In Angela Fang's new short story, a mysterious corporation hires a group of people to investigate an even more mysterious cave. Things go wrong from there...
By Angela Fang
"DING-DING-DING!" The sound echoed through the air, signalling the start of a thrilling journey. Apeiron, a corporation known for its rapid growth and development, has organized a group of explorers to investigate a cave for a large sum of money. The location of the cave is kept secret, and the team is warned that the information must never be revealed to the outside world. As the team sets off, the excitement is palpable. They are heading to a secluded stretch of ocean, where black boulders rise vertically from the waves like ghostly sentinels. The last ray of sunlight is blocked by growing clusters of grey clouds, casting an eerie glow over the water. Despite the inhospitable climate, the team is undaunted and ready to embark on this exciting adventure.
As the boat approached its destination, John felt a rush of excitement. The boat cruised smoothly, it was cutting through the calm water, its destination a cave hidden beneath a jagged rock formation. As they drew closer, John felt a pang of fear. The entrance to the cave is guarded by serrated rocks that resemble jagged teeth. He tried to swallow his doubt, but it seems to be lodged in his throat, it choked him with fear of the unknown. Despite his fears, John and the team press on determined to unlock the secrets of this mysterious cave.
As John and his crew approached the entrance of the mysterious cave, the air grew heavy with unease. They lit their lamps in the darkness, revealing a twisting and turning maze of shadows that elicited gasps of disbelief from the group. They had been promised a hefty sum of money to explore this uncharted cave, and they were determined to succeed. But as they ventured deeper into the cave, they soon realized something was amiss. The entrance, which should have been a dim, colourless hole, had vanished without a trace. The crew scrambled to find any clues or markers to help them find their way back but to no avail. The once-steady hands of John and his team began to shake with fear, their nerves stretched to the breaking point.
In the midst of the chaos, one man, determined to find the treasure and the promised money for his family, shouted to the rest of the crew to keep searching. But as they pounded the water in a desperate attempt to locate the entrance, their rational minds were beginning to unravel. The fear in the air was palpable, and their once-daring spirits were now being consumed by terror. As they frantically searched for a way out, they realized they might never escape this nightmare they had stumbled into.
As John's body weakened from the long, arduous confinement in the cave, the only thing that kept him going was the hope of finding the treasure and finally being able to return to his normal life. But with each passing day, the reality of his situation began to set in. The others who had accompanied him had either gone mad, died of dehydration, or were already dead. The only other survivor was a man with a thick accent who had shared stories of his family and career but not his name. The man had warned John not to get too attached, as they were both living on borrowed time.
But despite his warnings, John couldn't help but feel a connection to the man, a sliver of hope amidst the crushing loneliness. "I wish we can die together, god, I feel so lonely," said John. He was haunted by memories of the sun, the solid ground beneath his feet, and the simple comfort of his cramped living quarters. John kept waiting and waiting. Finally, the man's head rested on his shoulders. With dry eyes, John began to shake. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." John cried. He ran his hands down the moist boat walls until he reached the cool steel. It was a water bottle, of course. The man had no idea. In the dim light, John scrambled, but there was nothing left for him to grab. The small boats were tethered together, but he could no longer feel the warmth of human skin.
Loneliness crept to his knees. He realised that living like this could be as painful as death. A salty sob had escaped John's lips. John made his way to the edge of the boat and plunged into the dark, freezing sea. He embraced the unknown depths, letting himself be engulfed by the endless water, hoping to find peace in his final moments.
John's eyes suddenly opened. He's looking forward to his new journey in search of the cave's treasure. On the beach, he noticed a man with a strong accent. John didn't go up to talk to him since…
John Wallis had not learnt his name.
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