THE SLATE OF VALE PART 13
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“What was that?” Matt asked worriedly, coughing himself up to his feet and trying to find his bearing. Dust rouse all around, spreading to the four corners of the earth.
The others were also coughing, with uncertain looks etched on their faces. The whole place had quake, it was as if the earth was slammed by a mighty force.
“Oh my God!” Matt exclaimed with horror. The group followed his gaze and their stomach sank.
Right next to Matt was a crack on the earth that trailed blindly to the place where the door of the cellar should have been, only that now it had sunk inside and was covered with Upturned earth.
“The door… Jeff…Ema…” Matt’s voice was lost in the uncertain air. Save for the cracks and the dry sand, there was no trace of the cellar. Pinna’s eyes were wide and Ham who was standing next to her, was rubbing his eyes for a clear vision.
“What have you done to my friends?” Matt bellowed with remorse, rushing forward to Sandra, but Ham was in between them in a flash of seconds. He had move so fast in the night that any other day, Matt would have been impressed, but not now, not today.
“Matt, please let me handle this” Ham said placing his soft muscular palms on Matt’s chest.
Matt looked up surprised, not because Ham had stopped him, but because Ham was angry, really angry. He could read the expression all over him, from the hand he placed on his chest to his glowing eyes. His eyes were glowing blue, deep dark blue like the color of a stormy sky.
“What have you done to our friends” Ham asked turning to Sandra.
His voice had changed too, and his hair was also glowing with blue colors that lightened the night. The Candanians were healers of the Blue linage. They could easily be mistaken as powerless but they are very deadly. They study the anatomy of the human body all their life, and knows where all the joints in the body are, they know the perfect place to strike for a kill or the place to strike to make the whole body go numb. For that, most people tend not to get on their wrong side.
“You’ve killed them.” Pinna accused. Her hair was glowing, turning deep red, and her eyes flashed its crimson gem like glass. She and Ham had their gaze directed to Sandra, who raised her hands in total submission.
“I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it either, but I must assure you not to panic, something else must have caused the earthquake, not because your friends went through that door”
Sandra said moving back with eyes flicking from one person to the next.
“What was it then? We trusted you and your friends, all for what, so you could betray us?” Ham asked impatiently and took a step forward.
“I don’t know what had happened believe me, I’m as confuse as you are. Raz said the door of the cellar should be shut once Jeff and Ema were in, and that the force holding the main fence would be activated immediately. He never said the whole world would be jerked at its core” Sandra explained. “But I think your friends are okay and until two days is over, there shouldn’t be any course for alarm.” She added immediately.
Ham and the others watched her expressionlessly, if they had believed any of the things she said, they didn’t show it. They stood there staring at Sandra silently, none of them made a sound except for the racing heartbeat of Sandra. Her eyes still flicked from one person to the next and her hands remained in the air.
“How do we know they are not dead?” Pinna sobbed, missing them already. She was now kneeling over the place where the door of the cellar should have been, weeping. Nobody had seen her moved to the cellar, not that anyone cared.
Ham’s glow was fading away and he was breathing slowly, an attempt to ice down his anger. He stared down at himself, at Pinna and at Matt, not knowing the best person to console at the moment.
Matt was totally downcast, he was now sitting on the grass with arms hugging his knee, looking at the cellar but not actually seeing it from the rivulet tears rolling down his cheek.
“Your friends would be alright” Sandra said with sympathy as she places her right hand on Matt’s shoulders. She was surprised he hadn’t flinch or rebuked her; he just sat there staring at the cellar as though he was the only living thing there.
“My friends are gone, buried alive under the earth” Matt sobbed quietly, it was hard to think that Jeff and Ema were really gone.
“Christ! did anyone saw that?” Ham suddenly said as he walked towards a tree that was standing not far away from him.
The rest of the group raised their eyes watching him with mixed expression.
“What is it” Sandra asked. She stood up and left Matt, gliding towards Ham.
Matt frowned and adjusted his weight but didn’t change his sitting posture. Something inside him told him he had enjoyed Sandra’s company and that the moment her hands left his shoulders, he had felt a little empty.
No, Matt muttered and adjusted his weight again. That girl is the reason Jeff and Ema are dead, I cease thinking of her that way. Matt thought but, is Jeff and Ema really gone? In two days’ time Sandra had said, I will wait, if they are not back after two days… Matt shook his head, not wanting to give in to his fears. He raised his weight from where he had been sitting, wiped his tears and strode towards the tree where Ham was standing. Pinna was also standing there with legs that were too weak to carry her body at the moment.
“Why is a hologram tree here” Ham asked as he traced his fingers which passed through the visual pine woody tree.
“Not only that one, this one also is a hologram” Sandra said.
She too was trying to touch another pine tree standing beside that of Ham’s. But her fingers kept passing through as if she was trying to catch the wind. The trees look too real to be a hologram. Whoever had designed it must really be good.
“Something is not right” Sandra said as she surveyed the tree.
“First the earth shook us to the ground and buried my friends alive. Now the trees are turning to holograms, and the best you can say is things not being right? Off course they are not, is that supposed to make us feel better?” Matt complained looking directly at Sandra.
“Your friends are fine I promise. What I meant by things not being right is this”
Sandra urges the others to come closer. Only two trees were hologram, the rest of the trees were all normal. Nothing seemed odd. Matt had wounded one of the trees with his little knife just to be sure and the white rich sap that came gushing out slowly, was all the proof they had needed.
“I have been here more than once; this hologram tree was not here before.” Sandra explained to the other three.
“So you are saying this tree just popped out from the air? I don’t think, things like this don’t just happen.” Pinna emphasizes, stressing the last part.
Her huge emerald green eyes studied the hologram trees as if they saw what others could not.
The noise from the insects were getting louder now and the leaves of the trees made noises too. But the hologram trees which were standing close to each other, only flickered with green light and remain the same.
Sandra’s phone was ringing so she excused herself to answer. The phone network stretches out within the school; if not, Matt’s attempt to reach his friends would have been fruitful.
“I don’t think this as a coincidence. If Sandra said that these holograms weren’t here until now, then I think it has something to do with the initial shock” Matt said thoughtfully and watched the others paused, as if trying to fix the puzzle.
“And how are we sure it won’t spread like a disease to other trees?”
“Don’t be ridiculous Ham; holograms are programmed and not some kind of communicable disease.” Pinna said with a frown.
“Did…did you say programmed? Yes, that’s it. If these trees were programmed, then it means someone else knows about this place. They might even know about the unhealthy group Raz and the others are forming.” Matt said in a whisper.
“So you mean whoever it was that programmed this thing might be watching us somewhere.”
Ham asked and Matt nodded.
Pinna looked at the tree tops with her huge eyes, searching to know if she could see any cameras or device that could be eavesdropping, but the misty night’s air shielded her long vision and she could only see little.
“We need to get out of here now” Sandra’s voice interjected.
“Raz said the quake affected the school too. If we don’t get back now, they might notice our absence.”
She activated her H-board and jumped on it with grace. The others activated theirs too but Matt did so reluctantly. He shot on last look at the door of the cellar before stepping onto his H-board and soaring away with the others, who were almost lost in the night.