Disclaimer: Everything belongs to James Cameron except for my OC, Darya.
I lay on the ground, my back facing Josh and Frank. How could I be related to a monster like Carl? Who abandoned his own family? A tear rolled down my cheek, but I quickly wiped it away. He was not worthy of my tears. No, what I felt was anger towards him and sorrow towards the fact that I just might never see my family again. And that too all because of my uncle.
"Is it dead?" I heard Josh ask. Frank had sat tweaking the torch for some time now.
"Yup." Was all Frank said.
I heard Josh let out a sigh, "Well, the tunnel could choke. Then he'd have to come anyway."
"If the tunnel chokes, we're dead either way."
"So, what do we do now?"
"Don't know. I'm tired. Need to rest."
"What are you talking about? We have to go back! We will find another way out!" Frank started laughing. Great! This cave was making everyone go crazy. "What's wrong with you?"
"You remind me of me."
"Oh, shit." I snorted. The one person Josh didn't want to end up like and he reminded his dad of himself. I sat up when I heard him shift; he was walking towards the cave wall across. He went and felt the wall, sniffing his hand. What the hell was wrong with everyone? He smiled and came over to me. Without me even realizing it, he rubbed the black substance on my cheek.
"What the hell?" I started the rubbing the fowl thing. It smelled horrendous. Frank looked over at him like he was crazy.
Josh exclaimed excitedly, "Bat shit."Frank got up to smell and look at the opening. "You think there's a way out?" Josh asked.
"Well, I'm guessing the bats didn't swim down here." With that said, Frank made to climb inside. Oh, great! More packed and small spaces. "Darya! You remember what I said to you."
"Come on, up you go." Josh beckoned to me but I just shook my head.
"No, Josh. I'll go last. If I panic I could endanger your life as well. You go on. I'll follow behind you."
"Dar, no! It'll be fine."
"Honestly, Josh! Just listen to me, okay?" Josh didn't argue with me any further and made to follow Frank. As soon as his feet disappeared, I followed behind him.
The whole area was covered in bat shit and the water that sprinkled from above made the whole place moist and disgusting. But thankfully, there were enough footholds and even climbing was proving to be difficult, the prospect of falling didn't exist. I made sure to keep my breathing leveled and that's what I focused on to get my mind off my surroundings. Above me I heard Frank and Josh reciting some verses and while I would love to join in with them, I was scared I would panic. So, I kept my focus my breathing.
"Here, climb over me." Frank said to Josh and I stopped. I couldn't go any further because Frank was blocking the way so that Josh could get to the top first and then help us all up. I saw Frank was in pain as Josh used his shoulder as support to get up there. I breathed a sigh of relief once I saw Josh get up safely. "Darya, come on. Climb over me." My eyes widened and I was going to argue but I thought against it. Quick on my feet I made a move to climb over to Frank.
"Here, take my hand." Josh stretched out his hand for me to hold on to. I wiped off the sweat and grime off my hand against my suit and took hold of Josh's hand. He pulled and I pushed. Once safely on top, Josh and I outstretched our hands for Frank to take a hold of. It took everything in us to pull him up. But together we pulled and Frank made a jump which helped us get him up as well. I fell against Josh, as we all gasped for air.
With my head resting on Josh's chest I felt him shake with laughter, "Mother fucker." He wrapped his arm around me. We had made it. "My light's gone." I made to check mine but Josh had his arm securing me place so that I couldn't move, "Yours is gone too."
"Christ." I heard Frank say before he shut off his own. We were submerged in darkness and that was our queue to rest and get some shut eye. I snuggled a bit further into Josh and I felt him make room for me. And with that I promptly shut my eyes.
Crawling in the caves with no light at all freaked me out further. Frank's light had also died conveniently as we crawled further.
"Oh, shit…okay." With that Frank switched on the light in his watch. Josh was right, cavers were obsessed with torches. Thank God for that.
Frank stumbled a bit as he held the light of the watch on and crawled through the cave. This was going to b prove to be hard.
"We could rest up." With that Frank switched off the light again.
"Wait. Hey, I can see you guys." I said. The light had outlined our faces, making it possible to see, even if not too much.
We looked towards the light and continued to crawl. Not far from where we were, the end appeared and we got out.
I laughed out loud and met Josh and Frank's smiling faces. There was a huge hole in the ceiling of the cave, through which the sun's light poured down. Birds chirped and the faint smell of trees and rain made it to my nose.
I removed my helmet and shook my hair loose. "Well, we aren't climbing out of here, that's for sure." Josh said.
"Now, that's something you don't see every day." Frank claimed and made his way directly below the hole.
"A tank. A bloody tank." I laughed.
"Japanese. They were all over this place during the war." Frank said as he climbed on top of the tank.
"Do you think anybody survived?" I asked, scanning the tank.
"Doesn't look like it." Frank gestured towards the skeletons.
"We could stay here, you know? Somebody's got to come find us." I asked.
"Assuming they're looking for us." Frank answered as he made some fire out of old gasoline cans.
"Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups." Josh laughed. "We're so close."
"Now it's just teasing us." I whispered, looking at the opening above.
"Oh, now don't take it personally." Frank said as he handed me some food from the plastic bag. I sat on the ground at their feet and looked up at them. "So, what do we do? Want to stay here or do we push on? You guys decided." Josh looked towards me and I already knew the answer. He was thinking the same thing. No one was ever bound to find us here.
I got up from the ground, took a piece of rock and started to carve into the tank. "Frank, Josh and Darya were here. See ya!"
We found another opening and climbed out. "Hey, dad! I found the river." Josh exclaimed. We were getting close. Shit! We actually had a chance of getting out of here. I wanted to jump around with joy.
The ground was slippery and as I carefully made my way further the cave, I stopped. Josh upon seeing the rebreather said, "Carl." All happiness drained away. Frank made to check if there was any oxygen left in the tank.
"No, empty. Dead." Trust Carl to fuck everything up for everyone.
We didn't stick around for anything else and continued our way. "The river has flushed everything out like a sewer." Frank exclaimed.
"It sure as hell smells like one." I said covering my nose in the process and making sure to breathe through my mouth.
"Darya! Frank! Is that you guys?" I thought for sure I was hearing things when I heard Carl's pathetic voice but then so had everyone else heard it as well and we made our way towards it. "Oh thank God! Thank God!" Carl exclaimed. He was covered in grime and his face was unrecognizable of sorts. He was groveling on the ground and I made sure to keep my distance.
"Carl! What the fuck!" Josh seethed. I stayed out of reach of Carl and safely behind Josh. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"Well, I would have come back for you guys. I was going to come back. You know that Darya, don't you?" He said looking at me but all I saw was a pathetic excuse for a human who had left everyone to die. I walked away to the other end of the cave and I heard Frank follow closely behind. "Please, you got any food?" I heard him ask Josh.
"Yeah, of course. Here"
I continued to walk to the other side. When I heard Carl say, "Frank. Darya, please don't go there. Please!" But I wouldn't stop and neither did Frank. I was curious to see what the hell it was that had Carl scared out of his wits.
"Shit!" I turned away. Vic lay there, dead. I walked over to Josh who welcomed me into his arms. I buried my head in the crook of his neck and let the tears flow.
"The river dumped her here like a piece of garbage. Oh, Darya I messed up. I'm sorry you guys. I'm sorry. I just panicked. It was a moment of madness. Oh, geez I'm sorry." Carl cried and I was just beyond sick of him.
"Shut up!" I shouted. "You fucking deserve to die! Do here me? Dead." I screamed. I would have killed him if it weren't Josh holding on to me.
"Darya. Josh, let's go. We're leaving." I released my hands from Josh's and walked away, towards where Frank was leading us and Josh soon followed behind.
"Come on you guys! You can't leave me here! Frank! Darya! Shit! Shit!" Carl screamed after us.
Frank sat at the edge of where the river entered, tweaking the rebreather. Thankfully there was oxygen left. Josh appeared from under the water, ecstatic.
"She goes! There's a tight squeeze but once we get through that, its all clear and we're in the open."
"The open sea just about sounds amazing!" I remarked happily.
"Okay, here's what we're going to do. We'll buddy breathe out of here. One breathe each. Nice shallow breaths." Frank said.
"What about Carl?" Josh asked, his eyes meeting mine. I let out a sigh and made to get up. As much as I hated the man for what he did back there, he was still family and I wasn't going to let his life loom over mine forever.
"I'll go get him." I said and turned towards the direction which we came. But then Carl jumped from behind and hit Frank on the back. I screamed and made my way over to make Carl stop beating Frank. Carl threw Frank with such force onto the ground that I heard Frank grunt in pain. He went to pick up a rock and turned towards me. Josh was quietly coming from behind and I needed to make sure that Carl didn't notice.
"Have you lost your mind?" I shouted. "What? You're going to kill your niece now?" He raised his arm to throw the rock when Josh threw the gasoline can lit on fire at him and the whole of Carl's body lit aflame. I quickly made my way over to Frank to check the damage when I heard a splash, and both Josh and Carl were submerged in water. Josh threw punches at him and pushed him around. "Josh! Stop!" I shouted at him. He was currently choking Carl. "Josh!" Upon realizing what he was about to do, Josh let go of Carl and moved away from him.
Frank grabbed on to my hand and I looked down at him. "Hey. You okay?" He was in obvious pain and I made to lift him up so that he could sit but he gestured for me to stop. "Josh. Josh, it's his back." I cried and Josh swam his way over to us. He gently and slowly lifted his dad's back from the right and saw the damage. A piece of rock had been lodged into his back. My heart filled with dread as I realised what it meant.
"I can't breathe." Frank said, with small shallow breaths.
"Hey, easy. Everything will be okay." I whispered. Josh made to take out the rock but when I saw the amount of blood flowing out I caught his hand. "No, Josh. Don't. It'll only make it more painful."
Josh looked distressed and tears starting flowing down my cheeks. "You both…listen to me." Frank gasped out. "Trust the cave. Trust it. Follow the river and it'll lead straight out. You here?" Frank said to us.
"What? No, dad we can still make it. With you." Josh cried out. I let out a sob and Frank squeezed my hand.
"He killed Victoria, Darya! He killed everyone!" Carl shouted and I looked over at him. Josh got up and clenched his fists.
"You take one step closer and I will fucking kill you." Josh ground out. "The only reason we're still breathing is because of him."
Carl let out some tears and looked around the cave. And then jumped into the water.
"Josh, leave him be." I called out to him and he quickly returned to his father's side.
"Josh…could you? Could you help me into the water?" Frank requested. I rushed to Josh's side and helped him carry Frank towards the water into it. Both of us held him afloat. "Josh, you've got better instinct then me, so you better listen to it." Frank said.
Frank wrapped his arms around his mid-section and held on tight. I caressed his head, knowing that it wouldn't ease the pain, but there really was nothing else to do.
"Dad, I'm not leaving. No!" Josh argued.
"Josh, can you help me." Frank asked and I knew what he was suggesting. "I don't want this to take too long."
"No, no, no, no. No!" Josh said a bit forcefully but then broke down. I held onto his hand which held Frank's body afloat and squeezed.
"It's alright, son. It's going to be okay." A sob broke out and I started to cry uncontrollably. Frank turned his head slightly towards me and rested his hand at my cheek. "Hey, it'll be okay, Darya. It'll be okay." I shook my head and held his hand. "Just promise me something."
"Anything." I whispered.
"Take care of Josh. Both of you. Take care of each other." I nodded and sniffed.
"Dad, I'll stay with you."
"Hey, no. You stay and you die. Both of you need to get out now. Just, please help me." Josh squeezed my hand and I knew this was going to be hard. "I'm so proud of you Josh. Please help me." And we were submerged in darkness once again. The fire had fizzled out.
I reached for the green light tube and bent it. Soon we had enough light to make out each other. Josh let go of my hand and Frank gave him a pained smile. I moved out of the way and turned my back towards them. I placed my hand over my mouth to control the sobs that were threatening to let loose.
Josh placed both hands on his father's chest and submerged him underwater. There was little resistance but then all was quiet. I turned around to find Josh kissing his father's forehead and letting the body float away from him. He looked up at me and broke down in sobs. I swam over to him and held him close. He cried into my shoulder while I gently rubbed up and down his back. I held him tight for sometime before the light once again went out. I reached out for the other light, "Josh, this is the last one. We need to get out of here. I'll get the oxygen tank and then we'll do exactly as your dad said. Okay?" He just nodded and wiped away the tears. I handed him the oxygen tank. He held my hand and then we both dove into the water.
With the light on we could make out where we were swimming. Swimming was second nature to me. I could do this and Josh and I could be out of here before we knew it. We took turns taking oxygen in from the tank but stop ourselves from taking more than one every time we stopped. My legs and arms hurt from all the physical excursions we had done the whole time but I pushed on. No way was I going to let water beat me. Swimming was what I grew up with.
Once we got out of the squeeze, Josh holding my hand through out, we saw a body. It was Carl. Josh didn't let me linger because he knew I would panic, so we quickly swam away. But it was then when the oxygen tank finished and we needed to take in air. I looked over at Josh and then around me. We would never get there in time. We needed air. And then because someone was having a right laugh at us, the light also went out. Josh pulled me close and switched on the light on the boar tooth. Thankfully we had enough light to see. Josh looked over at me connected his mouth to mine so that we could share whatever oxygen we had left.
We swam along the ceiling of the cave, looking for open spots. Upon finding some, Josh signaled at me to connect my mouth and take a deep breath. We moved along the whole way like this. Taking deep breaths along the way.
Not far from us, I saw light make its way in. I quickly turned towards Josh, only to find him floating, his eyes closed. My heart beat faster and kicked my legs harder to get to him in time. I checked his pulse upon reaching him and he still had one. Gently shaking his head from side to side I tried to help him regain consciousness. When he didn't respond, I knew there was only one way. I took a hold of arm, held on tight and started swimming towards the surface. Even though it was close, it still wasn't close enough what with Josh's weight added to mine.
As we got closer the light got brighter and I felt Josh move. I looked towards him and saw his eyes flutter open. I smiled in relief, as he took a hold of my hand. He too saw the light and how close we were. I felt my lungs constrict and it dawned on me that we had to get out fast.
We kicked harder than before. I had passed my exhaustion level but this needed to be done. And then we broke out to the surface, gasping for air.
I coughed at the sudden intake of air and heard Josh coughing besides me. We had made it out of the cave and as luck would have it, there was shore nearby as well. We swam slowly until we finally reached shore. I collapsed on the warm sand and stared out at the burning sun. Josh collapsed next to me, breathing heavily.
"Don't mind me. I'm going to sleep till forever." I joked and looked over to Josh. He was quiet and I knew why. I pushed myself towards him and lay against his chest. His hand came to rest against me and kissed his knuckles, "Hey. It's okay now. He'd be so proud of you."
I felt him shift and looked up at him. He lowered his head and captured my lips in a chaste kiss, "I know."
Hey guys! And with that said, i bring you the end of this story. Its been awesome writing this and sharing it with all of you. Your reviews have been amazing! The prospect of the story excited me so much that i had finished days early then it would have taken me usually.