“Belt,” she said, flexing her hand out behind her where she knew Calem was standing.
“For what?” he argued.
“Now!” she demanded.
“Fine,” he huffed, removing his belt. “But if my pants fall off–” he warned, handing her his belt.
She carefully wrapped Amono’s arm with a strip ripped from the bottom of her skirt, then used Calem’s belt as a sling. “Nothing I haven’t seen before,” she joked back. “Better?” she asked her brother. Amono grunted. “Good.” She stood, looking around. “Where are we?” she asked.
Calem held onto his pants’ waistband and slowly stood to have a look around. They were in a cave about the size of a large warehouse. Large drips echoed throughout the cave. He could only hope it was water. It was light enough to look around, causing him to wonder where the light source was.
“There,” Tanaya called, pointing towards the left where there was a large cavern.
An itch of a thought scratched at the tender flesh of Calem’s mind. It was as though he had been there before, but when? Everything looked familiar to him, yet he was certain he had never seen the cavern or the tunnels before. A flash of light sent blinding images across his mind, regressing his memories back to the age of five.
A ghostly figure of a man sat on a nearby boulder, whittling something out of wood. He held it up for Calem to take. “You’ve returned?” the man asked.
Calem took the wooden figure, looking at it with both surprise and concern. “I don’t understand.”
“You’ve been missing for some time. Did you find anyone else or is it just you?” the man asked.
“Uh,” Calem stammered, searching the approaching darkness for his travel partners. “I don’t think so.”
“We gave you a map for a reason. I figured you’d eventually return. Though,” the man motioned to a pile of bones near a pond, “I had hoped there would be more of us when you returned.”
“Grandpa?” Calem gulped. “You sadistic bastard! You left me in the middle of the desert to rot!” he screeched, rushing the image to punch him. Amono took hold of his shoulder, holding him back.
“There’s nothing there,” Tanaya yelled, shaking his shoulders slightly. “He’s not there,” she assured as Calem calmed.
“I… I grew up here,” Calem gulped back his hate and his panic. He pointed to the pond. “But,” he spun around, his mind suddenly clear of his memories. “There used to be over a hundred people living in here. Where are they?” he asked, noticing several human bones scattered about.
Amono plucked a sword from the ribcage of one of the skeletons, handing it to his sister. She examined it, musing over the jeweled handle. “Father,” she stated.
“Why?” Calem questioned, his wide-eyes gazing around the cavern.
“Probably why they made you into a map. They hid valuables,” she thought out loud.
“Like?” Calem questioned.
Amono slowly removed his own blade from his belt so Calem wouldn’t notice. He noticed. He took a step back, all the while searching for the best place to run. How could he let his guard down? There was a reason these people were sent to find him. Why would he ever think it was for friendship?
Behind him stood a giant rock that resembled a mountain. He recognized it from somewhere, but where. Then he glanced down at his right hand. It was inked perfectly on his hand, the top pointing to his index finger. His eyes glanced to Amono’s blade, then back at the mountain.
A lungful of air propelled him the twenty feet it took to reach the mountain. He jumped onto the mountain’s surface, only to have his foot grabbed by Amono.
“Get him!” Tanaya yelled.
As Amono pulled, the surface of the rock began to contort and melt inward. Calem fell through the other side and onto a big, soft pillowy material. He turned back to see half of Amono’s body stuck inside the rock, unmoving. All Calem could do was stare at the image of his companion.
A man cleared his throat from behind. Calem spun around, seeing the same man he believed was his grandfather. “You!” he screeched. “You killed my friend!”
“Was he? He looked like he was about to gut you,” the man pointed out.
“Yes…” Calem glanced back at Amono’s image in the rock. “Yes, well, that’s beside the point. What is this place?” he asked, examining the inside of the mountain. The inside didn’t look like a mountain at all but more like a missile silo.
The man waved Calem to follow. Calem remained firm, not budging. “You have somewhere else you need to be?” the man asked. He had a point. Calem glanced one more time back at Amono then continued to walk after the man.
“Are you my grandfather?” he asked the man.
He shook his head. “I assumed this form. Our kind crash-landed here nearly a century ago. The inhabitance of this world claimed our ship was an atom bomb. Regardless what they thought, our ship contaminated this world with radiation. For years, our people were spread out across the planet. Your real grandfather gave you the map and sent you out into the world to search for others of our kind, but I fear you and I are the only ones left.”
“What happened to those in the cave? Why can’t I remember?” Calem questioned, his mind buzzing with more questions than he could ask. He had to pick and choose which questions were the most important.
The man shook his head. “You and I were born here, the others weren’t. We adapted but there are things on this planet that sickened the elders. Come,” he said, waving Calem to follow.
The two walked down a flight of stairs. At the bottom was a space ship that looked like it could house over a hundred people. “You have lost your way, but you will find it again. We need to prepare to leave. Only after we leave will this planet heal itself again.”
“Wait,” Calem called out as the man walked towards the ship, “I’m not human?”
He turned, shaking his head. “Not their kind of human, no. How else do you think you’ve survived as long as you have?” the man pointed out. “Say your goodbyes. It’s time to leave.”
“But what about…” Calem paused, glancing at the stairs towards the cave. It was then he noticed that leading up the stairs was a image of a solar system etched into the rock wall. The solar system was drawn in great detail and within the image was his home world. His planet had been drawn in such perfect detail it was as if he was seeing it out a window from afar. He recognized it as soon as he saw it. The sun was the very star he would search for every morning. He finally understood why he never felt like he belonged. It was all too clear at last. He wasn’t meant for this world and this world wasn’t meant for him. He hurried passed the man, towards the ship. It was time to go home.