Having no choice but to obey his orders, I followed him from the rear of the group as he led the way down the corridor.
We did not need to walk for a long time to notice the absence of that thing since the abnormal silence was soon evident. After all, despite being closer and closer to the room from which we fled, the cry generated by it could not be heard.
Although I remember that, at this distance, that annoying noise still tormented me, now it was gone.
Such a realization allowed some of the fears I felt while walking to fade away. However, on the other hand, a new one appeared. I feared that all this was a trap, one that sought to lure people into its interior to surround them with fleshy lumps that would prevent their escape.
That worried me, as the intention behind the noises that thing made showed a certain degree of intelligence, trying to deceive the listeners into believing that young women were urging for their help.
Because of that, I cautiously moved forward, paying attention to every detail around me to avoid missing the slightest strangeness. I was entirely focused on it, so when the men stopped, I crashed against the back of the one in front of me, throwing him down by the momentum.
Upon noticing that the one on the ground was just as young as I was, I ignored his tantrum while I concentrated on seeing, through the gaps between the adults’ bodies, the reason why we had ceased to move.
As I stood on my tiptoes, with difficulty, I caught a glimpse of the red hue that stained the floor. That was a corpse. To my surprise, we had arrived at the place where several had fallen. I had not realized before that we were so close, as my mind was focused on other matters.
Once the giant resumed his march, the others, like chicks following their mother, went after him, but instead, I stayed behind, inspecting the bodies, seeing the condition in which they ended up after the thing that took their lives left.
From small to large, all lay sprawled out, cuts running through every part of them as a shapeless mass composed of skin, muscle, blood, fat, and other nastier stuff spilled over the hole in their bellies.
As expected, since the origin of everything had disappeared, the babies, or at least the things that seemed to be, also did it. It was not surprising. After all, they were not living beings, as they could not be, having been created that way.
Stroking my neck to get over the nausea I felt at witnessing these images, I looked up to see what was on my side.
The walls, ceiling, and floor had returned to their natural state, despite being previously transformed into grotesque things. Now there was not even a mark left to record what happened, so it seems that the change was momentary, or perhaps it did not last long enough to become permanent.
Even so, I did not want to be satisfied with what only one sense was transmitting to me. Therefore, after bending down to pick up a pebble, I planned to touch it to the wall and thus make sure that its return to normalcy was not just a visual thing, that it wasn’t an illusion or a trap.
Unfortunately, however, I did not have time to do so, for between hesitation and distraction, I allowed the group to get too far away from my position. Then, throwing the stone to my right, I ran to reach them.
Of course, knowing how necessary it was to verify this, I didn’t forget to pay attention to the sound the pebble made when it hit the wall. The result was a dull thud, a noise that would usually come from two rocks colliding with each other.
Relieved, I continued with my run, during which, probably caused by my rapid pace, I noticed something I had ignored until now. That was, the air inside the cave became colder the deeper I went into it.
Strange, but not enough, so as soon as I joined the others, I put that little thing out of my mind.
Now, together with the rest and with a calmer heart, I was able to take continuous steps with less hesitation and fear, yet, even so, I did not dare to be careless, for after experiencing everything firsthand, I was unable to completely release the tension that gripped me.
So, again I became distracted by everything around me, except for what was happening in front, which led to the fact that I was about to fall due to the liquid running on the floor.
Performing a few maneuvers with my arms and legs, one of which consisted of holding on to the back of the neck of the guy in front of me, I managed to keep my balance. Then, ignoring the harmless grunts nearby, I fixed my gaze on what had made me slip.
That was viscous, blackened blood, the same shade I saw not long ago, with the only difference that, next to it, was a long green cloth, soiled with mud by the countless feet that had trodden on it. Also, not far from this one, I could see a thin, torn arm extending from a mutilated body, covered from head to toe with ripped garments.
Seeing that disastrous scene was what told me that we had arrived at the women’s room, and also, it was what helped me to remember something that I had forgotten due to the hurry and nerves.
‘What happened to the girl? Where is she? Was she at the entrance? I don’t remember, damn it. I didn’t pay attention when I was there. Should I turn back? If I ran with all my strength, I could get there quickly… No, wait, not yet’
Breathing heavily, I slapped away the brat that was still making noise next to me, all to be able to go through the door located to my left. When I was inside, the first thing that greeted me was the scent of feces and blood everywhere, as this stench had become worse since I was in such a narrow room.
The foul smell was so bad that I forced myself to swallow the vomit rising in my throat. However, instead of stepping back or holding my nose, I moved forward to get a closer look at the six corpses lying on the ground.
Since I did not know her face, I had to pay special attention to every detail, even going so far as to move them to put away the limbs placed on top of each other. After all, my only reference was the size and shape of her body, something difficult to perceive in its states.
Although, as hard as the task was, it was not impossible, so I succeeded in completing it after a while.
‘‘She’s not… she… she doesn’t seem to be here’’
I said out loud, with my voice cracking as I stilled my racing heart because, for a few moments, I suffered a slight cardiac arrest when I confused one of the corpses with hers, which had the same constitution, but fortunately lacked one of her hands, allowing me to differentiate between them.
Once I calmed down, I left the room to take deep breaths, trying to fill my lungs with clean air. A foolish act, as outside, the environment was much the same.
Still, that little difference was enough for me. After that, I turned my gaze to where the others had gone, and contrary to before, now I could not even see their backs, although it was not surprising that it was so, as it took me quite a long time to conclude the check. Then, upon realizing that I was alone, I hesitated.
‘Should I follow them or go back?’
This time, the decision was harder to make, but again, in the end, I chose to continue going deeper because, as little as I wanted to do so, I needed to check the other rooms to see if she wasn’t there when that thing appeared.
Knowing that walking I would never reach them, I started to run, not very fast, because I did not want to miss any trace that would indicate a death. However, without getting very far, I returned to the room from which I left to take one of the clothes stored in a stone trunk since the cold I had ignored before became much more intense.
It was comfortable to feel the warmth of the clothes again, but it also felt strange, as this body, since I was a baby, had never been fully clothed, so the sensitivity of my skin caused the fabric to tickle me.
But now that the cold was no longer a problem and knowing that the distance between us was increasing, I resumed my pace a little quicker.
After a couple of minutes of running, relieved that, despite how focused I was on my sense of smell and sight, I didn’t pick up any scent or color of death, I came to a place that caught my attention.
The source of all the problems, I thought, since seeing a room frozen in its entirety, it was not difficult to realize that something strange had happened there.