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Race for the Fallen

Aloten participates in his town’s annual event in order to find his long-lost amulet.

By Max AyalaPublished 5 months ago 9 min read
Race for the Fallen
Photo by Morbite on Unsplash

Aloten stood at the starting line next to the rest of the contest participants. He bit the tip of his thumb as he stared at some of the participants. Many showed their muscles, and many were already prancing in place.

Sweat dripped down Aloten’s forehead as he stared at himself. He was wearing an old, still dusty, black formal attire he was hiding in his closet for the longest time. He looked at the rest, with their sport attires made specifically for this event. He sighed, and inspected his attire. He held the collar of his shirt and turned to the forest on the horizon. For you, old friend.

The signal was given, and in less than a second most participants were ahead of Aloten. All participants rushed to the five bowls in front of them. Each one with a clue or direction to each hidden item of the year. Many went for the red fish, and many more looked for the golden bunny. Not many approached the clues for the amulet, and Aloten smiled as he rushed to it.

Aloten extended his hand a few feet before reaching the bowl, but someone pushed him aside. He fell and rolled on the floor. His face turned red as he frowned.

Frey laughed as he took the clue from the bowl. He turned to Aloten as he unfolded the paper. “Al, didn’t see you there, buddy.” He turned to read the note. “Guess that happens when there is no chance of winning.”

Aloten stood up, and pushed Frey from his way.

“Come on, don’t be like that. It was a joke.” Frey chuckled and grinned.

Aloten took a paper from the bowl. “I don’t care about your jokes.” He looked at the note, as Keyto appeared from behind him and snatched the paper from Aloten’s hand.

“I’ll be taking this,” said Keyto. “After all, these are for real participants.” Keyto read the note as he mocked Aloten.

Frey laughed along with Keyto. Frey walked away, pushing Keyto’s shoulder as he passed next to him. “Let’s not waste any more time into a loser like him.”

Aloten clenched a fist as Frey and Keyto left into the city. He turned around and took another clue from the bowl. For Zeila. Just recover the amulet.

Aloten left the scene in the same direction Frey and Keyto left. He read the note. Where art grows. Where art shows. The past of the great echoes will show the path.

Aloten smiled as he redirected his path. He crossed the town to stand in front of the amphitheater. His smile vanished when he finally stood in front of the amphitheater. He stared at the black doors. He accommodated the collar of his shirt, as he turned away slowly. It looks just like old times. Been ages since I’ve been here. Since we’ve been here.

Aloten shook his head, and turned to face the black doors again. This is for you, after all.

Aloten entered the theater and analyzed the shows on the billboard. Stone letters hung from it, forming the titles of the shows available for the day. The Farmer and The Witch, The Princess and The Fish, and The King and The Statue. Old fairy tales for kids? I guess adults are busy with the scavenger hunt.

He stared at the note again, then shifted at the titles again. Rooms one, four, and six. Maybe there is something in one of the rooms.

He walked through the halls of the amphitheater. Each one of his steps echoing on the empty halls. He carefully opened the creaking doors of the theater rooms. He sighed after opening the third room. Empty as well.

He returned to the hall and shifted to the creaking door of room one. Keyto disappeared through it. Aloten smiled. Well, I’m not the only one losing time.

He returned to the billboard and stared at the titles. He pulled the clue from his pocket and inspected it. He shifted from one to another multiple times. The past of the echoes. The echoes on the rooms. The room with the fairy tales. The past of…

Aloten snapped his fingers as his eyes widened. The past of fairy tales were books. The library!

Aloten smiled and rushed out of the amphitheater. He ran between the multitude, and only slowed down when the library was on his sight. He stopped as he stared at Frey opening the doors of the library.

Frey turned over his shoulder, and spotted Aloten. He showed a smug smile and waved at Aloten before turning back. The lighting drawn on the back of Frey’s shirt shining through the multitude.

Oh, you bastard! Aloten sprinted towards the library.

Aloten stood in front of the library doors. His chest inflated and deflated with each breath he took. A smirk drew on his face as he approached to open the great doors. How bad can it be? I’ve been here before.

His smirk vanished as he opened the door, and the library that he often visited was transformed into multiple possible paths between the bookshelves. He shifted to one path then to another. He shook his head, and stepped back.

It can’t be all luck. This is just to intimidate, all of them might work. He nodded, and shifted from the book to the nearest path. But I don’t have time to experiment. Which one is shorter?

Aloten ran through the stretch halls, turning with each corner that came. To his right, then to his left. He ran through the hall, finding an intersection of three paths. He took his right, finding himself at another intersection. He turned to his left, and then to his left again. After another left, Aloten stopped.

“What the?” Aloten said. The entrance doors standing in front of him. But it looked so simple.

He looked over his shoulder and panicked. He took a deep breath and returned the three last turns he remembered. He then took a left, avoiding the path from where he came the first time. Another intersection of four came, and he took a right then another left.

His steps were light and frequent during some time, but they became stronger as the halls became shorter. The time in between steps stretched each time as well.

Aloten leaned against the bookshelf to his right. He stained the sleeves of his shirt with the dripping sweat of his face. He looked over his shoulder at the corner he just passed, then turned in front of him, at the corner that comes to his left. He sighed and took the corner. The hall ended with a shelf standing in the middle of the path.

Aloten shook his head. He walked to the shelf and inspected the edges. No, this can’t be. He pulled, he pushed, then he hit the shelf. A book fell from the top shelf, and he stepped back from it.

He tripped, and fell. He took deep breaths, as a tear leaked from his eyes. He looked over his shoulder. Do I have the time? Do I have the energy?

A voice pierced through the thin ceiling, and Aloten turned up at Frey’s voice.

“Yes!” Frey said.

Aloten kneeled, and another voice reached his ears.

“Congrats! You are the first one to arrive,” a librarian said.

No, not him. Aloten turned to the ground, and looked at the fallen book. A thunder drawn on its cover. He frowned and grabbed the book. Even if I go back, he is faster than me. He held the book tightly, and closed his eyes. A thundering yell came from him as he threw the book at the ceiling.

The book crashed with a tile, and a cracking sound came from the impact. Aloten shrank as the book fell again, and as the ceiling tile slowly cracked open. He squinted his eyes as he stared at the crack that divided the tile.

He smiled and turned to the bookshelf. He took books from every level on the shelf, and set them on a pile next to him. He climbed the shelf until he could touch the broken ceiling tile. He tore it apart and made a hole to go through. He noticed another layer of wood a few inches above where the tile used to be.

He held tight to the bookshelf, and slammed the wooden tiles with his elbow. I’ll get there even with a broken arm.

The wood cracked, and Aloten’s smile grew. He smashed it once more, and the hole on the wood became bigger and bigger. Once it was enough to get his hand through it, he tore pieces of wood until he could see through it.

“Wow, hey, hey!” The librarian appeared with a book on his hand. “Easy there, you don’t have to break the floor.”

Aloten stared at the librarian, flustered. “I’m sorry, it’s just…” He stopped talking, awkwardly looking at himself.

“I swear, this event takes too much of some people,” the librarian said.

Aloten opened his mouth, but didn’t say anything. He shifted his stare from the librarian to his book and just smiled. The librarian followed Aloten’s gaze, and sighed.

“Here.” The librarian pulled a small note from within his book, and slid it through the hole. “The clue is yours, but please don’t break anything else.”

Aloten took the piece of paper, and thanked the librarian. He climbed down the bookshelf and read the note. Where new gems hide. Where light can’t reach. Where fierce man work. Where safety is first.

Aloten retraced his steps, and encountered the entrance. He held the door, and looked to his right. A map of the town hung next to the door. Aloten inspected it, and his eyes locked in one place. The mines!

He opened the door and sprinted across town. He avoided the people coming through, and even smiled at the sight of the old dusty mines when they appeared on his sight.

He approached the entrance of the mines, and he slowed down. He turned to his right. A set of torches were half buried on the ground, and some sort of lighter was on a small table next to them. Aloten took a torch and lit it before getting into the mine.

Inside the mine, he spotted some arrows. At least they don’t let you get lost in here.

He followed the arrows for a few minutes, until it reached to a dead end. A small altar stood in front of the wall. A drawing of the amulet was on the front of the altar. Aloten smiled and approached. His smile vanishes when instead of the amulet resting on top of the altar, a drawing of a lighting and Frey’s name greeted him.

Aloten stared at the altar, and he dropped his torch. I failed. I failed you again.

Aloten clenched his fists, and smashed the altar. The black polished rock broke into multiple pieces, and Aloten groaned. This was my chance, and I lost it again.

Aloten fell to his knees. Tears poured from his eyes. The fire on the tip of the torch slowly faded. Sorry old friend.

Aloten stared at the broken altar with empty eyes, as the darkness grew, making everything pitch black.

AdventureYoung AdultShort Story

About the Creator

Max Ayala

Maximiliano Ayala is a writer who specializes in action, adventure, and fantasy. He can be easily distracted by almost any type of card-strategy game you mention.

Follow me on my social media!

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