Laika (Underground) Pt. IV

Laika (Underground) Pt. IV

The finale of Laika's strange adventure
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(Read Part Three)


Laika fumbled her way inside, feet scuffing across the tile of her home’s entryway. Completely flummoxed, she turned to see the inner side of her front door, as inanimate and unfeeling as ever. “Oh… oh my god!” She practically squealed with girlish excitement, taken aback by her own change in fortune. She had no idea how she was home or what kind of fever dream nightmare she had just been through, but she didn’t care. There’d be time to figure that out in the therapy she was now sure she would eventually need.

Dry as bone she rushed to the kitchen, skidding across the cheap linoleum floor to try and find her parents. There her mother was, hunched over the sink, rinsing carrots and cucumbers for a salad as she did every night. “Mom!” Laika shouted, completely disregarding her usual youthful indifference for a more childlike tone. She hurriedly walked over, realising how out of the ordinary she was acting and suddenly trying to play it cool.

It was when her mother did not respond that Laika froze in place, eyebrows furrowing and that familiar souring growing in her stomach. “Uh… mom?” Her hand reached out, grabbing her mother’s shoulder gingerly.

Her mother turned to face her, arms still buried in the sink grasping her vegetables. Her mother’s hair was the same, pulled back in a bun with the once dark brown colour dulling at the roots. Her cheeks still blushed that rosy warmth that they always had as well. What was different, gut-wrenchingly so, were her formerly green eyes and once soft mouth.

Where her mother’s eyes, at one time brilliantly expressive, should have been there were now hollowed pits. Empty sockets that seemed to reach into an aching eternity like the photographs from before. As Laika’s head churned in slow motion she swore she could see a faint red glow somewhere in the murky depths. Her mother’s mouth was sewn shut, and not the clean stitching of a careful surgeon. No, these stitches were jagged and off-kilter, globules of blood dribbling from various points along her unnatural expression.

Laika wanted to puke, to scream, but instead she ran. She bolted back towards the door, sucking in breaths that stung her lungs as she almost lost her footing, nearly careening off into the entryway closet. She swung open the door and practically dove out.

She landed on her hands and knees, but instead of the harsh concrete of her home’s walkway she found herself sinking into a gray muck. “Wh-... what…?” She could barely form words, feeling as if the contents of her stomach would not be far behind them.

Her hands and knees pressed into the decaying mud. Sloppy and wet, it seemed as if the entire earth was sagging below her, beckoning Laika to accept a briny burial amongst its unrelenting murk.

She stood, though she did not want to, and shivered. There was no house behind her anymore, not even the door she had rushed through only moments before remained. The sky hung low, heavy with the weight of its bleak grey cloud cover. Laika felt as if she may suffocate, squashed between the encroaching walls of atmosphere and terrain.

Stone and wood structures, what looked like the last sad remnants of buildings that had been erected long before her own generation, stood as gravestones amongst the mire. Some were only jutting pillars or wooden beams, while others seemed to be the collapsed remnants of walls and foundation. Dotting the horizon were trees, as dead and charred as the buildings they stood beside.

None of this mattered to her in the moment. There was no need to make sense of it at all. For now she stood and wept, her guts churning heavily as her face swelled and reddened. Laika’s entire body quivered, something inside of her shattered. She suddenly knew this wasn’t a dream, it couldn’t be. Her mind would never have been so cruel, so sadistic. She loved her family, as much as her adolescence snarled and denied it.

She sank back to her knees, trembling all over. Her jeans were soaked in mud, the moisture bloated soil slowly coating her lower half as she tried, desperately, to get ahold of herself.

Laika slowly raised her eyes, her hair matted to her face as she took in the apocalyptic scenery. Why? Was all she could ask herself, though she knew there would be no answer. There probably would never be an answer. Things in her mundane reality often did not have any kind of reasonable answer. Why would something like this be given a satisfying conclusion like some sort of storybook. What a vile, putrescent book that would be. Grinning with grim satisfaction as its character suffered towards an unknown climax.

Unseen by Laika, slithering just past the edges of her periphery, thin black tendrils wormed their way through the desolate no man’s land. Their surfaces were an oil slick, a layer constantly in motion independent of the tentacle’s own erratic squirming. The slimy appendages all watched her curiously, each one staying just out of sight as the girl, with her tired eyes and filthy clothing, surveyed another melancholia she was meant to wander. To what end? She had no idea. To home, she hoped, but into oblivion itself seemed far more likely.


End

Cover Image Credit: gamespew

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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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