The Lightsby Narratorway
Terra and Gau: The Learning Lights
Terra and Gau: The Learning Lights
Chapter 7 - The Monster
The scream came from the side of the schoolhouse. Terra was the first around the corner and saw all the children huddled around the Gau's doorstep (as she came to know it). The dogs were jumping about among them barking. The older children were screaming into the hole, while the younger ones were crying. Timothy saw Terra and ran to her.
Before she could say anymore a roar was heard inside the cave. The children sprang away and instantly fell quiet. After a few moments of tense silence passed, Jimmy, a five-year-old boy prone to be overly curious, crept up to the hole in the ground and peered in.
A flash of something jumped out so fast that Jimmy didn't have time to be scared. A cloud of dust followed after and still Jimmy just stood there frozen. He would eventually come to his senses and wet himself but at the moment his mind was hiding in a corner waiting for all the excitement to pass.
The other children's' reactions were much quicker. They screamed and scattered in all directions. Terra, on the other hand, stared at Gau in amazement. He was running faster than she had ever imagined, so fast that the dust flew into the air after he had already passed. She was transfixed on him and eventually came to her senses as well. What in the world was he doing? Out in the middle of the day and running like an...well... She had never seen anything move so fast. He ran out into the field and his dust trail followed, and the cloud partly blocked the view of him. He was running full throttle straight towards a dead tree and at the very last minute made a sharp turn towards the south. His dust trail did not follow him. Instead it continued ahead and engulfed the tree. Terra then saw and heard an explosion of earth as the tree was suddenly lifted, roots and all, into the air as if it was as light as a feather. The dust trail slowly turned south and again followed Gau at a much greater speed. It was quickly catching up. Gau was now running towards a large slab of rock that had been sticking out of the ground since the beginning of time. It had been there when animals began to congregate on the veldt, when the settlers first came ashore, when the world ended and began again it had stood. A twenty-foot long, fifteen-foot wide rock with a smooth almost polished face jutting out the ground at about a ten- percent grade. Gau now ran to it as fast as his feet and arms could take him. The dust trail was now throwing up dirt in chunks and cracking the earth, moving with incredible speed. He was less than twenty yards away, but the cloud was less than ten. Using strength that wasn't there, he made that final burst of speed and beyond hope and fate, made it to the rock. He didn't stop, but ran and jumped off the other end into the air. Instants later, the dust cloud crashed onto the rock like a tsunami. Out of the cloud emerged a solid object, a creature of immense proportions. It slid up the rock and flew into the air.
All this happened in a matter of moments and Terra had barely enough time to register the fact that Gau was being chased by something before she could see what that something was. It was a Zone Eater, or something like it, for it had a pale yellow skin, and it was far too fast. And it was big, very, very big. It blocked the sun and engulfed in shadow, but she thought in those precious few moments that she could make out...what...spikes? Spikes lined the body of the worm. She was shattered out of her daze again when she heard the faint thump of Gau landing on the ground and realized that the worm was going to land on top of him.
As the creature descended towards the ground it opened up it's front orifice and revealed thousands upon thousands of teeth that seemed to extend into swords lined up against one another. Gau jumped out of the way as far as his legs could take him and he just barely made it. In one smooth motion, the incredibly large mouth slammed into the ground and swallowed the dirt sinking it in deep enough for the spikes in it's skin to grip the soil and propel it back underground as quick as if it had dived into water.
Terra turned to see Gau running towards her, but not nearly as fast. In fact it looked as if he was limping. The foot on his limp leg was black and shiny. Terra couldn't understand it until he got within about fifty yards.
"Oh my! Gau, you're bleeding!"
"Terra!" he spoke through panting breaths. "Get...the children...out of here... Run... Hurry..." He collapsed onto his hands and knees. Terra knelt down and put his arm around her.
"Gau, what's going on? You have to tell me."
He found his footing and stood up. "I don't know. It came last night, but I didn't know what it was. Not until..." he fell silent.
"What? Gau, what?" Terra felt sudden dread come over her.
The look on his face and the tone of his voice at that moment in time chilled Terra, terrified her. In his voice was the realization that time and the events within it are unchangeable, irreversible. Final.
"Get the remaining children in the schoolhouse."
Terra's eyes widened. She whirled around. The children were crouched around Duane and Katarin against the wall of the schoolhouse. Some were crying, but most were very quiet. Duane had a blank look on his face and Katarin was looking at each of the children in turn over and over. She stopped and slowly looked up at Terra. She was sobbing quietly as well.
"Jessica..." Terra wasn't sure if she said it aloud or not.
The realization hit her hard and quick. The screaming agony, intense loss, bitter anger, dreadful sorrow, the icy feeling of helplessness to stop, go back and do things different. All at once, and too quick to measure, they passed through her and tested her soul. In that instant, the entire fate of the children of Molbiz was decided. Terra was the embodiment of the security and love they had. She was their mother and if she could not withstand, they would be lost.
But she did withstand, though it would take its toll. In the wake of the storm Terra felt nothing, but was not without purpose.
"Duane, Katarin, take the children to the attic of the schoolhouse, now."
She didn't yell or use a stern commanding tone, but something in her voice broke through their shock and they understood without any doubt what to do and how to do it. They calmed the children and brought them into the school without another word.
Terra turned back to Gau, but he was no longer there. She suddenly heard the dogs barking near one of the houses. She ran to the back of the building and there they were, in front of Duane's and Katarin's house, barking and growling at...her? They were glaring at her menacingly and for a moment she was at a loss again. Then she understood and turned to look behind her.
There it was, out in the field. Needless to say she couldn't see it, but she saw the clouds of dust it shook into the air now not nearly as large and thick. Terra assumed that meant it was either slowing down or deep down in the earth. It was almost half a mile away and seemed to be moving in a circle. There was something in the middle of the circle. She couldn't make out what it was, but she didn't need to.
"Gau." She gasped.
He stood there not moving as the clouds of dust flowed onto him from the wind. Terra was becoming unraveled. She had just come to the realization that one of her children had died, and the only thing that kept her from breaking down was the need to protect the rest and make sure they didn't meet the same fate, but if she lost Gau... She ran into the schoolhouse and straight for the closet. Yanking open the slide door, she simply tossed everything out of the way until she found what she was looking for. Terra hadn't felt she would ever need her sword again, and now she cursed herself for being so na´ve. She turned around just as the stairway that led to the attic was swung down. Katarin almost fell down the steep stairs, but Duane caught her and struggled to drag her back up. She was hysterical and screaming madly.
"My child, my child, my child-" Terra caught those words repeated amongst the screams.
Oh no, Jonathan! Terra's mind flew back to when they had started their meeting. Katarin had said that she left him in his crib for his afternoon nap and would have to check up on him in a few minutes. Terra reassured her they'd wait for her when she'd have to leave.
She bolted out of the door intent on grabbing the child and taking him up to the attic, but as she passed the threshold and saw the field, she remembered Gau. The cloud was very large and thick and the circle had now tightened greatly. The dust rose into the air in a funnel that rose hundreds of feet into the air. The immensity of it did not effect her though, she knew that Gau was in there somewhere. Even if he wanted to fight back, his chances would be slim without some help, but if he was still just standing in the center, waiting to...no! No!
No, no, no, no...
Standing there, in that moment, Terra was forced to accept that she could not save him without risking the life of Duane and Katarin's newborn child. She knew Gau was still alive, or else the worm would not be circling, but if she went to his aid now, the worm would most likely go to the next animal it sensed, the dogs barking at it from Duane's house, straight towards Jonathan. She knew she wouldn't be able to overtake it. There was no hope of saving both. It was the worst decision she would ever have to make in her entire life.