Tales Of The Apocalypse: Book II - The Rift
We spent all of today traversing that tortuous path, and we have still not gotten through that punishing trail. We finally located a dry patch just before dark on which to camp, where we found some brush and other debris with which to construct a fire.
We were both pretty dead on our feet, so there was no conversation over dinner. I offered to take the first watch and tend to the single fire. We had only one as there was not as much wood in this washout as on the forest edge where we had camped before. Andy agreed and was soon off to her bed.
Consulting the map and compass as I sat alone around the fire, I determined we had traveled just over a mile that day!
What a disappointment that was!
I decided not to tell Andy as I didn't want to cause her to lose heart.
I had learned to read map and compass while I was in the Scouts, and practiced it whenever we had gone camping. Got to to keep those skills from getting rusty!
While we labored on the path that day, we found ourselves backtracking multiple times when our trail would dead-end in a cliffs edge or a pocket of house sized boulders, pools of deep water and flats of stinking mud. It was all there, waiting to trap or mislead us!
There towards the end, I was forced to portage ours and Dad's packs through a particularly bad stretch while Andy provided overwatch. She is a bit of a tomboy, and always played army with the neighborhood boys when we were not much younger. Then it was Call Of Duty and Battlefield on the Xbox. So she took to the role of overwatch with a bit of enthusiasm added.
That was fine with me, as I had my hands full. Dad would take us both out shooting and Andy became a pretty fair shot with the .22lr and the AR-15. The recoil of the shotty was a bit too much for her so she shied away from shooting it, but she knew it's operation.
I have noticed that the humming is getting louder now, like standing next to a hive of angry bees. I have not been able to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon that was engulfing the town, but I think that is where the humming originates. If so, the increase in volume indicates that it may be drawing closer.
I woke Andy and turned watch over to her, crawling into the tent and that welcoming bed.
My head no sooner hit my jacket pillow than I began to dream once more.
Once again I beheld that city in the dry lake bed. It's cyclopean structures of obsidian black, looming above the streets, teeming with throngs of toad like creatures going every which way. I wandered about, ignored by them, seemingly unseen as a ghostly presence amongst them. I noticed then, that the arrangement of the streets was that of a large circle that was formed by the outer monoliths, with ever smaller circles forming the streets in the inner city until they ended in a central amphitheater. The circles were intersected by alleys that ran straight from the center of the city to the outer monoliths and beyond.
As I wandered the streets, marveling at the grotesque geometry, I heard a chanting , and began to look for the source. Soon I found a huge gathering of the awful creatures in the amphitheater, surrounding a central dais upon which rested a grotesque throne.
There sat a larger than normal toad-thing, clad in a horrible colored clothing of sorts, it's horns shorn to within 8 or so inches of its skull and capped with gold. It croaked a hideous chant;
"ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
to which the gathered throng chanted back; "ay Cthulhu, ay Cthulhu, wgah'nagl fhtagn"
They chanted this over and over until some unseen signal flung them into an orgy of horror and violence. They literally tore their human prisoners to shreds, bathing in the gore chanting "ay Cthulhu fhtagn" over and over.
The creature on the throne turned to me and grasped my shoulder, pulling me into the midst of the horror, at which I shrieked and pulled away.
The timid voice of Andy broke into my dreaming and asked "Are you okay?"
I croaked out a "NO!". She then told me it was time to get up and eat before breaking camp and beginning the struggle for the day. What she said next shocked me.
"What does 'ay Cthulhu, wgah'nagl fhtagn' mean? You were saying it over and over in your sleep."
I told her it was just something from a dream that I was having, and wasn't important.
As I headed out of the tent she asked me if I could hear the drums?
Sure as shit, there in the stillness of the ebbing night, barely audible was a throbbing as of some mad drummer, pounding out a maniacal rhythm to which no discernible pattern could be recognized.
I am beginning to be extremely frightened at the events that are occurring. The drums, the beasts, the humming and those nightmarish dreams that seem so real!
It is now day 8 and we remain an alarming distance from our goal. It was late afternoon before the pathway and the washout departed company, and we finally made some good time before needing to make camp once again. Andy made dinner while I consulted the map to see how far the next cache was. Cache 4, meant to be reached by day 4, was still 3 miles away up an ever climbing trail.
I now dread going to bed, the nightmares seeming to be lurking just behind closed eyelids. I don't want to frighten Andy, but I fear she is picking up on it also as those drums seem to become louder and meld with the hum that is overtaking us.
The perverted moon has come out from hiding behind its sheltering clouds to bathe us this evening with that hideous glow it has now acquired.
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