-Writing Prompt: He pointed me toward the opening in the tree. “I’m sure you’ll be pleased. It’s surprisingly large on the inside.”
-Mini Game: Gory read & Scene about individual vs society
He pointed me toward the opening in the tree. “I’m sure you’ll be pleased. It’s surprisingly large on the inside.”
I suppressed the shakes starting in my fingers and the backs of my knees. Our village leader wore his ceremonial cloak with the hood pulled down over his eyes. Only his mouth remained, and it hinted at a smile.
It didn’t matter how worried I was about this. I had to do it. This was my chance to enter society as a full member.
Or I could fail and leave. Even if I didn’t want to.
“You’ll be fine.”
The air around me pushed me toward the dark opening, and I took a few uneven steps. My hands gripped the rough bark around the entrance and my feet moved me past it. Closing my eyes insintcively, I embraced the blackness with my heart beating in my throat.
As I walked further, a light braced my closed lids, cracking them open.
The inside of the tree spread wide, shadowed around the edges so that I found no walls.
“Holly,” a soft voice wafted into the space, but it wasn’t the village leader.
“Are you ready, Holly?”
“I—I don’t know. Ready for what?” I turned in a small circle, searching for the voice.
I sucked in a hard breath and let it out slowly. “No.”
Musical laughter filled the cavernous space.
“I don’t know what I’m choosing.” I knew it wasn’t as simple as wanting to stay or wanting to go, but I’d not been allowed to ask my friends after they went through the ceremony. Each full member was moved into their own space and their new lives, and I was left behind to wait and wonder.
“It’s different for everyone, Holly. As soon as you say that you are ready, your test will begin, and you will have to choose.”
This was not helpful.
“You will not be able to choose anything that is not true to who you are. Do not worry.”
I hated it when people told me not to worry. I always did. I couldn’t stop it, and them telling me not to only made the anxiety spike hard in my chest.
“Are you ready?”
The lights flared outward and revealed the walls all around me. Jagged sharp things lined them. Weapons. Every tool on those hooks were used as weapons. The dank smell of old blood choked my windpipes, and I coughed hard.
A small figure stepped out from the shadows, then another, and another.
They were the size of eight-year-olds, but they weren’t children. Each of them had a different complexion, features, and shape, but their eyes were all the same black orbs. The lack of whites in their eyes disturbed me enough to take a step back.
“I don’t understand.”
“We are a threat to your village. We will burn your homes down, kill your family and friends, and steal their souls. Could you end us if you had to? No matter what we look like?”
That tightness in my chest twisted and contrasined my lungs.
No. Not this.
“If you’re not willing to fight for your community, are you willing to fight for yourself?”
The voice seemed disembodied, even with the three children hovering out of reach. Their mouths didn’t move, but they watches as my hand fluttered to my chest to coax new air in and out.
All three moved forward at once, and I backed away until my shoulders clattered into the weapons behind me. I took a long stick with pointy ends and held it like a bat. When they got too close, I swung it, missing them by feet.
I didn’t want to do this. I’d never hurt another creature, not even a bug! I couldn’t slay three strangers. Especially not children.
But they kept advancing.
My fear froze my muscles. I couldn’t even swing again as they neared.
“No. Please don’t make me do this.”
Finally, the children’s faces changed, cracking smiles with sharp, sharp teeth.
Still just out of reach, they paused before they sprang. I swung again. Missed again. And those teeth tore into arms and right leg.
Hot blood poured with the pain, and I screamed.
In motion, I tried to throw them off, pushing with my stick without wanting to slice or stab.
Their teeth sank deeper, their fingers turning into claws that opened my flesh.
Sharp pain pierced my gut, cutting my screams to a gurgle.
“Help.” My voice quavered into nothing.
How could I? The decision was already made.
I dropped to my knees into the puddle of my blood that was quickly cooling and congealing.
Breathing was hard, and I couldn’t swallow. Something slithered from my middle and plopped into the mess.
Lights flashed, and my vision dimmed.
Watch the companion vlog where I play several rounds of my new mini game!