Who Will Survive?

Hiya, Welcome back to PEP! Here’s the next excerpt of Cheryl’s Adventure. Starting Monday, I’ll return to regular writing pieces but I may continue her story on Fridays as a break from my novel for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. We’ll see… Let me know what ya’ll want.

He dived down, just spotting Cheryl’s honey blond hair in the dim water.
Struggling to breath, he managed to reach Cheryl and, grasping her arm tightly, dragged her back to the surface. As they broke through the surface, he began gasping for breath and she began coughing.
Just then, X came back up from where he’d been searching the water for Izzy, “Anyone see Izzy?”
They all shook their heads, she wasn’t on the opposite shore, floating in the water with them, nor could anyone see them below.
“Sam, Cheryl, did you see her go down with either of you?”
They both shook their heads and X, frown on his face, “Come on, we need to get out of this water. While that thing apparently couldn’t get through the waterfall, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something else in the water on this side.”
“Something else that got Izzy.”
“That’d be my guess.”
As they swam for shore, Scott and Kenny helping Sam and Cheryl respectively, Nica and Lori called Izzy’s name, hoping she’d answer. Hoping that perhaps she’d made it shore and had, being the adventurous sort she was, decided to enter the cave to check it out before them. But she never answered, and they had to accept the fact that she’d disappeared in the water.
Cheryl’s chest was heavy, the first victim and they weren’t even in the cave yet, beginning the rituals. How many of them would survive this? For the first time since she’d translated the words, she was beginning to regret having decided to help X with this quest for his family fortune.
Once they were all out of the water and standing on their own feet, they gazed at the foreboding entrance to the cave.
X asked, “We still want to do this?”
They all hesitated before Lori answered, “Yes. We have to now or Izzy’s loss will have been for nothing.”
No one could argue with that point so, X leading the way followed by Cheryl, they entered the cave. None of them knew it would be the last time some of them would be seen alive.

As they entered, before Kenny could ask about the flashlights in the now soaked backpacks, torches suddenly flickered on.
“That’s spooky.”
“Someone knows we’re here.”
“Or rather, something.”
Kenny added, “Well, it’s helpful. It lets us save the flashlights, provided they still work, for later, preserving their batteries.”
“They should still work. I wanted to be prepared for anything, so I bought us waterproof backpacks.”
Lori came to a dead stop.
“What is it, Lori?”
“What did Izzy have in her backpack?”
They all paused, struggling to remember before Scott cursed.
“She had half our food supply!”
“We’re going to starve to death!”
“No, no, we’re not. We’ll make it out of here and be fine.”
“What are we supposed to eat in the meantime?”
X ended the panic, “We’ll have to carefully monitor how much food we have and how often. Cheryl, you said there was another way back after we’re done, right? Other than going back through the jungle?”
She nodded, “The book wasn’t 100% clear but after the quest is complete, we return to the village in a faster way than going back through the jungle.”
“Alright, then. We just have to complete the ritual and we’ll be fine.”
The other teens were still unsure but realized there was no point in debating, it was time to just continue forward.
They headed down the tunnel until it suddenly opened into a large cavern that appeared to have no exit.
Spreading out, they searched the walls for their next destination but there were no doors.
“Now what?”
The same torches had lit up, but Cheryl wondered if perhaps they were still missing something.
She pulled a flashlight out of her backpack, flip the switch and thankfully it fired right up. She shone it on the walls before looking at the floor.
The others had settled on the floor, unsure of what to do next and comfortable in letting Cheryl figure it out since she was the one that had gotten them here.
They joined her around the center of the room where she’d uncovered a diagram on the floor.
“This must be the first ritual. There, it’s more of the language.”
Cheryl rifled through her backpack, “I decided, just in case, to bring the book I used the most in my translations.”
“Thank goodness for that!”
Settling down around the diagram, they took a break while Cheryl worked to translate what they were to do with this and what would happen.
“Got it. Anyone have a knife?”
Scott pulled one out of his backpack.
“Give it to X. Because this is your family, you have to begin the ritual process by dropping enough of your blood in the center of the star to make them glow.”
X held up his hand, “So I just slice my hand and bleed, that’s it?”
As he started to do so, Cheryl grabbed his wrist, “Are you nuts! Not only does the palm of your hand have multiple nerves, making it the most painful place to cut, but then we’ll have to bandage it and you’ll lose most of the use of that hand for weeks. No, just a cut on your finger should do it.”
X nodded his head and proceeded to just make a small paper-like cut on his finger.
Just a few drops later, the star began glowing and he stemmed the bleeding. As Lori bandaged his finger, Scott stuck the knife back in his backpack. Sam noticed that Scott didn’t clean the blade but didn’t say anything. After having nearly lost each other before this quest truly began, he wasn’t about to argue any precautions Scott was taking.
As the star grew brighter and brighter, the cavern began shaking.
“This is supposed to happen.”
“What’s about to happen!”
“It’s going to take us into the next ritual cavern.”
Cheryl steadied herself as the shaking grew larger and larger until it simulated an earthquake. She felt someone behind her and realized the twins were now standing behind her while Lori, Nica and Kenny flanked X.
It made sense she supposed, X was the one that would get them through this while she was the one that would translate each step he would need. They were the ones that had to remain safe.
“Wait, are we moving?”
“Uh, yeah…”
Lori shook her head, “No, I mean, is the floor moving? I didn’t think the ceiling was that high just a minute ago.”
They looked up and realized the floor of the cavern was lowering down.
“Oh, great. So, this is going to be underground… Like a dark cave wasn’t bad enough.”
Nica hadn’t admitted it before now, but she was claustrophobic and this was not a place for someone like her. But she’d refused to abandon her friends even as she discovered where they were headed.
“It’s okay, Nica. We’re with you. We’ll get through this.”
No one wanted to admit they were terrified. This had been an adventure they were all excited about until reality hit with a sledgehammer when Izzy vanished.
The shaking finally tapered off and they realized the floor had stopped moving as well.
“Now where are we?”
The torches didn’t light and so, they all dug out the flashlights and turned them on.
“Which way do we go? There’s two tunnels.”
“Don’t even think about suggesting we split up.”
“No!! That’s the number one way they all die in the movies! We’re not doing that!”
“Suggestion then?”
“Eenie, meenie, miney, moe?”
Scott shrugged.
Kenny turned to X and Cheryl, “Any ideas? Is there anything within either of you screaming which way to go?”
Cheryl shook her head, she wasn’t related to the family that began this so how would she know.
But X tilted his head, “Honestly, something’s pulling be down to the left.”
“Alright then, that’s the way we’ll go.”
The teens headed down the tunnel to the left, hoping this wasn’t the greatest mistake of their shot lives.
© Paula Crofoot

What’s going to happen next? Can anyone guess? Will they all survive or is this all for moot?


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