It’s been a while, so here’s the last part.
Can you catch the reference I threw in there? Here’s a hint: it’s linked to the featured image. It’s hard to catch, but if you look at the decoded messages, you’ll understand.
“So you’re telling me that we’re all going to die.”
“Well, if you put it like that, everything sounds bad,” Jay grumbled from where he sat on a rock at the far side of the room. “Let’s just say we have to find a new home before the place falls down on us.”
Melody stood next to him, holding his hand as she leaned against the grey wall of the Echo. “It’d better be fast,” she muttered. “The children are getting restless. I told them it’s just an adventure and it’ll be over soon, but I think they’re starting to realize it’s actually happening.”
“I’ll go talk to them,” Angel said softly from where she and Kestrel stood by the room’s exit, a jagged hole in the wall next to a pile of grey bricks and rubble. She ducked under the low wall, Kestrel following behind.
Not long after they left, Terrence popped his head in the room. “You four coming out?”
“Right.” Sam, who was sitting against the wall next to Hope, stood up, and Hope stood with him, still bewildered. “Should we go scavenging once the tremors stop?”
Terrence nodded, backing out of the exit as the rest of them stooped down to leave. “I don’t know how long we can last, though, or how long the quakes will happen.”
“No one does,” Jay mumbled, pulling Melody out. “That’s why we’re stuck here.”
As they walked through the rows of people constructing makeshift shelters by the shore of Third Lake, Hope held tightly to Sam’s hand, bracing herself for the unsteady shaking of the ground and the walls. Ahead, she saw Angel and Kestrel trying to calm the young children, to no avail. Some were running around, others screaming, and a few crying.
“Well, it looks like they’re making more progress than I was,” Melody laughed. “No wet pants anymore.”
“Melody!” Hope giggled. “Please don’t tell me you took out your spear to make them stop.”
Another quake shook the ground, and Hope toppled forward, her hand slipping out of Sam’s grasp. As she regained her balance, she could see a piece of wall as large as her break off the top and fall down to the ground. She lunged forward with a yell towards Angel, Kestrel, and the children. “Run!”
They got the message and scattered just in time. The piece of wall thumped to the ground right where they were standing only moments after they had all gotten out of its way.
“Phew,” Kestrel gasped as he stood up, dusting his clothes off as Angel went around helping the children. “That was close. Thanks, Hope.”
Hope nodded, staring towards the sky. “It’s not safe to be too close to the walls. We should stay a considerable distance from it.”
Terrence drew up beside her. “Yes, that’s a good idea. I’ll tell the others.” He turned back. “Jay, mind helping out?”
“I’ll come too,” Melody offered, and the three took off down the shoreline to where people were setting up camp.
Sam came up and took Hope’s hand. “That was brave,” he murmured, running his other hand through Hope’s dark grey hair. “And quite unusual of you. You’re not generally a risk-taker.”
Hope rested her head on his shoulder. “The end of the world brings out weird things in people,” she mumbled.
“Maybe not the end of the world,” Sam whispered as they stared out at the grey water. “Maybe it’s just the end of ours.”
“I don’t know.” Hope’s eyes darted from the lake to the sky. “Everything’s messed up now. I don’t know.”
Sam just sighed in response.
There was a brief silence, and Hope relished it. She knew, from then on, that everything would involve her in some way. Gone were the moments of peace. Gone were the hours spent alone with Sam. Gone were the silly little jokes she shared with her friends. Hello, apocalypse.
“Is it just me, or is the sky getting darker?” She frowned.
“It’s not just you.” Sam’s hand dropped from her hair and crept around her waist, pulling her closer. “Something’s wrong.”
Dark clouds swirled through the sky, unlike anything Hope had ever seen before. Come to think of it, she never actually saw clouds before, either; it was always just plain grey sky with a moderate amount of light in the daytime.
Suddenly, a voice began to reverberate across the vast Echo. Hope froze, recognizing the deep, haunting whisper of the Darkness.
When the door’s protection doesn’t last, dreams will turn to nightmares fast, it rasped. I am coming for you. I will find you, even if it takes me all eternity to do it.
You cannot escape me, child.