Tales Of The Apocalypse: Book II - The Rift
The night was lit almost as bright as day, except for the festering green hue that was imbued by the moon to all under its baleful glow. Then it struck me; the moon was always full! It went through no normal phases as is natural! I pondered deeply on this new revelation, so much so that I did not notice the passage of time.
At some point, the drumbeat captured my distracted mind and I wandered off away from camp into glowing and undulating wood, seemly not in control of my thoughts or my movements, leaving behind my pack and shotgun, carrying only my EDC carry and my large sheath knife on my belt.
I wandered a path of moonlight throughout the strange forest and was soon presented with a sight from my nightmares: The City in the Lake! The horror I felt on seeing this aberration nearly caused me to collapse, but weak-kneed and trembling, I was drawn onward. I followed what I deduced from the prior dreams to be one of the alleys, running like a spoke of a wheel to the central amphitheater and that awful throne.
I encountered no creatures on my way to the central horror, and soon I arrived. There on either side of me stood a large toad, and they each reached out and grasped me firmly, dragging me bodily to that ghastly throne. It was then that I noticed the throng of toad-things waiting silently in attendance to the oncoming spectacle. We stopped before the curiously empty throne and waited for a short time. There was a rustling among the crowd and then the great toad lept upon his throne and looked me over intently.
Then he croaked out that dreadful chant;
"ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
The throng of toads then replied:
"ay Cthulhu, ay Cthulhu, wgah'nagl fhtagn"
This went on and on for a time as the toads began to work themselves into a frenzy. The king-toad turned and pointed at me and squawked louder:
"ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
And then he reached for me.
I screamed in fear and with an enormous burst of adrenalin fueled strength, tore myself from the grasp of my captors.
I burst thru a forest of grasping claws that tore at my clothing and shredded it. Still, I did not pause in my flight and fled headlong down the alley which I had come. Surprisingly I met no resistance in my escape and was soon back in the forest. I stopped to catch my breath and get my bearings with my compass when I noticed the needle slowly spinning in a circle. It being useless at this point, I thrust it back into my pocket and strode off on what seemed to be my previous trail in hopes of finding my camp and the slumbering Andy.
As I left that awful city and regained more of my senses, I noticed the fog that was rolling in, covering the land with its masking blanket and obscuring landmarks so as to make safe navigation as difficult as possible. The light of the moon fused with that of the fog at ground level into so hideous a color that covered the landscape. It was almost like wading thru a deep pool of vomit , waist level.
Soon I stumbled onto the trail we had been following, identifiable by its heavier usage compared with others I had crossed. I had no idea which way to go to camp and was standing there pondering my situation when I noticed a glow of light thru the foul blanket of confusion that lay about my waist. Had I gone left I would have missed my camp entirely and would have needed to backtrack for perhaps hours.
I turned right and soon I was in camp again. The fire had flared up as I stood there pondering which direction to follow, providing the guiding light to return me safely to camp. I stumbled into our semi-bivouac, exhausted from my ordeal in the woods and tossed more wood upon the fire. I then resolved to never again be without the shotgun, and donned the assault sling. Being done in, I readied myself to wake Andy for her shift, pausing for some minutes to listen to the sounds of the forest for anything out of place and hastily changing out of my torn clothing. Hearing nothing, I roused the mumbling Andy to take her place on watch. I then fell into a dreamless sleep until morning arrived.
Andy woke me around 9:00 AM, determined to let me sleep in as I had seemed so exhausted the night before. Since we were planning to spend one more day in this same spot, we set about gathering wood for the fire early as to get it out of the way. Breakfast was delayed until this had been accomplished, then we settled in for some hot oatmeal and some more of Dad's cappuccino coffee mix. With breakfast and cleanup out of the way, we were free to concentrate on the next project.
Now I was confronted with the dilemma of what to do with the surplus supplies. I did not want to cache them and did not want to do a portage of them. Finally we decided on a plan. Actually it was Andy's suggestion, and it was a good one. That girl is really starting to surprise me!
We constructed a travois for each of us, and loaded the remaining full buckets on each. I then placed Dad's pack on mine, being the stronger of the two of us, I would carry the heavier load. In this manner we might possibly be able to carry all items to the cabin, rather than re-burying them to return to later.
Excited at this new development, we resolved to break camp and not wait another day. The more distance I put between myself and that waking nightmare I had experienced, the better. I was still feeling off in my mind and the prospect of having something else to focus on was a relief.
Based on our previous pace, we made perhaps 6 miles that day, heavy laden as we were it seemed to be a respectable pace. As we made camp I could tell that the exhausted Andy was excited about being so near our objective. That night at dinner Andy made some ranger pudding for a treat along with some skittles sprinkled on top. I asked her half jokingly what the special occasion was and she responded: “It’s my birthday you big doof!” Andy had turned thirteen amid the horror and tribulations on the trail, losing both parents and having her world turned inside out.
I gave her a big hug and refrained from saying happy birthday; there was not much to be happy for other than our continued survival for one more day of toil and hardship, with who knows what unknown horrors and monstrosities awaiting us. Andy told me I was a pessimist and stuck her tongue out at me. What a girl!
We talked for awhile sitting around the fire, the ever-present drum throbbing its vile tempo throughout the night. Andy turned in and I began my watch once again, kept company with the drum and the hideous green moonlight.
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