Cale rips off his mask and sharply inhales. “Fuck.” Lillith bends down and pats sand off of him, she notices his hands and walks away. Cale slowly catches his breath and stands up, he shakes the sand off of him like a wet dog. There is another person in his state sitting on a log stool, the innkeeper tending to them with water and a towel. Lillith comes back with a bucket of water and a few of his shirts.
“Sit.” She calmly directs, he moves over to a stool and takes his backpack off. He tries to remove his jacket but hisses from the sand in his hands. He finally looks at them, they are a bloody mess. Sand still sat within his countless wounds. He sits down and Lillith puts the bucket in front of him. He rinses his mouth, spitting out sandy water then submerges his hands. Sand floats out of the wounds. He gently rubs his hands to remove the stubborn pieces.
“There are people still stuck out there... It fucking came out of nowhere. Damnit.” Cale rubs his hands harder.
“Did you see anyone else running here?”
“Just two people. That's one of them -” Cale nods in the direction of the other survivor. “- and the other… I heard a scream from their direction, then it cut off. I don’t... think they’re coming.” Lillith’s head sinks and she tears a shirt into strips. Cale removes his hands from the water, she dries them with one shirt before wrapping them with the strips.
“Thank you. Looks like the other girl had gloves.” They look over to the other victim as she undresses from her sandy layer. Lillith helps Cale do the same. She brushes the sand out of his hair and shakes his jacket. As Cale sits down feeling more sand-free, the innkeeper comes over with a cup.
“Here, a cold fruit drink.” The aging man says handing over a wooden cup to Cale.
“Thanks.” He takes it then sips from it. Feeling some sand move down his throat, he coughs.
“Did you see anyone else out there? Coming here?” The keeper’s worried eyes stare intently at Cale’s. He’s waiting for someone.
“I did. There were two. One of them is the girl sitting there and another I heard scream once the sand hits us. I think they fell.” The man’s expression changes to surprise. He then quickly walks over to a closet and begins to put a jacket on. Lillith jumps to her feet.
“You can’t go out there, you can see Cale’s hands. You’ll get lost and the sand will kill you!”
“I have to! He’s my son. I have to save him!” The man finishes zipping his jacket and begins to put a mask on.
“All you can do is guide him! Call out to him like I called out to Cale.” He stops, finally facing the reality of his options and takes the mask off. He opens the front door and a pale wall visits him. It is loud. So loud. He begins to yell.
The winds lasted 2 hours, throughout the whole time the structure in the cave creaked and the soundscape was a mixture of wind raging and a father shouting. Cale cleaned his clothes of the sand and Lillith returned to their room. Cale asked the other survivor where she was going.
“North.” She said, her voice wobbly. Cale asked her if she was okay but there was no reply. Her eyes had closed, he waited a moment before returning to his clothes. She was sitting in a wooden lounge chair probably made by the innkeeper, maybe with his son. Cale observed her while he de-sanded his clothes. Her eyes were closed most of the time, but on occasion she would shudder or nearly lunge out of the chair before looking around and calming down. Cale pitied her. He imagined what other trauma she'd been through. That was afterall the greatest resource on the planet.
When Cale finished he went to the room too, to get away from the shouting. Lillith was sitting on a bamboo chair cross-legged, eyes closed. He knew she would not respond to any prompts. She was here, and not here. So he plopped himself on the bed and closed his eyes too. His brain eventually tuned out the shouting and fell into a light slumber.
“Cale, sweetheart. It’s time to wake up.” A gentle hand lay on his arm shaking him softly. His eyes open, heavy from sleep and a shadow greets him. He knows who this shadow is. Groggily he confirms he’s awake and sits upright in his rope bed. The woman shaped shadow walks toward a kitchen within the same room. He moves over to the table and sits upon a simple chair, the shadow places a plate in front of him. As he begins eating, he looks to a desk where another shadow sits, this one a man. Cale feels a warmth inside of him, the feeling of home. The man gets up and smiles at Cale, he walks over to the other shadow to share a kiss. Then walks up to Cale and hugs him tight and sits next to him. The woman too sits down, with a wooden box that she opens and sighs. She takes a small object out and swallows it, followed by water. The man places a hand on her shoulder and says “Don’t worry, we’ll find more—”
The warmth dies, the shadows fade and darkness consumes his view. A vivid picture of his mother now appears in front of him as she lies on the ground. A spark ignites his core, a bubbling rage takes over and he begins to yell as tears stream down his face. He breaks into a sprint towards his mother, yet never reaches any closer.. A hand grabs his shoulder and yanks him backward, the sensation of falling overwhelms him. He enacts the movements to catch himself but after a blink his eyes are met with a ceiling softly illuminated and a firmness to his back, he has fallen.
“A bad dream?” Lillith softly says.
“Yeah” Adrenaline still in his system, he sits up.
“Was it your Mother..? Want to talk about it?”
“No, there’s no point talking about it. I left the bag out there by the way.”
“Yeah, I noticed. We'll have to find it when the winds die down.” Lillith replies still in her soft voice.
The shouting continued all throughout the winds and once it stopped. Lillith and Cale left their room to find out why. When they reached the door to the pale wall, it was closed and the innkeeper was no longer there. The sound of the winds were gone, it was over. They both put their boots on and walked through where the pale wall once was. The sun blazed harder than it did before, it was reaching mid-day. In the distance they saw the father wandering with quick steps. Cale began retreading his path, at least what he thought was his path. Lillith walked a few meters to his side to broaden their sweeping eyes. They trudged upon the sand for a while, they heard shouts from over the hill where the bazaar once stood. The innkeeper solemnly walked over to Cale.
“Where did you hear him?” He said staring sorrowfully into Cale’s eyes.
“I was running from there.” Cale pointed toward the hill and moved his hand along his general trajectory. “When I was about there, I heard the scream to the left of me. He’s probably in this vicinity.” Spreading his arms in an angle he motions the direction. As soon as the innkeeper saw, he embarked with long and strong strides.
“I found it.” Lillith says to Cale’s back, he turns around and smiles sadly.
“That’s good.” He says with relief and motions to Lillith to give him the bag. “I’m going to help him look for his son.”
“Okay, I will too.” She says handing him the bag.
They searched for what felt like hours, the sun burning their souls, seemed to slow time to a crawl. Their mouths were open and let out short quick breaths. Lillith began to feel light headed, stopped and looked at the other two. Over the search their movements began to get sloppy and slow. She drank a litre of water, but only nausea came. She made her way to Cale.
“Hey, we need to get out of the sun. We’re going to get heatstroke.”
“Yeah... I can feel it. I feel like shit. We have to get the innkeeper inside too.” They made their way to the father. Cale spoke. “We have to get out of the sun. It’s too dangerous, it's going to kill us.”
“No no no no no. We have to find him, I’ll keep going.” Cale grabbed the man.
“You can’t.” The man tried to shove Cale, it slipped right off.
“Here drink.” Lillith said, offering the man water. Cale let go, the man took it and drank. He began to slowly weep as he swallowed the bottle. When he finished, he handed it back and wiped his tears.
In the shade of the cave, they waited for the deadly sun to pass. In silent rooms, they sat, laid, and stood with their thoughts. Ones of life, ones of death, and always of the futures that were stolen from them. The sounds of a sole guitar brought their minds together. A greying man sat in a wooden chair, a chair that he and his son had built. The man sang.
We always meet by chance of fate:
Lovers, friends, brothers, sons.
This world was our home.
But times drags us along,
slowly towards infinity.
And so they have all gone.
This world of darkness and despair,
I see without my lens of hope.
I lost it today and now,
I can’t feel at home in this world.
The man strummed his guitar for moments after. Three others sat in the room.
”My name is Luca. Thank you for helping me.” Luca sadly smiled at Cale and Lillith. They tried to smile too.
”I’m Lillith and he’s Cale. We know how it feels... to lose someone.”
”Yes.” Luca says looking towards the window.
The sun was setting when Luca found a blue backpack. He was yelling and digging into sand with his hands. Cale had strapped two shovels to his backpack when they began their second search. He now ran towards the man on his knees. Their arms screamed by the time they pulled the son out. The sand kept pulling him deeper. They saw his damaged arms before seeing his maskless face. He must have lost his footing, tumbled and too exhausted to fight any more, died. His shriek was his last attempt at life and it kept ringing through Cale’s mind, as he sank into the sand hugging the body to free it. His father with a dead expression and Lillith helped by shoveling. Once the body was freed, then too, the father let his emotions free. Crying, hugging, whining and yelling, they carried that body back to his home.
CHAPTER TWO WIP
Written by aavagames.itch.io
There are links inside of the text sometimes.
Thanks for reading.
Background image source (https://images.nasa.gov/details-s44-79-046)