We all have illusions–certain scenarios that lure us into an unwanted situation. We have those weaknesses–that caring heart–the often presses us to act unaware of the full circumstance. We all have those choices whose consequences we always hate to face, yet we fall for them again and again. We grow tired, faint, and in need of hope–something to give us strength to press on. Carls Locke, amidst all odds, strives to be that hope. Something inside of him is like that of a spark in a hay-field–he has but yet to fuel it. The hardest part is to endure when hope seems ripped away from you; when at your loss, your expected to help others flourish. It is thus that Locke undergoes himself–a loss so severe and personal to him, it would bear weight for the entirety of his journey, of his purpose, of his hope.
Trip & Bait
For the most part he’d recovered. Not in the sense of strength and healing, but at least now he wasn’t getting worse. His condition was steady, his mind now able to think while fighting these illusionate. He praised God that only one had followed him up to the second floor. Also that it had retreated to its own pain and not his. Though he wondered what could possess a man so much as to not care for bodily harm. What was in these things to make them so ruthless and yet hurt?
He’d exhausted all the supplies in the aid kit. It was only enough to tend to his throbbing forehead, but that was enough for him. Maybe if he wasn’t so beat up and cold he could handle himself better. For now, his emotions acted as nerves to his thoughts. His body still shook, hands still sweat. Once again he found himself wishing he still had his watch. He hated the feeling of being trapped in a state outside of time and yet still bound by it.
Searching the back employee storage, he was able to scavenge some pans and a jacket (for the place seemed so cold). A pellet gun was all he could find that could be used as a weapon. He could use the glass, some tape, and a bar, but he wasn’t the type for gore. No, they’re still human, he told himself. They’re still human.
A sobbing not of his own reached his ears. He propped against an entrance toy rack, peering around the bend and into the hall. He could make out the faint form of a figure leaning against a corner shop across from him. In the sobbing came mumbled words sounding as one about to die if help was not assured. It was not an illusionate— at least that he could tell, but it was hard to see in the dim light.
“Help me, please…” the man’s faint voice came. He had to be real.
God, please don’t let me be alone, Carls prayed, taking one last look at his surroundings before sliding behind a rail overlooking the first floor. It was still just the man and no one else.
“Please!” the man cried out blindly. Carls heart wrenched as he debated what to do. Please be real, he said.
A second voice stopped him. It was that of a girl. He managed to peer far enough to see her crawling towards the man, body all the more beaten. “Dan? Is that you?” she yelled to the man. They had to be real.
“Help me! Please!”
“Dan? Is that really you? Dan!” the girl seemed overly joyed, but her body cringed at any more tugging. “Dan!” she yelled out to the man.
Carls couldn’t take it anymore. “Sir!” he yelled, breaking his cover and running towards them. The man’s eyes met with his own as he was tackled to the floor. What?
His head slammed to the floor, the bandages only just holding. He couldn’t believe his eyes! Dan and the girl were still there, but neither reached out to help him. They but flickered and soon faded as he was left to face the illusionate.
He sent the hilt of his pellet gun into the temple of him opponent, knocking it to the side. It took a second too long for his shoes to make traction and he was forced to grapple with the figure. With his bare hands he slammed the illusionate’s head to the floor, breaking free of its scathing grip. A shrill cry threw his balance off. What on earth was that? He dove for the pellet gun, spinning around in time to see another illusionate leap the corner. A whole clip was out before he realized it wasn’t doing anything (not that he expected it too, but he had hoped for something). The illusionate simply charged at him and he peddled backward in terror.
The ground shook again.
Suddenly did the illusionate collapse. Something had descended upon it with crushing force from the third floor, and now the emerging figure arose. Carls didn’t give himself time to notice what the massive thing was, he but turned and fled with every ounce of sanity still in him— the pellet gun left behind.
“Get away from me!” he yelled as a roar erupted from the new, much larger, figure. Lucky for him, he was not its first prey. He heard the screams of the illusionate as they coward from the beast. Carls just ran.
He was around the bend and down another hall before his feet puttered out. What was that thing? What on earth is going on? Currently, he was standing just outside a coffee shop, hands on his knees gasping for air. Feet, don’t fail me now! At least he was able to stand. Whatever it was that had been back there, he’d nearly lost all control of his senses. What horrendous beast was it now? How had it jumped a whole flight without hindrance? Where had it come from? What’s happening to me?
Locke stumbled across the empty halls and vacant shops. His mind was playing a deathly game with him. He was on the verge of insanity in his search for something real. The images weren’t leaving him— the crippled man and crawling woman. They had seemed so real, so true, he was sure of it! How can I fight this? he begged himself for answer.
“I can’t,” he whispered, quickly deciding otherwise. But what did it matter anyway? I am alone and depraved. And in only a matter of time I also shall be diseased. A plague it was. A demonic plague devouring everyone who thought the place as some “Grand Attraction”. Lies! It was all lies! How could ANYONE believe in lies?
But he had, and he hated himself for it. This was supposed to be perfect, he reasoned himself. It was supposed to make the perfect vacation from the world, not drive him deeper into it. Something was wrong with him. This can’t be real. It’s all in your head.
His body froze. At first glance, his heart had skipped a beat. Now it was rushing in anxiety. “Elairah?” he mumbled forward to the figure that strode before him. Is that you? Maybe she hadn’t heard him. Or maybe his mind was playing tricks on him again. What if it’s another trap?
“Elairah,” he called out louder.
Her figure progressed away.
“Elairah?” he said again, more convinced. He rushed toward her, heart as a volcano, soul praying it was her. “Elairah!” He grabbed hold of her hand.
“Carls?” she replied, surprised to see him. Thank God she’s real! Carls sprang for joy, embracing her fully and tightly.
“Carls, are you ok? Where have you been?”
A tear slipped his cheek. “Thank God you’re real!” he praised, “Thank God you’re safe!”
“What are you talking about, Carls?”
Something wasn’t quite right. He held both her hands in his and looked her in the eyes. She was real. He could feel her and he could sense her heart beating. But did she honestly not know what was going all?
“Carls, is everything alright?”
He didn’t know where at all to start, mind frantically searching for someplace to begin. He stuttered. “I’ve been chased, hit, shoved out of a window, beaten…”
“Honey, what happened?” she said again, calming him with a gentle hand lifted to his cheek. For a moment, everything in his world ceased but her touch to his face. He didn’t know how to respond to the crossbar that suddenly drilled her head to the wall beside them.
“Elairah!” he bellowed out, blood in his eyes and her hand slipping from his. A roar caught his rage to the left and across the hall. But the rage quickly shattered to terror as his jaws dropped open to the sight. A towering beast of a depraved figure stood not too distant. Carls crashed to the floor in bewilderment. It was coming after him.
He prayed to God for it all to end, but reality wasn’t budging. He dove to his right as another projectile clang across the floor where he just was. The beast let out another cry and swung both its massive arms. With the strength of an ape but wit of a man, the beast flung Locke across the hall. His body broke glass as he tumbled through clothes. Everything in him was screaming “flight!” but the trauma to losing his wife immobilized him from doing so.
No, his returning rage forced him otherwise. Every muscle tensed to the point of cramping, he yelled back, grabbing hold of the nearest weapon to him— a wooden clothes hanger. Back on his feet, he snapped the hanger in two wielding it as a dagger and bracing for second impact. Indeed, he could do nothing to stop it.
The wood was but a splinter the creatures forearm, and he but a puppet being thrown across the floor. The adrenaline in his veins blotted out the pain momentarily. He forced himself to his feet and charged— realizing all too late the stupidity in his actions. A third hit knocked any fight left right out of him. He hit up against a pillar and dropped to the floor. His worst option was now the only one left.
He looked up from his feeble position and at the distant figure of his wife. I can’t do this, he cried to himself, crawling to his feet and ducking behind the pillar as the beast pounded into it. Now wasn’t the time to mourn. He had to flee. And so he did. Before he knew it, he was behind two glass doors of another shop and forcing a steel bar between the door handles to brace it shut. It was only seconds before his body collapsed and fell unconscious to tears and blood.