Fighting God Chapter 12: Guilt
“Hey Aldred…have you seen Tristan?” Vicky asked worriedly as she came into the study room.
“No…is something wrong?” Aldred inquired.
“I can’t seem to find him anywhere.” Vicky panicked. “He’s not in the house or in the backyard where he normally goes to play.”
“What?! This is a serious matter.”
“W-what should we do?”
“Let’s call everyone to search. I’ll notify Uncle Ralph.”
Aldred got up from his seat and hurried to the garden where Uncle Ralph is usually found at. Vicky went to the play room to look for the others. As Aldred approached the garden, he sees that Big Sis Caroline was also there. Strange…why did she come back? Did she forget something?
“Big Sis Caroline! Uncle Ralph!”
“Hmm? Is there a problem Aldred?” Big Sis Caroline said as she flashed one of her charming smiles.
“It’s Tristan…Tristan has disappeared!”
“What? What happened?” Uncle Ralph asked as he stood up from the garden.
“Earlier this morning, Tristan asked me to play with him but I was busy reading so I told him to play by himself…and…and now he’s gone.” Aldred responded as a drop of cold sweat slid down his back. What would he do if something happened to Tristan? It was practically his fault for not playing with Tristan and watching over him.
“That’s a big problem. Quick, let’s go search for him.” Big Sis Caroline urged.
So, the three rushed to the front of the house where they met up with the rest of the children. After gathering, Big Sis Caroline assigned each person a different location to look for. After an hour of searching around in the house as well as a hundred radius around the house, the group came back together to report.
“Did you guys find anything?” Uncle Ralph asked.
“No.” Everyone else shook their heads dejectedly.
“Think…did anyone see him before he disappeared?” Aldred asked.
“No….” The children said.
“Hmm…I did see Tristan head to the river to play….” Big Sis Caroline replied. “You don’t think he fell into the waters do you?!”
“Oh no!” Vicky cried as she ran towards the river, followed by everyone else.
“Tristan! Tristan! Where are you Tristan!” Vicky cried out when she neared the river. Scrambling around, she looked around the nearby bushes for traces of Tristan. Once everyone else caught up, they began searching the vicinity as well. Still no traces….
“Tristan is a curious child by nature…could he have headed towards the cave?” Big Sis Caroline said after some thought.
“No! That…that can’t be.” Tommy paled as he thought of something.
“What is it? Do you know something?” Aldred asked.
“Tristan…last time we were here…he…he was curious…he wanted to go to the cave. But I didn’t let him…no matter how much he begged.” Tommy grimaced.
“Don’t tell me….” Aldred muttered as he ran towards the cave. Everyone looked at each other anxiously before following after.
When Aldred approached the cave…he saw something on the ground. It was a shoe…Tristan’s shoe. A terrible gut feeling ate at him. He approached the shoe and picked it up. There were some bloodstains mixed with some kind of grime on the heel of the shoe. Looking towards the entrance of the cave, he saw something…a thin…frail…arm….
“Did you find him Aldred?” Vicky ran forward as she looked around the cave.
Aldred tried to cover Vicky from seeing what he had just saw but he was too late. Vicky saw the arm and screamed. The shock was too much and she fainted into Aldred’s arms. The rest of the group came as well. Kally screamed in horror and sadness as well but she was strong enough to stay conscious. Tears formed as she ran and hugged Big Sis Caroline. Will and Tommy both shuddered with sorrow as tears began to well up from their eyes. The sight of the torn off arm was too much for the two boys and they vomited soon after.
Uncle Ralph ran towards the cave and picked up the arm carefully. He looking inside the cave and motioned to Big Sis Caroline. She comforted Kally for a bit before approaching the cave. Minutes later, Uncle Ralph came out with a bundle. Big Sis Caroline looked at the children and sighed, her head bowed. Aldred stared at the bundle…he knew what was inside. Guilt raged in his heart…if…if only he had played with Tristan…if only he had watched over him…if only…. Tears welled up in his eyes as he continued to stare blankly at the bundle. His eyes moved towards the arm and noticed…it was dried up…. What kind of demonic beast could make an arm dry up as if devoid of any liquid?
Uncle Ralph told everyone to go back to the house for now. He will prepare for the funeral soon. After some more consoling, the children headed home. Aldred carried the weak and still unconscious Vicky, his mind still tormented with guilt…his heart pained with sorrow.