Chapter 3: The Unknown
The darkness is so deep it’s suffocating. I find that the more I concentrate on seeing, the more I hyperventilate trying to catch my breath in the frosty air. Sure, heat rises and we’re pretty far underground but the change in temperature is so drastic that my body doesn’t know how to adjust. Up ahead, my brother’s asthma gets the best of him. He doubles over hacking up his lungs the wheezing echoing in the passageway. I bump into his crouched body, the speed of my haste sending me toppling over his back. I face plant onto the solid ground, teeth cracking against the rock. Stars light up my vision.
“Why would you stop like that?” I bark impatiently through bloody lips.
“I’m CLEARLY dying over here, no one told you to keep walking dummy.” He retorts.
“Well I can’t see, so stopping in the middle of the damn…” I lose my train of thought trying to find a word for whatever this place is. His coughing subsides but the wheezing doesn’t. I’m reminded of more pressing matters than a busted lip. I rein in my angst, “Sorry man. I’m freaking out right now. It’s pitch-black, freezing, and mommy just sent us down here after doing some type of voodoo while being chased by an army of I don’t know who’s for I don’t know what!” Tears well up in my eyes. Putting a cap on my anxiety is becoming impossible work. The pressure of the whole ordeal making me lose my marbles.
“Chill Mercy,” Leon reaches out for me in the dark and grabs a hold of my forearm. “Mom told us not to argue and for you not to cry.”
I roll my eyes even though I know he can’t see my annoyance, “She didn’t say me specifically”.
“Yeah, but we both know who she was talking about.”
I let out a giggle through my sobs, “shut up jerk.”
He laughs a hearty laugh the way he always does when he knows I’ve made a total ass of myself. “Look, I don’t know what the hell is going on either but what I do know is that we have to get out of here. The only way we can do that is if we stick together and wait for mom.”
The pessimism hits me, “But…” I almost don’t want to say it out loud for fear of speaking it into existence. “But what if she doesn’t—”
“SHE’S COMING AND THAT’S IT. Stop that.”
I shake my head hard in attempt to ward off the thoughts. “Ok, ok.” I wipe my mouth on my shirt and quickly gather my wits. “You’re right. Let’s keep going like she said. We don’t want to miss her if she gets there first.”
“Exactly,” He slides past to get in front of me still holding onto my arm and placing my hand on his belt hoops. “Hold on so we don’t trip up or get separated. I’m going to lead. I’ll tell you when we hit the dead end.”
His choice of words makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Again, I try to shake the feeling and stay focused on the task at hand. The scene keeps rolling around in my minds eye and I begin a checklist of questions I have for mom when I see her. Who was that man leading all those people? Why is he after us? What did you do? Was that magic? How do you know magic? Why didn’t you tell us? Why is there a secret tunnel in your closet? How long has it been here? Why would you put us in danger like this? I realize that I’m being irrationally accusatory, yet I can’t help but feel angry and afraid.
All I want to do is crawl into my bed, ball up like a baby and cry although I know that the likelihood of that or anything normal happening anytime soon is highly unlikely. My world has been turned entirely upside down and there’s this unsettling sensation at the pit of my stomach that leads me to believe that there’s much more where that came from.