After inspecting the rest of the wreckage of the Trekker, I started scavenging for any footprints or trails that might lead to Outlast-112 or to whoever the pilot was. I strapped my goggles back on and surveyed the area for any color besides violet. At that moment, I discovered a steady pattern of blue, imprinted along the snow bank. Footsteps! My searchings were not in vain, someone was out here with me in the Voidlands. I followed the footsteps over hills, banks, and valleys, never losing hope that this person was alive. My communicator kept blearing in my ear, giving me the same staticky noise. Sometimes I thought I heard voices, but they were only short blurs of nothingness. As my search continued, the footsteps led to the base of a mountain.
The pattern of blue lingered into the dark, desolate cavern that lied beneath the towering construction of time that was the mountain. The foul breath of decay breached my nostrils. My mind started filing through the possibilities of the outcome of that pilot. Either the pilot’s motionless corpse was rotting on the floor of the cave, or the pilot inexplicably found a bountiful harvest for food that was starting to reach the end of it’s expiration date. I would very much prefer the latter, but I knew in the back of my mind that it was very unlikely. I reluctantly trudged down the snow bank that led into the black grotto. My heavy breaths became unsteady as they fogged the bitter air and my eyes shifted rapidly, trying to detect what the fate of that poor pilot had come too.
My boot finally reached the cold, wet floor, but the disgusting stench of what awaited me in the inky blackness got ever so stronger. With my rifle in hand, I wandered into the emptiness of the cave seeing nothing but eerie rock.
Crunch!
The sound echoed throughout the entire den, leaving me bracing for the deathly appearance of something that did not wish for me to be present in its home. But instead, I felt the touch of a finger on my lips and a, “Ssshh,”. I slowly backed away and heard a voice speak.
“Do…not…run.”
I strained my eyes to see the figure that stood in front of me. I saw a man all wrapped in robes and a belt that carried many gadgets of such design that were far past my list of technology. But the memories flowed through like canals and I realized that this was the man in the picture that I found at the wreckage of the ship. He held a pistol in one hand and pointed behind a rock with the other. He made me follow him into a small enclosure that had light streaming in through the doorway. Then, the minute we stepped inside, he pinned me against the wall with intense force against my shoulder and pointed the pistol at my head.
“Who the hell are you?” he demanded.
I noticed that he was bearing the same emblem on his shoulder pad that was imprinted on my cloak.
“I’m Orion Bridger, code 555-1207-2425, positioned at Outlast-112, member of the Defiance,” I responded. “I’ve been searching for you. I found your Trekker abandoned and destroyed. I followed your trail to this cave,” I pushed his arm of my shoulder and he lowered his pistol.”Who are you?”
He stared at me for a while with his brown eyes, his face sullen and his fingers still wrapped around the pistol, eager to pull the trigger and ultimately kill me. He reluctantly pulled the pistol away from my forehead and glared at me. He put his pistol in his holster and sat down against the cave wall.
“Name’s Leo Cassick,”
I was expecting to hear more information, but that was all that he gave me. I took a seat against the cave wall across from him and glared at him as well.
“So, how long have you been down here?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” mumbled Leo. “Couple hours maybe. All I know that my Trekker was shot down by some God damn patrol!”
“Dystopian?”
“Yeah. I mean…since we have our Utopia and they’re the bad guys…they get a Dystopia you know?” He looked at me like it was obvious. “Well that’s the street name anyway. I guess you know them as Sentinels yeah?”
I heard the scuttling of feet and screeches and screams that were outside of our little safe haven. I looked at Leo with concern but he took no notice of it.
“Yeah.” I absentmindedly answered his question. “What else is in here?” I requested.
“Oh! That? Um, well picture a human skeleton but doesn’t have any of the organs or guts or anything like that. Now also picture that skeleton without a face but an enormous mouth that almost covers its entire head.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad.” I thought.
“But there’s a catch,” nervously said Leo. “There’s thousands of those little buggers.”
I stared at Leo, eyes wide open, mouth agape. How could we possibly fight back? Was my destiny to be eaten by these humanoid freaks that wait right outside our little enclosure right as we speak? Probably.
I stood up briskly, “So why the hell haven’t you left this ditch?!” I shouted.
Leo stood up as well and put his arms on my shoulders and slowly he pushed us both down so that we were sitting again. He whispered, “Sssh. They’re called Goblins. They can’t see, smell, or hear, but they can feel every single thing moving on the ground for a few hundred of yards.”
“You mean they know we’re here?”
He nodded.
“They’re also surprisingly very strict about keeping the group together. Once something enters the cave, they think it’s one of them, that is until it tries to run or eat them. But right now, we should be safe. They think we’re just newcomers of the pack, but if we even try to leave, they’ll eat us whole, not leaving anything behind. Welcome to the Voidlands!”
I got back up and paced along the room, caressing my hair back, trying to think of a way out of this. We stayed in that little cavern for hours upon hours, our supply of water and food becoming scarce. Leo sat in the corner playing with his little gadgets, turning them on and off, reflecting their light of the walls and dismantling them and putting them back together again until he finally dozed off. The screeching continued through the entire night and sleep was never an option during that time. Then, one of those terrifying “goblin” things casually crawled into our refuge. It scampered up the side of the cave wall. I took Leo’s flashlight and shined it up at it. It didn’t flinch at the brightness and it was one of the most terrible things I have ever seen on this once good earth. It was completely white, its feet looked like hands, like an ape’s, but it had savage claws, and it was extremely skinny with the shape of all its bones being shown. But the most striking feature of this thing was that its face was just a large gaping maw, that spewed out drool everywhere.
It silently crawled away, making little grunting sounds that echoed through the rest of the cave and came with many more responses of screams.