Flame and Shadow

By Joshua Carr All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Other

Chapter 46

It took around half an hour for us to reach the forest that Milo believed was referred to by my map. We encountered no resistance on this leg of our journey. He then slowed down, and led us into the trees. He did his best to remember exactly what he had seen. Our progress was not fast, and we had to prop the bikes up with our legs as we stopped a couple of times. However, after searching for a while, I spotted a small structure in a clearing ahead.

It was extremely well camouflaged into the surroundings with tree branches and fallen leaves, and it would have been easy to miss if we hadn’t been looking for it. It was about five feet tall and made of aged wood. It could possibly have resembled some kind of shed, if it weren’t for the fact that its roof gently sloped all the way to the ground. Milo had seen it too, and he led the motorcycles to close in on it. When we climbed off to the ground, Sera looked at it strangely.

“Hey…I think I’ve been here before. It looks really familiar.” She pondered.

Milo gave her a sideways glance, then back to the building.

“Well, there is a building here, so that’s promising. Now we just have to check inside.”

He walked up to the small door at the tallest part of the structure, and turned the handle. Surprisingly, it easily opened. Milo looked back at us, then ducked through the opening. Sera and I followed closely behind him. We found ourselves descending a flight of stairs into the earth. As we climbed down, Sera whispered loudly:

“Yeah! I know I’ve been here before! This is Doc Slenderman’s hideout!”

Milo turned around and glared at her.

“Are you serious? We needed to use some ancient prophecy and secret map to go someplace you already knew where it was?”

“I didn’t know where it was!” Sera defended herself. “I was unconscious when he took me here, and nearly dead when I left! Excuse me for not leaving a-“

Milo shushed her as her voice was growing to high decibel levels.

breadcrumb trail!” Sera concluded in a whisper.

I couldn’t even estimate how far downward we traveled, but eventually we reached the bottom. Milo led us forward, carefully surveying the surroundings. I had an inexplicable chill running down my spine. The dimly lit corridor smelled of a dank cellar, only, a cellar filled with decaying once-living flesh. If at all possible, it would be expedient to grab the Book of Prophecy and get the heck out of there before running into anyone who would call a place like this home.

We came to a fork in the hallway, and Milo hesitated.

Sera added her input.

“Don’t go left. That’s where I was locked up. I promise you, there’s nothing even resembling a Book of Prophecy in there.”

Milo paused for a while, as though debating whether to trust the word of his sister or not. Eventually, he continued on, bypassing the doorway that Sera had said not to enter. I was honestly a little surprised. Ahead was a heavy duty door. Milo attempted to turn the knob, but this one was indeed locked. He flipped out the lockpick on his wrist-mounted device, and got to work on the locking mechanism. In a few seconds, he had the lock taken care of, and pushed the door open.

We were immediately greeted with a stronger version of the corpse-like stench. It nearly made me gag. On the other side of the door was an insidious laboratory. It may have been at one time a pristine white, but it was now covered with dirt, mold and mildew, and splattered with blood. I put my hand over my mouth. Sera however was full of anger. She simmered furiously, glaring around the lab.

“He’ll pay for that. I swear he’ll pay.” I heard her mutter.

As we looked through the sinister laboratory, I tried not to think about the heinous things that done there. I could not have known how many people had been drained of all their blood for twisted experiments, but I did know that nothing good had occurred here.

After a thorough search for the Book of Prophecy, it became obvious that it was not in the lab. There was no sign of anyone. Sera grew more and more perturbed as the scouring turned up nothing.

“Rrgh! Where is he?! I want to… I want to…”

With that, she began to sob and lean against a lab bench.

“Kyle…I’m sorry…I couldn’t protect…”

I cautiously approached her. Just before I could offer her a comforting hug, she lurched forward, and pounded her head and fist against the side of a large cabinet of lab equipment. To my surprise, it jerked and began to roll along the wall. Sera nearly fell over as her support moved away, but then she noticed exactly what was happening.

This cabinet was positioned in such a way as to block a secret door in the wall. When it rolled aside, the large steel door was exposed. There was a keypad and monitor screen mounted several feet off the ground. It was obviously used to unlock the door. The twins immediately jumped into examine it.

“Hm…looks like it’s heavy-duty steel.” Milo observed. “I don’t think my lockpick’s gonna be any good here. If we can just figure out this entry code, I’m sure-“

Suddenly, Sera released a full-strength punch imbued with as powerful of a flame as she could muster. Her brother was knocked backward from the blast as the girl obliterated the control panel.

Milo rubbed debris from his face.

“What was that?! How are we supposed to get in now?!”

With only a second’s pause, she struck the door with another fiery blow, this time smashing a sizeable hole directly through the steel.

The young man gazed in wonder at her handiwork.

“That was…pretty awesome.”

Sera turned to look at him.

“I really hate that guy.”

The twins were easily able to remove the remains of their obstacle, and entered the adjacent room. What we saw was an extreme juxtaposition. The room was cave-like, with an underground river flowing at the far side, about 30 feet away. Within the room, however, was a refined-looking study. There was a large plush recliner, a number of bookshelves filled with tomes, and an expansive desk. As amazing as it was, there was still no sign of this “Doctor Slenderman”, or the Book of Prophecy.

The three of us ventured into the study, looking around for anything of interest. We walked forward toward the desk in the center of the room. Just then, I began to feel uneasy, as though eyes were watching me. I turned around, and gasped in horror. Milo and Sera immediately flipped around as well.

There stood the Doctor Slenderman. He commanded a presence of silent terror, which made me shiver. He hadn’t done anything threatening, but already I knew that he could be deadly. Under his right arm he carried some kind of huge leather-bound book. With his free hand, he was holding a white sheet of paper.

WELCOME. I’VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU

What?! A horrible chill came over me. All of the resolve for completing the prophecy seemed to be sucked away by his menacing presence.

“Expecting us?” Milo exclaimed. “How did you know we were coming?”

The evil doctor dropped his front page, revealing another behind it.

BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE PROPHECY DICTATES

No, he can’t read the prophecy. The pages are blank, I have the words in my body. Unless, he’s received some of the prophecy through oral tradition too…

“Wait, you know the prophecy?” Asked Milo. “How?”

The man seemed to ignore his question, because the next card he unveiled said something entirely unrelated.

I’VE NEVER TRIED A SHADOW CALLER

I’VE WANTED YOU EVER SINCE I HEARD OF YOU

Milo clenched his teeth and glared at our opponent. As this mysterious psycho continued to show his cards, I was able to get a better look at the book that he was holding. The massive volume was bound with a worn leather cover which had golden trimming on it. There were markings similar to my own printed in gold on the front, but the most significant thing was what appeared in the center. It was the exact same symbol as was found on the back of my hand. The combination of Nahalore and Tsalderek. This was the Book of Prophecy!

I turned my attention back to the conversation when Sera shouted:

“You bastard! You murdered Kyle! What did he ever do to you?!”

MY HANDS ARE CLEAN OF YOUR FRIEND’S BLOOD

“Really?! Then who did?!” Sera ignited flamed around her hands. “I’m done with you. If you were expecting the same little cigarette lighter I was last time, you’re in for a surprise!”

My heart jumped as the doctor dropped the front card.

HOLD YOUR BREATH

With that, he dropped the entirety of his stack of verbal cards, and released a pulse of water at Sera. Her eyes widened, and she froze in place. The water instantly extinguished her fire, and threw her back to the ground. She did not get up.

Fueled by anger, Milo charged in to punch the fiend. Just as his fist nearly reached him, a wall of water appeared. Milo’s powerful strike was slowed down to a crawl by the water resistance. It subsequently blasted him backward across the room. The doctor then targeted me.

With a wave of his hand he sent a torrent of water at me. I activated my force field, and the water was harmlessly redirected. While taking cover within my shield, I considered exactly what we had to do. I had to get that book, and get Milo and Sera out of here safely.

As soon as the stream abated, I dropped my shield and sprinted toward the doctor. Just then, I felt a wet movement travel up my legs and body, right to my head. It then attempted to force its way into my nose and mouth. I coughed and tried to get it away, but I could do nothing. I put up another barrier, but it was too late. The water was already inside. I collapsed to my knees, and then flat on the ground, clawing and grabbing at the water over my face, desperately trying to get a gulp of air. Was he going to drown me in the middle of the room?

My heart raced wildly, and terror gripped my entire body. Then, I could no longer put up a struggle. I begged my muscles not to give up, but the lack of oxygen and constant coughing and thrashing had exhausted my body.

Just as I was about to give up fighting, the water vanished. I gasped for air and lay flat on my back. What happened? Then, I tilted my head toward Doc Slenderman. Milo had made it past the fluid defenses and connected with a strike to the enemy’s chest, knocking him backward. The boy then came over to me and offered his hand.

“You alright?”

I was still coughing and breathless, but I nodded my head and took his hand. He pulled me to my feet and we turned to face the doctor. Poor Sera was still quivering on the ground in some kind of shock. Was she…afraid of water? She certainly did hate this guy for some reason. Maybe she had some kind of traumatic experience before.

Our enemy had dropped all of his cards, so he stood silently facing us. I assumed that he was glaring hate in our direction, but it was hard to tell due to the morph suit covering his face. He still carried what I knew to be the Book of Prophecy. I had to get that book at any cost. Milo and I exchanged a glance, and he nodded. Then we rushed our sadistic foe.

Milo immediately began putting on pressure with a series of high and low strikes. The doctor was barely able to keep up, dodging and blocking attacks with bursts of water. Milo deployed some kind of pronged device from his Survivortex and made a swipe at the doctor. When it was blocked with a strong splash of water, some kind of electrical shock traveled through it. That device must have contained a stun-gun of sorts. Unfortunately, the only one making contact with the water was Milo, and it succeeded in electrocuting him. With Milo stunned, the villain then released a jet stream into Milo’s chest, pushing him away violently. Milo flipped over upon landing, and fired the grappling hook from his wrist-mounted gadget. It never reached its target due to being knocked off course by a gush of water.

With Milo stationary, the man brought up water over him in attempts to suffocate him, until he realized that I had a hold of his book. He took his concentration off of Milo, and focused on me. I attempted to run away with it, but he still had a hold. When he tried to drown me where I stood, the water couldn’t get into my nose or mouth. I had made a skin-fitting field around my body. Oxygen couldn’t pass through the barrier, so I had to hold my breath, but water couldn’t pass through either. My shields are weaker the further from a spherical shape they deviate, but I could manipulate them into any shape I wished. The only conditions were that I could only form one at a time, and some part of my body always had to be contained. The bubble was considerably weak when form-fitting my skin, but it was strong enough to prevent the water from getting in.

As I attempted to wrench the large tome away from the doctor, Milo sprinted toward him at full force. The young fighter was going to take advantage of our enemy’s distraction, and put him down. In a desperate maneuver, the sadistic doctor released an enormous arcing wave of water. I clung to the Book of Prophecy with all that I had, but my grip ripped a page out from near the back, and I was swept away. Milo was also knocked backward by the force. The torrent crashed through the study-like room, dragging us toward the rushing underground river.

There was nothing I could do to fight the powerful current which swept me out of the room. Instead, I opted to try and protect the page of the prophecy that I had. I curled my body around the worn page, and formed a small force bubble around myself. Before I was taken away by the flood, I saw Milo break away from the wave, dash over to Sera, and wrap his arms around her. Then, all three of us were washed out of the lair, into the underground river.

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