Adanna of the Wasteland Part 2

19 Apr 2024

The Truce

The creature inched forward, its wheezing breaths rapid. With a final surge of courage, Adanna tossed the scrap of meat from her travel knapsack onto the earth between them. It landed with a soft thud, breaking the tense stillness. For an agonizing moment, nothing. Then, the creature lunged. But not at her – it snatched the food, tearing into it with a startling ferocity. The sound of ripping flesh and crunching bone echoed eerily in the tunnel. Adanna shuddered, a mix of relief and disgust warring within her. When the creature finally lifted its head, its eyes seemed less hostile. Hunger, at least temporarily, was sated. Now what? She needed to move on, to find a way out of the tunnel. Yet, the creature blocked her path, a silent sentinel in the darkness. A reckless idea sparked in Adanna's mind. Taking a slow step back, she gestured deeper into the tunnel, mimicking the direction she wanted to go.
The creature watched her, its head swiveling inquisitively. Then, to her astonishment, it turned and began to pad ahead of her into the depths.

Read Adanna of the Wasteland Part 1

The green eyes were twin beacons, guiding her through the oppressive blackness. A wave of unease washed over her. This was a partnership born of desperation, a dance with danger. The creature was leading her, but to where? Safety, or another form of peril? At least with the flickering light from its eyes, she wouldn't stumble in the dark.

Read the entire story here.

So, she followed. Each echoing footstep, her own and the creature's, was a gamble. Each labored breath a reminder that survival in this ravaged world hinged on fleeting alliances and impossible choices. The creature's pace quickened, its lithe body disappearing into the darkness ahead. Adanna struggled to keep up, her injured ankle throbbing in protest. The tunnel sloped downwards, growing damp and slick, the air heavy with a strange, metallic tang. Then, the glow of the creature's eyes flickered and vanished. Adanna stumbled, the last of the touch flame sputtering out. Panic flared as she was swallowed by absolute blackness.
"Wait!" her voice echoed, swallowed by the suffocating dark.

Silence was her only reply. Feeling her way along the clammy tunnel wall, she edged forward. Her hands encountered something smooth, curving away from her. An opening? A larger chamber unseen in the creature's faint glow? A distant growl made her freeze. She heard a scuttling, clicking sound that set her teeth on edge. The creature wasn't alone. Adanna reached desperately for another match, her fingers trembling in the darkness.

With a shaking hand, she struck the match and lit the extinguish touch in hand. The sudden light was blinding, and in that blinding flash, she saw them. Dozens more of the creatures, their green eyes gleaming, crowding a vast underground cavern. And in the center, a pile of bleached bones – some alarmingly human. Adanna choked back a scream. The match fell from her grasp, plunging her back into darkness. The creatures growled, their echoes multiplying. She'd been led not to refuge, but into a trap – a breeding ground, a lair.

Adrenaline surged through her, a bitter replacement for the hope she had that had vanished. The map, the quest…it all seemed a cruel joke now. But surrender wasn't in her nature. Fumbling blindly, her hand closed around a stone. Desperation lent her strength as she hurled it with all her might into the darkness. A chorus of startled screeches and a clatter against the cavern walls rewarded her.
Now, run.

Adanna didn't wait for the creatures to recover. Fueled by terror, she turned and ran back the way she came, ignoring the twisting pain in her ankle. She couldn't rely on sight, but the slope of the tunnel would guide her upwards. The chittering, growls and hissing grew louder, echoing eerily in the tunnel. Rough claws scraped against stone, drawing closer. She pictured their fanged maws, dripping with blood. No, they wouldn't drag her down as another trophy for their grim lair.

Read the entire story here.

The tunnel twisted unexpectedly. Adanna slammed into the wall, gasping as pain exploded in her injured body. Something wet dripped down her face. Blood? Sweat? Didn't matter. Time to get brutal, just like the wasteland itself. She arrived at and open space where smugglers stored stolen gasoline to sell in the underground markets long ago. Scrabbling around, her fingers closed around a treasure – not the map, but a battered drum of kerosene. Fumbling, she opened the lid and splashed the liquid across the tunnel floor behind her.

It was a considerable amount and there were other drums of in the corner of the open space. The scraping of claws was almost upon her. She spared one precious match, striking it against the rough stone. With a flicker of flame, she ignited the trail of kerosene. A burst of heat and light momentarily blinded her, the flames leaping and roaring, forcing her back. In the orange glow, she saw her pursuers hesitate. The creatures growleded, their eyes reflecting the fire back at her. It was enough – a few precious moments to lengthen her lead. She wouldn't look back. Adanna forced her legs to keep moving, driven by primal fear and the acrid stench of burning fuel.

Watch out for part 3

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