“It’s not fair.”
He turned his head to look at me, but I didn’t do the same. His hands were clasped in his lap and he hesitated before he placed one of his hands on top of mine. He was as cold as the stone tile we sat on at the top of his apartment building. I shivered from the cold breeze that was leftover from the thunderstorm this morning, but I rejected his jacket when he held it out to me. The chill settled into my bones and I could feel my heart pounding in my throat.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I finally turned to look at him. My brown eyes stared directly into his blue-green eyes.
He took a deep breath before saying, “I didn’t know how to. It wasn’t something you could have helped with and I didn’t want you to feel helpless for not being able to do anything.”
“So you just thought it would be better to leave me all alone with the shit you left behind?” I spat at him, “after all the shit we have been through. You couldn’t bother to let me know how you were feeling and that small note you left in my room just gave me more questions than answers.”
“No, that’s not it, I didn’t want to hurt you with my decision. I know you, and it would have destroyed you more if you knew what I was going to do and you couldn’t stop me.”
“And it was better for me to be left behind with millions of questions and no one to answer them? I thought we were doing better…you were doing better. Was I not enough to make you stay?” I broke eye contact and looked back at the quiet neighborhood below us. The street lights casted a faint glow on us and I didn’t stop him when he turned me towards him and wrapped his arms around me. He still had the gentle scent of the floral hair conditioner I bought for him before he left. His short, dark brown hair softly grazed my neck as he settled into me. Our bodies folded into each other and I sighed softly as I wrapped my arms around him.
“Do you have to ask that?” He whispers into my neck, “you were more than enough and I would rewind time if I could and made sure none of this happened.”
“Then why did you do it?” I asked him as he squeezed me a little tighter, “Why did you kill yourself?”
He paused for a moment before he let go of me. He closed his eyes and held my hand. I furrowed my eyebrows as our fingers intertwined and I cautiously watched over him. I rubbed my thumb over the small bruises on his knuckles.
“Do you remember when I found that small cave in the middle of the woods last year?” he whispered.
“Yes, what about it?”
“Did you notice how I seemed a little off that day?”
I recalled the memory.
“Erik, come look at what I found!” Ryan yelled at me.
I peeked out from behind a pine tree, “What is it?”
“There is a small cave over here. It was hidden behind some of the small bushes but it looks a lot bigger on the inside! Let’s go explore.”
“Okay,” I laughed, “just go slowly so you don’t get hurt.”
“We both know that’s not the fun way to do things,” he replied, “hurry up though, it’s going to get dark soon!”
I quickly made my way over to the opening that he found. The small entrance was covered in dried moss and bundles of branches. It looked like it was previously boarded up, but time had worn down the barrier enough for someone to go through. There were strange symbols carved on the rocks that surrounded the area and I couldn’t help but feel myself begin to shiver as Ryan began crawling into the cave.
“Hey Ryan, don’t you think that this is very weird?” I said to him, “Like what are these symbols on the ground?”
“Don’t worry about it Erik, it’s probably just some kind of satanic shit that someone drew to scare people away. I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything.” He replied with a huge grin on his face, “and if anything does happen, I’ll protect you I promise.”
I smiled back at him before I slowly started crawling behind him. The small entrance opened up into a huge cavern beneath the ground. The air felt damp and cool against my skin. The smell reminded me of my mom’s garden after a heavy storm. The scent of wet dirt permeated the air and I couldn’t help but notice that I could almost hear the echo of our movement from deep within the cave. The light emanating from the hole was just enough to illuminate one of the walls and I could see that there were more symbols carved into the stone.
“This is pretty cool,” he said to me, “let’s go further in. I’m pretty sure someone has lived in here before.”
He grabbed my hand and dragged me further into the cave. The light of our phones kept us from tripping over the various stones along the ground. There were makeshift tables and chairs that have been overgrown with moss but this didn’t stop Ryan from moving further towards the back. After a couple minutes, he suddenly stopped walking and just stared ahead. I peeked over his should and ahead of us was a weird shrine-like crevice that was dug into the wall.
There was a small, mossy stone statue of a serpent-like being. The creature coiled around itself, and there were multiple spines that covered its body. Small chains were wrapped around its body, as if it were being used to prevent it from escaping. Its mouth was agape and filled with sharp, pointy teeth. Underneath the statue, there were multiple small pile of bones and the remnants of candles. A single symbol was engraved above the statue.
“What is that?” I said to him, but he didn’t respond as he let go of my arm and walked over to it, “Ryan, wait, what are you doing? I wouldn’t get any closer to it.”
I didn’t move as I watched him reach the shrine and touch one of the symbols engraved into the wooden table. Suddenly, he grabbed the statue of the serpent and threw it to the ground. It had shattered into tiny pieces before I quickly ran up and grabbed him. He had a bloody nose and his eyes looked dim, as if he was unconscious. With my arm wrapped around his back, I guided us out of the cave. Ryan didn’t say a word during our walk back and I didn’t ask. Something happened to him and whatever it was, it terrified me.
Once we exited the cave, he had a confused look on his face before he asked, “Wait, how did we get outside?”
“What do you mean? You had like a psychotic breakdown in there and destroyed that statue.”
I looked at him and I could see that he legitimately didn’t know what I was talking about.
“Nothing, you just blacked out for a second in there and I don’t think we should go back. That place gave me the creeps.”
“I blacked out?”
“Yes, and let’s get back home. Something is very off about that place and I don’t want to be here at night to find out what it is.”
“Okay, but you’ll have to explain what happened when we get to the car.”
“Fine, let’s go home.”
“Wait, do you remember what happened in the cave?” I asked him.
“On that day, no, I didn’t remember anything, but after that, I had the same dream over and over again for weeks leading up to my death.”
“What dream did you have?”
He squeezed my hand a little tighter, “Every night, I dreamed that you were being dragged into the ocean by a large serpent,” he paused, “its teeth sunk into your torso and deep inside my mind, I always dreamed that this monster was laughing as it ripped you apart right in front of me…every night, I watched you die in front of me,” he suddenly stood up and started slowly pacing around, “A couple weeks before I killed myself, it spoke to me in my dream. It called itself ‘Leviathan’, ‘the divine darkness’, ‘the endless void’, ‘the insatiable envy.’ It made me a deal…my life for yours…and like a dumbass, I agreed thinking that this would protect you from it, but I was wrong.”
He stopped pacing and walked up to me, “It’s already inside of you Erik and I’ve done my best to keep it from taking over, but I won’t be able to hold on for much longer. It needs your body to do something, but I don’t know what. All I know is that you aren’t alone in this. There are six others just like you and you need to find them…and when you wake up, you have to be ready.”
“Wait, explain yourself, what do you mean? Who am I looking for?”
He quickly looked behind him and said, “I have to go now but I’ll explain more when I see you again,” before embracing me in a tight hug. His lips gently rested on mine before he began walking away.
“Wait! Ryan!” but he had already vanished before I could finish speaking.
Than the ground began shaking beneath me and suddenly, I was transported underwater. I was surrounded by the murky darkness and I could see a pair of glowing red eyes in the distance. The water vibrated before a deep, sinister laugh echoed around me and in my head I could hear it speak.
You can’t escape me.
I quickly jolted awake and I could feel that my bedsheets were soaked in sweat. Sunlight was pouring through my windows and I saw that it was a few minutes past noon. Before I could even comprehend the dream I just had, my phone began ringing and I could see that it was an unknown number. My arms were shaking as I picked up the phone and took a deep breath.
A shiver creeped up my body as I heard a deep voice say, “Leviathan, it’s time.”
And somewhere inside the shadows of my mind, it laughed.