Categories > Original > Sci-Fi > Evolve or Die


by Togot 0 reviews

Tensions rise as the group travel

Category: Sci-Fi - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2019-08-11 - 1737 words

Jason and I headed out ahead of the others. He hadn’t gone far before Jennifer joined us, much to my surprise as she didn’t seem like a fast runner, but she was free to do whatever she wanted just as I was. We traveled in silence for several minutes until Jennifer spoke up.

“So why did you want to be up at the front?” she asked, directing the question at me, so I answered.

“So I wouldn’t have to be back there with them. I disliked being around large groups. They caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety. I’d been bullied much of my life, usually ganged up on, so I never felt safe around crowds. Being up front or on the outside was much more comfortable, albeit lonely. In short I associated a group as a threat rather than safety, so in a situation where I knew there was safety in numbers, it was hard for me.

“You?” I asked.

“To be near you,” she said.

Her answer caught me completely off guard. Did she like me? I didn’t know her well. We’d hardly ever spoken to each other before being sent here, so it’s not like we were close. I’ve never been good at reading people, so I couldn’t tell if I was imagining things or not, but the possibility made me strangely happy. I’d never had a girlfriend before. I’ve never had luck with women at all. Sam was the only girl who I was on good terms with, and she was dating Bryan. I’m not attractive, I’m not assertive, and I’m not very social, so no girl has ever shown serious interest in me, though one did pretend to. That experience, along with the years of rejection, had caused me to lose all interest in romantic relationships, yet here I was, practically blushing at the thought that a girl liked me.

I wasn’t sure what to say to that, but I figured I should say something, so I asked in as calm a voice as I could, “Why is that?”

“Well you saved my life twice, you seem to know what you’re doing, and you have a metal spear and hatchet,” she said. “I like my chances better if I’m around you.”

And just like that, my bright mood darkened. She didn’t like me, she liked what I could do for her. Her only interest was what she could get out of me. She was using me. It reminded me of Sarah and what she had done to me. I was instantly filled with anger and resentment.

I mentally berated myself for fooling myself into thinking a girl would like me, and she had done it so easily. I was such an idiot. I knew better, but I’d made the mistake anyway. Girls didn’t like guys like me. They liked guys like my older step brother, or Terry. They were both good looking, smooth-talking jerks who went through women like tissue paper. Didn’t matter how badly they treated them, they always came back for more. It made me sick.

This time I didn’t say anything back. I didn’t want to talk anymore. Thankfully she didn’t either.

We had traveled for about an hour when we all heard a sound coming from up ahead, though we couldn’t see its source. It was a constant roaring sound.

“What is that?” Jennifer asked.

“Not sure,” I said. “Sounds familiar though.

“Is it an animal?” Jason asked.

“No,” I said. “It’s too constant for a growl or roar. Too loud too. Must be…awe god damn it. I know what it is.”

“What is it?” Jennifer asked again.

“You’ll see,” I grumbled.

“Is it dangerous?” Jason asked.

“Not really,” I said. “But it is going to be a pain in the ass to deal with.”

We continued on and the sound got louder which was a bad sign. When we came around a bend, we saw it.

“Shit, that’s what I was afraid of,” I said. The waterfall was tall, which meant we probably had to take a long detour to make along its cliff until we found a way up. That meant moving away from the river and deeper into the jungle. On the bright side once we got up we just had to follow it back again to find the river, and then we could continue on our way. Assuming there was a way up.

I explain this to Jason and Jennifer, and then waited for everyone to catch up so I could ex-plain it to them. I was growing tired of explaining things to people.

“Why don’t we just climb up it?” Terry asked. “It aint that high.”

If it had just been me, and there was an issue of time, I would have considered it, but we didn’t even have a destination let alone a deadline. There was no reason at all to take risks. “And if you fall and get hurt?’ I asked. “We can’t exactly call an ambulance.”

Terry snickered. “It aint that high. I can make it easy.”

“One loose rock, one slip and you could break an arm, a leg, you could break a rib and puncture a lung…wait why am I trying to talk you out of this? Go for it. Break a leg, or better yet your neck.”

Terry shook his head dismissively and started climbing. I called after him, “Try not to die, god forbid you make me happy.”

“Keep running your moth asshole, see what happens.”

It probably wasn’t a good idea to antagonize Terry, especially when his friends outnumbered me and there weren’t any cops around to arrest them for anything they did to me, but my anger often clouded my judgement. That often got me into trouble.

Well Terry didn’t break his leg or his neck or anything else for that matter. He made it to the top without a problem, turned around, and gestured with his arms as if to say now what. “See? Not a problem.”

I felt my anger boil. I knew I was right, and it pissed me off that it looked like I was wrong. I knew the others would think me cowardly for not wanting to climb, but fuck them. How I hated this macho posturing bullshit. Stupid crap like this was why women lived longer than men, and there was nothing I could do but say, “Just because you made it doesn’t change the fact it was a stupid thing to do.”

I turned and started walking away along the cliff to find a safe way up.

“Where the hell are you going?” Erik asked.

“I don’t feel like senselessly risking my life today,” I said.

“So I’m supposed to just wait for you chicken ass?” Terry asked.

“Frankly I don’t care what you do anymore.”

In the end most of the boys climbed up, and most of the girls followed me. I knew how that made me look, and it pissed me off. I would be seen as a wimp because I didn’t want to do something stupid. I hated how doing the smart thing was looked down upon while doing the dumb thing was respected. Rationally I knew that it was a good thing no one had fallen and gotten hurt, but emotionally I wanted stupid people to pay for their stupidity. My anger was fuming as I walked along the cliff. I was so distracted I almost didn’t notice the cave, or the webs.

I stopped in my tracks and stared at the cave. I couldn’t see very far in, but it was lined with thick webbing. Far more than was normal. It reminded me of a funnel web spider’s web, only far, far bigger. Rationally I knew there was no way a spider could be as big as this web suggested. It must have been a colony of spiders. I knew there were a few species that covered entire trees in webs and lived together in the thousands, but that didn’t seem right here. The web laid along the ground, and I didn’t see any spiders in the webs. Incidentally entomology was a hobby of mine, though ironically I was arachnophobia, and looking into the darkness of a cave big enough for me to crouch into lined with webs was triggering it bad.

I waited for the girls and Mr. Huxley to catch up to me. I pointed with my spear away from the cliff and said, “Don’t step on the webs.”

“Why?” Jennifer asked.

“I got a bad feeling.”

“You think there’s a giant spider in there?” she asked. Her tone was serious, so I didn’t think she was teasing me.

“You saw those spitters, who knows what else is out here,” I said. “If it was an orb web the size wouldn’t bother me, but it’s a funnel web. The hole at the end indicates the size of the spider, and that is one big hole.”

Thankfully nobody argued with me. I can’t imagine why any of them would want to walk on the giant spider’s web. When they had all gone I started to follow, but then I stopped. Was I just being paranoid? Was there something in that cave, and if so, so what?

I had to know

I turned around, readied my spear, and tossed a rock into the web.

Nothing happened.

I sighed, both in relief that nothing happened and out of embarrassment that I was so scared of shadows. I turned to leave, but then I heard a noise. I’m not sure how to describe it. The closest thing I can compare it to was the gobble of a turkey, only not. It was higher pitched, more threatening. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, my stomach clench, and my pulse race. It was a sound I had never heard before nor ever wanted to hear again, and it had come from the cave. There was something in there, and I did not wasn’t to see it.

I ran away without looking back.
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