Total Word count: 6839
Nanowrimo 2013 Day 4
Other-Space Chapter 3 (part 1)
Just one word over the target, blimey!. I'd originally planned to stick the little flashback here in chapter two, but I forgot. But I think it goes better here.
Chapter 3 – “I think we should go and find out”
A new Cave Crawler had to wait at least a year before setting foot into the tunnels. They’d spend that time training and preparing for what lay ahead. Their training included learning how to correctly use their emergency weaponry, there was a small firing range a short distance from the Cave Crawlers’ base. Jade had hardly spent any time there since her training finished, maybe one or two days a year just to make sure she hadn’t forgotten how to handle the gun since until recently she’d never used it outside of training, but in the last few days she’d barely left it.
It’d been five days since the attack on the Listener, she’d spent most of the first day after that being questioned about what had happened and after that she’d taken to the firing range. She kept thinking about what had happened and what she could’ve done different. She could’ve taken on the purple thing before it reached the Listener. Different scenarios kept playing out in her mind, she’d attack the purple being each time but what happened next would be different. It might turn and attack her after the first shot kill her instantly, or she might miss and hit the Listener instead, and she’d still wind up getting killed.
She felt angry and frustrated; angry with herself for not saving the Listener, and she was taking out that anger on the targets. She pictured each one of them as Listener’s attacker and filled the target with holes until she was out of bullets or there was no target left.
As she continued to empty and batch of ammo into a target another thought struck her, why did she try and fight the attacker herself? She was never good in a crisis, one of the reasons why she never used her gun was that on the very rare occasion that they encountered trouble while exploring the caves she’d always run away from it, not try and take it on herself. The Listener had told her to go, but Jade didn’t go, she almost did though. If she’d managed to leave the temple before the purple being arrived she certainly wouldn’t have tried to take it out herself, maybe assuming that the temple guards would’ve dealt with it. That must’ve been it, with the guards unable to stop the thing she was the only one around to try. And even then she hadn’t gone recklessly charging towards the creature, doing that would probably have gotten her killed, she’d acted with caution and tried to sneak up on it.
If Dani had been there she’d probably have tried to attack the thing head on. Dani was always better in a crisis, much better than Jade had ever been. Dani may not have been able to stop it, but at least she would’ve tried, she would’ve done anything and everything to keep it from reaching the Listener. Jade and Dani had been through a few crisis during their time as Cave Crawlers, usually involving an attack by an extremely dangerous wild animal. In fact it had been a crisis that had brought them together as friends in the first place.
Once they completed their training Cave Crawlers would be given a partner either from their group or from the previous year’s group. Jade has always been rather shy and quiet, she’d often be afraid of what they might encounter in those caves. Dani didn’t like that, in the early days she saw Jade as an annoying burden she’d had dumped on her. On one occasion she’d asked Jade why she’d joined the Cave Crawlers in the first place if she so easily frightened.
Then came the time they wound up trapped in one of the caves. They’d been exploring a new passage that had appeared. Dani was leading the way while Jade was quietly following a short distance behind her, being completely ignored by her partner. They eventually ran into a dead end.
“Well that was a waste of time,” Dani grumbled after they’d checked the area for smaller tunnels. “Let’s head back, there’s no reason to hang arou- what was that?”
They both looked up as they heard a low rumble. Jade gasped as she saw a crack appear in the ceiling a short distance away from them. The crack grew bigger, more cracks formed around it and began to expand themselves. Then that section of the cave collapsed, blocking their exit. A cloud of dust blew up as the rocks fell, the two girls raiser their arms over their faces to shield their eyes. The sound of the collapsing cave was intense and echoed around the tunnel, but it was brief. When the noise had stopped they both lowered their arms and stared at the pile of rock in front of them. It took a few seconds for what had just happened to properly sink in.
Realisation struck Jade first, she let out a panicked scream and rushed towards the blockage. She began scrabbling away at the rocks, trying to dig her way through but she only managed to dislodge some of the smaller ones. She was breathing heavily and very erratically.
“Don’t bother,” Dani said. “Besides, there’s nothing to worry about. They’ll come and get us out if we’re gone for too long.”
Jade didn’t listen; she just continued scraping at the rocks.
“I said, there’s nothing to be…” she trailed off as Jade broke down in tears against the rock blockade.
Dani rushed forwards and gently put an arm around Jade’s shoulders. “Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay,” she said quietly.”
Dani led her to the back of the cave where they both sat down. Jade was still crying but she calmed down after a few minutes.
“Look, we’re supposed to be out of here in about an hour. Once we don’t turn up on time they’ll come looking for us,” Dani said. “And it could be worse; you could be stuck down here alone. Don’t worry, I’m right here.”
“Thanks,” Jade croaked.
“We should switch these off, try and conserve the batteries,” Dani said, reaching for the lamp on her helmet.”
“No!” Jade yelped.
“Oh… okay, we’ll turn mine off,” Dani said. “I’ll switch it back on again if it goes out.”
“You still scared?” Dani asked after a moment’s silence.
“A little,” Jade muttered.
“Oh… actually, I’ve got something that might help.”
Dani reached into her backpack and after rummaging around for a few minutes extracted a small portable cassette player. “Try this she said.”
Dani handed Jade the player, Jade stuck the earphones in place and pressed the play button. A piece of orchestral music flowed into her ears. It was calm and slow and as she listened to it she felt her nerves fade away. She closed her eyes and led out a sigh of relief.
“Yeah, I thought that would help,” Dani said. “I use that to relax sometimes if I’m feeling a little stressed.”
“Thanks,” Jade said.
A little over two hours later they were found, though it took a while for the debris to be shifted aside. Jade ran almost all the way back to the cave entrance, reaching it before anyone else did. She felt as though it had been months, maybe even years since she’d out in the open air. She lay down on the grass with her eyes close and a contented smile on her face.
“Hey, erm…” Jade opened her eyes and saw that Dani had sat down beside her. “I’m… I’m sorry about… well… everything I said or thought of you in the past.”
Jade smiled at her. “Thanks.”
“I mean you are a bit too easily scared,” Dani said. “I think we should try and work on that.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Jade sat up and took the cassette player out of a pocket in her jacket. “Thanks for this,” she said holding it out to Dani.
“Keep it,” Dani said. “I think you’ll need it more than me.”
Jade blinked, Dani was standing right beside her.
“You okay?” Dani asked her. “You’ve been standing here doing nothing for a few mintues.”
“What? Oh.” Jade’s arms were still outstretched with the gun clasped in her hands, but her grip wasn’t so tight now and her arms were drooping. “I was just… just thinking about the time we were trapped in a cave.”
“Oh.” Dani gave her a nervous smile.
Jade raised her arms and took aim at what was left of the target. Her gun clicked as she pulled the trigger, it was empty.
“Sheesh, just how many bullets have you gone through here?” Dani asked her, looking over the hole ridden targets.
“Of course not.” Dani laid a hand on one of Jade’s shoulders and Jade felt her heart skip a beat. “Listen, I heard what happened with the listener. Are you… are you okay.”
“Yeah I’m fine,” Jade lied.
“Fine people don’t spend several days taking their aggression out on pieces of painted wood.”
Jade didn’t say anything. She could hear the Listener’s voice in the back of her head, urging her to talk to Dani and tell her how she felt. “I’m not ready yet,” she muttered.
“Pardon?” Dani asked.
“Oh, okay.” Dani didn’t seem convinced. “I heard that the temple got torn up pretty badly. You saw the man who attacked her, what was he like?”
“I don’t think it was a man.”
“Oh, a woman then.”
“It wasn’t that either.”
“What was it then?”
“I don’t know, it was purple and made of metal I think. It didn’t have a face.”
Jade nodded. “I empty my gun into it; it didn’t gun down until the last bullet.”
“Wow… I’m surprised it didn’t kill you.”
“I was lucky.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t just run away,” Dani said. “I probably would’ve.”Jade was surprised to hear that, but she didn’t say so. “So was I,” she said.”