AD Excerpt: Follow The Dead Orca
“By Yang…” Angelica’s thought was breathless, and she raised a finger, pointing behind the three of them, “…look at that.”
As one, the three turned, and Reginald immediately held up both arms protectively, positioning himself as a shield between the others and what had caught Angelica’s eye. After a moment, it became clear that there was no threat, although the sight was no less frightening.
A large, dead orca was belly-up, slowly descending through the water is it passed them from the right. It had come within a foot of them as it continued to slowly drift towards the Atherean floor. Upon seeing its stomach, Lihua wretched, whipping away and covering her mouth. Reginald scowled, drifting and pushing them all back.
Whatever had killed the orca had ripped its stomach out, exposing jagged ribs and an eviscerated midsection to the waters. Its killer had also been thorough; only a gaping, crimson hole remained where its stomach and heart had once been. It had left a small blood trail in its wake as it had passed them by.
“Amen, take your child back into your bosom, and grant him or her peace, let them never know suffering again…” Angelica prayed. The dead orca was close to disappearing when Jayden’s thoughts Reached them. “We should follow it.”
“Follow it where, exactly?” Lihua snapped. “I think it’s pretty obvious where it’s going.”
Reginald raised a hand to silence Lihua and looked at Jayden. “Why?”
Jayden looked to the vapor-like blood trail the orca had left. “That orca isn’t decomposing yet. It was killed recently. That means whatever did it is still nearby.”
No one said aloud how chilling that thought was, but everyone took a quick peek in every direction to ensure their safety. Reginald was wary; their luminescence only allowed them to see about three feet ahead, and the water was black after that. All it took was the right angle, and they could be torn apart before they knew they were under attack…
Reginald quickly forced the thought from his mind. Blind fear didn’t serve anyone, and Angelica’s enhanced telepathy should’ve made sneaking up on them impossible. “I’m not sure of the point you’re trying to make…” Reginald urged Jayden. “Oh, it’s simple.” Jayden’s smile and suddenly cool attitude made Reginald uncomfortable, “The orca’s not finished. Whatever did that may come back for seconds.”
“Jayden!” Angelica chastised, “That was a living being!”
“Yes, it was.” Jayden fired back, “Right now, it’s the best lead we have.” He looked back at Reginald. “We stay behind it and either wait for its killer to come back for…more…or the blood will draw out others. Isn’t that what you said Bethany said? They went into a frenzy in Jayce’s blood?”
Reginald nodded, surprised that the usual remorse that accompanied thoughts about his family was gone. “Then the orca will lead us to where we want to go. It’ll lead us to the things that killed Beth and the others.”
No one thought anything. The orca had disappeared from sight.
It wasn’t much to go on, but Jayden was right; at this point, it was all they had.
“Angelica.” Reginald finally Reached, “Please stay alert. If anything comes within a mile of us, we need to know.”
Angelica nodded, clearly uncomfortable with the situation. “I’ll watch out.”
“Stay in the dark, stay behind it, and if Angelica gives the word, break off, no questions asked. We’re not here to engage. Are we clear?”
Lihua nodded. “Yes.”
Angelica was already looking down, into the darkness, where the orca had vanished. “”Yes, I understand. I don’t want to engage anything, anyway.”
Jayden was the only one who hadn’t spoken up. Reginald looked directly at him. “We clear, Jayden?”
Jayden stared at Reginald. He said nothing.
“I’m not playing games, Jayden.” Reginald warned.
After a second longer, Jayden nodded. “I’m clear, Reginald.”
The imprint from Jayden’s mind said that he was anything but.
Reginald couldn’t worry about it now, especially if he had been right, and the orca’s killer was coming back for more. “Let’s go.”
Reginald led the way, and the four descended into the Atherean, each one silently hoping not to suffer its fate.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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