“What does these pictures mean on the cave walls, Jeb?” Asked the girl with long blonde disheveled locks.
“Gwen, my pretty girl, they are ancient folklore of a man-eating beast who eats the purest o’ heart on the other side of the mountain. That’s why we’ve ne’er heard of ‘im. Crazy superstition if ye ask me. But legend tells that the beast, called Xing, comes out ‘round this time o’ year. Ye scared pretty girl? Huh?” Explained Jeb, tending to his sheep near the stream in the cave.
“Ye called me what?! We’re hiding in here because of the war. Those men, the soldiers, were plundering our refugee camp and lite fire to our huts. Ye didn’t see what went on down there. Ye didn’t see the horror. My mother took the kitchen knife and stabbed it through her, so that I wouldn’t come back to rescue her. She killed herself because she knew she was ta slow ta keep up with me, and she didn’t want to be tortured by the soldiers. I have her blood on my hands! I have her blood on my favorite green army jacket. I have her flesh on my boots. So Jeb, I’m not scared at an ancient legend. I’m rightfully scared of what’s out there,” Gwen motioning to the green smoggy heavens, “I’m justified, ‘cause down there is no legend.” Gwen’s tears dripped down her dirt stained check, clearly a path of lovely pale skin.
“Calm down, Gwen. We’re all a little frazzled, but there is sick to be tended to. Jeb was just making light of the situation.” Says the old man, clearly worn out from the fleet up the mountain.
“I know, Grandpops. What needs to be done?” Jeb has always had a thing for me, but there is no time for that in a situation like this. Especially after what happened to Peter.
There are few of us, only 17, who made it to this haven of a cave, from the refugee encampment of 700. There was supposed to 50 of us, but the soldiers got to the second group . . . The group that I came in, the first group, original had 28, but 9 died in the rock slide. That’s what kept the soldiers from coming up. But two of us stayed behind just in case.
The ‘just in case’ came in handy. The ‘just in case’ died. The ‘just in case’ died, so that we could live. Peter stayed behind and fought with his friend Bernard.
There were two of our shepherd boys already up here, before the attack started. That’s Jeb and Job, two very annoying brothers. In the cave here, there is 3 sick or wounded, and a 3-year-old.
That leaves me, Grandpops, Mary Jane – the 3 year-old’s aunt, Calvin, the weird guy – Norman, the triples: Fing, Fang, and Foom, the married couple May and Ben, and Liz – my best friend. And 13 sheep of the shepherd boys.
Grandpops startles me out of my thoughts – good, I couldn’t take the survivors to causality ratio. “Okay people, we need a fire, beds made from the straw over there, and fill up yer canteens with stream water. When it gets dark, wait ‘til the last moment and share light, ‘cause we don’t know when we’ll get out of here to get more oil. Mary Jane says dinner will be served in 10 minutes.”
It’s just like Grandpops to still give orders; well I guess we need that now.
The refugees start a line near the fire, where Mary Jane is cooking lamb stew. The fire is close enough to the small cave entrance to let little puffs of smoke out, but far enough away that the soldiers don’t see enough smoke to cause a need to investigate. The cave had an entrance of four feet in diameter, and five feet tall. The cave continued like this for twenty feet, growing larger until the cave opened up into 40 feet across and twelve feet high. The cavern was dimly lit, but one could still see the alcoves every six feet diving in and out. There was too many stalactites and stalagmites to see farther in the cave, but the cave grew thinner as it went on. The stream, which ran from an unknown source, came from the back of the cave and out down the mountain into a small waterfall. Gwen could see why the ancients and now the shepherds would take their flock here during bad weather: protection, running water, and peacefulness.
Suddenly a billow rumbled out from the back of the cave. The groan echoed off the walls and almost seemed . . . in a desperation of hunger?
“It is my time of awakening. My slumber is no more. Now is the time for feasting. The purest of heart is my desire. I have no need to go to the other side, since you are trapped in here with me. “
As the roar echoed throughout the chamber as also to the hearts of the refugee’s, the opening to the cave became covered in darkness.
No, it wasn’t of darkness, but an actual covering came over the entrance, but how?
The legend is true.