Chapter 15: Divided We Fall Part 3
Silence. Sweet, sweet silence. For the longest time, all that we ever wanted was someone else to talk to, but now that we had it we just wanted them to stop. We basked in the lack of noise for the first few minutes, but eventually, it got eerie. The chill of winter had driven insects and birds and animals away, so no noise drifted through the air at all. Our ears rang. Weariness began to set in. Usually, this was the point we would try to make some sort of small talk, but there was no one left to talk to. What we said about living in the wild by ourself for a time was very true, but the season of being near others had softened us.
We were pathetic now.
We shook our head, a soft growl rising in our throat. We had to prove we could survive without them. We could survive without them... right? Of course, the scoffing reply echoed through our mind. You're being ridiculous with your... self-doubt. You know very well you don't need them to survive. They need you. When they realize that... they'll come crawling back.
For a reason that had nothing to do with being cold, we shivered. Where the dark thoughts had come from was far beyond our knowledge. We thought briefly back to the memories of playing in the white, powdery snow and vaguely remembered being innocent. Time had been cruel to us, though, so by now, this innocence had long since fled us. Yes, but that innocence has given way to strength... and speed... your intelligence can use some work though.
Ah, gee, thanks, insulted by my own mind. Flattered.
Are you really so gullible?
We closed our eyes and laughed lightly, wryly. Alone for barely an hour and we had already resorted to arguing with ourself? What was the point? Eyes still closed, we bared our teeth. We just need to get our mind off of... things. Telling ourself this was no hardship, but for some reason standing up seemed a much harder task than it used to be.
Relax. Go out. Get a breath of fresh air. Clear your mind.
We took a moment to recompose ourself, flexing and unflexing our claws in an attempt to relieve some of the tension built up in them. We couldn't stop working. We could hardly believe how cold it had suddenly gotten. We need fire- or warmth of some kind. We tried to keep from shivering as we slowly dragged our gaze across the snowy and barren landscape. Yes. Out. Out for supplies and... to clear your mind. We briefly thought of the tree guard followed by the bout of insanity, and we dropped our gaze to our feet. Were we really strong enough to stay out here ourself? It hadn't even been a week before we had been crippled by that blasted tree monster, and we didn't have any clue as to how long it took for insanity to kick in. But hadn't they taken care of us both of those times? Weren't they really the reason we were still alive?
Of course not, that slightly familiar voice scoffed. You survived by yourself... well, not quite by yourself.
What do you mean?
We had each other, didn't we?
A chill, more fierce than any other chill we had encountered, racked through our body. Is... is that who you are?
Oh. As though the realization drained us of our remaining energy, we completely gave up the idea of going out and opted to just let our knees buckle right there. The voice scoffed again.
You know, lying there isn't going to do anything, except for maybe get both of us killed. And it'd be a shame if that happened.
We slowly picked ourself up again, listening intently for the voice to speak up again but to no avail. It must have been a figment of our imagination. Again. Argh, we won't be able to do anything if we fell insane again.
We say as though it's a disease, which it might as well be now. Without thinking about it, we began to move forward, towards the forest. We need to build something to keep us warm and... our stomach growled. We need food too... can you help us with that?
Part of us wanted to see if that was all imagined, and judging by the lack of response, it probably was. We forced ourself to raise our chin and puff out our chest a little bit. As though if we convinced ourself that we were strong without them we would be.
We weren't sure exactly how long we had been walking before we had really started to freeze. Our fingers were numb, and the numbness was quickly spreading to our hands and legs. We paused for a moment to breathe warm air into our palms before squinting and looking around. Our mind had been so focused on the freezing air that we didn't even consider where we were going, and it was pretty safe to say we were totally lost. Confused, we turned on our heel to consider the surrounding area. Over there it appears the forest thins out... maybe we could figure out where we are better where we can see better. Deciding this was the best course of action- admittedly because it was the only one we could think of- we made our way towards the thinner trees.
Much like our encounter with the tree guard and Wilson's encounter with the Bearger, we didn't pay attention to the obvious signs ahead of us. The sudden stench, for one, should have been a clear sign not to go that way, but our mind was so much in the distance that we didn't comprehend it until we were face-to-face with one of the scariest things we had ever seen.
Lots of skeletons.
Almost every single one a human skeleton.
We instantly recoiled, all previous thoughts fleeing our mind in favor of sheer terror. Those were obviously human skeletons, the bones stripped clean of any flesh but the stench of decay was still there. For some reason, though, the skeletons themselves were not what scared us the most. It was the idea that there had been others here, and they failed. We were frozen. Part of us wanted to run for the hills, get away from this horrid place as fast as possible. The other half of us- the... 'better half'... of us- was deeply curious as to what struck these other survivors down.
We edged closer to the sight. It appeared there were two full skeletons, both locked in positions of agony, and a scattering of bones that suggested at least another that had been smashed by something. Feeling a little sick, we forced ourself to examine the area even closer, and our eyes caught on something we hadn't seen previously. One of the mossy boulders on the forest floor was, in fact, not a boulder. It appeared that was due to its grayed out color and very mossy covering, but further inspection revealed it to be another skeleton, this one obviously not human. Just the head was thrice our size, and just the sight of it brought back a familiar pain of having a clouded mind and aching head.
No no no not doing this again. Panic was trying to settle in, but we forced ourself to back away. Our legs didn't want to move, partially from being paralyzed by fear and partially since the cold had stripped them of much sensation. It was almost unexpected when the terrified signals from our head finally reached the rest of our body and we fled as fast as our legs could possibly move. Trying to take shallow breaths while still getting enough air was difficult enough, let alone the added difficulty of keeping our vision straight ahead. We saw the land fall away in front of us just as our energy began to fail. Just over this hill... just over this hill and we can relax.
Turns out it wasn't a hill.
The second we reached the crest of it, we noticed our mistake and slowed to a halt. There was no land there. Just like every other time we had run as fast as possible, we had ended face-to-face with the ocean.
How are we supposed to run if there's always a cliff in the way!? We took a step back, our senses gradually slowing to normal speed. The waves crashing against the rocky cliff seemed to whisper our name, but before we could get any farther back when a hand rested against our back. We were in mid turn to see who it was- perhaps Wilson or WX came back for us!-
Only for that very hand to push us forward.
A shout had already erupted from our mouth and the rocks echoed with it by the time we figured out exactly what had happened.
The next second we hit the water belly-first.
It certainly wasn't the first time we had gone into the ocean- we thought of the Deerclops with a shiver- but it seemed much more shocking this time around, probably due to the fact that tiny sheets of ice had began to freeze bits of water and hitting them drove needle-sharp icicles into our skin. On our own for less than a day... the tiny voice in the back of our head chimed. And already the battle has been lost.
We weren't sure how long it had been before we felt something solid beneath us.
We weren't certain how we had survived, nor what those voices in the background were saying let alone who they belonged to...
It wasn't until a claw sat on our shoulder for a good minute until we realized we weren't dead.
Dripping and shivering violently as the water clinging to our fur began to freeze into clumps, we barely managed to open our eyes to glare at the creature that dare disturb our sleep.
It was a spider.
Just... an ordinary spider... that for some reason made the shivers even more violent and our breath catch in our throat. The spider graced us with a pleasantly vicious grin, and waited until we were fully aware again to speak.
“You've been out for quite awhile,” it said in a sneering tone. “Too much water for you?”
“Who... who are you?”
“A friend! An acquaintance! A-well, should I drop the act?” The spider slowly paced around us, examining every dripping fur, ever healed over scar across our body. “I'm part of you, my friend. I'm... sure, you haven't forgotten me.”
Our mind still wasn't working the best, and it rolled its eyes at our obviously clueless look. “Have you forgotten already?”
“What do you want from me?” I rasped.
“A lot of things, but you don't understand. I'm here to help you.” Something tinted our senses, something strong and metallic and warm, but when we turned to look at it, it reached out its claw and pressed it against our cheek to stop us from doing so. “Your.... 'friends'... will be experiencing something similar, so don't be too scared, human.” It stepped away, silencing itself as it probably waited for us to turn and see the thing it stopped us from seeing the first time.
As if the day hadn't been terrifying enough, the sight was somehow even more unexpected and... horrible... then all of the others of that day.
Two items were on the ground in front of us: A bloody horn and a tooth sitting in a rivulet of some glowing orange liquid, possibly lava.
And there were two bodies beyond them.
A robot's and a scientist's.
The claw rested on our back, digging slightly into our flesh as to appear as though it was offering comfort but truly hurting us, but we didn't even feel the pain. We were too busy staring at those two bodies.
The horn was in front of WX's. A large hole had been torn out of the robot's torso. If the wound had been any bigger, he would have been in danger of being split in half by the severity of it.
The tooth was in front of Wilson's. A set of three bloody claw marks had been ripped down his chest, his clothing stained an even darker red and blood still pulsed from it.
We held our head as tears threatened to spill into our vision. Stop it.. you're stronger than that. They mean nothing to you.
But we can't... no...
"They're not dead," I whispered, hoping to hear the spider agree to confirm it, but the claw simply withdrew and when we risked a glance at it, it appeared to simply shrug.
"I would know as much as you, human." It raised another one of its front claws, examining it just as blood from nowhere began to drip down it. "But you'd better find them quickly, or else... heh, well, I'm not completely sure. All I know..." It paused for a moment, as though trying to think or trying to create tension. "Is that either way, you and I will have fun together... forever."