Haruyama: The Short Story of the Sempiternity

Hoping to make history, Kai is a member of an archaeology team who sets out to record data from an unknown island. His friend, Amy Morikami, along with the team leader, Caine, experience unexpected changes in events that spiral into a mess that challenges them to survive.

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3. Escaped

Kai twitched. His head jolted up as he groaned awake, once again feeling the flush of exhaustion swallow his body.

He rose slowly.

"I need to find a way out," Kai whispered, wondering how long he'd slept. His muscles shivered as he struggled to stand.

He crawled up to his feet. The tendons in his knees were tight from the fall, but he managed to wiggle his joints comfortable. He limped a few steps, cautiously testing his legs, and began walking steadily as much as his knees promised him. He shuffled toward a pillar with a wooden torch that flickered against the darkness in the musty cavern.

 

"What kind of place is this?" Kai muttered as he continued down a passageway to the right of the pillar. His steps echoed, small puddles slapping under his scuffed boots. The walls were smooth rocks.

"These are pumice rocks," Kai habitually answered. He'd studied so many different rocks during his Greenland expedition, now being able to identify them by touch.

"They feel warm," Kai continued as he slid his hand across the surface of the wall.

"Am I in a volcano?"

Deeper down the passageway there were boulders where Kai climbed over, clumsily sliding off them to avoid making too much noise. Whoever or whatever brought him here must be capable of doing more than tie him up. Kai shook his head, hoping to fade the memory of him dangling from the ceiling—it felt like ages, he thought. Kai noticed dripping noises coming from ahead as he proceeded down the path, perhaps a leaking ceiling of collected rain. The ground began to slope a few metres ahead after he squeezed through a tight opening between boulders. His torch was too weak to illuminate the ceiling, let alone enough to allow him to walk any faster.

The slope made Kai's boots glide from the small loose minerals that covered the ground. Kai hissed silently with small shocks of pain in his knees when he nearly slid into a split a couple of times.

Kai suddenly tripped over a stationary rock in the middle of the pathway. He slid as his body hit the ground, feeling the jagged rocks scratch his elbows as he gained speed down the slope.

Kai began to panic. He gripped the torch and used his left hand to press against the ground. He felt the shards of rocks cut through his palm, failing to slow down speed. He tried digging the toes of his boots into the ground. His body only swerved.

 

"Shit!" Kai shouted as he felt his body kick sideways and flip over onto his back.

 

Kai’s flailing body tumbled down the steeping slope. He helplessly threw his hands out to try and keep himself from rolling. Another stationary rock slapped the torch from Kai's hand, crippling his fingers and leaving him blindly cursing. Kai then felt the ground slip away, sending him plunging into a shallow pool of water. He hit the soft bottom of the water, landing on his back.

Kai coughed as he frantically staggered to his feet.

"Gross," Kai whined as he wiped off the clumpy water from his arms. The stagnant odour choked his nostrils, but he was too disoriented to step out of the gunk.

He limped out of the water. Looking ahead, he saw a blurry white dot. He squinted to focus his vision.

"There it is!" Kai hollered with relief. He saw the opening to the cave just up the incline ahead of him.

He began his climb up the slope. It was low enough to relieve pressure from Kai’s knees. As he approached the opening, he could feel gusts of wind that immediately enriched his lungs.

 

Shaking Kai’s mind from relief, a voice roared behind him, echoing through the cave. 

 

"Get back here!"

 

Kai whipped his head backwards to see a dark human figure charging up the slope. The eyes of the figure pierced into Kai’s, flicking each vertebra as Kai shrieked. Without thinking, Kai dropped to his hands and began galloping up to the exit, the adrenaline numbing the pain in his body once more.

He burst through the opening, instantly blinded by the bright sunlight. He looked in all directions, searching for an escape from the figure racing toward him. To his left, he saw a log connecting two separate lands where a waterfall sat in between them. He couldn't waste any more time, so he dashed to the log.

Kai made no effort to ensure the log was safe—he needed to get away. He hopped onto the edge of the log with both feet. His adrenaline made his vision blurry, but he made his way across carelessly. He could hear the growls behind him.

 

"You!"

 

Kai looked back, now seeing a dark, lanky man standing just outside the opening to the cave. The man looked disgusting—he wore thin cloth, his thick black beard hid his neck, and his teeth were visibly sharp and spaced out.

 

"Come here!" the man shouted again.

 

Kai ignored the relentless commands, turning back to continue running. His vision spun—his mind was so exhausted that any quick movement made his vision churn. His foot slipped off a loose bark at the edge of the log, dropping Kai to his chest. He let out a grunt, but he didn’t stop moving. He hugged the tree and used his feet to push himself farther away from the man.

The log began to shake violently. As Kai inched his way swiftly to the other end of the log, he saw behind him the dark man crawling onto the log, just as recklessly as Kai had. He could hear huffing coming from the man.

 

"Get away from me!" Kai shrieked, regaining his voice as he was almost to the other end.

"I'm—” the man grunted through his words, “I’m trying to help you! Stop!"

 

Kai reached the end of the log and somersaulted off to land on his back. Upside‑down, he saw the man drawing nearer and nearer, a grimace poking through the man’s beard that stung Kai's face. Kai spun to his stomach and sprawled up to his feet, keeping his eyes locked on the man. He couldn't run away; the man would just continue to chase him.

 

Kai leered at the man. He then gazed over the cliff. He now studied the log.

 

He had to kill the man.

 

Kai dropped to his rear and began kicking the log with his left foot.

"Hey, stop!" the man cried out.

Kai ignored him.

He kicked harder. The log shifted.

He kicked again. And again.

"Stop that!" the man yelled louder, cracking his voice.

The log was now at the edge of the grassy cliff. The man was not slowing down or inching away from Kai.

With one last kick, Kai bellowed as he knocked the log off the edge.

 

He heard a piercing shriek as the log and the man disappeared from Kai's view. He quickly burrowed his face into a thick patch of grass and shut his eyes.

 

Kai heard a crunch, and the shrieking had stopped.

 

Kai took deep breaths to relieve his queasiness. He could feel the burn of stomach acid in his throat.

After regaining himself, Kai stood up, not daring to look over the edge of the cliff. He turned his head, looking toward the ocean and the triangular rocks.

Kai’s vision focused on a materialising shadow through the distant fog.

"There's the ship," Kai said under his breath. The letters of the ship’s name, “Sempiternity”, was seen outlined on the nose of the ship, the only part intact. It was impossible to see anyone, if there were any, on the shoreline. The breeze soothed Kai’s pounding headache as he lay in the fluffy green grass that hid his murderous act.

He knelt down, facing the direction of the beach and down the grassy pathway away from the cave. The images of his group members and the rest of the crew on board the Sempiternity flooded his mind again.

"I need to find a way down there," Kai recalled to himself. "I need to find the others."

 

He stood up and stretched his back and shuffled down the mountain through the thicket at the bottom of the hill.

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