The creature had disappeared into the forest, never to be seen again. Its awful grimace was imprinted in their brains, a horrible smile that awoke their biggest fears and darkest nightmares. The only thing that it had told them was that the planet they were in was called something he couldn’t repeat in their language but that they could easily relate that word with something like “Somber”. So that was the dreary name of the tree filled planet they had appeared in, only a few days ago.
The taller guy touched his chest, uncomfortable. He had failed to notice a small pain, for the last hours. They had been running and walking for so long, he had prioritize survival and had not really paid attention to himself or the news he had received fairly recently. It was kind of strange to see a man that had received news so devastating, just walking through a forest, thinking of what animal to catch next. The fact that he had a heart problem was the least of his issues.
The smaller guy, on the other side, had been thinking about it all the way since they had appeared in the planet. He didn’t wanted to talk about it if his partner didn’t want to, and he had made it clear he didn’t want to talk about such an important matter, but it bothered him. The fact that something might happen and he would lose the only other person nearby was very difficult to accept. Besides, he felt something different from the times they were in the resistance and thinking about it didn’t help.
Finally, they stopped walking when the sun set behind a snow-capped mountain. They had been following a path through a valley and now they were on the slopes of a big mountain. The good thing was the trees were shorter, so they could see more of the place they were in. The tall guy was the hunter that night, catching some kind of big bird, very similar to a turkey but with the capacity of flying. They ate it in silence and when the time came to sleep, they did it separately.
They couldn’t really sleep though. Both of them felt they needed to talk to the other. But when one of them decided to open his mouth, an explosion could be heard across the valley. They stood up right away, grabbed their stuff and run up to the top of the mountain. It was very cold there but it was pretty nearby and it was the only way to get away from the explosion and, at the same time, knowing what exactly had happened. When they reached the top, the flames across the valley were easily visible. The wind seemed to be making it worse: the flames were as tall as trees.
The two men looked at each other, but they didn’t know what to do. They could run away from the fire but something told them they should be right there to watch. After all, an explosion had ignited the fire and there was very little chance that it had occurred naturally. They stayed put and waited. The fire jumped from one tree to the other. Watching it was mesmerizing, as if the fire was alive somehow. It really looked alive, engulfing a tree and then consuming it in seconds.
Then, the wind blew harder and it brought cold with it. The short guy caressed his arms, trying to stay warm. When they had disappeared from Earth, they had no clothes proper for such an environment. Only the taller guy had his backpack with him and, luckily, it had many of the weapons they had recently used to put up traps for the enemy. It had come in handy for hunting and igniting fires to roast the food. Then they both realized something about the flames consuming the forest.
The short guy looked in the backpack and took out a pair of binoculars to check out the place the flames were consuming. Instantly, he grabbed the hand of his partner and look at him directly into his eyes. Slowly, he told him they had been eating breakfast there that same morning, on the other side of the valley. He said he recognized a tree so tall that it was a bit bent at the tip. The taller guy verified that himself and realized that couldn’t be a coincidence. Something else was wrong.
They agreed to walk along the top of the mountain. That side of the valley had no snow but a very fast and chilly wind, as well as rocks that kept rolling down to the lower part of the valley. It was very tricky to walk, so they had to grab each other by the hand and try not to kill themselves while doing it. Sometimes they looked at each other, but they preferred not to do so because it made them think too much of home and those feelings and memories hurt more than any rock or cold wind.
Suddenly, another explosion made them lost their balance. One of them had to grab the other harder by the hand. It was difficult to pull someone else up after walking so much but it was harder to think that they would be alone. As the flames seemed to be getting closer, they both regained flat land and ran as much as they could. None of them had no idea of why they were doing that but it seemed like the best thing to do was to get away fast. Eventually, they reached a cliff and they had to stop running. They started sweating even more when they stopped.
The flames were close to them but now it seemed to be a single huge flame. The heat emanating from it was almost burning their skin but, for some reason, it stopped moving towards them, as if it had noticed that its heat was hurting them. The moment seemed to last forever. In their eyes, they could only see the red and orange flames, as if they were absolutely enthralled by fire. But, if they were to be honest, they had no intention of running anymore. They felt they had to be there.
Suddenly, the flames seemed to be reducing their size. But as that happened, a creature emerged from the inside of the fire. It seemed to be very tall, taller than any human being anyone had ever seen. It was very difficult to know if it had any gender or what kind of creature it could be: aggressive or pacifist? Its skin seemed to be made of a material similar to rocks, the kind you find near a volcano. It was dark and seemed to be covered with as. Its eyes were red as fire.
The creature got closer and just looker at them. It had a human form but maybe it was doing that to imitate them or to be less intimidating. If that was the case, it was failing miserably because the two humans it had in front of it were very scared. So scared actually, that they hadn’t stopped grabbing each other’s hand since the moment they had started running. They only realized this when the creature created a hand out of its own body and, with one dark finger, it pointed at their hands holding.
They could have screamed or said something to the creature but they didn’t. The creature kept pointing at them, opening its eyes wider. Then, it pulled back, turned back into a gigantic flame and launched itself into the sky. From their point of view, it looked like a comet crossing the night sky. Eventually, it disappeared but it left a line in the sky and a certain sweet smell all around the forest. The place that had burned grew over night, as if nothing had ever happened.
They woke up the next day, thinking about the creature they had just seen. At first, it seemed as if nothing had changed after they had encountered it. However, they started holding hands more and more, and they didn’t think about it for a second.
Furthermore, they started talking more to each other as they walked across Somber, laughing some times and sharing their personal stories as they ate or cleaned themselves in rivers or lakes. Eventually, they fell in love. But that’s another story that I won’t tell right now.