Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The King's Challenge #219 and #220

TKC 219 and 220

Whatever was, is no more. There is no cave or lake; there is only rock. If anyone survived the blast, we cannot reach that someone.

“We must go,” Hal says after a time.

We are too traumatised to move or think, but Hal is right. Not only has the entire system f caves been undermined, but it is likely that ship has landed to put boots on the ground. Either we will be buried if the plateau collapses entirely or the Glonu will find us. It is a fact that they will check for survivors soon.

Yes, we must go.

Nobody moves. Where is there a place now for us?

“Hal!” a woman’s voice shouts out from somewhere beyond our motionless huddle.

The Messenger scrambles to his feet. “Marian! Here!”

The Messenger erupts from the dark narrow tunnel. “What happened? I was at the exit and heard an explosion,” she demands, seeing us. Her gaze goes to the silence behind us. “Oh,” she breathes out.

Hal strides across the space and enfolds her into his arms. “You are alive. By the stars, someone lived.” Sobs suddenly shudder his entire body and Marian, after staring at Kay and me in horror, wraps her arms around the big man and holds him. Tears run over her cheeks as well.

Someone lived. Her presence, her warmth, her life, unlocks my paralysis and I reach for Kay. He lifts me into his arms and cradles me on his lap. We rock together on the rubble-strewn floor, holding on, for now there is no one else. We four are the last.

“I am sorry,” I whisper in his ear eventually.

“For what?” He smooths my hair over and over as if the action is all important.

“For Attis,” I sob.

“It is behind us now,” he murmurs.

“And for bringing the ship here,” I blurt.

Kay stiffens before he gently disengages in order to look at me. “Siri, this is not your fault.”

“I said his name! Horin’s name, and they heard and then …”

He captures my face in his warm hands and stares intently into my eyes. “It is not your fault. Attis had already summoned them …”

I shake my head convulsively, loosening his clasp, but he halts the movement by bringing my face close to his.

“Attis called to them simply by being aware of who he is. How else were they in place above us? Any one of us could have said something they heard and used as a marker for the device that caused this.” Kay draws in a breath. “We cannot change it, Siri. We must look to the future now.”

“What future?” I whisper as I lay my hands over his.

He touches my lips with his. “This future,” he says softly. “We are alive and we cannot surrender.”

I stare into his eyes and know that I love him. We barely know each other, but I will die for this man. I lean in and kiss him. I wrap my hands around his head and kiss him properly, with all I am, for this is proof of life, proof of future.

His shuddering inhalation after tells me he feels as I do. We draw apart then and stand. Linking hands, we face the other two.

Reddened eyes greet us, but Hal and Marian have also clasped hands as if they need proof of existence, of not being alone in this horror.

“The Glonu did this,” Hal states. “We are not to blame.”

Marian nods tearfully and I do as well. Hal is right. Kay is right.

Together we leave the place of silence.

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