Chapter Eighteen – Part Two
West of Paradise, Galatia
Looking around, Gideon can’t help but take in a deep slow breath. Seemingly the entire world seems to stretch out on all sides of him. Endless rolling hills, gullies, and valleys of emerald remind Gideon of the pictures of the open waters of the ocean. Above the emerald ocean the blue skies above stand as a reminder to Gideon that he isn’t living under a dome of concrete and steel anymore. Instead, there’s just about nothing standing between him and the infinite skies above.
Gideon’s two companions are still not speaking to each other. Not only that, they aren’t talking to him either. He had initially thought that the silence would eventually lead to a sort of peace, but now he isn’t so sure.
“Well, Sylvia, we got you your high point,” Gideon announces, finally breaking the silence.
“I don’t see anything,” Sylvia frowns as a slight scowl crosses her face. She looks around for several moments before she points to an area further along and says, “I think “I’ll be able to see better over there.”
“Be careful,” Gideon warns, “The hill’s pretty steep.”
“I know,” Sylvia snaps.
Gideon feels offended by Sylvia’s shortness at first, but he quickly realizes that she is deep in thought. She breezes past him and makes for the small bluff that she had pointed out without another word.
“I thought you said that you were heading right back after we got up here?” Meghan whispers to Gideon as she watches Sylvia march away.
“We’re trying to see if we can see something from up here,” Matthew tells her.
Drawing even closer, Meghan asks, “What are we trying to see?”
“We don’t know for sure,” Gideon shrugs as he sidesteps away from Meghan. Looking back over the landscape that he can see through the surrounding foliage, he continues, “All we know is that whatever it is, it’s important.”
“So important that we don’t know what it is?” Meghan asks skeptically.
Shrugging once more, Gideon admits, “I have no idea what it is supposed to be. All I know is that Sylvia’s mom slipped me a map and that we should be able to get a fix on what it is from here. If not, then we head back, no matter what Sylvia says.”
“And if we do see something?”
“Then we still head back. Maverick said he wasn’t ready for us to go out here, so we have to respect his wishes.”
“But you’ve already come this far,”
“Yeah, that wasn’t my choice.”
“It doesn’t look like anyone’s forcing you along.”
“Whose side are you on?” Matthew asks with a chuckle as he looks over to where he had left Meghan, “Sylvia’s the one who’s trying to stretch the rules here. I don’t need you doing that too!”
“Well, I’m just saying,” Meghan shrugs, “We’ve come this far, after all. If this is as close as we’re going to ever get, then this is a bit of a waste. Might as well go the whole way!”
Not convinced, Gideon shakes his head and argues, “The others might need us. We can’t just walk away from them.”
“I’m sure they’ll be fine without us.”
“We can’t be sure of that,”
“They’ve got Maverick, they’ll be fine.”
“Come over here and check this out!” Sylvia beckons from her spot on the butte. Without skipping a beat, she takes a hold of a tree branch and uses it to lean out over the steep ravine below her.
Curious, Gideon walks over to Sylvia, Meghan in tow, and he scans the wilds around them. There are less trees obstructing his sight, but he still fails to see anything. Frowning, he continues searching as he wonders what Sylvia might be looking at.
A minute passes before Sylvia asks, “Do you see it?”
“Nope,” Gideon shakes his head, “All I see are trees.”
“Trees and trees and trees,” Meghan affirms.
“Well you’re not looking close enough then,” Sylvia says matter of factly as she motions for Gideon to come closer to the edge.
Reluctant, Gideon takes a few baby steps and he eventually is close enough to Sylvia that he can finally follow her gaze and see the smallest chunk of grey in the distance. The grey stands right about where he knew the map directed and he can’t help but feel concerned that Sylvia and Meghan were going to go on ahead whether he liked it or not.
“What is it?” Meghan asks from behind Gideon.
Gideon turns around and sees Meghan approach and then everything seems to slow down.
Overhead, something cracks.
Underfoot, there is a rumble that nearly throws Gideon to the ground. Sylvia loses her grip on the branch and Gideon manages to catch her before she falls out of reach and he pulls her back to safety.
The ground then gives out and the tree that Sylvia had been hanging from begins falling down into the ravine. Its roots pick up the earth that Gideon and the others are standing on and they slide down the suddenly steep ground.
In a moment, Gideon is tumbling down the hill with Sylvia still in his arms. He wraps himself protectively around her and he ventures a glance uphill.
Following closely after him, Gideon sees Meghan is also falling. Not only that, the massive tree is chasing all of them down.
The back of Gideon’s head slams into a tree or rock and lights play along the edges of his vision. He tries to remain conscious, but the effort is seemingly futile. A moment later, his world goes black.
Take a breather! That’s a lot of reading!