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There is a loud splat and I opened my eyes. I am stuck, swimming in something thick and goopy, waist deep into whatever it is. I yank the bat out of the junk.
“YUCK!” Jim swears, somewhere to my right. It is dark once more.
“Yes,” Jim and I reply in unison.
We listen to the retching, snarling and stomping of feet coming from above us in silence. I am afraid that the metal would give way, but another loud roar silences them all. We hold still, not daring to make any noise for a minute until shuffling is heard. Then, a torchlight clicks on, revealing a tunnel before us, filled with junk up to our waists.
“Wow. We sure are in deep shit,” I murmur.
Matt shines the torchlight around. We take the chance to survey our injuries. Jim’s neck is scalded red raw as are my hands. Matt takes out a tiny tube of ointment and we rub it over our injuries. By the time we are done, the tube is empty. Matt tosses it into the waste.
“If we are all good to go, let’s move, before she destroys the metal cover,” Matt says softly.
“I think she would have done that already if she’d wanted to.” Jim has a point, but I move off anyway. The faster we get out of this place, the better.
We trudge through the waste silently. The journey is labourious; we have to constantly throw our weight forward in order to bring our legs through the thick waste. Even though I lead the way, I have absolutely no idea where we are heading to. All I am doing is praying that we exit somewhere safe, somewhere that can lead me to Dad safe and sound.
It feels like it has been almost an hour since we landed in this sewer. The muscles in my thighs are burning as though they, too, had been scalded by those skeletons. The only consolation I have is that the waste seems to be thinning already. Then, round a bend, we stop at a fork. A faint sound of water flowing comes from our left.
“Let’s go there. It’s probably an opening,” Matt says.
I can hardly bring myself to remind him that it is perhaps just someone flushing the toilet. But we proceed left anyway and arrives at a metal gate.
“What is this?” I ask. “Where does this lead to?”
“I believe it is to prevent the waste from clogging up. This path should lead to a canal. We can get out from there.”
Matt brings out his crowbar again and we push together, prying the gate open. We follow the path down and indeed, the air is clearing. The gate has apparently been effective in segmenting the waste, for there is none on the ground now. The smell, however, lingers in my nose.
“Do you think we’ve walked long enough to be out of school?” I whisper.
“Yes, I think so.”
Before long we can see the sky, dotted with little stars twinkling. I begin taking the route at a run, water splashing at my feet. The other two follow closely behind me and I feel the mood lightening. Soon, the wall of the canal is low enough for us to climb out. Jim pulls himself up first then helps Matt and I up. The sky is still dark and there is no retching nor any glowing skeletons in sight. The streetlamps are working, lighting up the area well. Not far away from us, there are outlines of roller coasters.
“We need to go somewhere,” Matt says, looking around.
“Yeah. Like maybe go for a thrill ride or something,” I suggest, nodding towards the theme park in the distance.
There is a moment’s silence at first, and then we burst out laughing, clearly very much relieved at our escape. We walk towards the theme park silently, worn out from our ordeal. When we finally arrive at the gates of the theme park, however, we are greeted by the ominous absence of a security guard at the gate.
“Shouldn’t there be someone here?” I ask, frowning at the security post.
“We’ll just wash up. Make it quick, come on,” Matt says, pushing me towards the gantry. Reluctantly, I climb over it and land in the theme park. We walk in a straight line, side by side, heading straight for the bathroom sign across a facade of a Hollywood street. Finally we reach the washroom. The boys dart into theirs and I dawdle outside, thinking. Then, not wanting to be left all alone, I decide to go into the boys’ washroom as well.
“HEHEHE! HAAAAHAAAHAAA!” A cackle whips through the air, raising goosebumps on my arms.
I spin around.
“Who’s there?” I ask as loudly as I dare.
A long silence came in reply.
I scan the place quickly for any sign of chaos which had happened here before, but all seems quiet and calm. The displays in the shops are still arranged in an orderly manner. An action figure poses in the window of one shop and the window next to it has ornaments glinting under the moonlight. My eyes land on the shop selling Goth dolls. All of them bore huge round eyes and little black lips. A tiny doll sits on a rocking chair and stares back at me, unblinking. Its piercing glare is creeping me out. I move my eyes onto the candy shop next to it. Then, a slight disturbance makes me do a little double take.
The chair is rocking slightly and then it slows to a stop. The doll is gone.
We are not alone.
I turn to run into the washroom where the boys are, but they are already sprinting out towards me. Jim gestures for me to turn around and I obey immediately. Loud cackling fills the air and the door to the doll shop bursts open. Monsters flood out, bouncing on stilts towards us. All of them have big red noses and bright red lips flipped inside out. There are black circles round their gigantic eyes that are rolling backwards in their mutated lids. Dressed in circus costumes, one of them waves the tiny Goth doll, cackling menacingly. Then, it hurls the doll towards us. I yelp and duck. The doll hits the ground and starts crying.
Fear spreads through my body. My legs almost give way, muscles burning in protest of fatigue. Jim drags me along as I throw the bat aside to lighten my load, but the monsters are catching up on us. At last, we reach the other side of the theme park. The road spills onto an open beach.
“The beach!” I gasp.
A strange, low humming creeps into the air and down my spine. Something else is coming for us, I just know it.
“Up a tree!” I yell, recalling my hiding place the night before. My eyes sweep the place and lands on a tree not too far away. “That one!”
We flee towards it, feet sinking into the sand. Then a strange gurgling noise emerges from our right, joining in the ruckus. Out of the corner of my eyes, shadows rise out from the sea. One by one they trudge forwards, all of them holding daggers, poised to strike. Dripping wet, they move towards us, still gurgling. We have to get to the tree as fast as possible in order to avoid getting cornered on the ground.
Jim reaches the tree first. He jumps and catches hold of the first branch. After pulling himself up, he reaches back down to help me up. A loud cracking ensues from the tree branch – it is too heavy to hold both of our weights.
“Up!” Jim cries. I scramble up to the second branch and he follows closely behind. I look down frantically to check if Matt is catching up. He is at the bottom of the tree, having trouble climbing. I start making my way down to get him. But before I can reach the lower branch, he catches hold of it and heaves himself up. Quickly, I sat myself down on the second branch and dangle upside-down, using my legs to cling on.
“Come on!” I yell at Matt, stretching out my hand for him, knowing that his branch will give way anytime soon. He reaches up high for it, but he isn’t tall enough. “Jump!” I call out desperately.
But it is too late. The branch gives way with a loud crack and Matt crashes all the way down to the sand. He gets up, looks around wildly as the monsters close in on him. Then he dashes towards another tree in the distance. But before he can reach the tree, a dagger flies out of nowhere and strikes him on the back of his neck. He collapses, face down, onto the sand.
“No!” I scream.
The creatures from the sea look up when they heard my voice and I quickly sat up. A dagger misses me by inches and sticks to the branch behind me. Then the jesters bounce upwards, attempting to grab my dangling legs. I quickly duck behind the tree trunk to take cover as leaves rain upon me; Jim is making his way to the top of the tree. I climb as fast as my weary legs can carry me, out of the way of the terrible clowns. Finally, I reach the top and peek out from behind the leaves.
One of the creatures from the sea is pulling the dagger out from Matt’s neck and then slits it across his throat. Blood spurts out from his wound as the rest carry him towards the sea. Matt is clearly dead. I gasp as moonlight cast itself onto those creatures.
They are gray, covered in scales that gleam beautifully under the moonlight. Like their cousins, their facial features are turned inside out. But something is a little different about them. There are slits on the sides of their necks and they flare outwards rhythmically. One of them dons an eye-patch.
“Pirates,” I whisper.
When the mob reaches the sea, all of them crowd around Matt’s body and starts gagging. Eye-patch emits a loud cry, very much like a war cry and some sort of a chant. Then Matt seems to go into spasms as his eyelids starts turning outwards as do his nose and lips. Scales then slowly spread, covering his skin and his entire body. Finally, slits appear on the sides of his neck. The mob releases him as his eyes open and he starts gasping for breath. He sinks into the sea and emerges a moment later, very much alive.
“No way,” Jim murmurs, his mouth gaping open in disbelief.
Eye-patch draws a dagger out from the water and hands it to Matt, who takes it over with a bow. Then Eye-patch puts a scaly hand over Matt’s shoulders and in uniformity, the mob dives and disappears into the sea, claiming Matt as one of their own.
The Final Evolution © 2013 by Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.
Written by: Ms. Auby Sparksfield
Edited by: Isaac Tan
Click here for Chapter 3