THE SLATE OF VALE PART 12

adventure story

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CHAPTER 12

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me

– Dr.seuss

EARTHQUAKE

“Are you sure you know where you are going?” Matt asked the question his friends were gulping, but in a harsh way. Since they came to the academy, no one had made it this far away from school, probably because there was no cause to, or those who might have tried, ended in a bad situation. There were no stories about anyone who had tried though, just hovering speculations with no fragment of truth.

No building stood here for miles, it was just a dusty field, covered with an ocean of sand and stones and it stretches out as far as the eyes could see in the moon light. The civilization of the school must have forgotten this place, because it looked desolate and empty. The wire gauze used to make out stations and boundaries, were almost kissing the dust with their rusty heads.

Sandra had warned them initially not to touch any of these wires as it might give out an alarm, but Matt found it hilarious, these wires were old and rusty, if anything could give alarm, it would be the scream of the person who gets injured by one of them.

They had passed the route leading to the main gate which was the only way to egress from the academy. They were about ten paces away from it now and from the moon light, they saw warning signs, symbolizing that the wall was electrocuted. Even from this point, it was humming like a humming bird, like a strong steam engine stuck in ice water.

“For the hero’s sake, why can’t we just fly over this fence with our H-board? I mean, we did that to the other two and this one shouldn’t be of any different? We came to this academy airborne” Matt complained again.

“Like an orb, the magnetic force shielding this academy is only lifted twice a year, during a new year for freshmen and after graduation.” Sandra explained over the wind.

“How then do you suppose Jeff and Ema would return” Matt asked eagerly. He broke formation and soared ahead beside Sandra. Their H-board were now abreast to each other and for the first time, Matt saw the blue light rays coming out of Sandra’s wrist watch. It was no wrist watch he later realized, it was a compass.

“Weren’t you paying attention to Raz the other day? The orb would be lifted in two days’ time, that’s exactly the time your friends would sneak back in. Do you want me to dive into that again? Now, maintain the single file formation before you touch one of those wires” Sandra shouted over the wind. She wondered how long she would have to put up with Matt’s behavior.

They were moving northward in between the myriad of wires, high above the ground but low enough to stay in the shadows, so that the Tower guards won’t notice them

“I don’t believe you” Sandra heard Matt said as he soared behind and joined the formation from the rear, next to Ham. None of the others heard them from the rushing of the wind or perhaps they pretended not to.

“I don’t think you value your bloody life, at least be quiet, because I surely value mine” Sandra whispered furiously from the corner of her lips, she searched her head for possible questions and answer to give Matt should he argue with her again, but the lack of answer from the boy made Sandra at ease. She guessed he probably had not heard her from the rushing of the wind or had decided to shut his greasy mouth. Either way, Sandra was glad, for she preferred the familiar wind whispering into her ear, to the whining of the boy.

Sandra led the small party swiftly northward, warning them to maintain a good distance from the main wall. They had lost the numerous gauze wire somewhere in the night and now the dusty floor gave way to the grass. As they soared deeper into the forest, Sandra switched on her touch light for a time, before motioning for the others to do the same.

The touch light which was at the rim of their H-board, lightened the night like fire flies flying uniformly in a specific direction. They were quiet and soared for another one hour or two. Flying insect filled the misty night and brushed pass as they soared deeper into the forest. They’d long lost track of time and the music from the grad party.

The forest was hell dark with tall trees that covered the sky and shrubs that covered the soil. The mist here was also dense that it was almost impossible to see the next person in front, if not for the white light of their H-board. The creepy noise of night birds, insect and other animals were also present but distant. The noise that was ever near was the wind against their ears and the whispering voice of their H-board.

None of them made a sound, even the slightest cough was swallowed carefully. It was as though each of them were lost in their own thought or probably vigilant as they stared ahead with never changing focus.

Just when Matt was about to complain again, Sandra slowed and alighted from her H-board. She deactivated her board and walked about six steps ahead, went down to the ground with her right knee and started pulling out grasses from the floor.

The others alighted from their board and stretched their aching waist; they circled Sandra and watched her quizzically.

“Ouch” Matt laughed despite his aching muscles when he noticed Sandra.

“Is this the part where you advise us to feed you with grass, so you could see clearly in the night? Well, if you have suddenly become a ruminant animal, it will be my utmost pleasure to see thorns go down your throat as I feed you with them.”

Matt’s mockery was met with a chuckled from someone beside Ema, whose face was turning red with laugher.

“If I happen to be a writer, I would surely name this chapter ‘Sandra goes wild” Pinna was the one who had said it. Not able to control herself, she burst out with laughter and Matt followed.

But Sandra paid no mind to their comment. She wiped out dust from the ground and immediately pulled open the door of a cellar, hidden under the grasses of the field.

As if that was a signal, the laughter ceased and was replaced with awe. The humming sounds coming out from the main fence was much louder here, even though the fence was nowhere near. It was no doubt the sound was concentrated here; this was the center nucleus to whatever is powering the main fence of the academy.

“We are here.” Sandra said with deep voice, to someone on the other side of the phone. She stuck the phone somewhere on her pocket and turned to the others who were standing behind her.

“This is it, I hope you are done with the goodbyes?” she asked in a quick and formal look, just as Mrs. Jessica April.

Matt stared at her with hate; it was now that he was able to place Sandra’s character. The older girl was living the life of Mrs. April. Too bad for her; she was nowhere near Mrs. April, who had over the month became Matt’s favorite teacher.

“Are we to go in through that?” Jeff pointed, ignoring the girls question unintentionally.

“Not until the humming sound dies down, Raz and Leonard are working on that though, but unless you want to be cooked by electricity, then you can be my guest.” Sandra said, meaning it as a joke but neither of the other kids seemed to notice.

Somewhere in the night, a wolf was howling.

“Be careful Jeff and you Ema.” Ham said clapping a gentle hand on their shoulders. Jeff looked pass his shoulder and caught Ham staring at Matt. He wasn’t surprise, Ham was trying to piss Matt off but Matt was not paying attention as he was watching Sandra dubiously.

“We will” Ema responded as though she was cold, but it wasn’t cold, it was fear. Not that anyone blamed her but it was funny to see Ema, who always wear the hard looks, frightened.

“Am sorry.” came a tiny sad voice that was colder than Ema’s fear. The three turned and stared at Matt who was now looking down, not meeting either of their eyes. The moon showered him with its blue light, making his short blond hair appear gray.

“What do you mean” Pinna asked with huge emerald green eyes buried on Matt, as though she knew the next word he was about to say.

“Ham, am very sorry about my irresponsible behavior in Ema’s apartment the other day, I didn’t mean…”

“It’s okay” Ham interrupted warmly, with face turning red in the moon light. For one thing, it appeared like the grassy earth would open and swallow him where he stood.

Ham was huge, not with height but with strength. For his size he looks nothing like a healer, and the strenuous training in the academy over the month, seems to have brought out all the muscles in his body. A little carelessness and he find himself hurting someone. With a close look, one would notice that he was the one who frequently apologies to people and not the other way round.

“It’s okay Matt, I never had anything against you” Both boys shook hands together, smiling like new business partners who had just reached a fine agreement.

“Oh finally, it took the both of you forever” Pinna exclaimed happily as she towered over them and stroke their hair like babies. Even the angry glare they shot her did less, but was enough to keep her at bay, because if Pinna had her way, she won’t mind bathing the two boys in a bathtub, clothing them and singing lullaby until they are fast asleep.

“It’s time” Sandra said urgently and at that moment, the others observed that the humming sound from the cellar had died.

The hooting of the owl and other night birds were now audible enough. The crickets too sang with them in an endless rhythm, even the trees joined the melody when the wind of the cold night breaths into their stomata.

“Come on be fast, the door won’t hold forever” Sandra urged the two who were now looking at the dark cellar as though it was a tomb of no return.

Shooting one last glance at their friends, Jeff went down the ladder and Ema followed reluctantly. Just then, the doors of the cellar closed and the whole earth shocked violently like an earthquake.

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