by L. E. Carlin
The beginning of Fork's chapter of Life.
| Fork's breath quickened as he ran toward the light, his steps small and rapid. Low branches and tree roots slashed at his skin. It stung. But he didn't care. He didn't care how much it hurt, if it meant he got to see the blue sky again.
For the past three weeks Fork had been trapped in Ant Hell, an underground tunnel system made by ants but abandoned long ago. He fell through the hole while searching for an artifact, and couldn't climb back up. He exhausted himself and fell asleep but when he awoke, the opening was no longer there. The tunnels changed every now and then.
What Fork wouldn't give to feel the sun on his face, te wind through his hair, the desert sand under his feet. It all seemed like a distant memory now. A very faded, distant memory. The underground tunnels were dark, damp, and musty. Goo oozed from the walls and dirt stuck everywhere to Fork's hair and face. It was hell. Ant Hell.
But now there was a glimmer of hope. Light streamed through an opening and pierced the darkness like a bullet. Fork felt his spirits lift, as if someone had taken a boulder off his shoulders. He ran as fast as his little legs could carry him. Soon he would be free, away from this nightmare.
As he got closer to salvation, Fork felt like he could fly. Everything slowed down and became so surreal. Then, as fast as the boulder was lifted off, someone dropped it right back on his shoulders with an added fifty pounds. Fork dropped to his knees and gasped for air. His chest was on fire and his legs felt like lead. He tried to move but a crushing sensation embraced his whole body. With his last ounce of strength Fork reached toward the light, his salvation, his hope... only to have darkness cloud his eyes. He collapsed on a mound of dirt and winced as he hit his head. Fork's breath became shallower and shallower, slowly draining the life from his small body.
Ant Hell had finally taken it's toll.