Hope looked out into the raining darkness and was amazed by how completely dark it really was. Except when lightning flashed, there was almost a feeling that the world completely vanished a mere two feet from the edge of the tower wall.
“Man, I didn’t think it would be this bad out here tonight,” Hope said to her watch partner Rico.
“I don’t know how you talked me into this,” said Rico. “I need my head examined being out here with you. If the rain and wind don’t do me in, your dad is going to throw me to the slabs if he was as mad as you said he was.”
“Don’t worry about my dad. He likes to talk tough, but he won’t do anything to you. I’m 18, and he’s got to let me grow up eventually, whether he wants to admit it or not. Besides, it’s not like we’re doing anything wrong up here,” Hope said to calm Rico down.
“Yeah, I know. “But it’s just your dad has an aura about him that it wouldn’t take much to set him off when it comes to you three. And I don’t want to be on the receiving end of whatever he decides to do to me if anything happens to you. I mean he’s a big dude; and to be completely honest, he scares the crap out of me,” Rico said a little wearily.
“Well, if we’re being honest, I wouldn’t worry about my dad so much as Uncle Ron and Uncle David. They do all his dirty work for him when it comes to guys around me. You remember me telling you about Tony who was chasing after me for months? Well when dad introduced him to David and Ron one night they stepped outside with him and he left shortly after and never called me again. In fact, two weeks later, he withdrew from school; and nobody’s seen him since.” Hope finished and waited until Rico turned almost pale as he soaked in what she just said. Suddenly, she started to laugh at Rico when she realized that he believed her. “I’m just kidding. You need to relax a little,” she said as she punched him in the arm.
“That was not funny, especially after I just admitted to being terrified of your dad,” Rico replied while letting out a slight sigh of relief.
“Shut up,” Hope said.
“I’m just saying . . .” Rico tried to respond as Hope’s hand cupped over his mouth.
“No. Shut up and listen,” she whispered to him as she pointed out into the darkness. “Something was out there.”
The two listened intently trying to hear through the pouring rain and the howling wind. At first there was nothing to be heard. “There. Did you hear that?” Hope whispered to Rico.
“I’m not hearing anything. You sure it’s not just the wind?” Rico responded.
“It’s down at the base of the wall right in front of us. Hand me the light,” Hope said as she snatched the flashlight from Rico. She shined the light over the edge of the tower. But from the angle of where she was at, she couldn’t see the location of the noise.
“I’m going down to ground level to see what I can find,” she said as she headed down the ladder.
Rico decided to follow, and after a few slippery steps down the ladder, he was on the ground with her. Hope was standing directly in front of the watch tower at the wall trying to peer through the holes in the wall out into the darkness beyond.
“You see anything?” Rico asked.
“Nope, just keep quiet and listen,” Hope instructed. “Oh, and watch your step. There’s a huge stream of water between us. I just stepped into it, and water flowed over the top of my boots.”
Suddenly, the noise which was quite muffled from up in the tower, reappeared. It’s was as if something was rubbing up on the wall, like the sound of a limb or bush brushing against a house in a slight breeze.
“There. Did you hear it that time?” Hope asked as she peered through the hole again in the direction toward the sound.
“Yeah, it just sounds like something has blown up against the tin on the other side of the wall,” Rico replied with a little bit of relief. “You see anything?” he asked.
But just as he finished, Hope lets out a startled scream.
“What’s wrong?” he blurted out.
He found Hope trying to leap back from the wall. But instead, she fell straight down. She landed flat into the stream of water flowing behind her and, immediately, became submerged over her head. Rico threw down his gear and lunged forward to grab her and lift her out of the water. Hope exploded out of the water spitting and choking, but managed to get out a phrase. “My foot! It’s got my foot!” she screamed.
Rico looked down toward her foot, which was submerged into the stream at the edge of the wall. He leaped over and started to extract it from the water. But her foot was not the only thing that came out of the flowing stream. A badly decomposed hand, also, came up with it. He reached down and yanked her foot free of the hand and pulled Hope back to safety.
As the two fell backward to a safe distance, they both looked to the location of the hand and watched as the rest of the body started to wiggle and emerge from the ground. The small stream of escaping water had created a washout under the wall and a slab had found the hole. As the muddy rain washed away the mud from its eyes and face, the slab recognized the two targets in front of it as food. Suddenly, it exploded out of the hole the rest of the way and in a flash; it clamped its teeth onto a some part of Hope’s leg.
Continued in Humanity’s Hope: Camp H
* * * * *
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