“Are you sure you’re okay? You’ve been looking a little nervous since you got here,” Harper asked, leaning close to Gareth. “You don’t have to be here if you don’t want to. I know it brings up bad memories.”
Gareth nodded his head and picked up his clipboard. “I’m fine. Don’t worry.” The feeling in his head grew stronger.
“Okay, but I’m going to keep an eye on you anyways.”
Gareth grabbed the back of tools and smiled as he left the through the side of the barn yet to be built. His eyes trailed the line of stones leading towards the dirt road and the feeling in his head changed to singing. He stopped walking and the smile faded from his face. The singing echoed in his head and he could almost see His eyes staring at him from an unseen place hidden beneath the rocks.
“Gareth?” Harper called from the entrance of the barn, worry thick in her voice.
Gareth heard something to his left and suddenly his vision cleared. He could see where everything used to stand. The two lines of stones used to be walls leading to the doorway of His home. But the home above was only a façade to protect what lay beneath the earth. He stared down and could see passages spreading like veins through the ground. One led far to the left where the small pond at the head of the creek sat.
Sensing the change in Gareth, Harper dropped her tool and ran for him. “Gareth!”
But she wasn’t fast enough. Gareth dropped the tool bag and clipboard and took off at a sprint. The singing in his head had now changed to His voice telling him where to go.
Find me, Gareth.
Gareth leapt what was left of the rock wall and tumbled down the hill beyond. He nearly rolled right into the creek, but managed to scramble to his feet and bolted up towards the pond. Harper’s screams behind him were drowned out by His voice.
Find me and bring me back.
The pond appeared before him and Gareth slowed his pace as his eyes searched for the secret entrance to the passage, but the cleared vision was gone. He stared at the large pipe sticking out of the side of the hill. Black sludge dripped from it into the pond turning the water a nauseating brown with a matching smell.
Gareth waded into the pond and searched, his eyes scanning every inch beneath the disgusting brown water. He spotted something hiding in the muck and dove his hands in, grasping for it.
Arms wrapped around him and pulled him roughly from the water. The sudden attack caused him to flail his legs sending large waves of water into the air. He struggled, hearing His voice fading as he was pulled from the pond.
“Gareth! Calm down! It’s us!” Harper screamed.
Gareth twisted in his captor’s arms and faced Jamison, his face pale and eyes wide. Black sludge had splashed onto his face from Gareth’s ferocious splashing. Jamison threw Gareth to the ground in front of Harper and glared at her. “I told you he shouldn’t have come. It’s still affecting him.”
“He was fine. Something must have triggered it.”
“Yeah, being here! He needs to leave.”
Gareth stared up at his two friends and fear filled him. He couldn’t leave. He had to find Him. “No! I need to stay! I won’t run off again. I’m sorry. I just thought I…saw something.”
“What did you see?” Harper asked.
Jamison huffed angrily. “He’s lying. He’ll say anything to stay. I’m sorry, Harp. We tried, but he can’t be trusted here. He needs to leave before he does something that puts all of us in danger.”
“What danger are you thinking of, Jamison?” Harper demanded.
“What if the next time he runs off it’s while he’s holding a power tool and he drops it on someone?”
The singing grew in Gareth’s head as the two argued and he looked back into the pond. He could see it now. The entrance was there, beneath the murky water. There was no handle or obvious opening. But there must be a way in.
“Then we don’t give him a power tool. He can stay with me and manage things. I’ll keep him in line.”
“And when he runs off you’ll tackle him this time?”
Gareth’s eyes searched the pond and he saw it. A small line of wire buried in the mud. Find me, Gareth. Reaching his hand for the wire, a small smile formed on Gareth’s face. He’s almost there.
Hands grabbed Gareth and pull him to his feet. “We’re heading back and if he does anything else, it’s on you, Harper.” Jamison shoved Gareth ahead of him and Harper followed in silence.
“Gareth, did you hear me?” Harper asked.
Gareth’s eyes rolled up to meet hers. “Sorry, what?”
Sighing with a mixture of frustration and pity, Harper held her hand out. “Could you hand me the staple gun? Once I finish this we can go. Jamison’s waiting in the truck and I don’t think he’ll stay much longer. So if you don’t want to walk home, hand me that staple gun.”
“Right.” Gareth grabbed the staple gun and handed it to her. He stared at her back as she reached up to staple. Her hair pulled back into a ponytail bounced and he could see the sweat forming on the back of her neck.
Find me. Bring me back.
Gareth could see Him. He’s waiting for him. Gareth had to go to Him.
“Gareth?” Harper held the staple gun at him. “Sorry, could you hand me the hammer? I’ve got to hammer in some of the staples. I told Jamison we needed an air staple gun. The hand staple guns never get them all the way in.”
Gareth took the staple gun, his hand brushing Harper’s hand. He paused and the staple gun fell to the ground. Harper turned to him, worried that he’s having another episode. Instead, she sees him staring at her.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
The singing in Gareth’s head changed and a new feeling filled him. He carefully put the tool bag down and pulled Harper down from the stepladder. Confusion filled her expression and her eyes darted around.
“What are you doing, Gareth?” she asked.
Gareth moved close to her, staring in to her eyes. He leaned down, hovering his lips over hers. He could feel her body tense against him. Her breathing picked up and Gareth closed the small gap between their lips. He could feel Harper pull away slightly, but then her arms wrapped around him and pulled their bodies closer.
Find me, Gareth. Bring me back.
Gareth gently led Harper to the wall until her back was against it. He grabbed both sides of her head in his hands. He pulled away from her and her eyes opened. Staring into her eyes, a strange smile formed on his lips.
Suddenly, Gareth slammed Harper’s head into the wall, knocking her unconscious. Her body slumped, but he carefully laid her on the floor instead of letting her fall. He stood and walked out of the barn. He stared at the remnant of the wall and headed for the pond.
He grabbed the wire buried in the mud and pulled it. The ground trembled and a tube appeared at the center of the pond. The top opened, revealing a ladder heading deep down into the earth. Gareth crossed the pond and climbed into the tube. As he climbed down the ladder the top closed and he felt the walls shake around him as the tube sank back into the pond.
After a short climb, he reached the bottom and lights automatically turned on. The hallway was bare, empty. Gareth walked forward and followed the hallway for several minutes before reaching a large room.
At the center of the room was a large machine. The screens were dark except for a single line of text. Gareth approached and stared at the text.
Bring me back.
Gareth’s hand moved on its own, knowing exactly what to do. He pressed several buttons and the machine turned on, low hums growing in intensity and the sound of machinery deep in the walls moving grew. The screen in front of him brightened and a slot opened. A tray moved out and a strange thing sat on it. Gareth took the thing and stared at it. At one end was a needle and a thick cable connected a second piece. He twisted the needle and the cable grew warm.
Bring me back.
Gareth raised the thing and stabbed the needle into his temple. A bright light filled his vision and he felt his body collapse to the ground before everything went dark.