Chapter 6 - His Death -
Han woke to an empty hut. It was deathy silent, like a sound wave had exploded inside, destroying all sound. He could hear his every breath, but from inside his own head, like his ears were plugged. What is this ? Another dream ? Light poured in from every available hole from outside. He stood up and rustled some pebbles with his hand on the way up, but it still made no sound. He kicked the dirt trying to create some noise in the strange vacuum, nothing.
Han walked outside to see Nemag standing near a large tree. The dark skinned man seemed puzzled over something as he ran his hand along the trunk. He turned his head towards Han and spoke words, but no noise came from his mouth. Han shook his head and pointed to his ears, " I can't hear you. " Again Nemag seemed puzzled. He pointed to his own hands and shook his head. What is he trying to say ? Han shook his head and shrugged.
Nemag slapped his own hand hard, then shook his head and mouthed the word nothing. Han understood and nodded. He lost his feeling of touch.I'm sick of this, what kind of sick game is this island playing on us ? Without warning, Han's vision blacked out. He was completely blind, but his hearing returned to normal. The sensation made him fall to his knees.
" Han, " Nemag sounded worried from a few feet away, " I can't see. This has never happened before ! What have you done to anger the pit ! "
" I'm just along for the ride, Nemag ! Just like you ! I just wanna go home. " Han felt like busting out in tears, but clenched his teeth and stood up. He reached out with his hands and walked carefully until he felt the rough bark of a nearby tree. I'm not there, I'm not in the void.
Try again, Invader.
Han felt woozy, like he had only slept a couple of hours after a long night of drinking. His vision had returned, but he wasn't on the same part of the island anymore. He was in a circular clearing with ankle high grass, surrounded by tall trees. He stood up and tried to focus his vision on a black, shimmering shape in the middle of the clearing, everything else was clear and in focus, but this shape was an abomination to the natural function of his eyes. He squinted as he stood up, he looked away finally, to give his eyes a rest from the shape.
Your opportunity has come early, Invader.
" Good, " Han said, still keeping the shape in his periferal vision, " send me home then. I don't want to be a burden. "
You have one test remaining.
" Tell me what it is. " He said simply, wanting this meeting to end.
What is the hurry, Invader ?
Han still wouldn't look directly at the shape, but he knew it had opened its eyes. Two bright, white slits had appeared where it's head would be.
Are you frightened ?
" No. " Han's lower lip trembled as he saw the shape draw near. Now he tried to close his eyes but he couldn't, for fear if he did, he'd be dead. Stop thinking that way !
Ahh, the human lie. So interesting. All of you lie. The several thousand that I've collected beyond the stars, none could be honest to themselves. The human is so imperfect.
Han tried to close his eyes again, the shape stood only inches away from him now. The voice echoing in his mind like the screams of a hundred suffering children. He couldn't even bring himself to speak, or even move. Stay brave, Han Solo !
Oh, you'll need to be brave, Invader. In the end, we'll meet one final time.
Han Solo opened his eyes to see a bright blue sky above with light wisps of clouds floating by calmly. I'm not inside the Falcon. He felt the side of his head, water ? He sat up and saw that he had been lying right on the shore with the tide coming in. He had his wet, white undershirt on and his favorite brown pants. But his shoes and socks were gone, so was his blaster.
What happened ?
He tried to think back to recent events that might have brought him here. But his mind was still fuzzy on those details. I'm on some kind of shore, but what shore ? On what planet ? He stood up and felt the throbbing pain in his back, he winced as he stretched out to complete height. I took a nasty fall.
Where is the Falcon ?
" Wait a second. " Han stood still for a moment. " No, it can't be ! Day one ! "
" Solo ! Solo ! "
Han snapped out of his trance at the scream of a distant, distressed voice coming from far in the thick of the woods. That was Nemag, he's in trouble ! Han sprinted up the beach and jumped into the thick tangle of trees towards the screaming. After several minutes of running through the bush, he stopped for a quick breath and listened.
" Nemag ! " Han roared, followed by a distant echo. He waited for a response, but only got the buzzing of insects and the chirping of a few birds.
" Make a noise, " Han roared again, worry painted on his face, " I don't know where you are ! "
" Solo ! " The voice was barely audible, but Han got the direction right and he immediately darted off into the thick brush to give chase. Hang on Nemag, we can get through this nightmare.
Han jumped over a fallen log and quickly felt the tremendous tug on his right ankle, his world quickly spun upside down. After a moment of dazed confusion, he looked at what happened. He was swinging from his right ankle from a rope trap. He stretched out his hand but he couldn't reach the fallen log for any leverage. He heard the snapping of twigs as a figure approached. He breathed a sigh of relief as the upside down face of Nemag approached him.
" Hey, " Han greeted his friend, " looks like I fell into one of your traps. Heh. Are you alright ? I heard your cry for help and came runnin'. "
" I'm quite alright. " Nemag responded in a low, sad sounding voice.
" Cut me down, I have to tell you about my visit to the void. " Han grunted, his awkward hanging was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
" I. I can't. " Nemag closed his eyes and seemed to struggle with his thoughts.
" What are you talkin' about ? Cut me loose ! "
" I was in the void as well. " Nemag turned his back and removed his dirty head bandana. He reached into the front of his tunic and brought out a rusty knife. He examined it and turned back to Han. " You see, my final test is to set you free. "
" Well, " Han pointed to the vine holding his ankle, " don't let me stop you. "
" You don't understand ! " Nemag exploded in anger, his grey eyes suddenly wild, " The final test is to kill you ! Then I'll be back home ! So will you, but you'll be dead ! "
So that's it, give us the same test. " Whoa ! Wait a damn second Nemag ! " Han held his hand out as the dark skinned hunter raised his knife to strike.
" Don't say anything ! Accept your fate ! "
" Nemag ! Don't be a fool ! Everything that's happening is REAL ! " Han roared as he started to spin slightly, giving Nemag the opportunity to jam the knife into the back of his head if he desired.
" Shut up ! None of this is real ! " Nemag's voice caught, Han swung his arm to try to spin back around.
" You said it yourself Nemag ! You remember crash landing on the island in an escape pod ! You entered some kind of electromagnetic warp hole and ended up HERE ! If you kill me it will be murder, and you'll be left alone on this island to deal with whatever force or ghost alone ! " Han's face was beat red now as sweat rolled into his eyes.
" No, " Nemag seamed to calm down a little, " I've been here a long time, Solo. I've poured over every possible scenario of my last moments before coming to this island. The final moments were figments of my overactive imagination, an invention of a lie that I finally believed to be true, but it is not. If you keep telling yourself one thing over and over during a long period of time, it starts to become a reality in your mind. "
My spirit will not roam this island forever. " You will face a lifetime of my death on your conscience. "
" No, the void told me I'd completely forget about this place a day after I return home. " Nemag said without emotion, he then let out a roar and plunged the rusty knife into Han's neck. He grabbed Solo by the back of the hair, closed his eyes and twisted the knife in deeper as blood gushed all over him. Han made a sickening gurgle noise and stopped twitching after a moment. Nemag opened his eyes and staggered back from his kill. He fell over a tree root onto his back. Nemag gaped at his blood soaked tunic and the knife, he quickly threw the weapon into the bushes. He jumped to his feet, careful not to look at the grotesque corpse swaying and dripping blood all over the ground.
" It's done ! " Nemag screamed to the sky. His echo responded.
" I said, IT'S DONE ! SEND ME HOME ! " Nemag roared as loud as he could as tears rolled down his blood splattered cheeks.
" SKWALK ! " Nemag spun around to see Scrap chewing in the hole on Han Solo's neck.
" YOU HUNGRY ? " The bird cawed while it flapped its colorful wings.
Han jumped up from his mattress inside the hut holding onto his neck, he crashed into the hut wall and fell back to the ground gasping for air. Nemag spun around on his own mattress in complete shock. Scrap flapped his wings and took off out of the hut quickly, sending feathers floating down to the floor. Han quickly crawled on his hands and knees towards Nemag and grabbed him by the front of the tunic.
" What did you just dream about ? Tell me ! " Han tightened his grip.
" I-I-I had a v-visit with the void. " Nemag was shaking and having trouble controlling his shock.
" What did it tell you ? Do you…." Han was interrupted by a hard kick to the chest by Nemag. Han did a back somersault in the dirt and rolled half way back to his own mattress.
Nemag jumped up with a crazed expression. " You know damn well what it told me ! The future ! " He reached under his mattress and took out the rusty knife. He walked over to Han and grabbed him by the back of the hair, he jabbed at Han's neck but his hand was grabbed quickly. Han gave the dark skinned hunter a hip toss to the ground sending the knife flying to the corner of the hut. Han rushed over and picked up the knife but Nemag tackled Han from behind sending them both crashing right through the hut wall. Broken branches and leaves flew in every direction as the two combatants rolled down a steep embankment. The knife spun into the tall grass.
Both men jumped up, but Nemag was quicker on the attack. He smashed Han with a quick left and right sending him falling down next to a tree. Nemag turned and quickly searched for the knife. Han recovered and hit Nemag with a swinging right hand shot, staggering him for a moment. Han dashed in and tried a straight left but Nemag deflected the punch with his elbow and gave Han two quick left jabs and a right hook. Han staggered forward and grabbed the front on Nemag's tunic, he gave the hunter a hard head butt to the face, then a clumsy right and left sent Nemag falling to his back in the tall grass. Han staggered back and fell next to another large tree. He pawed his way up the tree gasping heavily.
Nemag stood up from the tall grass, with the rusty knife in his hand. He smirked evilly as blood dribbled down his chin. He rushed at Han, who used his both hands to corral the knife arm of Nemag. Han tried to wrestle the knife away, Nemag plunged the knife towards Han's stomach, but his wrist was twisted right before he had a chance to slice open Han's gut. They wrestled closely with the knife barely missing each others torsos…
Han woke up face down on a cold floor in complete darkness. He felt like he was just regurgitated from a Bantha. He shivered in the presence of a black shape approaching, a darker shape in the already dark room. He shivered again in fear.
I failed the test. This is the end.
The dark shape stood directly over him, he turned away, hoping not to catch the shape opening it's bright white eyes. The shape said something, but it sounded distant, like it was a mile away. Han said something in return but the darkness swallowed his words like a storm drain swallowing a torrent of rain. The dark shape grabbed Han in a strange embrace, almost cradling him. He could feel a thousand tiny maggots tickle his arms, he could smell a strong sulfur, a sudden sensation of falling, his physical form quitting this world.
A physical touch with the entity. I can feel the darkness covering me like a blanket, the shape will devour me and I'll be released onto the island like the thousands of other spirits before me. If this is my last moment in the void, if this is my one and only time with the physical form of the entity, I must know just one thing…
With every ounce of his last bravery, Han reached up into the darkness to feel the strange shape of the entity's face. It was oddly contorted, leathery to the touch, inhuman.
What is your name ?
" Who are you ? " Han asked into the darkness, his words reverberated clearly this time.
He could hear the thing move it's arms.
" Someone who loves you. "
Thank you for reading Stranded, please review!