”

“But I am being controlled.”

“You chose to be controlled.”

Thist shut his eyes and tried to ignore the voices, the voices faded until they sounded faint, like the humming of conversation in a tavern on a cold winter's night.

Calm came over him. Without speaking out loud Thist made a mental announcement to all the voices in his head, “I choose my own fate. I choose to take control over you all, all of you voices, whoever you are. I am the master now and none will speak until spoken to.”

Silence.

Thist sat up. He looked around for a light, a faint light in the distance beckoned to him. Thist strained his eyes, the light grew brighter and it was moving.

“Jem!” called Thist, his voice echoing in the cave.

“Where where where are are are you you you Thist Thist Thist Thist?” came Jem's voice. The echoing was so bad that the words blended into incoherence.

“This way.” whispered Thist. “Wait, stand still, I will come to you. I can see your light.”

Thist stood up, and staggered to where Jem's light was. He was stiff from lying on the cave floor. His one leg was numb, with pins and needles shooting up every time he took a step.

“How is your head?” asked Jem.

“Oh don't ask, how long was I asleep?” said Thist.

“How long did it feel?” asked Kelvin.

“Whoa!” exclaimed Thist. “You’re here too?”

“We have been looking for you for hours.” said Kelvin as he swatted Thist’s head.

“It was weird.” said Thist.  “It felt like minutes at times and at other times it felt like months.”

“The nightmares are there when I am awake too so I don't even know if I am asleep now or dreaming. Do you have any water with you? I am parched.”

“Sure.” said Jem, and handed him a water-skin. “Let’s go, Kelvin and I found an exit not far from here, about an hour's climb through the cave system.  It's sunny and warm outside. I think you’re going to love it.”

“Wait till you see what Jem found in the caves.” said Kelvin.

“I also found something.” said Thist.

“What?” asked Jem.

“Myself.” said Thist.

16

 

 

Kelvin sneezed.

The humidity in the cave was high. Sweat poured down their faces. The dust on the floor had been unsettled by a slight tremor. The cave walls, floor and ceiling had shaken momentarily and now all vision was blocked by a cloud of dust. The torch light scattered and reflected back against the dust particles making it impossible to see anything.

“Stand still.” ordered Kelvin. “Don’t move. Cover your face with your shirt; we will have to wait for the dust to settle.”

“I cannot see anything.” said Thist in a panic.

“Just close your eyes.” said Jem. “Pretend you are in a comfortable place, a place that you know.”

Thist’s breath was punctuated by coughing. Any noise made in the deep cave systems would echo on and on. Some sounds came back much later as if they were scattered deep into the caddels with nowhere to go, and returned as eerie sounds. The sound of the minor earthquake was still returning like deep rumbles from the underworld. Strange noises followed in the rumbling wake, like creaks and squeaks, lost voices and sloshing water, the odd clang and clatter of falling lumber supports, and what sounded like a large earthen jug falling and crashing with more of a dull thud and flying shards.

“What a curious sound?” whispered Jem. “I thought I heard wrong but the echoes return like a grim reminder, the clay pot or whatever broke has already died a complete death but we keep hearing it over and over again.”

“You know what?” said Kelvin. “That tremor has never happened before in hundreds of years, why now?”

“How can you tell?” asked Thist.

“The jug that shattered.” explained Kelvin. “It wasn’t broken before.”

“So what?” asked Thist.

“So!” explained Kelvin with his shirt over his face “If there was a quake or tremor like that before then it would have broken the clay item then and it wouldn’t break now. Why would it break now?”

“Coincidence.” said Jem.

“No.” said Thist, understanding having dawned on him. “We caused this with our being here.”

The boys stood in the cave passage with shirts over their faces and eyes closed. The dust was making sparks on the torch flames and Jem had suggested that they put them all out and relight them later.

“The longer we wait,” said Jem between coughing. “The more dust will settle and I am scared that the dust will explode, I’ve heard that it could happen.”

“Neat trick if you can pull it off.” said Kelvin.

The trio sat down on the cold stone. The darkness was complete, but there was no desire for sleep or loitering. They were just waiting for dust to settle, which they could no longer see or gauge since their torches were out. The entire
world fell silent around them. For a long while all they could hear was their own laboured breath through their sweat soaked shirts.

A rumbling sound echoed from the depths of the caves, the ground didn’t tremble then but the noise was deep and pure like large rocks falling onto hard cave floor and then rolling down a steep incline and slamming against the wall. The three boys sat stiff with fear, disorientated and panic stricken. The echoes came up from the depths but ran along the long passages to return to them from all sides. Doubt set in, disbelief and desperation courted each other in a sick dance of emotions.

“Was that an echo?” asked Thist, “Or has the cave mouth fallen in?”

“Shut up!” scolded Kelvin. “Listen.”

The three sat and listened to the rumbling of the echoes. There was another sound intertwined with the echoes of falling rock, different from the sound of rock fall.

“What is that?” said Jem.

“Quiet!” said Kelvin. “Just listen, just shut up and listen.”

A long time passed. The rumbling of rock fall echoes subsided, and the familiar “doy-oy-oy, doy-oy-oy” of water dripping into water like a ticking water clock returned.

“Why is there dripping now?” asked Thist.

“The ceilings of these caves have split themselves some new cracks and water is starting to seep through them.”

“So we might choke to death on this black dust!” said Jem in a panicked tone. “Or we could drown or die of starvation with no way out.”

“Calm down!” said Kelvin in a stern whisper as he tried not to make echoes.

“The best thing we can do now is to keep calm. No amount of speculation or panic is going to solve or prove anything. I think the bottom of the caves has collapsed somewhat but the echoes made it sound worse.”

“I swear!” said Thist in a clear and unmistakable tone. “ I will never…” he paused for effect, “…never come back to this forsaken, smelly, dank, lonely, dusty, dark and cold cave system, you two are my witnesses, there is no way I am coming back to this place, not for any amount of gold or…”

Another rumble sounded in the distance; different this time, like a bull kicking at the gate posts of its pen. The echoes ran up from the depths of the cave in bangs and clatters.

“Light the torches!” said Kelvin in a stern shout-whisper. “Keep your voices down, one torch each, no sparing. We need to make time, no time for mucking about now!”

A deep sense of urgency caused Jem to fumble with the flint.

“Hurry up you imbecile.” said Kelvin.

“What the hell was that sound?” asked Jem. “There is something alive down here.”

“I don’t know, stop fumbling and light the damn torches.” said Kelvin. “Focus on what you have to do. Thist where are you? Bring your torch.”

The sparks that struck from the flint momentarily lit up the room so as to make out silhouetted details. From the sparks Kelvin could see Thist standing in the passage with his mouth hanging open like a lost retarded boy.

“Thist! Thist, focus Thist, where is your mind Jem? Bring the torch, Thist has zoned out again.”

Jem brought the first lit torch. It smelled putrid from the old torch oil and flickered in the dust.  The three boys were covered in a thin layer of black dust that made them look comical but filthy. Thist was now standing in the torchlight swaying in and out of balance, his eyes looked vacant but tearing. Kelvin gave him a solid slap on the left cheek, just a little harder than he intended and accidently hit Thist in the eye with his thumb.

Thist stumbled backward and fell onto his back. The slap had brought him clear out of a dreaming trance and back into the real world. He coughed and held his left hand over his eye.

“Thist!” Kelvin shouted, disregarding his previous warning to whisper. “Get up and get moving. There is something in these caves, and I don’t want to find out what it is! Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Thist was on his feet, his left hand cupping his eye. Jem lit a torch for him and forced it into his hand. “Let’s pick up the pace, shall we?”

“Yes, pace up!” said Kelvin in a weak imitation of the old blacksmith’s voice.

The joke was lost on the other two boys as the sense of urgency drove them onward and upward with the cave passage. Every few minutes the strange rumble could be heard from the depths of the cave, fuelling their fear.

“What can that be?” asked Jem as they hastened along the dim cave tunnel.

All Kelvin could muster was denial. “Sheesh! I don’t know what that could be. It sounds alive, but I don’t know what could be living in this place.”

“Thist!” called Jem

“What?” answered Thist.

“I thought you had found yourself, what’s with the zoning out back there again.”

“The voices.” said Thist. “It’s as if they all heard the noises as well and started chattering all at once.”

“The voices in your head you mean.” said Jem.

“Yes, they all seem to agree about one thing.”

“What?” asked Kelvin.

“That it’s bad.” said Thist.

“Now these voices,” asked Jem, “are they all you?”

“No,” said Thist “none of them are me, only I am me.”

“How can you know that for sure?” asked Jem.

“Well, many of them are girl voices and they talk to each other about things that I don’t understand or care about.”

Kelvin started laughing. “That is profound. The voices in your head are girls! That’s really funny.”

Thist was in a higher spirit, the slap to the face and the good laughter had infused him with energy and the mood changed from desperate-flight to jovial-in-a-hurry.

“What about that strange thing that you found?” asked Thist.

“I didn’t say that it was strange.” said Jem. “We are coming up on it in a moment.”

“What in this place isn’t strange?” asked Thist.

“Fair enough,” answered Jem, “it’s around the next corner.”

The three slowed down as they approached the curve in the cave wall. The three torch lights throwing eerie shadows that danced from side to side and lighting up the subject in question.

“A door!” exclaimed Thist. His eyes growing wide with wonder. “Did you guys open it?”

“No.” said Kelvin. “We were too busy looking for a lost friend, remember? We should shackle you when you sleep, we lost nearly a day and you could have died.”

“Yes.” mumbled Thist as he stared at the stone door. “I’m sorry about that.”

The door was carved from granite and it was unclear how it would open. It looked more like an ornate door shaped carving, as tall as any normal door but three times as wide and round on the top. The stone was engraved and looked like something official and precious should belong behind the door. Thist ran his hands over the door causing a cascade of dust to fall out of the engravings. The picture on the stone door became clearer as some of the dust and cobwebs were removed. In the centre of the door was a large carving of a gemstone, the size of a man’s head, but only half of it, as if the gem was divided. Many lines were drawn from the centre piece and flowed to the edges of the door like strings and each string was held by a person kneeling. Thist put his hands to his temples and then in a stern voice Thist said “Shut up you voices just shut up.”

“Gee Kelvin!” exclaimed Jem. “How hard did you slap him?”

“The voices.” said Thist. “They are making a noise about this cave and about this door. And I have a feeling that the further we get from this door the happier they will be.”

“The three of us both.” mumbled Kelvin as he glanced back the way they had come. The sound of a beast trying to break free from its cage was becoming urgent “Let’s get on out of here.”

The three boys, who were distracted by the strangeness of the door in the cave, picked up their pace and made for the exit. The exit was still a brisk climb from their vantage point but for the first time Thist could see light emanating from far ahead. A light breeze graced them and they knew that as long as no other incidents happened that they would be out of the cave system in several minutes.

Thist scrambled to the head of the group and laid his feet firmly, one in front of the next and increased his stride. None of the three friends said anything as they made their way to the exit.

The trio had to crawl the last few yards out of the cave mouth as it seemed to have collapsed somewhat and ivy had overgrown the entrance a little. As Jem burst forth from the caves, he let out a joyous shout causing some birds nearby to startle and scatter from the trees. The air was fresh like the hours following hard rain. The sun was hot on their faces as they stood in the fresh open air. Thist raised his arms to the sun to catch as much of it as they could in one go. It seemed brighter than before as he was accustomed to the gloom in the cave, and he squinted in the glare while smiling broadly.

“Another promise.” said Thist. “I will never take fresh air or sunshine for granted. Three days in that forsaken cave system was torture.”

The voices were quiet.

BOOK: Finding The Soul Bridge (The Soul Fire Saga Book 1)
10.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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