Fire, yeah, I feel like that accurately describes what I'm feeling throughout my whole body. This isn't the first time I've felt like this, at least that time I was actually covered in fire. Let's take a step back, because I feel like I am getting a little ahead of myself, so let's go back five years before I ever felt such a feeling.
5 YEARS EARLIER
“Ziiiidus! Zidus!” I was awakened from a deep slumber from hearing my mother call out to me. If my moms yelling didn't wake me up, the piercing sunlight coming from the cracks in my clay hut would have. “Guess I minus well get up”, I thought as a got off the ground and preceded to wipe the dust and bugs off my body.
As I stood up, my mom came walking in, “Boy, all the other kids are already working in the fields and what are you doing, sleeping”. I cleaned the gunk out of my eyes while responding, “I'm not a boy anymore, I'm already fourteen, I'm a teenager, get it strait”. She walked behind me while saying, “A teenager would hurry up and get to work”. Next thing I knew, I felt my moms foot on my back and I was sent flying out the doorway.
I wasn't going to stick around for another kick, so I hurried away before she got a second chance. One of the villages elders saw me as I was running and yelled out, “Waked up late again!” So as I passed her, I replied, “Just a wee bit”.
It didn't take long to get to the fields, since my village was pretty small, I think at the moment, there's only about seven hundred of us. Surrounding the village was the fields that grew corn, tomato's, and beans. Actually, those were the only fields, I hear there are other villages that have other foods called squash and watermelon. Would definitely like to try something other than the three foods I've lived off of my whole life.
Since, my family was near the corn fields, that was where I got stuck working at least till I turn an adult and get put on water resupplies.
After entering a corn field, I noticed that a lot of the corn was light green, which means, they were thirsty. When the water gets here, we're going to have to use some of it in this part of the field.
As I made my way through the corn fields, my bones were sent flying out of my skin when out of no where, “ZIDUS!” was screamed from my side. After putting myself back together, I looked over to see the only adult you would find in our group. Her name is Jessica and she is the field manager, her job is to make sure everyone kept working. She pointed towards the rest of the group in a clearing where boys were plowing and the girls were planting seeds.
There was a bunch of hoes on the ground, so I grabbed one and joined the group. “Well, well, well, look who decided to join us”, Said a boy named Victor, who was two years older than me. He had brown hair as long as a woman, so I responded with, “Victoria, why aren't you planting seeds with the rest of the girls”. He smacked me in the back of the head, “Your jokes are sooo old”. From behind us Jessica hit us both on the heads while saying, “Stop blabbing your lips and get to work”.
To work we went, which was really fun if you like spending hours upon hours swinging at stick at the ground and pulling. Normally, I would space out, but this time the girls were so close that I just listened to them talk.
“So, I heard you applied for medicine woman”
“Yeah, but there's a lot of competition”
“See, that's why I applied for watchtower, not a lot of competition and all I do is look out into the world”
“Yeah, not a lot a competition, cause no one wants to get stuck doing nothing all day”
“I just hope I get the job I choose, I hate to get stuck working some random job”
“Watch, you get stuck here for the rest of your life like Jessica”
Jessica perked up from the last sentenced and yelled to the girls, “Slack off and I'll make sure this is the only job you'll ever know”. The girls quickly changed topics, but I couldn't get it off my mind. Men don't have much choice when it comes to jobs, since we have a higher muscle mass, we get stuck with hard labor jobs. Since the village is literally just clay houses, there is no jobs for manual labor in the village. That's why we all get stuck getting water from the frozen tundra a couple miles outside the village, because how much strength it takes to collect ice and push the wagons. The only other job is scout, but everyone wants that job and there's never any openings. The only other exception to getting out of water gathering is high intelligence, unfortunately, I lack in that department.
The rest of the day was pretty quiet, until from the distance, we heard the roar of a horn. A constant horn meant we were under attack, but the horn we heard had pauses. The pauses meant that the water carts were back. After hearing the horn, we all got to take break as Jessica headed to go get us a cart.
One of the boys ran his hands through his hair and said, “Who needs water carts, I got enough sweat to water all the crops”. This little comment sparked a group conversation that I think the boy immediately regretted starting.
“Too bad your smell is going to kill them all”
“Not just the crops, you're gonna kill us too”
“Ease off guys, we all smell”
“Oh, I think Stacy's got a crush on Robby”
“Shut up, nobody likes Robby”
“Dang, shot down right away, ruthless”
Everyone busted in laughter, all but Robby, instead, he muttered, “I hope you all get caught in a crazy storm”. I guess some would think that a crazy storm would be a huge storm, but in reality, it is a storm that contains a virus in it that turns anybody caught in it insane, at least that's what the adults say. But, the storm goes by many names, I personally call it a psycho storm while the adults seem to all call it the mad storm.
Eventually, Jessica came back with a couple of men pushing a cart. The cart was one of the few things in the village that was made with metal. And on it's sides are metal buckets and metal pickaxes. The buckets were meant for us, which meant break time was over. We all walked over and grabbed a bucket. We than took turns climbing up the wagon to fetch a pale of water. When it was my turn, I rose up to get mine to see a cart filled with chunks of ice floating in a pool of water. It was crazy to think that this water use to be all ice this morning.
The rest of the work day consisted of grabbing pales of water and watering light green sections of crops and soaking the dirt of the fresh plowed field. But, now that we used all the water, we were done. Since we are still considered kids, we only have to work one day and than we get a day off while another group takes over. There was at least six hours of daylight left, so I decided to head to my secret base.
I guess you could call me a bit of a loner, because while everyone is doing something with a friend or two, I was escaping the boredom of this tiny village and heading towards the ancient city by myself. It's impossible to go into the actual city, because the closer you get to it, the hotter it gets. The heat is emitted from the ground but with all the metal and concrete in the city, the temperature is crazy high. I once got too close and the air I breathed scorched my throat. I had to smash my food until it looked like a liquid just to eat. Those were definitely not fun times. Whatever that heat was, it was the thing allowing all the villages surrounding the ancient city to survive, because the further you get away, the colder it gets. I get's so cold that everything just becomes ice. The frozen tundra is the other reason mankind has survived for so long, because it is the only way we're able to get water. There is literally no water anywhere else. Keeping our crops alive and gathering water everyday is the villages highest priority. But, as far as I am concerned, that way of life is only surviving, I want to live.
There wasn't a cloud in the sky, so my walk toward the city was pretty toasty. It was also a very long walk, I could have made it to the frozen wasteland twice before making it to my hideout. Main reason the village is located closer to the frozen wasteland is because the ground was the right temperature to grow the crops.
Eventually, I made it to the city, but my destination was actually inside the city, but in a special way. You see, the city was built on top of these large cliffs. In one spot the cliffs have this huge valley running strait through it and in the middle is an island cliff that has my secret base on it's top.
I always bring extra cloths when I come to my base, because as I walk towards the island, I get the hot wind slamming against my body like a fiery gust of death. I covered my entire head, barely leaving any room to see out of and headed into the frying pan. I looked to the left and to the right at the cliffs, seeing some of the building or to be more correct, what's left of them. Looking at them, I couldn't help but think, “Just what kind of world the past must have been”.
There is a man called Leon, who comes to the village once a year and tells stories to everyone about the past. He tells how the cities had more than a million people living in them, carts that moved on their own called vehicles, and bodies of water called ocean that stretched farther than any eye could see. If those sounded unbelievable, he even mentioned that there use to be things called planes that allowed people to fly in the air and powerful planes called space ships that allowed people to travel to the stars. I probably wouldn't have believed him if it wasn't for the my secret base.
As I climbed to the top of the cliff, the sun was on it's last breath for the day, but just before the light disappeared, I saw the humongous green statue of the woman missing her right arm and holding something in her left. Just looking at this amazing statue that towered over everything, it wasn't hard to believe the stories of Leon. What really got me thinking is, how could such an advance civilization be reduced to a bunch of clay villages barley managing to survive.
This island didn't have enough metal and stone to super heat the air, so I was actually able to explore it. Underneath the statue was my secret base, it was a stone building that seem to be a pedestal for the stone woman. Inside the building was books that disintegrated when I touched them, smaller stone statues, and staircases that lead above and below. The staircase that lead below was in terrible shape and near impossible to go down, so I stayed away from it. The other staircases lead up to the top of the woman, at least I think it did, I haven't been brave enough to climb up, because it seemed to go up quite a bit. I may not have gone up it yet, but tomorrow is the day I face that fear, tomorrow I won't let fear keep me from living. If I do die tomorrow, at least I died living instead of just surviving.
Since it was dark out now, I found a nice part of the ground that wasn't too hot and dove into dreamland.
When I reopened my eyes, I immediately headed for the stairs, the day was fresh and I wasn't going to waste a single second. So, I quickly headed to the stairs without hesitation and I took the first step. Up and up I went, this time nothing could stop me, I was going to reach the top.
The more I climbed, the more I was starting to lose faith. For some reason, the stairs seemed to never end no matter how many I went up. My fears quickly vanished as a light appeared at the top, but new fear suddenly appeared. My foot went through the stair and I fell through the staircase and landed on the floor below. As I attempted to get back up, I caught a glimpse of a mountain of rubble coming to crush me like a bug.
I flew up drenched in sweat with massive amounts of adrenaline pulsing through my veins. Slowly, my breathing began to calm down and I began to figure out what just happened. Since it was still the middle of the night and I was back where I went to sleep, I must've just awakened up from a nightmare. After I slapped my face a few times, I laid back down, hoping to fall asleep and forget all about that horrible nightmare.
I had a few more dreams after that, but after waking up for real this time, they became like a distant memory. But, now that I got my rest and the sun was out, it was time to challenge the stairs. Unlike the dream, reality was much more frightening. Just approaching the stairs made my stomach squirm and as I stood in front of the stairs, it was like my feet were buried into the ground. No matter how hard I wanted to move body, it just wouldn't budge. Finally, I just, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!” with all my heart and the pressure seemed to fall off my shoulders.
My legs finally moved, but unlike the dream, the metal stairs made noises when I stepped on them. There was no racing to the top, the noises made it very clear that I had to be very careful when going up.
Even though the stair squeaked and made me feel like I could die at any moment, nothing happened. I passed a lot of floors, but than I came to a floor that had a picture of the building with the numbers 128 next to it. The picture also contained a picture of the statue and the numbers 290 next to it. There was another sign with words on it, but since I wasn't born with high intellect, I was never taught how to read. Since I didn't know how to read, I decided to keep climbing.
Soon, I had made it up a few flights of stairs and looked over a railing to see a small drop. It was nice to know if everything collapses, I'll at least survive the fall, maybe not the debris, but the fall yes.
At one point the stairs got smaller and I came to a weird room with a huge spiral staircases going strait up. I could see the top of the spiral staircase from the bottom, but there was just one problem. The stairs were very cramped and the metal burned when I touched it. I may have had enough clothes to cover my face, but my body was not so protected.
I guess conquering the statue wasn't going to happen today, so I figured I minus well start heading home, but first I was going to explore this floor.
The floor wasn't too big, but it had access to the outside. Approaching the opening, the blistering heat came flying at me, but it wasn't as bad as on the ground, so I didn't need to cover my face. At first I was blinded by the light from the doorway, but as I left the building, my vision returned and I could see the city in the distance. I notice I was on top of the building and when I looked behind, I could vaguely see the form of the statue. To be more precise, from my position, the statue looked like a giant green blob.
There was a walkway that seemed to go around the building, so I decided to go left. While, walking left I wondered just how much of the city I could see from atop the statue. I may not have been able to see a lot of the city, but I could see the whole island as I went around. The statue was located on one side of the island, but on the other side there seemed to be a bunch of buildings. I've never ventured to the other part of the island, because the statue was the cream of the crop, the eye catcher, the main attraction. I may have only came here a few times, but I've always had a new place to explore inside the statue, eventually, I am going to have to explore the rest of the island.
The sound of my stomach crying told me it was time to go back home. Especially since with this heat, I've been thirsty since yesterday.
Turns out the walkway did go all the way around and I found the statues missing arm, it was on the ground a little ways from the building. I was also able to see broken parts of the building from it falling.
Soon enough I found myself back at the stairs I came up from. Although, going down the stairs wasn't as scary, since I had already spent quite a bit of time going up them, the squeaks still got to me a little.
As I went down, I noticed another sign on the ground that had the picture of the building with the numbers 26 next to it and the statue with the numbers 188 next to it. I really wish I knew what those numbers meant, maybe I will figure it out next time.
When I made it back down, I went around the first and second level looking at the statues. There were a lot of statues of the big statue, but these statues still had her other arm. From what I could tell, in her other arm, she was holding fire.
Than I came to the statue of a big face. It was so large that it stretched from the top of the ceiling, down to the floor. I think Leon would call these things art, something that doesn't exist back at the village. If it doesn't contribute to the survival of the village, it isn't necessary. That's why, when I look at the giant face, I'm glad that at least here, I can experience something besides survival. When I grow up, I want to be like Leon and discover how he knows so much, unless he's just making it up. Still, even if he is just making it up, I still want to be like him, because I wish I could have such an imagination.
When I was done admiring my secret base, I started heading back. I say that everything was on cliffs, but there were actually a bunch of places that had hills leading up. At the moment, I was descending on such a hill, leaving behind everything I considered living to go back to surviving. Hopefully, I can return soon, I just hope my mom doesn't try and make me do stuff like the last few days I had time off.
I was prepared for the walk back, but something unexpected happened as I left the valley. Out of nowhere, people appeared. This was the first time I've seen people outside the village, of course they were still pretty far away, so I wasn't sure if they were from my village. Still, it would be nice to meet other people outside the village besides Leon.
Since I still had plenty of time, I figured I should go say hi to them. Of course if they are from my village, they could end up telling on me to my mom.
It wasn't long before the people noticed me and changed their direction towards my location.
As I got closer, I was able to see some of the faces and I was pretty sure these people weren't from my village. Especially since I think I would remember people with blood red eyes. As I approached them, I wondered if their entire village had blood red eyes.
My curiosity was on fire, I am really looking forward talking to this group of six guys from another village. Since I was finally close enough, I called out to them, “Hello, how are you today!” They responded, “We're good young one, what are you doing out here?” One of the guys behind him said, “Is your village near?” Than another said, “Maybe that's where he went”.
Quickly, I noticed something weird with these people, for one, they all had their eyes wide open while letting them wonder around. Than their eyes went back to focusing on me with such intensity that it was like they were trying to see through me. I no longer wanted to be around these people, especially since they made the hair on my back stand up. I felt leading them back to the village would be very bad, so I said, “Yeah, my village is actually a few miles in that valley over there”. The one who seemed to be the leader, bent down to be within eye level of me and said, “This is the part where you run”.
I was right, something was definitely wrong with these people and I needed to escape. As I turned around to run, my only thought was to make it back to my secret base, I would be safe if I made it there. Suddenly, my hope was destroyed as one of them grabbed me and pulled me to the ground before I could even take a single step. I was pinned to the ground while some of them fought with each other about which part of me they got to eat.
Was this really going to be my fate, to be eaten by other humans. No, I was going to escape, I still had so much to do, I wasn't going to let it end here. I stopped fighting back and waited till his grip lessened and than with all my strength, I struggled to break free. The man tried to get a hold of me again, so I bit as hard as I could on his upper arm and he completely let go of me. Quickly, I took that first step and than I went for the second step, but there was no second step. All there was, was my face being shoved strait down towards a big rock in the ground and than everything went black.
Suddenly, I was ripped out of the darkness and I found myself in an inferno. Fire devoured my right arm, but it had yet to reach the rest of my body. Immediately, I stood up to see myself in a sea of flames and on the ground, was dried up corn. I realized what was happening, they were going to cook me alive.
I didn't have time to think, the fire had reached underneath my feet, so I ran through the fire, thinking that I could escape with limited burns. But, than I quickly realized, I had a weird liquid on my body that the fire seemed to love. In less than a second, my entire body was engulfed by flames. I covered my face and just kept running, hoping the fire would leave my body, but from the intense pain that seem to only get worse, I knew I was going to die.
Than, a new feeling came out of nowhere, I was suddenly enveloped by what felt like a blanket and a voice saying, “I will save you”. Four words and they brought me back from the brink of despair. I felt no pain for a few moments and than, it all came back. It was more intense than when I was covered in fire, so much pain and all I could do was cry, scream, and wish for death. Than, for the second time, I felt a blow to my head and for a few more seconds, I was free from pain as my consciousness faded away.