by Eclipse of Light
Chapter 10: Fear
Yay, another update! Due to the positive responses I got on the last chapter, I don't think I'll be rewriting it. It's pretty long and took forever to write in the first place, and I'm worried if I rewrite it I'll mess it up completely. Besides, I'm lazy. Heh. Heheh.
Anyways, please enjoy this latest chapter!
It took a few hours for Link to be able to talk again, and another half hour or so after that for him to be able to move even stiffly. So it was nearly nightfall before he was able to walk out of the tent (albeit with Dr. Cockroach's help) to speak with the others. Susan had insisted he stay inside and rest, but he wanted to share what had happened with all of them, and Susan was simply too large to fit inside the tent.
As Link came outside, BOB pushed a chair forward for him to sit in. He gladly took it, giving the blue blob a kind smile as he did so.
"Thanks, buddy," he said. BOB just nodded, looking worried even through his beaming expression.
"Link, are you okay?" Susan asked. She wanted desperately to be able to hug him tightly, but she knew that would probably crush him and kill him, which she did not want. He probably didn't want that either, now that she thought about it.
Link nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine. Freaked out, but fine."
"What happened?" Dr. Cockroach asked as he pulled another chair forward to sit across from Link.
"I...I don't really know," Link said, shaking his head, "Clara led me off into the woods, and when I told her I was coming back here, something attacked me...or...us, I guess."
"You guess?" Susan asked, looking confused.
"Well, it sorta crossed my mind that she...summoned that thing from the ground to attack me. She mentioned something about how I 'planted the seed of doubt,' or whatever, and then that thing came up out of the ground-"
"What thing?" Dr. Cockroach asked.
Link, for the first time since coming out of the tent, looked up from the ground and made eye contact with Dr. Cockroach, "You remember that horror movie I made you guys watch?"
Dr. Cockroach scoffed, crossing his arms, "How could I forget it?"
"The monster in that movie? The giant worm thing? It looked like that."
Susan blinked, "What? How?"
Link shrugged, "I don't know, but that's what I would compare it to. But it had, like, a gazillion legs, and these claws. And it shot webs like a spide-"
"Wait," Dr. Cockroach said, once more interrupting Link. Link gave a slightly annoyed huff as Dr. Cockroach disappeared back into the tent. He exchanged a confused look with Susan, who just shrugged.
Before long, Dr. Cockroach came back outside, holding the book Susan had stolen from Clara. They'd never gotten the chance to return it to its hiding spot, and truth be told, Susan had actually completely forgotten about it.
"There is a creature in this book," Dr. Cockroach said as he sat back down and began flipping through the pages, "It's the creature we looked at and skipped over when Miss Brenda gave us her account of her attack. The supposedly extinct Scolopendra Primamplio. According to Clara's description of the creature, it looks like a giant centipede." He finally managed to find the page and pointed to the picture. He turned the page toward Link, "Link...is this what you saw?"
Link took a moment to process the picture, looking the creature over for a few seconds. Then, he visibly paled as he sat back in his chair, looking as though he were trying to get away from the creature pictured on the page. He nodded, though Dr. Cockroach didn't really need an answer by that point.
He closed the book and Link visibly relaxed. Susan looked both angry and saddened by the whole ordeal, and BOB just looked afraid. BOB couldn't remember the majority of information he took in, but the one thing he was absolutely certain he couldn't remember was the last time Link looked so visibly frightened. Link had always been the strong one in the group, and even when he was afraid he would jump into the fray and fight like the warrior he was. He never showed fear, not in all the time BOB had known him. BOB considered Link to be one of his heroes for this reason. Now watching Link show real terror and actually shrink away from something as simple as a picture, BOB felt afraid for him. He wanted to cry for his friend, and really wanted nothing more than to give Link a comforting hug and cheer him up with a joke.
Though even in his stupidity, he was pretty sure that wouldn't work at this point.
Susan looked as though she was about to cry, and in fact was fighting back tears. They burned in her eyes and she swallowed hard. She wasn't sure why she didn't want to let the guys see her cry. She had never been shy about her emotions around them before, and there was no real reason that she could find to be shy about them now. All she could figure was that Link's earlier comment, about Clara being the one who may have somehow summoned the beast, seemed to have really struck her hard.
The statement itself was odd. Surely no one person had the power to summon a creature of the sheer size and strength that this thing had to have been. It had taken down Link and captured Monger, two of the strongest members of their team when Susan was counted out, and had burrowed out of there fast enough to get away from them before they arrived at the scene. If Clara did have the power to summon something like that, then why hadn't Susan noticed something? Surely there had to have been signs of such power, right? Was she just that oblivious? If this was the case, then she was partly to blame for the attack on Link. Right?
"Hey," Link said, and Susan turned to look down at him, "You okay, Girly-Girl?"
Susan gave a light chuckle and shrugged, "Yeah, I guess. I just...I was really worried that...I was afraid we'd...we'd lost you. Heh."
"Aw, Susie. Glad to know you care," Link joked, giving her a small smile, "I'm fine, so you know."
Susan nodded, but she knew it wasn't the whole truth. He wasn't fine, not mentally or emotionally. She, like BOB, had noticed him shrink away from the picture of the Scolopendra Primamplio. And she, like BOB, was worried about it.
Link was one of her heroes too, after all.
"Susan, really," Link said with a curt nod, "I'm fine. I promise."
BOB, who was closest to Susan, reached out a hand and placed it on her knee in a form of comfort. Susan gave the blob a smile and sniffed a bit. Sometimes all it took was a simple touch. But sometimes Susan wanted so much more than that. She wished she could get a real hug from her friends when she needed it most, but she was just too big for that to happen.
This was one of those times that she wanted a hug. A nice, long, tight hug.
Dr. Cockroach had never been able to sleep very well, even before he'd managed to turn himself into a bug. His mind was constantly working, thinking up news ideas or trying to figure a way to fix the old ideas. It was actually physically impossible for him to get his mind to calm down enough to get enough sleep throughout the night. This was a normal thing for him from childhood.
And it had gotten worse.
From the moment they'd arrived in Colorado, nothing had made any sense. They'd met Clara and their lives had become nothing but a jumbled mess of confusion and questions. Was Clara the one behind this? Did she summon the creature, or was she working for it? Was she even involved with that thing at all? Did the Bigfoot have anything to do with it, or was this all just some elaborate ruse to get them all out here? Was there even a Bigfoot here?
All of these questions had managed to get stuck inside Dr. Cockroach's mind, and he was unable to rid himself of them. He was unable to sleep.
And it was frustrating.
He rolled over on his cot, staring at the dark ceiling as he let out a sigh. Every now and then, the silence was broken by a snore coming from one of the other two cots in the tent. He wondered absently what time it was, and if he'd managed to get any sleep at all. Most normal people would classify this sort of thing as insomnia... he thought to himself. Great. Just what he needed.
His mind wandered to Susan. The poor woman had been distraught when it had come time to go to sleep. She didn't want to leave her friends, and she didn't want to sleep alone in the tent. One would have thought she was the one who had been attacked, with the way she was acting. It made sense, of course. She had been the one who had first seen Link, and the image of his seemingly lifeless body had probably burned itself into her mind. She didn't want to leave them for fear of having to see something like that again. And, if Dr. Cockroach knew anything about the human psyche, or even Susan herself, he knew she was probably blaming herself in some way for the way the attack happened. If Clara had been behind it, he was sure Susan would be berating herself for not noticing something sooner.
Truth be told, he was feeling a little at fault himself, even though he couldn't really think of a reason why.
His gaze drifted to Link, who was fast asleep on his own cot. It was amazing that he had been able to push his fear aside so quickly and fall asleep so easily. Dr. Cockroach was fairly certain he'd be having nightmares by now. Post traumatic stress often resulted from situations such as these. But Link had always been able to separate himself from that kind of thing. It was something that, oddly, Dr. Cockroach admired him for. In his mind, it meant that Link had an emotional strength no one else seemed to be able to find. It made Link a good fighter and a supportive friend.
He laughed silently to himself when he realized he'd just basically called Link level-headed. Yeah, right.
His mind wandered back to something Link had said. He'd completely overlooked it when he'd remembered the book he and Susan had...borrowed from Clara, but he remembered the statement later on, when he'd had some time to himself. Link had mentioned something about Clara saying he'd "planted the seed of doubt."
What did that mean?
If anyone had planted a seed of doubt it had been Clara herself. True, Link had continuously watered that seed, which was kind of what he was known for, but he hadn't planted it. What could have possibly put that idea in Clara's mind? Dr. Cockroach was skeptical at the idea of Clara having the ability to summon the creature, but maybe, just maybe, it was possible that she was working for it.
The question was, was she doing it of her own accord, or was she being forced?
It would certainly explain her strange behavior if it was a forced alliance. One moment she'd be fighting for the Bigfoot, determined to make everyone see that it wasn't the bad guy. The next, she was trying to draw their attention to it, as though trying to keep them distracted.
His gaze now absently drifted to BOB when the blob let out a snore, then back to Link. He was worried about the fish-ape, if he was to be perfectly honest with himself.
As he looked on at his friend, Link suddenly jerked in his sleep and screamed before sitting up in the bed, panting heavily. Dr. Cockroach popped up on his own cot in surprise, slightly frightened by the scream. BOB was awake too, looking around wildly for what was causing all the trouble.
"Link?" Dr. Cockroach asked, "What happened, are you all right?"
He was fairly certain the light was dim to anyone in the tent who wasn't a cockroach, but he could see clearly. He saw Link shake his head no before speaking the exact opposite, "Yeah, I'm fine, man. Just...just go back to sleep."
"You know I can see you, right?" Dr. Cockroach asked, "I saw you just shake your head."
"Doc, I'm fine, okay? It was just a nightmare."
He was visibly shaken, even upset. Dr. Cockroach honestly wasn't sure what to do. He'd never seen Link let anything get to him, and it was a little unnerving to know that the whole situation had led to nightmares. The scream that had escaped from Link when he'd woken up from the dream was unlike any noise Dr. Cockroach had ever heard him make.
He had been genuinely frightened.
"Link...you'd tell me if anything was wrong, right?" The question was worded improperly, and he hated that it sounded so wrong, but he couldn't think of another way to ask at this point in time.
He saw Link swallow hard, heard the heavy sigh, "Yeah...Doc...I think something's wrong."
These words sent a chill down his spine. Link was afraid.
"I...I keep seeing it," Link said, "in my head, whenever I close my eyes. I don't...I...Doc, I'm scared. I'm actually scared.
"And I don't know what to do..."
Aww, poor Link!
I'm not sure why, but this chapter made me cry as I wrote it. I must be feeling depressed or something. *sigh*