Laika (Underground) Pt. I

Laika (Underground) Pt. I

Part one of a surreal trip into the unknown.
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The air around Laika felt stagnant, sickly even, as she sighed and reclined against the rough bark of a tree. The sound of flint hitting steel distracted her ears from the atmospheric sounds of the woods around her, if only for a moment. Puffy clouds of smoke rose from her lips and the cigarette held between them as she surveyed the crowded greenery. I couldn’t have walked that far, right? She thought to herself, clicking the lighter shut and exhaling.

Laika’s face twitched, her soft features briefly contorting in a taut picture of unease, before shifting back to her normal cool demeanour. “Might as well see if I can find my way back,” she muttered around her hanging cigarette, grunting through the minor exertions of standing. Her old army boots crunched twigs and flattened grass into the mucky dirt below as she began to stride forwards.

Of all the places to move, the South had to have been the last choice she would have ever made, followed closely by the Midwest. And yet there she was, several months after being dragged from the city and the more bearable weather by her parents and refusing to adjust. Even a simple walk in the woods for some much needed alone time had become a meandering wander through unknown nature, not even made tolerable by cool air or a pleasant breeze. This air hung, heavy and soup-like. It felt oppressive, almost solid as Laika practically walked against it.

She cussed under her breath, discarding the stubby remnants of her cigarette and savouring the warm feeling of smoke slowly roiling in her lungs and throat. Soft tendrils slithered from her nostrils, her shoulders dropping with release. It felt like the tension was, momentarily at least, leaving her to coil in the humidity before dispersing out of sight.

It was still daylight, with angular beams of sunlight glistening in the spaces between the trees. Laika knew, however, that if she didn’t get her bearings soon she’d end up wandering alone in the dark, which was far from ideal. Well, as long as she didn’t choke to death on the damned humidity first. Maybe leaving my phone home to charge wasn’t such a great idea after all. She thought to herself, mentally sighing at her own stupidity.

She couldn’t believe how turned around she’d become, just by wandering off a path in her new neighbourhood. There wasn’t much time to berate herself over it though, she had to focus on reaching the edge of the woods. Even if it wasn’t her house or even her neighbourhood she would (hopefully) at least be in some semblance of civilisation. So she walked on, losing track of time as she went, feeling the soft tones of night gradually encroaching on her visibility.

“Fuck,” she muttered aloud, realising there was no way to avoid spending the night in the woods. Her legs were beginning to pulse, aching tension telling her to rest, but where?

Through the foliage she spotted an unnatural shape. It was boxy and angular, standing in sharp contrast to the curves and chaos of the wilderness around it. As Laika approached she found herself facing an old wood house. For something she’d just stumbled upon in the middle of nowhere it actually looked quite nice, with a fairly sturdy air about the structure.

The house wouldn't have seemed quite as out of place if it had been wrecked and dilapidated. A corpse of a home definitely would have felt more appropriate for the middle of the woods, and yet Laika stood there puzzling over the relatively decent condition of the building. She approached with a subdued wariness to each movement. The weight of each step was suddenly so hyper focused that she could feel her body’s weight pressing down into her feet.

She walked up to the side of the building, peering into its shadowy interior through a window beside the door. It looked like no one had lived there for a while despite the overall lack of damage. She stewed for a moment, biting her lip nervously as she considered spending the night in the old home. The likelihood of a slasher flick villain lurking within seemed illogical, but threatening nonetheless.

After a few moments standing in place, turning it over in her head as the darkness thickened around her she finally gave in. With renewed purpose to her stride, and artificial confidence to stave off the doubt, Laika stepped forwards and took hold of the handle. There was an almost imperceptible moment of hesitation before the knob turned and the door opened with an uncomfortably loud creak.

She plunged into the darkness, shadows enveloping her, slowly coating her in an inky black miasma. It had been her intention to turn and run her hand along a wall in the off chance that there may be a working light switch of some sort near the door. Instead she found herself experiencing the sickening sensation of falling.




She shuddered, groaning in the emptiness. It was dark enough that for a split-second she was seized by the panicked thoughts of going blind. After a brief moment of hyperventilation Laika reasoned with herself. It was the middle of the night in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere, of course it was going to be dark. She could feel something pressing against her. Had she passed out while leaning on the door? Now that just seemed odd. Without a second thought she reached down and twisted the knob.

The door opened, uncaring as its user tumbled out, disappearing into a small cloud of dust and sand she’d kicked up. It swung shut, a loud slam that reverberated far off into the distance followed by the small footnote of a click. Laika groaned, already thoroughly sick of being thrown about today. She curled inwards only to finally register the heat and uncomfortable coarseness of the sand beneath her.

Sand?! Laika’s eyes split open, suddenly blinding her as if she hadn’t seen the sun in days. Blinking almost as rapidly as she was breathing she looked around. It was nothing but desert for countless kilometres in every direction. Craggy brown rock formations and skeletal shrubbery were the only variations she could see as the rolling dunes stretched outwards.


End Part I

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr Artwork

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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23 Things That ~Barely~ Run Through A Girl's Mind During Her First Workout In, Like, Forever

Why did I do this to myself?

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It's the beginning of the semester and that means half of the students on campus have decided that we are going to go back to the gym after their workout routine fell through last semester. It's been months since we've stepped foot in the gym, but we are ready to attack it and get fit. That is until we get there and start going.

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