Day 11. Time to ratchet up the level of absurdity in this story. In the first chapter, Charlie Weaver “spoke” with telepathic “Yoda” cows. I think Charlie needs to tap into this ability again. Here goes:
Aryana and I stood at the cave entrance. The ground beneath our feet rumbled, but neither of us moved. We both just stared in wonder. Even though I grew up on a farm, I had never seen so many animals panicked at the same time. Bears, monkeys, lions, tigers, water buffalo, deer, and other wild animals rushed by the mouth of the cave. My body tensed because they were uncaged, but none of them glanced in our direction. After a few moments, I relaxed.
My eyes started to water. The big clouds of dust caused by the rush of animals reached the cave. I coughed and waved a hand in front of me, trying to clear the air. A herd of water buffalo raced by us. Their stampeding hooves echoed through the valley. “Where are they going?” I asked loudly.
“They must be heading for the river,” Aryana replied. She sniffed the air again and shook her head. “I don’t want to leave without Paw Paw, but the fire is getting closer. We have to get someplace safe.”
We finally agreed on something. I nodded. “Yeah, but where do we go?”
Follow the animals, Charlie Weaver.
“What? Did you just say something?” I turned to Aryana. Despite the gravity of our situation, I couldn’t help thinking how pretty she looked. All of those long dark waves and golden brown freckles made me forget my question for a moment. I could have just stood there staring into her big blue eyes for hours.
“No,” Aryana shook her head, loosening a few dark curls. I fought the urge to brush back the tiny tendrils around her forehead. “Nothing other than we need to leave. Why?”
Follow the animals, Charlie Weaver. There it was again. I pulled my gaze away from Aryana and looked outside of the cave. That voice. It sounded familiar.
I picked up my backpack and slipped the straps over my shoulders. I squared them and hoped Aryana noticed how broad they were. “We need to get out of here,” I said, deepening my voice. I liked how authoritative I sounded. It was time to start using this voice.
“I just said that,” Aryana said, picking up her backpack. “Honestly, do you ever listen to anything I say?” She rolled her eyes. It was a perfect imitation of Shivani Roy. Obviously, Aryana had been spending way too much time with my sarcastic sidekick.
Stop gawking at the girl, Charlie Weaver.
I started and looked around me. There it was again. The voice. And it obviously wasn’t Aryana. After a moment, I swear I heard the voice mutter something about always getting the slow ones. It continued.
For the last time, Charlie Weaver, follow the animals. They will lead you to safety.
“Who are you?” I asked out loud, craning my neck to search around us. There was no one else in the cave with us.
“Who?” Aryana stared at me, confused. She watched me look around the cave. “Who are you talking to?”
Take the girl and follow the animals. Do it now or be engulfed by the flames.
“Let’s follow the animals,” I repeated, grabbing Aryana’s hand. She pulled it away from me. I shrugged and stepped just outside of the cave. After spending so much time inside the dark cave, my eyes weren’t used to the light. I squinted in the bright sunlight.
“Are you insane?” she asked, backing away from me. “Those animals will trample us to death if we leave the cave.” She pointed behind her. “There’s a tunnel. Let’s follow it and see where it leads.”
No harm will befall you from the animals. But Asura flames are almost here.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I turned away from Aryana. My gaze fell on a dark figure approaching us. My first instinct told me that this was the creature I had seen on the cliff, but I dismissed the thought. It was someone wearing a dark hooded cloak.
I don’t know why I didn’t immediately run into the tunnel with Aryana. I just stood there, staring at the hooded stranger. Whoever it was seemed to glide towards us. I watched in amazement as it walked right into the stampede without losing pace. The animals didn’t trample the stranger. They continued to run, but left a wide berth around it.
“Charlie, we have to get out of here. That’s an Asura,” Aryana stepped out of the cave to grab my arm. She tugged me in the direction of the tunnel. “Run, Charlie,” she screamed, pulling on me.
I’m no Asura. The stranger stood outside of the cave and pulled back his hood. Aryana and I just stared at the stranger in shock.
It was a monkey.