Chapter Eighteen Continued
God, he hoped that he wasn’t too late to save Falkor.
There was a muted blast from outside the pod as the doors to the room were ripped from their hinges and soldiers poured in under a cloud of grey smoke.
‘YOU WON’T GET AWAY!’ It was the Overseer. Her voice blasted inside the pod from two small speakers attached to the inside of the cask. The Overseer was clutching the microphone on the desk, her crazy eyes bulging out of their sockets, her red hair wild, bursting from its bun. Beside her, soldiers were pressing the buttons on the control pad, desperately trying to open the cask.
A small grizzled soldier, fed up with playing with buttons, fired at the pod but recoiled in horror as the toughened glass repelled his bullets. Instead, they ricocheted around the room sending everyone, including the Overseer, diving for cover. Smoke began to pour from the control panel as the bullets became embedded in it, shrouding the soldiers from view.
‘IMBECILES! STOP THEM!’ screamed the Overseer from somewhere behind the veil of smoke.
The pod burst into life, there was a deafening sound, like nails on a blackboard, and bright white light swamped them. Almost immediately, Drake could feel himself flying forwards at a terrifying speed but it was too fast for his mind to keep up with. He tried to close his eyes, to stop the sensation, but he couldn’t. He screamed, but no sound escaped from his mouth, as he realised his mind had freed itself from his body. He looked down in horror as he saw his body lying beneath him, still and lifeless.
Then the sensation was over. His eyes snapped shut as his mind re-entered his body and once again he could feel his heart beating, pumping his life-blood around his body. He could feel the warmth of Willow’s breath and smell her scent of strawberry and vanilla.
The pod went black.
Now he could see a bright light radiating and throbbing from the end of the tunnel. And they were hurtling towards it, so fast that the pod felt as if it had stopped moving.
The pure light consumed Drake and Willow entirely, coating every part of their bodies, enveloping them like they were in some primordial womb. They were suspended in the light, but for how long, Drake could not tell. It could’ve been seconds, years or just the blink of an eye.
And then it was gone.
Drake could feel something real and solid beneath him; the hardness of the earth accompanied by the comforting smell of damp grass and moss.
They were home.
Drake dug his hands into the soft earth, scraping up the grass and moss with his fingernails. He didn’t want to open his eyes, to ruin the moment. He felt strangely at peace as his heartbeat slowly in his chest, a gentle thrumming of a drum, and his head felt strangely empty of the confusing mess that usually bubbled and churned there.
He didn’t want to think about anything, he didn’t want to have to deal with any of it. Not now, not when he felt so calm. He didn’t want to break the moment.
Willow’s voice broke the silence. ‘Drake.’
Drake felt Willow leaping up from the floor. But he didn’t want to move, he wanted to stay here and breathe in the cool air, to feel it brushing against his skin.
‘Thank you for joining us Drake, I did wonder when you would show, if at all,’ said a silky voice, fracturing his euphoria.
No. No. No. Drake’s body was screaming at him; this wasn’t right. Drake forced his eyes open and jumped up from the muddy floor, still grasping the Emerald Key tightly to his chest. But his mind, although clear, was slow. ‘Funestus? What-?’
‘Yes, thought I’d come and surprise you.’
It was only now that Drake saw the dwarves standing close by, huddled around the crumpled body of Falkor who was pinned tightly to the ground under giant iron chains. Scarface stepped forward, his black leather trousers and skull tee-shirt were covered in mud and a neon blue substance; Falkor’s blood.