From the Vaults of Earth
Chapter One: The Ritual
The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room. The sharp hues and bright lights that bled from the porthole window pierced her eyes. She squeezed her lids together at the watering pain. She was used to seeing without her eyes. The earth guided and enveloped her in other ways, but in that cavernous room she felt very little of that sense’s embrace. Fear had her raising her hands in an effort to shield her eyes. She needed to see what she could not understand.
She saw through slits in her squinted eyes, his hunched, holiness beckoning her to the thick metallic door that gleamed bright against the dull rock of the earth. She shook her head in protest and recoiled as far as she could before a wall of muscled men pressed into her back. Those men, at the archbishop’s command, clamped down on her arms and hauled her forward. She kicked and flailed at their advances; ineffectively thwarting their efforts.
Murmurs from the crowed echoed off the archbishop's chamber walls. Words of, “never has anyone been this ungrateful,” “how could she know what awaits her?” “This is a great honor!” and “she is ruining a beautiful moment!” were drowned out by the screams and shrieks of the wild girl as she thrashed at her captors. They couldn’t understand her nor she them making the moment all the more terrifying for her.
A normal sacrifice would have loved to take her place. They would understand the pretty lies they had been told. They would eat the drugged food with eagerness. They would marvel at the airy ceilings of the archbishop’s chambers. They would be honored for their sacrifice. No one honored the wild child as they dawned back on their domed hazmat hoods.
The archbishop pulled laboriously at the wheel of the door has he had done for the past 6 decades, a good run for anyone in the folds of earth. It had been easier in past decades for him to turn the wheel, but as he turned it on this girl, each pull felt as assaulting as her screams. He made the final turn, though, and with the assistance of a strong man to his left side he was able to open the door to the outside.
In accordance with the ritual women clade in full suites washed soot and soil that had accumulated on the only window the vaults of earth had to spy on what lay above them. They worked quickly and efficiently their eyes darting to the open air as beads of sweat formed on their brow. The girl watched them with horrified fascination, her own skin breaking out in a clammy cold sweat.
She wished with the tears she shed that the woman would go about their work forever, but that wasn’t a real wish it was escapism from the moment. What she really whished for was to be back home. Forever. As it had been. Back in the deep bowls of the earth where freshwater oceans glowed with the power form earth’s heart and luminescent creatures dotted cave walls. However, that too was a fantasy. She was already well aware that her home was now polluted by these upper level beasts. Their tant on the caverns would leave a permanent scar on the area and its life. She knew this, but unable to accept it she let anger take the place of her grief.
She bit at the first person she could reach with her teeth. When his hold loosened she gained back her right arms freedom and wailed it at the man holding her right arm. Before either of them could bind her again she dropped to the floor and tried to crawl through gaps in the crowds legs. It was to no avail.
The onlookers of the event kicked her back towards the door while the man who had held her right arm pulled her from the waste back towards him. He pulled her full on top of him and she tried to elbow him in the stomach, but he rolled her onto her belly and pined her to the ground.
To her side, the man she had bit, foamed at the mouth. His eyes were panicked and unseeing as he clutched at the holes in his suite where her teeth had sunk in. She stared on in horror and thinking to herself that she was not venomous, so why on earth was the man in such a state?
The crowed was agitated by one of their owns death. The geared and made noises that the girl did not understand but could glean was not good. Something in her wanted to smile at that. ‘Good,’ she thought, “they should suffer too!”
The archbishop put up his hands before the crowed could rip her apart. He gestured to the outside and the girls heart ran cold. She rather be killed than go beyond the door. She sunk her claws into the polished marble of the floor. Her nails thick and sharp from years of digging and cutting could not penetrate the hard surface but they anchored her well enough that it was a considerable effort of multiple people to move her. She left jagged grooves as the dragged her out the door and tossed her out.
Before the girl could get up they had slammed the door and begun turning the wheel on the other side. She heard the bold click back into place even has she tried to wrench the door open. She screamed at the window and banged at the faces crowded at the glass in the window. When no one moved to open the door, she turned to face her nightmare.
Colors and illumination she had never fathomed poured into her senses overwhelming her. Her eyes stung worse than when she had look upon the dirty window moments before. She was overwhelmed too by a tumult of animal noise and foreign smells. Nothing hurt her physically, but devastation at her losses crippled her spirit. Like a mad woman she dropped to the earth and began frantically digging. Earth flew behind her in clots of grey, brown and red. She dug like that until color began to fade from wherever they had thrust her.
She popped out of the hole that was twice her body length and looked around. The bright brilliant world she had looked upon hours before was dimming. In the recesses of her home cave that meant something ominous was coming. She launched herself out of the hole and began pounding anew. She screamed and bore her fists so hard into the door it left bruises in her flesh. She did not care. She would gladly embrace her enemies rather than face whatever unknown was unfolding.
She looked at the sky above loosing the hues of blue she had never seen before as it faded to a darkness she understood. This was not her dark ceiling, though. She did not know what creatures could make such light or why they were changing or possible just one creature. She held her breath as she thought of how tasty she might be and then pounded a little lighter and screamed a little quieter to be let back in.
The shocked face of the archbishop popped up in the port hole and the girl nearly sagged with relief. He did not open the door, however. Instead, he retreated back into his room.
“No, please,” she begged, “please, oh please! Something is coming please!”
The light had completely faded as she begged. It was replaced by black dotted with glowing dots that the girl assumed were inch worms. She calmed at the familiarity but was put back on guard as something rustled close to her. She turned one last time to the window to see the warm glow of a bulb, but no people.
Realizing she could not get back in and would not find sanctuary there she dove back into her hole and tried to cover herself with dirt for warmth. She waited with bated breath for the beast to appear. She could hear wide nostrils sniffing and snorting, coming ever closer to her hiding spot.
Would this be her fate she though. Were the upper dwellers so inhumane they fed people to monsters and for what? She cursed the upper dwellers anew as a grey furred snout came into view over the lip of the hole.
She tired to scramble for a rock or anything she could use as a weapon all the while cursing herself for not thinking to do that sooner. She wrapped her fingers around a small rock, much too small to be a good weapon, when she heard the squeak of the doors hinges. The creature, spooked by the noise skidded away and the girls heart subsided its erratic beat. The unfamiliar language of the people drifted down to her, and she realized that creature was not what they were waiting for.
She shimmied her way back up the hole and looked over the lip at the congregation in front of the door. She contemplated how she could beat past them and slither back to where she came from, but one look told her that was as impossible as all the other escapes she had attempted to make. Frowning she wondered what these people wanted and what room of earth she was in.
A large burly looking figure next to the archbishop squeaked and recoiled at the girls figure popping out of the hole. His holiness rolled his eyes and said something to the group. They all exchanged dismayed glances and the scared individual was pressured into taking off his hazmat covering.
A coughing fit overtook the man as he choked on his own saliva. The others pushed him towards my hole. They filtered in and slammed it before he could raise his gargantuan frame. He didn’t make any move to get up though. He continued to cough and panic.
The girl pulled herself fully out of the hold and went to check this man. Worried not for him but for herself being alone again. She looked him up and down and realized there was nothing wrong with him. She pounded on his chest to stop the coughing.
“Stop that. That hurts,” he wailed in a language she could not understand. When she continued he pushed her and said in a higher pitched tone, “stop it.”
His cough had stopped and they both looked shocked. He at the fact he was ok and she because he had hit her when she was only trying to help. He touched all over his body, he tentatively breathed the air. When he realized he was ok he sucked in a breath to laugh in jubilation but was cut off by a hard thwack to his temple.
She was getting vengeance. “ass hole!” she accused as she hit him again.
“owwww,” he threw up his hands in defense, not understanding the girls profanities.
Before she could beat him to death the door opened a third time. Without even thinking the girl launched herself into the doorway and the people parted to accommodate her. She heard the man and the holy man exchanging words as the people in the room skittered away from her, but it was all drivel. “For now, she will stay in my room and perhaps we can use her to go on expeditions. It seems you are unbothered by the atmosphere as well. I suppose Diggory was too weak blooded. This may change things, but for now I think you should try to coax the wild girl to our aid.”
The bishop droned on, and the girl watched as the large man was kissed and the door was shut again. Ease at being enclosed again quickly faded as the archbishop snapped his fingers. she was seized again and chained in a sitting position to a wall opposite the door.
The hunched man, so stooped already, didn’t even need to bend to whisper in the girl’s ear, “This is the only window to the outside. Get acquainted with it so we might know what it hides.” He cast his words like a spell knowing the girl did not understand but hoping he could entrance her. When she bit him, he gave her a good kick and bellowed to the others in the room, “let time do our dirty work. Leave her. We will check on her in a few days!”
The girl understood well enough and refused to have anything to do with what lay beyond that window. She buried her face in her folded up legs and refused to look at the unknown. She refused to see what lay beyond the window and promised herself with all her might she would return home.
About the Creator
E. J. Strange
I am new to the writing community but hope to publish a novel one day. I am simple minded and sucker for romance.
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