Seven years ago when the canisters fell I hadn’t a moment in which to panic. Now that’s all I was doing.
Could I do what was necessary? Did I even have a choice?
IN PANIC MODE
Blindly I felt for the visor on my helmet. I’d never had a need to raise the protective shield so it took my hands a second to achieve the goal.
“Open your eyes as wide as you can, Em,” Carter commanded, “you should be able to see.”
I had my doubts. Why after so long would I suddenly see? I slowly opened my eyes as wide as I could and the searing pain that ripped through my skull had me quickly squeezing them shut again. The world out there was bright, so bright it was painful.
For seven years I’d lived in darkness. Now it was torture to even take a peek at the world.
My brother’s fast sprint had my head spinning. When he weaved left and my left thigh collided with something hard and sharp I let out a cry. Instinctively I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck. I pried my eyes opened again. The pain was still searing and a throbbing had begun that was jackhammering my brain tissue. I tried to focus my eyes.
The shades of grey that I usually saw were gone. A bright haze was now in its place.
Carter’s voice still clamoured into my ears. “Jam will have only another few seconds of sight to follow the trail of eggs, so you’re going to have to guide him. View the eggs as if they’re mines, Em, only you want him to stomp on as many as you can.”
My gut twisted. More eggs, more death. I nodded reluctantly and then a huge black shape appeared out of nowhere. “Right!” I screamed. “Veer right!”
My brother veered sharply right and barely missed bouncing off a massive rock wall. Jam’s pace didn’t slow although he did sway slightly. “Your turn.”
My heart skipped a beat. My brother’s sight was gone. It was up to me now and although I now had sight, it was far from adequate. I couldn’t see very much. The light from the eggs I had smashed was now well behind us. The veering right had also taken us down a darkened passageway. I opened my eyes wider still and desperately began to search for the fyre eggs.
I’d known I had been in some form of a cavern. That Carter had guided me through the cave’s entrance and through a series of passageways. The weak beam emitting from the torch light attached to my helmet weaved violently, offering me little opportunity to see. I pressed my head closer to Jam’s neck to try and steady myself.
It worked for the beam of light stopped bobbing and I vaguely made out the steamy haze extending downward from the rock forms above. It shroud the walls in a fine mist all the way down to the rocky ground like a fog and it was difficult to see through the wispy veil. Then I saw a glow. It was faint. I hoped it was a fyre egg.
“Right! Right!” I shouted.
Jam veered to the right and kept on running.
My eyes suddenly felt gritty and dry. I blinked several times. Tears stung my eyeballs. I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my head.
“Head up, Em!” Carter’s voice boomed through the speakers.
I jerked my head and snapped my eyes open again. Tears began streaming down my face.
I heard an egg crack. Another blinding flash of pain. Thankfully my brother kept moving.
“Left.” I cried. I spotted another egg ahead. The glow was brighter as if helping me to guide the way. “Go straight. Now right.”
Jam was excellent in following my instructions.
Jam travelled another ten yards when I started to feel his pace slowing. With my head so close to his I didn’t need to hear him through the speakers. His breathing was heavy and laboured.
My weight, such as it was, was beginning to fatigue him. I could only hope we were getting close. The thought of getting my first glimpse of a Prayers froze the blood pumping through my veins. I didn’t dare glance over my shoulder.
“Right!” I shouted again.
My brother veered right. Again another egg cracked. This time I ignored the blinding pain.
“That’s it, Em,” Carter’s voice echoed softly, “you’re almost there.”
Jam staggered. I felt myself slide to the right on his back. I tightened my grip on his shoulders before I could fall off. His pace slowed further.
“Get moving! Damn you, don’t stop!” Angie’s shrill voice coming through the speakers in my helmet was brittle sounding.
Jam’s head snapped up. I heard him suck in air. A second later he resumed his frantic pace.
A razor sharp pain suddenly sliced into the left side of my body.
“Son of a bit-!” Jam screamed, sending a bolt of terror through me.
Another spike sliced straight through my left arm, while another lodged itself into my upper shoulder. Then one just under my ribcage. All in rapid succession.
The pain was excruciating as more bore through my left thigh and down my left leg. Searing pain engulfed my body, then came a burning sensation. Fierce and piercingly cold. My heart stopped.
I heard a screech like I’d never heard before. It was my own. More tears welled in my eyes. My vision blurred. And then I was suddenly falling.
Jam was going down and now that several spikes had skewed us together, I was going down too.
We hit the rocky ground and I heard a crunching sound. I felt my body twist. I screamed in agony and terror as I tried not to black out. I heard Carter’s voice hollering. “Emmmaaaaleeeee!”
©Legend of the Sapphyre Wings by Janet Merritt