Hide and Seek
Chapter 2: A Dead-Man's Trap
Abbey glared at the back of Rina, her face a mixture of anger, childish defiance and fear. But Rina continued to walk on, her mind elsewhere.
Adam, Oliver, Jack and Abbey ambled alongside Rina, feeling the burning sun through the impenetrable leaf canopy on their faces, hearing the chattering of the forest as if for the first time, watching the soft stirring of the thin khaki leaves of the masses of trees. Their feet crushed broken twigs as they walked through the never-ending jungle. Rina was determined to find a way out.
"So, where the fuck are we going?" Adam groaned, when he could bear the silence no longer. Their only sounds since walking through the jungle had been snapping of twigs and the heavy sighs.
"To high grounds," Rina replied without looking back. "We should be able to find some sort of direction when we're out of this jungle."
"Ooh, okay boss!" Abbey hissed sarcastically. Rina frowned at the remark, but said nothing.
"Have you ever been lost in the jungle before?" Oliver asked. "It seems as if you have experience,"
"I do," Rina softly said. "I've been in the Army,"
"Heh, so much for saving lives in that alien invasion, Harry Potter," Abbey scoffed. Finally, Rina spun around and quickly paced towards Abbey, snatching her neck with one hand and squeezed tightly, her face suddenly suffused with rage. The men grinned to see the fiery ladies. Though the question of why Abbey called her 'Harry Potter' appeared, Rina paid no attention to it. She was too angry in such a short amount of time.
"Listen, Pinkie, while you were most likely sitting on your ass complaining about your parents, I was out there fucking protecting my sisters!" Rina growled, and her voice had taken on an edge of menace. She seemed to loom over her. "That's how I died! Those aliens wanted my fucking little sister. I protected her, along with my older sister!" She paused, and then her dark eyes dropped to the rifle Abbey was holding. In one swift movement, she snatched the gun off her. Abbey said nothing, nor did she retaliate. "Now I don't know about you, but your life is fucking paradise compared to what I went through! But if I ever hear you dare to imply that I have done nothing when you have no fucking clue about me, I might just forget my sanity long enough to thrash you senseless!" Her brows darkened. "It would be fun to hear you fucking scream!" The harshness of her words shocked Abbey into silence, and she looked at her feet, ashamed. At the same moment, they heard rustling of tall grass and bushes. Abbey's eyes adverted around at the source of the noise, but Rina gave her one last threatening look before she threw her back, making her stumble backwards and collapse onto her buttocks. Abbey gasped to feel the surprising force. "Let's just keep going," Rina muttered.
"What about weapons?" Oliver asked, grabbing Rina's arm. "Me and Jack haven't got any,"
"If all goes well, you won't need weapons," Rina said, her eyes restless. "Have this," She handed the rifle to Jack. He blinked at her and she smirked. "I know you can handle it better than Pinkie,"
Abbey snarled, trying to be threatening, but Rina ignored her. That was when a piercing scream cut them dead. There were more people here? Suddenly alert, Rina ran towards the source of the scream. The others followed her, curious about the rustling and the sudden scream.
"Help me! Shit! Somebody help!"
The scream became worse and worse. That started to panic them. Rina sprinted speedily, leaping over fallen tree trunks. Adam followed easily, but Abbey was having a hard time catching up without destroying her new jeans.
"We're coming, we're coming!" Oliver bellowed, his protective side burst alive. They soon reached a clearing, and two males were running down the wild path towards them. They slowed down as the new arrivals ran towards them, still screaming. Rina cocked a brow, wondering why they were screaming, then they heard thunderous thuds of footsteps, as if a herd of Bulls were charging towards them. They all froze.
As they watched in horror, a bulking four-legged creature was charging towards them, chasing after the two men. The creature's body was a pale-grey shade, with a similar texture from a Rhino, the pattern looking like cracked dried mud. Each foot decorated with five, six-inch white claws. Several long, jagged spikes ran on its curvy back. More spikes mounted on his face, pointing sharply towards them. It revealed its monstrous teeth and snarled against the rush of wind. Its face looked like something from unbearable nightmares. Skull-like, its eyes were nothing more than black-red holes. It stared angrily at its enemies. Rina's blood ran cold. Abbey screamed piercingly, her voice carried out through the jungle. The men hurried quickly towards the cluster of strangers.
"What the fuck is that thing?" Abby screamed, tears of fright in her eyes.
"We don't fucking know! They were here chasing after us" One of the men cried out. He looked Japanese from his facial features.
"Do fucking something!" The other man yelled. He had long blond hair, gelled up into some sort of wild flame on his head, but it was drenched by sweat from running.
"Holy shit! It's a fucking beast from hell!" Adam yelled, fear growing in his eyes. Abbey screamed again, her hands waving about in her face.
"Do something Jack!" Oliver cried out, seeing that he had a gun. Adam growled under his breath, swinging his blade towards the advancing beast.
"Be careful Adam!" Jack gasped. "That thing has spikes!" He unlocked the rifle and aimed at the beast. With a sudden yell, he blasted one bullet at it. It simply shook for a bit before moving towards them again.
"Run!" The Japanese man shouted. Instantly, the group shattered on his command, each one of them running down the forest, diving between trees and leaping over bushes. Abbey screamed continuously, hurrying towards a tree and tried to climb up, only to fail. The Japanese man and blond man dived into two directions, disappearing in the forest. Adam ran into a towering bush. Oliver stood by Jack though, who was trying to shoot another round at the beast. It seemed useless. Rina turned around and gasped to see them two backing away.
"What are they doing?" Her jaw tightened, she turned on her heels and ran towards them. "Guys! Run! Guns will do nothing!" Rina screamed, pushing Jack and Oliver away. They soon ran with her. Rina gritted her teeth, sweat breaking on her brow and running into her black locks.
"Ah shit!" Jack cried involuntarily, skidding to a halt. That made Oliver and Rina jump. They forced themselves to stop too. Before them jumped another beast and it stalled before them. They exchanged hardened glares at the creature. It snarled under its breath, and then snapping its teeth it began to advance towards them slowly. Oliver, Jack and Rina gradually stepped backwards, their eyes never leaving the creature.
The beast snarled again, shaking its horned-head violently.
Then, from out of nowhere, the hissing of passing wind was emitted in the jungle and suddenly something impaled itself into the ground between the beast and Rina. Oliver, Jack and Rina blinked. The beast was also startled. Between them was a long pole. The tip pointed sharply, it was tied and decorated with a brown-skinned tape that coiled around the staff. In the centre of the staff, near the light grey metallic handle was a small skull, impaled by the staff itself. The ends of the trimmings stuck out, flaring out like a new feathers. Oliver and Jack gazed around wildly, their eyes crazy with wonder. The staff was thrown by someone, and yet they saw no one. It was as if there was an invisible force who has thrown the staff for them.
"What the fuck?" Oliver hissed. Rina's eyes were fixed onto the staff. Somehow, it was placed in front of her, as if it has chosen her. She gritted her teeth; her eyes closed and sighed deeply. Slowly, the world darkened around her, all screams and cries faded into nothing and the only noise that surrounded her was a series of sweet, sickly clicks followed by a low growl.
~Go…take the staff, little one…~
A voice! Some sort of distorted voice spoke to her. It spoke in broken English. Before she could comprehend what happened, the world lightened up around her and she found herself being shaken roughly by Oliver. She saw blurring images of Adam and Abbey, who were by their sides now along with the strangers. Adam pointed his knife at the beast.
"Rina! Fucking wake up!" Oliver's voice cut through her vision and she blinked, seeing the beast advancing closer. Her eyes stared at the beast, and then she snarled angrily under her breath. That voice was something that wasn't human. But it encouraged her. She felt a cold, cold fire suddenly ignited inside of her. Once her eyes fixed sharply onto the staff, she knew what to do.
They saw the veins standing out at the base of her neck, taut with the effort. They all watched her shift hands, so that they were no longer relaxed. Instead, she gripped onto the staff slowly, her knuckles bleaching as her grip tightened. When she felt a breathless lift in her chest, she yanked the staff from the ground and growled lowly. The beast stopped and stared at her, as if reconsidering whether or not to kill its prey. For a long while, nothing happened. And then it radiated an almighty roar, bellowing at its enemies before turning around and running off. The beast disappeared into the wilderness of the jungle. That made them all stalled into silence, wondering why the beast rushed away. Then, the blond-haired man burst out laughing.
"Hey, you scared it!" He said loudly to Rina. Just as he was cheering, they heard several more thunderous thuds behind them. In unison, they all turned around and gazed in mounting distress to see two more of the beasts, this time, they were marching towards them quicker, their skin smeared with dark-red paint. No-It was Blood! The creatures walked towards them threateningly, like lions cornering its prey. Rina gripped onto the staff tighter.
A shriek of frustration and anger escaped past her lips, and they ran on, paying no more attention to the beasts. The three beasts behind them charged, their powerful feet pounding against the earth. Adam ran with them, and soon they all clustered back together, following Rina. The group hustled through the thick, towering bushes, hoping to lose the beast. It never did.
Abbey screamed again, and Adam yelled back at her, finally telling her to shut up. Jack and Oliver panted wildly as they sprinted along with the blond man and Japanese man. Rina's mind was crammed with thoughts, realising that they must be tested. Then Rina's eyes widened to feel no earth under her feet. She screamed in shock, and found herself diving through mid-air, falling down a steep hill. She felt her body crashed hard against the forest flooring and began to roll quickly, and didn't stop. Oliver and Jack soon followed, and then the strangers dived down too. Adam roared in dismay and Abbey screamed again, rolling down. Rina tried to stop herself, and found that she couldn't. The forces of the earth were cruel, and soon her chest trembled to realise that she was falling down again. The roaring of the great waterfall could be heard amongst the screams.
Together, they rolled down the remaining distance, surrounded by the clashing of leaves and branches and the cries of the humans, and one-by-one they plunged into the cold rushing waters of the waterfall. Soon, the world around them suddenly dissolved into the murky, cold realm of the lake, crowned with the white, thick mist from the waterfall.
It was a few moments later until Rina's head burst out of the surface of the water, feeling her legs kicking wildly underneath her. Coughing up hot water, she spluttered against the rippling surface. Closely, Adam, the two strangers and Oliver followed. Jack and Abbey burst out from the surface after them, crying out in horror. Rina gazed around, looking for land to swim to. When she found a small alcove beyond the waterfall, she swam towards it as quickly as possible.
When they reached onto the small cavern of the waterfall, they rested on the sandy bank under the shady alcove. Abbey hurried towards Rina, who sat on the white sand taking deep, slow breaths. Her eyes fixed onto her new weapon, fascinated with it.
"Alright Rina, something is happening!" Abbey said. Rina wiped the water droplets that rolled down her forehead and looked up at her coldly.
"Hm? What do you mean?" Rina replied lowly, looking up.
"I saw what happened between you and that beast!" Abbey snarled, pointing an accusing finger at Rina. "That beast didn't even leave a scratch on you! It ran away from you the instant you grabbed that pole!" Her finger moved towards the wooden staff that Rina was holding closely to her. Adam looked in amazement at Rina. The others were no less taken aback. He still couldn't get used to the radical difference in Rina. No one could really. She was anything but human. But with that aside, he agreed with her sentiments. Everyone was confused, and afraid, and didn't know who to trust; and they couldn't begin to get their feet back under them until they had solid ground to stand on. Before they could even start to get over the tragedies they were experiencing, they needed stability. And they needed answers.
But Rina needed answers too…
"I heard a voice…someone…something told me to take the staff…"
Adam looked at her in stunned amazement, and then burst out laughing.
"A voice?" He blurted out. "You're just a crazy bitch!"
"Better than being a foolish Ass-Wipe who's in prison!" Rina hissed sharply back. The harsh comment made Adam sulk in silence.
"Guys, leave Rina alone," Jack breathed.
Abbey ignored him and then leaned towards Rina.
"So tell us, are you human?"
"Last time I checked…yeah…" Rina smirked sarcastically. "What's your problem?"
"I'll tell you what my problem is. You're not one of us. I can tell! Those…things that were going to kill us didn't touch you. I wonder why. Do you know?"
"I know as little as you do," Rina snapped in a low voice. "I don't understand why you must stab at me when you can, but I'm too busy trying to survive. Ask questions later, when I have answers!" Rina's eyes moved to everyone, who remained silent. "The last thing I remember was that I died saving my family! I was impaled through the gut by the Alien's tail." As if to prove herself, she picked up the torn rags of her black shirt where a large ripped hole was. "My eyes and hair have changed! I'm in a jungle with fucked-up creatures and strangers. I'm having enough trouble putting up with you anyway as well as trying to answer impossible questions myself. Consider others rather than yourself for once." Abbey fell silent, her arms folded, a scowl marring her face. Rina paused, and then after a deep breath she added darkly: "You want to follow me? Go for it. If not, you're on your own. I don't remember being elected to be the leader."
"Those creatures know you! Is this your home-planet or something?" Abbey was getting frustrated now. So was Rina, but she cleverly hid it.
"Perhaps," She replied softly, her eyes adverted back to the staff, admiring it.
"What are you?" Abbey hissed, trying to gouge answers from her. Rina ignored her and looked up to the trembling blond-haired stranger.
"Well, introduce yourselves," Rina said slowly, her eyes moving from the blond male to the Japanese man. The Japanese man spoke first. He had sagacious eyes with grey-coloured irises swimming in a sea of white. His hair, Rina observed numbly, was a beautiful shade of black, tied up in a single ponytail.
"My name is Tochaa," he spoke softly, his accent clear with a tint of foreign wonder. The blond man spoke after, strongly contrasting against his companion.
"The name's Rhodri," He replied loudly in an irritating tone. His voice hinting on how annoying this male was going to be, Rina realised. She tried hard to stop her frown from appearing.
"So, do you guys know each other?" Oliver asked. Tochaa smiled softly and waved his hand, indicating a negative.
"Oh no, no, no. We were much like you. We happened to have bumped into each other. We were hoping to find more of us out here." Adam heaved himself onto a large rock that was half-sunk in the sand.
"Welcome to the group of fail," Adam hissed, pulling out his blade as he sat down, observing the sharpness of it. Oliver cast a hot glare at him.
"If your group failed, sir, then you'd be dead," Tochaa commented sharply. Rina smirked. She liked this guy already. "So, how did you guys appear here?" He turned to Rina. "I understand, Larina that you died. You were in combat. Am I correct?"
Rina gave a single nod.
"I was fighting with an alien…I saw blood and smoke in the night. And the pain was unbearable I couldn't think straight. Then…I saw a bright light. And, as if I was asleep, the pain was gone and I was-"
"Falling." Tochaa finished her sentence. Rina nodded again and smiled lightly back to him.
"I was in combat too…the same happened with me," Rhodri added. Tochaa's ash-grey moved to Adam.
"What about you?"
"I was in prison," Adam said, not looking at anyone. He was too busy looking at his knife. "I was going to be executed in a week's time."
"I was fighting too," Abbey commented with some heat. No one paid particular attention to her.
"Jack and I were working when those bastards invaded our workshop," Oliver added.
"I was also in combat," Tochaa mentioned, fishing his hand into his pocket, pulling out a silvery gun.
For a while, no one spoke after that, trying to take in the masses of detail. Rina's eyes fixed onto the staff she held tightly, leaning on it.
"S-So…those creatures that chased us through the forest. What the hell were those things?" Oliver asked.
"I do not know," Tochaa replied softly, running his fingers through the sands.
"This place is a graveyard," Jack commented to nobody.
"No…this is hell!" Adam cried out.
"Since when did you need a parachute to get here?" Tochaa muttered, his eyes scanning.
"Then, how the hell can we get off this planet?" Rhodri questioned, hoping someone would answer him.
"If someone put us on this fucking rock, then we can get off it," Adam grilled hotly.
"What the fuck is going on?" Abbey asked desperately. Rina frowned at the many questions being fired aimlessly.
"We're being hunted!" Rina managed to yell over the voices. All faces went blank and they stared at Rina. When everyone was silent, Rina saw this as her chance to explain her opinion. "Listen," Rina said. "We could be dead for all we know. All of us. But one thing for sure…Someone caught us, dropped us off here on another planet, far away from home…They sent in the hounds on us, just like what we would do if someone passed our territory. I won't be surprised if they have laid traps for us…This is their jungle. Their game and it's their fucking rules. They have put us in a situation where we can do nothing but play by their rules." No one said anything. Rina continued. "Don't you guys get it? We're killers…we're fighters…it's true that the Human-Race is the most deadly race out there…but what if there is something else far worse than humans? This could be the game they want to play with us. We don't know who we're facing against…but I bet they're far more deadly than humans will ever be…" Rina hung her head. "Come sundown…we'd be in a dead-man's trap. We have to find somewhere, we need to find out who these…'Predators' are."
"So, we're stuck on this stupid planet with no food, no decent weapons and we're miles away from home? There's nowhere we can go. We can't even lie low for a while. I hate this!" Abbey cried out.
"That's the test…" Tochaa uttered. "We're being tested,"
"Or at least one of us," Abbey added, her wide, bright eyes travelled from Tochaa to Rina. Rina frowned darkly.
"Don't bother pin-pointing all of your problems on me. I have done nothing to you. Why not make yourself useful and leave me alone, woman?"
Oliver laid an arm on Rina's shoulder. Rina sighed heavily and moved away from the comforting arm, walking towards the edge of the sandbank, her eyes looking out to the beautiful lake before them. "The sun hasn't moved…" Rina observed numbly. Everyone gazed up to realise that it was true. Ever since they landed here, the sun was always facing east.
For a long while, they rested on the sands, too afraid of what might jump in their way. Some were mourning at their situation, others were chatting silently amongst themselves and Rina stood alone by the edge of the sand. She thought deeply about what was happening, what could happen to her. Rina bit her lip to try and stop the hot, hurt tears from coming. Alone, Rina stood on the sun-dappled sand under the alcove. Gingerly, her hand lifted towards a strand of her black dreadlock and looked at it. Her eyes widened. It felt like thick rubber, with a thin texture of hair. The metallic bangles that cuffed around all of her locks were firmly clamped on. She felt the muscles of her eyes ache, but no more. Then she thought about why everyone hated her. She looks nothing like herself back on earth, so why does it seem as if she is the only one who has changed appearance. Not to mention, her personally is much more hostile, more aggressive. She couldn't understand. In a stroke, her life had been swept away into some sort of plaything for someone out there. Her sisters, Kate and Tracey, her friends, her home…all had gone. She had been cut away from everything she knew, and thrown out into an unknown world with no direction, no purpose, and no understanding of what awaited her.
She wished it all back, as if wishing hard enough could have made it so.
It seemed like a long time she stood there, thinking the same things over and over, letting her grief and rage seep reluctantly out of her.
Harry Potter…why the hell did Abbey even called her that anyway? Harry Potter was only famous for his Wizardry and his scar…
Curiously, Rina dropped onto her knees, feeling her body sinking into the warmth of the fresh sand and slowly leaned forward towards the lake, using its surface as a mirror. When she was staring back at her face, her blood ran cold. On her forehead, she saw something. There were two clean white marks on her forehead, in a form of some sort of curved seven.
Her eyes widened. She has never seen that scar before. She placed her finger over it, running the tip over the noticeable marking of the scar on her forehead. Where the hell did she ever get a scar like that? Why were things happening to her, and it seemed as if it was only her that was taking the blame for this problem? Just because she was different…
She hung her head. She didn't understand any of it. She was deep in her sorrow when she became aware of Jack speaking.
"Are we the only ones here then?" Jack asked silently. Tochaa stepped forward towards the huddle.
"Rhodri and I saw a camp nearby…but…it's not pleasant…" Tochaa said calmly. Rina's attention grew and she turned around and looked at Tochaa.
"Meaning…?" Adam muttered. Tochaa hung his head, and then his eyes adverted towards Rina. They looked at each other; Tochaa's eyes were soft and sympathetic, but Rina hid the pain and her eyes turned back glacial, and revealed nothing.
"Larina, when we went onto that camping site…from the look of your hair and eyes, I think we found a relative of yours…" All eyes turned to Rina to see her reaction.
Rina tilted her head in acknowledgement.