Upon The Peak

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Review Chain

Submitted: July 04, 2016

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Submitted: July 04, 2016

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1

The past week has been an absolute blur. I didn’t know this, but when your mind is in a state of constant panic for a long enough time, it begins to slow its processing down – eventually to the point of not processing anything at all; much like a black-out drunken situation. The very fact that I made it home safely is beyond a blessing and it is against all odds that I am both here and that I am able to cling to any remaining sanity though I’d argue it’s dwindling. I have always been both a skeptic and a headstrong agnostic, believing in what had evidence and not falling into superstitious activities but I have absolutely no explanation to what I encountered. No religion that I have studied has any scriptures that could explain my story and believe me, I have done my research. I have no choice other than to believe that some form of superstitious activity took place which pains me greatly. I have given myself a few days rest before I tell anyone my accounts and I had ulterior motives of which I tried to ignore; I had been hoping that as I sit down to write this, I would be unable to recall the events but here I am, about to tell it in full.

 

I have already begun rambling, let me start from the beginning and you can take from this what you will; my name is Faith. I know, this all seems so strangely fitting; my name is Faith and I have been going on about my beliefs and how these events have shaped both my faith and perhaps every aspect of myself, but I digress. My name is Faith, I am a member of a volunteer group named DAFRAA, which is just an acronym for Disaster And Famine Relief Association of America. DAFRAA is a small group of about fifty or so volunteers and coordinators that travel the globe to places in dire need and provide as much assistance as possible. The larger group of fifty is broken into ten groups of five (give or take a couple extra people on occasion). I am in group three, along with Adam, Jarren, Tiffany, and Gregg; I am withholding their last names for privacy reasons. The groups were never reshuffled with the rare exception of conflicting personalities so I was able to get to know my group very well; they were my best friends.

 

Perhaps it was this closeness with my friends that drove me to push myself to survive this tragic week; this horrific, absolutely melancholy week that I had wished would’ve eluded my memory completely by now. Though everything seems like a blur when I try to recall the events as a whole, each individual aspect is crystal clear. I am unsure how to really express what that is like nor can I relate it to anything as I have never, nor do I expect that I will ever again experience anything like it again. I have tried everything to forget these haunting thoughts and memories, I have tried to get blitzed but no amount of alcohol will alleviate the sickness in my mind. So while my faith in some form of supernatural intervention had grown, my faith in the bottle has diminished; it’s funny how the world works. I have already come to peace that I will not forget last week. Though peace is a poor word choice, I have come to understand that, never again, will I even so much as lift my lips to form a smile on my now concrete face.  I have come to understand that life as I once knew it is over and what remains is a damaged soul within a miraculously undamaged body.

 

We had been planning this week for months, we were to go to an isolated village in northern Pakistan, named Fazae. They were recently stricken with both the change in weather patterns in the area that had lead to a huge food shortage and a disease that bizarrely showed up, causing those inflicted to be bed-ridden and eventually dead. The plan was simple: show up with modern medicine, a miracle they haven’t ever been exposed to, and extra food. The plan was to stay for a week and aid the people back to health and to help in any way we can, then be on our way. I would like to highlight one huge perk of being a part of such a wonderful organization; we got to see beautiful sights and landscapes all over the world. Fazae lies below an offshoot of the Himalayas where a beautiful snowcapped mountain range seemingly watched over the grassy, rocky field where the village sat. It was deceivingly peaceful.

 

Prior to our arrival, we were told that the village was basically untouched by all modern society; that all this time, they had just lived out their lives, completely independent of the global economy. It is because of this independence that we were given such little information, we knew that they grew their own food, that was about it. We all assumed that, because it was Pakistan, that they would be Islamic and speak Urdu tongue and we were prepared for this, as Gregg spoke Urdu fluently. The only reason that anyone had caught wind that they were in need of help was because a helicopter happened to fly over while they were burning the bodies of those claimed by the disease – a plague that was surely new to them. Different agencies were called and we were the first to take on the job.

 

I really wish I would have dropped out and never went. I feel that any alternative to this hell I find myself in would’ve been ideal. I could have possibly stayed normal, I could have been the same, bubbly person that I abandoned in Northern Pakistan. I will live out the rest of my life a recluse, holding on to what little sanity I have left. My family has begged me to see a therapist and get help but I know that won’t do any good – nothing will. I have lived through more than, I believe, anyone alive ever has and no amount of therapy nor anything for that matter will alleviate the awful memories and sickness in my head. This sickness that I speak of is no bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. It is not the ailment that found its way into the village, this sickness in my mind is something much more than biological and that of human understanding. I have been plagued with something that I simply can’t explain but I do believe that I am its sole carrier. The only way one can understand, even in the slightest, of why I am the way that I am is to know what I have been through.

 

I knew something was wrong from the beginning; the whole flight there, I had a gut-wrenching feeling that my friends all tried to alleviate with the basic “everything will be okay” rhetoric and even tried to reassure me. “We have masks to prevent ourselves from this disease,” they would say. Tiffany was a medical researcher and her main role on this expedition was to run tests on the disease and grow controlled cultures to see if it matches with any known ailments. But I knew the feeling had nothing to do with the disease, we were one of the first groups to arrive at Guinea to help with the Ebola crisis when it first began, I had no worries then; I jumped right in and began helping those infected. No, this was something much more, something no one could have predicted.

 

Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is that the problems of which I am going to reflect on have not been resolved. Nothing is different over there and I fear that things have only gotten worse, for the people of Fazae were not bad people at all, no, it was something else entirely that led to the situation I find myself in. My hand is trembling as I write, but I must get the story out as I fear I don’t have long. Though now that I think about it, I will embrace death with open arms. So I will recount my story from when we landed, I have already told you about how horrible I felt the whole ride there, well that was possibly the most comfortable of all of the hours spent over there. I hope I haven’t bored you with my ramblings and antic explanation of my predicament, for it is all but a precursor to the story.

2

 

When the landing skids of the helicopters gently pressed on the earth, my four colleagues jumped off with such excitement that I had truly believed they all must have taken all of my energy and increased it fivefold. Adam walked about twenty feet from the helicopter and did a whole, three hundred sixty degrees spin to take in the nature that at the time was welcoming. I must admit, the scenery was beautiful, the tall, snow-capped mountains, the vibrant, green grass with patches of light gray stone pressing out of the sea of green; a gentle breeze caused the blades to dance. It is a shame that that place has been perverted to me. It no longer holds beauty, it’s just the bearer of disgust and malice that I never want to be near ever again.

 

As soon as we were finished marveling at the beauty of the nature around us, we noticed that a large group of people from the village were already standing outside, watching us, not a voice among them. After perhaps one long minute, one man stepped forward and began walking towards us and before we could call Gregg over as a translator, the man spoke up. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” he said, in fluent English! I can’t speak for the others, but this made me feel even more unnerved than before. I knew that many Pakistanis spoke English but that was because they have been exposed to the rest of the world. We were all sure that due to their isolation, they would only speak the native tongue.

 

“We uh-” My voice trailed off as I thought of how to respond. I was so caught up in the eeriness of his speaking that I hadn’t realized what he asked. “We are DAFRAA, the group that is here to help you all.”

 

“We weren’t told of any such thing.” Not only could he speak English but he spoke it so elegantly. “Now please, we are going to ask you to leave.” He looked me sharply in the eyes. We all looked at each other, had they not told them that we were coming to help?

 

“We are only here to help” Gregg spoke up, taking a few steps to close the distance. “We know you guys have been hit with a pretty bad illness and-”

 

“We do not need help. Now please leave.” The group of people behind him moved closer but before they could reach the man who was speaking, who I will, from now on, denominate “The Speaking Man,” a young girl collapsed from within the crowd. Everyone gasped and the speaking man flinched, tensing up, but he resisted looking which seemed to be a difficult endeavor. Tiffany ran to her side and began clearing people back. She checked her vitals, all the while everyone watched, now including The Speaking Man, who had caved to his desire to look. His hands trembling as if fighting the urge to do or say something. The intensity of his internal conflicts seemed to grow and grow and while all other eyes were on Tiffany and the young girl, my eyes were plastered on The Speaking Man.  The veins on his neck and face protruded out so greatly that I thought they’d burst for sure. “You all-” before he even finished his own sentence, he covered his mouth with both hands and stormed off deeper into the village.

 

During this whole endeavor, I felt awful, light headed, and unlike I had ever felt before. Not because of what was occurring with the girl, no, as I have tried and tried to emphasize already, I felt an instinctive fear welling up inside that I couldn’t, nor can I now, explain. So I did what most other people would’ve done – I ignored the wrenching feeling. Now that I look back at it, it is a sad reality but I thought I must just be crazy or something, there is no way this primal fear I felt could be reflective of any realities. For all intents and purposes, I assumed this was all just nothing to worry about and probably just my imagination running wild.

 

It was around that time while Tiffany was still trying to help the girl when I remember hearing it for the first time. It was a very distinctive sound that any mother could hear from miles away: I heard the sound of a baby crying off in the distance. It seemed to echo down the mountains, tagging along with the chilling wind that periodically invaded the village as if a deep, frozen exhale. It was so faint that I initially shrugged it off as me just hearing things. For all I knew, it was a baby, still wrapped in the arms of its mother who could simply be on a stroll in the beautiful nature. As I am writing this down, it brings me great pain to realize the warning signs I passed off as nothing. In my ignorance, I pushed on, determined to finish the job.  

 

Tiffany finally got the girl to stand, her eyes were bloodshot and cast a blank gaze wherever her face happened to be aligned. Tiffany shot me a look that I was familiar with despite it being a very uncommon expression; it was the appearance, no, the overall epitome of helplessness. The welled up tears told so much that if she were to try to articulate her emotion into words they would not do it solace. The look in her eyes was that of disappointment; she took every patient personally and if there was nothing she could do, she inevitably blamed herself. She put the girl’s arm around her shoulder and I quickly ran over and did the same. We assisted her to walk deeper into the village, I am not even sure either of us knew where we were going but I know I felt it’d be safer. The girl was the second of the villagers to speak.

 

“That man that you spoke to earlier is my father.” Her voice was coarse and ragged, almost like that of a very frail, elderly woman, plagued with a lung disease. When she first spoke up, I felt myself and Tiffany both jump. “Our house is there.” She pointed, slowly lifting her trembling hand, towards a small shack-like building that was only about ten meters ahead of us. “Don’t let him get to you, I am sure he appreciates what your motives are,” I remember being taken aback by this. What kind of father abandons his daughter at her time of need and why would he not appreciate us trying to save her life? I almost voiced my internal rage, especially as a mother, but thought it better that I didn’t as it could be a huge cultural difference of some kind. So naïve, I was.

 

Entering the building, we found her father sitting on the floor, sobbing with his hands covering his face. “Sir!” I remember speaking up, I quickly transitioned from blank to urgent when I remembered that there were many more people suffering in the village. “We helped your daughter but you need to watch after her! We have more people to look over.” The second the last word left my tongue, he stopped crying, slowly pulled his hands off his face, and looked up at me with his seemingly emotionless face. “You came at a very, very bad time I’m afraid.” His eyes were at max capacity, looking as though they had a thick layer of tears being held on by an unseen force, and his voice quivered as he spoke. “The worst of times, perhaps.” He stood up and walked towards us, almost looking as though he was going to attack us but he picked up his daughter and laid her on a bed. “You have no chance of surviving this because you have stayed and interacted; you will be dead, so I suppose it doesn’t matter that you stay. I warned you and you didn’t listen!” His voice became louder and more angered. “You didn’t listen! Didn’t listen! Didn’t listen!” He continued to scream long after Gregg, Adam, and Jarren pulled Tiffany and me out of the hut.

 

“I need to figure out what this is as soon as possible so we can get out of here, this is already too crazy and out of hand.” Tiffany looked at us all with wide eyes. I was finally a little relieved that someone else felt, at least, the slightest discomfort from this ordeal as it meant I wasn’t completely alone.

 

“Yeah, they have a makeshift hospital where three pregnant women are, seems like a breeding ground for the disease, why don’t you check that place out? Get your suit,” Adam said pointing at the box of supplies by where the helicopter had been. Tiffany nodded in agreement and ran toward the crate. Adam and Jarren ran over to help her and Gregg stayed with me.

 

“Are you okay, Faith?” I remember him asking, he looked extremely concerned. What followed definitely should have been my breaking point. The point where I should have said enough and called for the helicopter to come get us, the point where I should have just given up on the whole project and left those poor souls to die, as morbid as it sounds. I was much kinder back then and, perhaps because of this, I was much more naive and stubborn. I was too “in my ways” so to speak. I hate myself more and more the more I delve into this past that I have spent days trying to forget. Time eludes me anymore, and for good reason.

 

Before I could respond, his face became distorted, his eyes warped into black pits and his mouth began leaking a black sludge-like substance. I know this just sounds like your cliché horror tropes but they are only so widely accepted because they are efficient at being terrifying. These weren’t just some hallucinations I am now confidently sure these were caused by some sort of seed planted in my mind. Something was pulling the strings of my very sanity for reasons unknown. Needless to say, I panicked, I remember falling on my back and sliding myself backward on the dirt road as he walked toward me. “Get back!” I remember screaming at the foul beast that took the place of my friend; of course at the time I had no recollection that it was Gregg. In that state I had no memory, I had no past only a present as I was too locked in fear to possibly think toward the future. I don’t remember much more until I awoke in the hospital in the village, alongside two pregnant women.  “She’s up!” I remember hearing Tiffany call before all of my friends ran into the room, along with the speaking man’s daughter.

 

Thankfully, Gregg looked like his normal self though I saw that he had tears brimming up in his eyes at the sight of me. I felt as though I was going to pass out; the hospital was very hot and humid and my breathing was so heavy that I began to hyperventilate. “Faith! Faith, calm down, you’re alright.” Tiffany assured me. “You have been under a lot of stress and I don’t remember you drinking water all day, you were just dehydrated and were having mild hallucinations. Gregg told us about how you were afraid of him and yelling strange things. Your hallucinations distorted your perception.” Tiffany put her hand on my forehead. Her tone quickly changed from sincere to serious as she looked to the others. “No sign of fever.” I looked over to Gregg and reached out my hand to rest it on his, which was tightly gripping the safety bar of my bed, he didn’t flinch.

 

I recall lying dormant in the hospital for another couple of hours before everyone finally decided it’d be okay for me to get up and go to where I was to be staying; I went there because, by the time I was allowed to leave, it was already night time. The villagers were all kind enough to allow us to stay with them; each of us was in a different house, all on the same street, though. Laying on my makeshift bed, I remember listening to the family speak. They were faint and I struggled to hear if it was even English that they were speaking. Just as I lied back down from my snooping perch, I caught something. “la crainte.” I’m no master linguist, nor can differentiate many different languages very well but I was certain that that was French. Much like the English of the speaking man and his daughter, the French sounded so fluent I would’ve otherwise thought it was their first learned language. There were two things that raced through my mind before I remember falling into an abnormally deep slumber. I remember wondering how it was that so many languages could be spoken in such an isolated place, and I recall hearing distant cries of a baby from the mountain ranges, yet again.

 

 

 

3

The next day seemed to approach quickly through the empty night. And aside from helping out with newer farming techniques and trying to administer medicine to the ill, the day was rather uneventful. Nothing seemed to happen until that evening when I stayed up, talking with my host family. I asked them the question that had been swimming within the sea of my mind all day, creating massive waves of curiosity that almost led me to abandon the job temporarily to seek them out and ask them; I asked them how they have come to be able to speak so many languages. They all exchanged glances among one another before telling me of who they called “The Elders” which I immediately assumed to be the deities of an uncovered religion. They also seemed to shy away from any questions concerning them. They did tell me that The Elders taught them many languages to speak simply from the yearning of knowledge of the people.

 

I sat there for minutes following their answers without a single word in response. I was a woman of logic and was successful in maintaining a healthy skepticism but there I was, believing that this group of people was taught languages from their, as I took them to be, deities called “The Elders.” I tried and tried to think of an alternative explanation to this miraculous blessing that they held, could they be telling the truth? I remember asking myself. Something was going on, but I didn’t press the matter as they seemed a bit agitated at the continuous probing about The Elders. The family soon went to sleep and I lied awake, yet again, with so many questions rummaging around in my mind that I thought I’d never sleep.

 

Qabul, the daughter of the speaking man, approached me that night, as I sat outside, next to my host family’s home, which held the sleeping family within. She was out on a night stroll and happened to take notice of me. “Faith,” she said, stopping her pace to speak with me. “Would you like to accompany me on a walk?” I glanced around, the sky seemed so peaceful, the stars out, seeming to shine their light with the sole purpose of portraying a spectacle for us. I remember not saying anything as I sat up and began to walk with her. “You guys really didn’t need to help us, we would’ve been fine.”

 

“You would be dead!” I replied quickly, as I stopped walking. “Why do you guys seem to have so much confidence in what little you have to cure yourselves?” I must’ve come off as aggressive, but it was only my passion and curiosity coming out all at once.

 

“We don’t!” she broke into tears. “We messed up and we have to pay for it, you can try to help us all you want but it's going to be no use. You guys are just going to end up corpses alongside those of our own!” she dropped to her knees and I was quick to support her. “You don’t understand. The Elders are not forgiving and the prophecy is going to be fulfilled.” I froze, releasing my grip on her shoulder, allowing her to slump lower into her tears. I felt a wave of terror rush over me, goosebumps covered my skin so densely that my skin took on a leathery texture, why was I feeling this way?

 

“The prophecy?” I choked out.

 

“Yes!” she quickly looked up. Humanity is lost for good, we were the last remaining ‘truly humane’ people left and some of our own tried to contact the government of Pakistan to become a recognized city.” She made an attempt to stand but her obviously trembling knees had no strength to support even her frail frame. “After they tried to make contact, those men were all found hanging from their houses.” She tried to take the time to collect herself but it was apparent to me that her pieces lay too far, too spread out to ever successfully accomplish that goal. “Civilization is the fall of man, we weren’t made to reach this level of complexity and now we have to pay. My uncle was one of the men, my father begged him not to go but he didn’t listen, we were starving and he wanted aid from the government. He had no idea that the fate would be so much worse.” She was still bawling, her tears were so heavy and frequent that I sincerely thought that, should she not stop, she would be dehydrated in no time!

 

“And, this prophecy…” I said, trying to sound as understanding as I could manage but I had no idea how to process what I was hearing.

 

 

“Once all of humanity is lost…” her voice trailed off. About three seconds later she looked up at me, “gone - everything, just, gone.” I fell backward as she said this. I thought to myself that there is no way she was right, but those ominous words cut like knives. She was so unmistakably serious, this wasn’t a joke! Before I could respond I heard a sound that changed my mood almost instantaneously. Perhaps the only thing that could've released the grip her words had on me.  It was as if this sound was able to collect all of my despair, confusion, interest, and fear and focus it all into one single emotion: determination. The sound of a baby’s cry rolled down the mountainside and I felt the strongest urge to search for it. The urge was so robust that it almost felt like a physical tug towards the reserved mountains.

 

I vaguely remember  Qabul cringing at the sound and at the sight of me storming towards it, begging me to not search for the source but my mind was set the moment the cry entered my ears. I was going to find that poor, deserted child. The closer I grew near to the base of the mountain, the more intense I remember a ringing in my ears got. Despite my mind seemingly being torn to shreds by this unknown ringing, I chuckled to myself. I found it so ironic that I stood at the foot of the mountain and the head of the trail (dumb – I know). Something so simple and so insignificant yet I began to laugh uncontrollably and had no way of explaining it! I fell to my knees, laughing as if I were standing in a cloud of the most potent of nitrous oxide and yet again, the only thing that could possibly pull me from any stupor I found myself in was the cry that I heard that caused me to stand up, brush the dust off my pants, and head out along the trail as if I hadn’t just temporarily lost connection with my sanity.

 

Thankfully, I had my journal on me that I was able to take some notes on in my journey that I will reference. Perhaps these notes are the only real evidence that I have that proves that this truly happened. Any sane person would just have shrugged it off as a nightmare or a continuation of my awful hallucination from earlier. But facts are facts; I took these notes, I am sure!

 

The trees seem to be parting way for me, as I look up ahead it looks like a full wall of brush but at some point, while I am walking, it opens up but I don’t see anything moving, this is such a trip!

 

I don’t remember ever turning, I feel Like I am walking in one straight path but I am looking down at the village as if there were at least one switchback that allowed me to stay positioned on the mountain, this is so strange, I think I am uncovering something truly amazing!

 

I remember the moment I saw it; the small holes in the face of the mountain near where I was resting, they seemed to be almost in a pattern and as I examined more in-depth, I noticed that it didn’t appear to be part of the mountain at all, it was some kind of drape! I slid my finger across the leathery surface of the long curtain that lay over the mountainside, sliding my fingers around and through the holes that seemed to be patterned by periodically having two somewhat large ones with two smaller ones below each pair. Some kind of ventilation system I assumed. I grabbed one side of the hanging piece and swung it open, expecting to see a small room inside of the cliff but I was overcome with the unexpected all at once. One would imagine the room to be well-insulated and because of this, warmer. That assumption of mine was proven wrong when I felt the chilly air drain the energy and warmth from my face; somehow the inside of this large chamber that laid before me was colder than the brisk, high-altitude air in the western Himalayas.

 

In addition to the strange temperature change, there was a strong smell of ozone emanating from the small chamber. These were just more warning signs I chose to ignore in my not-so-blissful ignorance. Before I go any further into my recollection, I feel that I need to make a disclaimer. I recognize that it must be difficult to believe my recounts; this seems like some sort of made up story and while I wish that were the truth, I know for certain it is not. The reason that I am making this disclaimer is because, within that cave, incidences became less and less believable, despite the fact that I was living them. I know for certain everyone is going to read or listen to them and shrug them off as false claims and I don’t blame you. But that was no normal cave system, nestled into a Himalayan mountainside.

 

What happened in that cave is not only difficult for me to recall because of the emotional stress I endured while within but articulating the seemingly and otherwise impossible into believable, tangible thoughts, facts, or ideas is perhaps one of the most strenuous exercises for the human mind. As crazy as it sounds, I am not convinced that the inside of that cave abided by the laws of physics nor nature as we know it. For all intents and purposes, I believe the inside of that cave lie within another plane of existence – one no human was supposed to bear witness to. I am going to reference my journal periodically as it will help show my emotion at the very instant.

 

It looks like an ordinary cave, despite the strange smell and temperature I wrote. Oh, how I was wrong.

 

The cave is much deeper than it appeared from the entrance, I swear it looked to be maybe fifty feet deep but I have been walking and the back of the cave doesn’t seem any closer.

 

As I walked further and further into the cave, my body grew more and more numb, at the time I thought it to be the coldness but I now believe it was more than that. It wasn’t too much longer before I realized that something was wrong. I remember shifting directions, taking a right turn perpendicular to my previous direction toward the side of the cave. Walking closer to the wall of the cave, I noticed it appearing more and more distorted. It was fairly dark but my headlamp illuminated the area just enough to see it. I held my skepticism and shrugged it off until it was undeniable, I was physically standing on the wall as if it were the floor and what I had previously been walking on looked simply like the wall to a completely different cave system. This was beyond simply mind boggling, try as I might, I couldn’t put the pieces together and this warped, for a lack of better words, dimension was far too complex for my simple mind. I believe that witnessing this is one of the major reasons that I am so mentally broken; no human should ever have to see something like this. When you witness something truly impossible become possible, your mind doesn’t handle it very well.

 

I sat down and had to really recollect myself at this point. I was nearly having a panic attack but I told myself over and over that what I thought happened didn’t but I didn’t dare try to prove it to myself. Seemingly on cue, an echoed cry from a distance snapped me from my despair. I remembered my mission and stood back up. The thought of my baby girl was the only thing that made me feel safe. I noticed a slightly illuminated opening in the back of the cave which wasn’t there before, so I set out to it. I remember walking for just a few minutes before I heard something, this time, it wasn’t a baby crying, but a deep, rasping moan coming from the illuminated room. I froze, my knees grew weak, I almost turned back but I thought of the child, it was probably with whatever the source of the noise was; that was enough motivation to push on.

 

The whole time I was within the cave, it was giving me signs that it was unnatural, strange, and malicious though I ignored and shrugged all of the signs off. I was always a master at applying logic to illogical anomalies but within the illuminated room, I lost any fight within for logic and reason. There stood two humanoids as if waiting for me in the center of the room. They stood tall and skinny, with gray skin stretched over prominent bones with nearly no muscle or fat to be seen. Their long slender arms hung down to just above their knees and they wore only what appeared to be some kind of loincloth. Though I can picture their bodies very well, I cannot remember their faces. I think as hard as I can and within my memories I just see a black shadow, cast across where their faces should be. I can picture a black abyss, that’s it. I know that at the time I saw their face because written in my journal after the run-in, I wrote Their faces, oh god they were so awful. Truly the face of fear itself. Perhaps they don’t want me to remember what they look like and perhaps that’s for the better.

 

I remember them speaking, they told me many things and just like their faces, I don’t remember any of it. One began to walk towards me and though I wanted to run, finally forgetting about the lost child, I couldn’t; I was paralyzed and the being knew it. He reached out and put his hand on my head and I instantly blacked out. I awoke – but within no body. I was but a spectator in a small, familiar room. It was the hospital I gave birth to my daughter in! It didn’t take me long to realize that I was spectating myself when I was pregnant! I saw myself laying on the bed, a plump belly and I was met by an overwhelming, pleasant recollection of my daughter! The first time I felt truly calm since I set foot in that cave.

 

My smile slowly faded as I noticed one of the creatures, which I coined (whether correctly or incorrectly) the Elders standing in the corner of the room, looking at me. Not the physical me on the bed, but me from my spectator’s perspective. If I had eyes, we would have been making the most intense eye contact imaginable. He turned his gaze to the woman on the hospital bed, my past self. And I am sure he smiled a malicious smile though I still don’t recall his face. He took a few steps forward, I wanted to scream, to wake myself, to tell myself to call for a doctor but all I could do was watch as he cut open the stomach with a razor sharp finger. He reached inside and cradled a premature child in his arms, shot one last glance at me in the corner, and I awoke in the cave, alone, sobbing to myself.

 

I stood up, searching for an exit because at this point, after witnessing that, I wanted to leave and go home to see my sweet Emily who was going to be celebrating her ninth birthday soon after my return. I noticed from afar that there was another one of the leather drape-doorways.  I struggled to my feet and walked as quickly as I could, ignoring my throbbing headache and made my way towards it. I grabbed it and just as I had before, instinctively felt the odd holes; from the other side I was able to finally see it in the light.

 

My body froze and I vomited. If I wasn’t already as low as I could’ve been in my life, I would’ve hit rock bottom when I made the connection of what the drape really was. My knees grew weak again and I felt, more than ever, that I needed to escape. Hanging in front of me was a curtain that was made of the skin of people, presumably children, which was tanned and sewn together to be used as doorways for those monsters. If they truly were deities, they were not good at all, they were malevolently evil. I wiped the bile off of my mouth and continued, desperately trying to forget what I had just seen, and reluctantly moving a couple more curtains out of my way, closing my eyes as I did so.

 

I finally found myself in what appeared to be a dead end. I fell to my knees and just let myself cry as hard as I needed. Through my violent sobs, spoke to myself, I don’t fully remember what about but I am sure it had something to do with my ignorance and carelessness. I felt the presence of someone behind me. It was an all too familiar feeling. I knew it was an elder, I turned around quickly, ready to attack though I knew it would be fruitless.Though I was afraid to, I reluctantly looked up and saw that I was at the feet of a tall, skinny gray figure. Before I could vocalize my newly-aquired anger, he spoke up. “Why are you here?” It shocked me, this voice seemed so much more clear than the others’. I didn’t reply, so he continued. “We really aren’t as bad as you think,” he began walking towards the back of the small chamber. “You humans are so… inhumane – impure.” I wasn’t sure what to say, yet words began to stream from my mouth.

 

 

“Are you the cause of the disease that is killing the people of Fazae?”

 

“Disease?” he straightened his posture and faced me directly. “Humans have been the carriers of a disease since their first appearance on this earth; only recently have they been showing such… symptoms. You are all but a festering wound on this planet and I assure you, we hold the cure.” He seemed almost upbeat, grabbing me by the arm to lift me up onto my feet he spoke nine last words. “Once all of humanity is lost, gone, everything, gone.”

 

I awoke outside of the cave, shaking and scared out of my mind. I looked back at the entrance, only to see it not there. I rushed back down the path to meet my friends but was met with a helicopter and the pilot signaling me to get in. I assumed they were all in there so I hopped in and before I could fasten myself in, the helicopter began to ascend.

 

“I almost left you.” The pilot said, I barely gripped his words because I was so confused as to why my friends weren’t in there with me.

 

“Is everyone else already back?” I asked, followed by a sigh and a long pause.

 

“Where were you?” he asked, ignoring my question.

 

“I got lost in the woods, I went on a walk but I am okay now!” I said to him through tears I was fighting to hold back. “Where are they?” I asked.

 

“You’re the only survivor.” He muttered.

I felt broken by this but strangely wasn’t able to express it, it was as if I were already beyond broken. I just gazed off into the distance. The rest of the helicopter ride wasn’t eventful. We both sat there in silence. We landed at an airport and I got on the next plane to San Francisco where I was told by the pilot, my family was waiting. When we finally landed on American soil, I felt the happiness well up in me, I rushed off of the plane and I saw a familiar face, my mom! I remember running over to her and my dad and giving them a long hug, longer than they were expecting but I didn’t care. “Where is Emily?” I asked.

 

My time in the cave was mentally and emotionally the second most difficult thing I have ever had to endure. The first being the moment that followed my question. My parents shot strange looks at each other and then to me, “You mean your baby?” my mom muttered.

 

“Of course!” I said, urgently, worried at their tone.

 

“You mean… your miscarried baby?” I froze. I felt the remaining portion of my life die. I dropped to the ground and my parents held and supported me, though confused at why I was acting the way I was. I awoke in the spare room at my parent's house and went home against their wishes. Apparently, I never gave birth to my daughter; they said I had a miscarriage one night in the hospital and that my poor Emily managed to strangle herself with the umbilical cord, even knotting it around her neck “something they had never seen before” my grandma recalled the doctor’s very words.

 

I have realized , reading back on what I have written that I sound undoubtedly mad. While I am, for the most part, unmistakably crazy, I assure you that my story is true as it is the only explanation for my current state. During these past few days, I have been struggling within my own mind for much longer than I would like to. I assure you that my reflections are as accurate as I know them to be. Anything in my past that is outside the barriers of this incident, however, is foggy at best, absent at worst. The Elders want me to remember that ordeal, I am sure of it. They are trying to put blame on the disease – that it messes with the host’s mind but I know the truth, even if no one else will believe me, it’s not the disease, there is no way!

 

Suicide is never the answer to any earthly problems but I am stuck in a position beyond the earthly category and I only see one way out of this. How else can I escape my biggest fear when my biggest fear is festering within my mind while both awake and asleep? I am very sorry to the readers, but this story is not only my recollection of my past events but it doubles as my suicide note. I am sure you understand after reading this. I am, for all intents and purposes, plagued with a disease no one could diagnose and I only know of one cure.

 

Yours truly,

 

Faith

 


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