Nyla pushed the blankets from her face, as they were wrapped so tightly that it was becoming difficult to breathe. Her first breath of air caused her to shrink back in the blankets. It was thick, like a pasty soup mixed with wood shavings. She wheezed and coughed, but her movement was restrained by bounds around her blankets. Panic flowed through her veins as she struggled to break free. She felt death’s claws lashing at her brain.
At last she broke free of the vice, which made a groaning sound as it gave. It slumped at her side in the darkness. A thick fog of grain, slightly darker than the fuzz one would see on a television without reception covered everything, leaving only shapes. She looked back at her bondage and gasped, quickly regretting it as she coughed so hard she feared she might lose her lungs.
Maeko lay arms wide, nearly on top of Nitza, who was holding him and breathing through his sweatshirt. Her blankets lay on top of him, covering his face. His faded jeans and t-shirt clung loosely to his body, caked in the remains of this horrid smoke.
Waves of smove billowed up from somewhere down a cliff, a red haze barely shone through behind it.
Nyla’s mind swarmed with the foggy memory of the past days. Darkness, death, smoke-
She remembered seeing the flames approach her home. Thinking it was a dream, she waltzed towards them and breathed deeply. The gases had seemed extremely strong to be in a dream, but her imagination was quite strong. She strolled back into her house and lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. There was no reason to believe in danger, everything had been just fine for so long…
Her memories ended there as a coughing fit brought her back to the current darkness. She stumbled over a lump, not realizing she had been walking. She landed face down on the hard rock, smacking her jaw. She brought her hand away from her mouth and rubbed the thick liquid between her forefinger and thumb. Blood. “Well isn’t that just great..” she wheezed and put her hand down, resting her pounding head on it, letting her mind slip into the blackness.
What could have been hours in the darkness, came to a sudden end. Nyla saw movement somewhere to her right, a light swung in the midst of the movement. Fuzzy-bear monsters with a glowing orb. Nyla giggled and collapsed onto the figure behind her again. Warmth. She felt of the figure, cloth, a t-shirt. She ran her hand up to the figure’s face. Maeko. She let her hand fall from his face to the stone below and pressed her face into his shirt, trying to breathe. Unable to breathe. Her lungs felt like ice, bursting for clean air. Her vision blurred more than it had been before, a light distorting the blackness before her. The sight of the light was comforting, it flooded through her body with warmth. I am dying. I will die here alone and no one will know I died. She began to shrink away from the light. It has come to kill me, she thought. She grasped at the blankets that had been pushed away and pulled them over her head, the light was not obstructed by her efforts, instead it seemed to be advancing. While she knew she should be glad for the light, it scared her, protruding the safe insensible darkness. She huddled tightly in the blanket and allowed her mind to fade out, trying to forget the light. How dare the light disturb her precious sleep?
Nikyla stepped out of the crack with a bag over her head, impairing her vision, but enabling her to breathe. She held tightly to the stone she had chipped from the water pool, it reminded her of the legends of old. Perhaps Timothy still remembers how they went, once we find him… If we find him. She reached her hand back to feel the rope, Connell was waiting on the other side to pull her back if she were out too long. Knowing this comforted her. She stifled a sneeze and knelt, feeling along the stone. The stone felt warm to the touch as she crawled along, feeling for the blankets. Her hand touched something soft. The food bag. She tied it off on the rope behind her and continued to feel along the cliff. The entire stone was caked heavily in soot from the fires burning below, it was becoming incredibly itchy and horrid. “Nitza?” She raised her voice as much as the sack over her head allowed. No response. “Darn it.” She continued to shuffle across the cliff edge. I’m running out of air. I could die out here, what if Nitza’s alre- no.. She’s fine. I have to find her and the others… Nikyla ran facelong into a warm lump. She lifted herself up to her knees and felt of the figure, two figures. Nitza and Maeko. “Nyla?” She called out several times while tying the other two off on her rope, to no avail. She began feeling along the blankets, all the way around Maeko and Nitza and lifted up the blankets, which were ripped out of her arms. “Nyla?” Nitza took a step back. A moan echoed through the air. Nikyla practically dove forward, searching the blankets for Nyla. She was stopped by a tug around her waist. Connell was pulling her back. “Nyla, if you can hear me, I need you to come forward, now!” The moan came again, muffled by the roar of the wind. Nitza peered down at the stone in her hand, it was still steadily glowing. She rolled it over in her hand a couple times before holding it in front of her. “Nyla, follow the light and come to me. It’s the only way you’ll survive this!” Connell pulled hard on the rope again, the moans seemed so far away. “Nyla, I’m running out of time, come, please!” Nikyla was almost wailing as the rope dragged her back towards the cave. Her back touched the wall and she turned to crawl in, leaving the stone sitting just outside.
Let the light be your guide home…
(To be continued here)