Estimated reading time — 22 minutes
I am not too proud of what my family has done in the past, and this especially goes out to my ancestors. The reason why I find myself strolling through the woods as the blazing day drifts into the ominous night is because of what my past predecessors had the audacity to do. Greed and envy took hostage of the heart and mentality of my great-grandfather, and now the continuation of his family line suffers due to his brainless actions.
The simple definition of what Pablo accomplished is that he sold his selfish and pesky little soul to the devil. I am not sure if it was a devil, a demon, a witch, or all of these characters put into one. I am not very informative as to when it comes to these type of topics, and so my ignorance is most likely a setback as to what I am about to do.
Let me deliver the more complex reason as to what my great-grandfather managed to do when he still stayed in this world. Once upon a time in Ecuador, Pablo Enriquez lived with his family in a small city named Milagro. Tough times caused dire consequences with the choices you made, and Pablo found himself associated with the wrong types of people so often in his life. He involved himself in a mixture of gang and mob violence that took control of Milagro in a time period where the authority or dominance in land, finance, and distribution of goods—such as crops, and of course drugs—lowered to a tenuous level.
My great-grandfather craved to rise above in the world, and to make something of himself despite the cruel and bitter earth he was born in. As time passed, he saw his closest friends and family become successful in their own incisive and creative ways. Pablo wanted a taste of that sweet and charming life. He lacked the incentive and stability in order to become something worthwhile in his life, however. Pablo, an alcoholic, drug-addicted, insolent piece of mess that constantly placed his family in total danger due to his horrible decisions in life, couldn’t do anything with his knowledge and experience. The women in his household guarded themselves in case any of the men Pablo worked with attempted to either rape or abuse them.
Long story short, Pablo received the great news from one man to another about an offering he could negotiate with someone in order to obtain the riches he so lustfully desired. A “friend” of my great-grandfather later explained that this “person” was not someone that any decent human being would call normal. By this time it was already too late, and Pablo placed himself in a situation where he stood face to face to what he presumed to be the devil.
At this point, however, Pablo obliged to do whatever it takes in order to be delivered all that he hoped and feasted for. The demonic being spoke to him a deal that, at the time, seemed harmless and ineffective in any possible way. The benevolent demon granted my great-grandfather all the wealth and happiness in the world, but in return Pablo had to bury his ashes into a lake near where he lived. The demon made it clear that he should inform his youngest son to travel to this lake, and to pour his father’s ashes into the deep waters right when the sunset sinks in and twilight takes over Ecuador.
Pablo nodded his head without the slightest hint of hesitation, and so began the never-ending curse that takes a tenacious grip on my family till this day. Pablo’s youngest son happened to be my grandfather, and before Pablo died, he made sure to inform him exactly what to do with his ashes. Jose agreed to do so since his loyalty to his father proved stronger than his ambiguity. Since Jose’s father supported his family with all they desired, Jose’s loyalty suddenly bloomed into a profound life. Jose, as well as the rest of Pablo’s family, had no idea what contract Pablo had sign in order to obtain all of these new riches. Pablo managed to keep this furtive secret away from his entire family.
Jose made the journey to the lake a day after his father’s funeral. There the devil that had made the offering reappeared before his eyes right when the sun settled down away from the face of the earth. Jose did as what his father asked him to, and in return the demon told Jose that he must do what Pablo agreed to do as well. The demon forced Jose to tell his youngest son to bury his ashes in this exact same lake when the moment rises. Jose, a bit circumspect to do so, hesitated, but the fact remained that he would still continue on tradition. It didn’t even bother him slightly that his father made a pact with the devil.
It did, however and finally, irritate the hell out of my father. This is where my story begins.
Leaves, bushes, and grass all tickle and smuggle against my ankles and shins as I try to maneuver away from all the cluttering greens, and into spaces with a wider opening. The sky still remains a bleeding and marvelous shading of red, but I can see it spill away into the darkness that will overshadow it soon. The sun’s last rays of light dim away into nothing but a weak spit of fire. I am in no hurry, however, since my objective is to do things a little bit differently this time around.
My father, Roberto, knew what went on in our family at an early age. He found out just about everything when he turned twenty-eight. His father informed him before his last minutes of living the mistakes and resentments he and his own father crafted together in shame. Jose spoke with much regret and agony in his tone that he wished he could take it all back. It seemed too late, however. Jose was bound to be in control of the demon that had begun this entire calamity.
Jose on his last minutes on earth tossed and turned terrified for his life. He commanded that Roberto just bury his ashes, and to not deny his order. Jose feared out of some prognostication he had during one night he fell asleep deep in his dreams. The demon wondered about Jose’s intentions, since Jose developed the betraying idea of not telling his youngest son to bury his ashes in fear of his life. The demon whispered rather coldly in my grandfather’s ears that if she didn’t receive his ashes, dire consequences awaited his entire family. This was why Jose demanded stringently for my father to get rid of his ashes in the lake. This became the reason why my father dedicated his life in order to try to find a solution to this distress.
I never seen trees so prodigious in my life before. They tower over me like buildings in New York City, and offer a cooling shade in this tormenting heat of the summer. I try to evade mosquitoes as they sprawl all over my bear arms and legs, but in doing so I always find myself tripping on some of the protruding roots in the soil below. I make sure to carry the jar of my father’s ashes with much caution. They are concealed in a remarkable glass vase that is embellished with a relaxing dye of blue, and coated with decorative gems and stones of all sorts of colors. Emeralds, Rubies, Diamonds, and a whole plethora of other jewels that could make a man greedy the moment his or her eyes lay on this precious object. This is the traditional jar where we dump in the ashes of the previous youngest male in our family.
Even after years of nonstop research on the subject on forging a deal with the devil or some type of hellish being, and digging for a solution to break the commandment, Roberto couldn’t find anything useful. All of my father’s efforts and struggle appeared futile, and this lead my dad to lead on a very depressing road. I didn’t quite understand his sudden mood swings, and his mentality that he would be charming at one point, and then insolent another moment. But at the time I was too young to even comprehend what had gone terrible ill in my family. Some could argue that my father’s constant workaholic tendencies is what lead him to die in such an early age.
I received the news that my father developed brain cancer about seven months ago. At the time it was around November, and I still studied in my high school. Only little hope gleamed that my father would survive, and they even predicted that he’d be long gone four months from notice. No one can deny the fact that my father is a trooper.
Before my dad’s brain began rotting into something useless and a waste of space, he made sure to fill me up on everything that needed to be said. He first explained what my great-grandfather had done, and how he cursed our family. My father also spoke to me some of the things my grandfather told my own dad. They said that it always has to be the youngest son, and that this tradition must continue on until the end of time.
My father lastly converse about how much of a burden and a piece of garbage he viewed himself. His entire life he attempted to discover a solution for the evil deeds his grandfather made, and in the end the results proved to a lethal and fatal death. All of my dad’s efforts and high hopes seemed like nothing but an illusion in his own head, and now he was compelled to give up his sanity and soul to the demon that possesses our family. My father felt reluctant at throwing away his spirit to this demonic presence, but he also experienced grand fear of whatever risk would arrive if the demon doesn’t get what she wants. It was unlike my father to give in into such demanding hands, since typically my dad’s bold and assertive personality modeled him a great hero. But he felt that he’d done enough to place his family in danger, and would rather make his own sacrifice for the sake of our lives.
Roberto Enriquez died on June twenty-four, 2015. It is now the twenty-sixth of June, and I find myself in another country and continent in order to perform an act that my great-grandfather started.
My father moved away from Ecuador at an early age of twenty-five, and made a life on his own in the United States. There he conceived three males, and two females. I am the youngest of three brothers, and the second youngest in total of my entire siblings. Immediately right after my father died, my mother and I bought tickets for me to fly to Ecuador as soon as possible. By this time my mother and most of my father’s side of the family knew what went going on. They insisted that I should just get it over with, but they didn’t quite know what exactly what I planned to do. They found this to be just some surreal ritual that our ancestors performed for some harmless religion we founded. Only my mother knew the true purposes.
I sprawl out from being tangled and trapped to a puddle of bushes and branches, and emerge to a wide and enlightening passageway that leads to the lake I need to find. My father made sure to remind me to follow this path, since it will lead to me exactly where I desire to go. I can only catch glimpses of the approaching night sky due to the trees blocking my view. Twilight will come soon, and by then I would have to make arrangements already.
Each step I take crunches and cripples the leaves and grasses below my feet. A fragile but chilling breeze finds itself swirling and spinning around me as if trying to convince me to dance. I find myself inveigled from the wind’s persuasion since all I crave right now is to not confront this beast I am forced to witness soon. I can spend the rest of my life dancing with the fresh air, and try to find peace in this natural setting.
My plan to not give into the orders of this demon. As much as my father pleaded and begged for me to just go along with her commands, I will not allow neither my family nor myself to be puppets to this force of evil. I am not one to dispute or impugn justice, but I do care deeply for the sake and gratitude of my loving family. I will also not allow this witch to just take away my father as simple as just burying his ashes. He put up a great fight in his life in order to defeat this demon, and he completed more than any man in my family could ever think about doing. Now this devil expects me to just betray and abandoned my father so easily? I will not allow this unfair behavior to linger any longer. I am indignant to battle for my own will.
As I stride towards the enlarging opening ahead of me, I say good-bye to the sweet smells that have been tailing me up to this point. The redolent, exquisite scents of spices and sea-food that seem to radiate out from the soils of Ecuador bid me farewell with a weep of sadness. The noises that consists of birds chirping, crickets squeaking in a melody only they can sustain, and the random yowls of some beast far off in the distance all leave me behind as well. The journey entering and passing through this humongous forest was not as challenging as expected, but I could see why a person would get lost within this area. Luckily my father provided me with prior knowledge to know where exactly to go.
I step out from the gathering of trees and bushes, and enter to an opening that allows me to breathe freely. Here the moonlight illuminates the area with a spectacular silver shine. The area consists of a circular setting that is liberated from any towering trees barks, and only contains a fresh land of grass that expands all the way in every direction possible. Right at the center of it all lies the infamous lake where this demonic being accommodates and dwells. It first begins with shallow waters right at the circumference of the oval-shaped pool of water, but as you go further and further inside this mass area, you notice just how deep the water roams below. I find myself mesmerized by how beautiful it all appears. The waters reflect all the sparkling light spraying above.
The sun already set itself, but I have no reason to worry. My father informed me that as long as I landed there not too late that everything would be okay for me. He said that the patient devil does not mind waiting when it comes to these types of negotiations.
I tentatively take my steps closer and closer to the lake. All noises from the massive forest before seem to have muted once I entered this land. In fact every last bit of my senses seem to have been placed on pause, minus my vision of course. I heard no sounds, smelled no scents, tasted no sweets, and felt not even the slightest tingle of the wind. Sweat poured down my hair and forehead, but whether it was from nervousness or the heat of the night I couldn’t say.
A bubbling in the waters rose once I reached close enough to see my own reflection on the surface of the lake. The waters ahead of me splash with each new wave increasing in height and momentum. The power of whatever surging force below piles up to create huge waterfalls, and soon I find my eyes lock at the levitating figure coming straight below the waters. The lake continues to rumble and disrupt itself in a rambunctious matter as the being floats up in mid-air. It almost seems as if the lake is going to push the waters to create one gigantic tsunami that would flood the entire forest. Huge chunks of water conceals the figure above the lake, but gingerly they spill away from its body and face like someone peeling away a banana. I finally see what creature or majestic being has decided to present itself in front of me.
“Welcome again, young Enriquez,” she moans. Her voice flows in a lascivious tone to it that makes me question her motives. “It seems as if you young men come earlier each time. What’s happening? Why do you men die so often and young? It seems as if you guys have your life ahead of you, and then you just suddenly…disappear.” Each word that rolls out of her lips seduces me to some spell to listen closely.
Even when I make eye contact with her round and alerted eyes, I cannot truly see what lays behind those sinister ovals. They say the eyes are windows to the soul, and in this case those windows appear to be barricaded with impervious stone walls. Her pale skin is nothing compared to what my father spoke of, complementing her light-brown complexion. It’s not a pale which makes her appear ill, but rather a white pigment that appeals to me very much. The demon’s thick and bronze hair flows down her scalp all the way to the middle of her back with waves as placid as the oceans.
She walks on air as if there are steps only she could see, until she eventually reaches my level of altitude and drops down to face me. Our heights are identical, but are postures seem to be polar opposite. She stands tall with a gravitas on her back that only generals or world-class leaders can imitate. I, on the other hand, slouch just a bit. I don’t have a huge hunch on my back that dwarfs my size around three inches, but at the same time I seem too laid-back. I can’t quite tell if what she is wearing is a robe or some type of flourishing dress. It’s pitch black, and conceals most of her body. There are some type of sleeves that shies away her shoulders and elbows, but there are certain opening on her outerwear that reveals her thighs. My eyes travel through all different areas of her anatomy.
“I have an idea that your father must have told you what needs to be done,” she spoke up. “We can complete this simply and hastily, and that way I do not waste anymore of your time.” She winks at me.
“Who are you?” I ask. I just have to ask. My curiosity takes the best of me, and also there’s the fact that this woman does not appear like anything my dad described. He said she had blond, golden hair, and not her reddish dye that I see with my own eyes right now. My dad spoke of her being tall, but this woman reaches me at equal lengths. Not only that, but the way my father discussed her made me not look forward to meeting such a person (but then again who finds it a swell time reuniting with a demon?). But the first glance I received of this woman made the entire trip worthwhile. I almost forgot immediately what my main objective is.
“I have many names,” she says. “There are not of importance, unfortunately. Listen, I can be in a billion places right now, but I cannot further waste my time and energy here. Hand me over the ashes, and just revisit me years later when your time arrives.” A smirk curves up her lips.
“And if I refuse?” This seem to strike her by surprise. Her face retreats back with shock and confusion. The entire time I felt as if she had the upper-hand, but at that moment I know I overpowered her somehow.
But that all changed once she grinned again. “Let me show you something, my dear boy.” The woman reaches out her right arm to the back of the lake, and plays with her fingers as if she’s tuning with an invisible piano. Her joints twitch and press the air repeatedly, until eventually a faint image beings to materialize out from the lake. A transparent line connects the demon’s palms with the surface of the lake. Soon that line has some form, and it becomes something solid and secure. Multiple lines appear, and they continue to grow thicker and thicker as she continues to move her fingers with dexterity. Soon those lines attach themselves together, and I see that she is grabbing what appears to be a heavily-packed chain.
“Rise!” She commands. “Come up, my slaves! Present yourself to your bloodline.” With a single pull of the chain, the waters crash up with a prodigious force. Two figures appear as the waters drizzle down in a light waterfall. I instantly recognize them.
“As you can see,” the witch begins, “I have been keeping hostage of both of your ancestors. I do believe you never met the both of them before. Well, isn’t this a pleasant reunion?” The demon barks into laughter.
My great-grandfather and my grandfather glance up at my face with shame and resentment inscribed in their expressions. They both contain a single tight manacle wrap around their throats that connect to the chain the demon grips on. I would expect that their spirits to somehow be hollow or transparent, but their souls still have a bind with their physical appearance. They are no longer the young and healthy men I documented them in family photos, but instead crippled and pathetic lost ghosts with no sense of hope left in their withering hearts. It does not bother me that they are naked, but it’s more disturbing the fact that their faces maintains such lugubrious gazes that makes me afraid of them.
Nevertheless they’re my family. “So this entire time you have been caging them like some slaves?” I snap. “I’m more than sure that this was not part of the deal that my great-grandpa had signed up for. And if he so happened to know that this would happen, then why should his decedents suffer for his mistakes? You know it’s not fair.”
“Ah, but who ever said that my role in this world is to be fair?” The demon tugs at the chain, and my great-grandfather marches next to her. “This man should have read what he was doing. Of course I made sure to keep this little agreement as clandestine as possible, but that isn’t necessarily my fault. This man should have known how to read contracts the proper matter.”
I have no words to argue. I am stun by the doleful hurt in my great-grandpa’s eyes. He doesn’t even attempt to make eye contact with me. He knows the great debt placed his family on. Pablo can only now reflect upon his mistakes and faults while under control by this puppet master. Now he weeps here with his youngest son who had done nothing wrong but obeyed his father, and remain loyal to him even after all of the consequences.
“But that’s beside the point,” the demon speaks up. “If you do not deliver me those ashes, then not only will I send these two gentlemen to hell, but I will make sure to torment and haunt your entire family tree until the moment this universe terminates itself. Not only your side of the family, but you’re future’s wife side as well. And the tree will continue to expand itself until I eventually dominate your entire generation. Do you understand me?
“These two useless men, they have it lucky. They’re just my slaves at almost everything I do. I sometimes enjoy punishing them, but what I can do is nothing compared to how Hell is like. Sure you folks can name my way of living a hell itself, but my torture tendencies is just a mere fraction to what Hell can unleash. So think about what you’re about to do.”
But I have been pondering about what I want to do. This entire time I ruminated long and hard on how to execute this entire strategy. “Do you mind if I propose something? Let’s say, another deal?” Her eyebrows rose at my suggestion. Did I finally get her attention?
“I’m listening,” she whispers, interest shining in her eyes.
“How about I make a new deal with you right here and now, but if I make this new deal you have to eliminate and cancel whatever contract you had made with Pablo. That also means giving up my two grandfathers.”
“Ha! Okay child, you’re pleading for way too much.” She snickers to herself. “But you do have my attention. Okay, listen to this:
“I will annihilate the contract I have made with Pablo, in exchange with a new proposal with you, young Frank. But…these two men have to stay with me. I cannot give them up.” The demon smiles with hidden joy at our negotiations.
“First inform me what deal you are going to propose to me,” I say.
“Who do you think runs this show?” She inches closer to me, but I do not feel that sensational attraction to her anymore. It’s replaced with grand trepidation at what her formidable powers and horror can accomplish. I try to hide myself in the massive shadow she casts. “Either make the choice now, or I’m just going to do what I want to do in the first place.”
I glance at both my grandfathers. They still continue to not stare at me. I feel some sorrow for them, but at the same time this saddening feeling is not as authentic as I think it is. In a way I know that this is my great-grandfather’s fault in the first place, so he should be the only one suffering through his mistakes. At the same time, however, I do not wish for my grandfather to endure this way of being no longer. It’s not fair that after death he should be experiencing such madness.
In the end, however, I also feel sympathy for my great-grandfather. We all commit mistakes, and sometimes those that do make faults in their lives do not receive as much affinity as they deserve. I’m sure Pablo went with good intentions at receiving his riches and glory, but he was just forced in a situation he couldn’t escape. It happens to the best of us.
They both catch me by surprise when they finally look up. Our eyes meet, and I am amaze when I see some passion in their faces. They stare at me with pride and happiness, and slowly they nod their heads. This is the approval I need.
“Okay,” I finally say. “Let’s make this new deal.”
The witch smiles broadens, and she closes her right hand in a tight clutch. All at once the chains disappear, and my ancestors’ souls drift away with the wind. I catch a last glimpse of their faces, and I feel this deep emotion in my heart as I see the spark in their eyes and smiles. As their bodies disintegrate to tiny particles of dusts, their faces of admiration remain. The demon turns her head, and glances at my grandfathers. I do not see what they see, but something must have happened since their looks suddenly transform to that of dismay and paranoia. I am startle at their sudden change in expression, but cannot even question their ambivalent hearts since they clear away from the air before I even have a chance to perk my lips to speak.
“Now that I have taken over that, let’s begin our deal, shall we?” She raises her thumb and index finger to her chin, and ponders deeply at what she should suggest. “I got it! Since I like you kid, I’ll go with my most lenient sacrifice I can think of.”
“Well spill it already,” I say impatiently. My heart knocks at my chest with petulant force as I await for my fate to be spoken soon. I keep thinking of incentives to continue on with this insane conversation, and to not betray my entire family. It takes a lot of mental preparation to know that you’re going to make a deal with some demonic force. No matter how many times I repeat to myself that this is in the name of my family, I couldn’t help but to feel guilty at the idea of leaving this all behind for the sake of my own safety.
“I want you to give up one of your five senses,” she finally proposes. “It’s as simple as that, my young man. Sure it may seem like such a grand sacrifice, but if you decide wisely what sense to give up, it will all seemed worth it.”
I did not expect such an offer from the demon, but it just goes to show that these entities are unpredictable. I wonder about how it will be like so lose the ability of one of my senses. It’s such a funny thing to think about. We live our lives with these five senses automatically, and sometimes we are unaware of how much we abuse them. Seeing and hearing are great examples. The same could be spoken about the feeling of touch, the copious tastes in our mouths we consume every day, and the plentiful of scents we sniff daily.
“This actually seems fair enough,” I say, giving my opinion. Although I have no idea whether this is her most understandable sacrifice, it is still something so small—yet so big—that I wouldn’t mind losing. “Just give me a second to think about which sense to lose.”
“Choose wisely,” she repeats.
Sight and sound are out of the picture. I need my ability to see and hear not only to live my life the way I want to, but in order to escape out of this labyrinth of a forest. There remains three now, and I can already cross out the sense of touch. Sure I can lose the ability to feel any pain, but at the same time I will no longer feel pleasure. Also my nerves can inform me instantly if something is abruptly damage, and I can quickly repair the situation. That leaves scent and taste. At this point is seems obvious. I can live my life rather fairly without both, but I would prefer to have my tasting capacities. Food will remain delicious and mouth-watering, and losing my sense of smelling can be an advantage. I can no longer be affected by loathsome and vile smells like farts, vomit, and other malodorous things.
“I think I have made my choice,” I finally say. “I’m still kinda dubious about it, but fuck it. Just get rid of my sense of smelling.”
“Are you sure?” The witch asks. She steps closer to me, and now we’re just inches apart. She slides her finger below my nose, and I take one last whiff of her dreary scents. “Is this your final decision?”
I don’t have to think twice about it. “Yes.”
“Let it be!” She yells. “Let this powder be the last thing you smell.” Before I have time to protest, she fishes through her pockets. The witch reveals a handful of this black and white substance, and blows it onto my face. I burst into a coughing fit once the stuff enters my nose, although barely any air could escape my lungs. I pass out before I even realize what occurred.
I wake up to the sounds of the water rustling near my ear. I feel my body swerving back and forth in a calming motion. When I open my eyes, I quiver at the daunting sight. All I see is blackness with little spots of light above. I realize that I am laying down on some harden object, and I am staring at the night sky with the stars looking like luminous freckles.
I reel up to a sitting position, and become aware that I am sitting in the middle of the lake. The last thing I remember is receiving that powdery substance to my face. I feel around my nose and eyes to see if the grains of that powder are still stuck to my face, but everything seems to be cleaned off. My mind dazes off, and I can’t keep a straight thought. I feel this drowsy and draining feeling as if the motion of the lake is enervating me.
I am taken back to reality once I realize something. I take hold of my shirt, and place it right below my nose. I sniff at it with all the hair I could inhale, and I sense nothing. I have lost my sense of smell. The deal has been made. I try once more to sniff around the lake and wooden plank I am floating on, and cannot pick up a single distinguishable smell. Before I could be able to smell all sorts of scents, but it is all gone now. It’s official.
My body and mind fills up with much excitement and pride. I feel as if I have finally done something right, and have made my father proud.
I gaze frantically around the wooden plank for my father’s jar of ashes. I feel dumbfounded once I discover them tuck away behind me. My heart sinks from my throat, and back to my chest. There is no need to panic.
I do not know which direction to head towards first, so I just make a random guess and choose north. I paddle the entire time with both of my arms until I reach the shore. I grasp my father’s jar as I step away from the wooden plank. I am thankful that none of my clothing and shoes are damp. I do not recall traveling all the way to the middle of the lake, but try not to question it any longer. The important thing is that I can finally head home.
I stroll inside back to the massive trees, and try to adjust to this new lifestyle. It doesn’t feel as unique no longer having the sense of smell, but at the same time I can notice that there’s something completely different about me. I was never any good with my sense of scent in the first place, so it is not a major loss.
I chose the wrong route. I do not remember seeing these trees and bushes before. When I first entered the lake, there was a giant opening that appeared like a corridor to the lake. I should have taken note of that important information when I made the choice to choose which area of the lake to exit. Now I feel as if I am at the middle of nowhere. The only choice I have is to trace back my footsteps until I reach the lake again, and this time go the correct way.
I walk back. More back. I seem to have been going backwards for already ten minutes, when originally it took me at most five to get where I was before. Now this entire setting does not look familiar at all. My state of sanity seems to be threaded in a very peculiar and weakening yarn of rope, and soon that threat is going to snap. I try to relax my mind at the thought that everything is going to be okay, and that I can find my passage out of here.
Minutes of searching turns to hour. The night sky still remains a darkening blue. This entire forest is murdering me. I feel hysterical. Anxiety take control of my motions and thought-process. I do not know what I am doing anymore. I run, and sprint, and pant, and jog until my legs feel at the brink of collapsing, yet I cannot find my final exit! Every direction I turn seems to lead to another maze. There is no stopping my madness. Everywhere I go I cannot discern my location. Everything just appears exactly the same.
I drop down to the floor. I can no longer sustain the building cramp I have on my stomach and legs. I allow my father’s jar to roll to the ground. I’m on my knees and palms as I inhale with excessive force. My lungs feel a tightening as if they’re going to swell. My bronchial tubes shrink thinner and thinner as I attempt desperately to catch a breath of oxygen. My heartbeat pounds harder and meaner on my chest. Sweat spills and leaks from all over my glands. I feel trap in some inferno where heat is the main torture. I have no choice but to lay on my back.
I roll over, and witness my vision impairing itself. All I can see are blurry lines. A face morphs from those accumulating shadows. It’s her.
“You want to know something, Frank?” She bends down to reach my level. I feel her lips approaching my ears. Her warm and tingling breath mushes against my skin. The cold touch of her flesh freezes my own body. “If you were to have kept your sense of smell, you would have been out of here by now. The unique thing about this lake is that you can find your way home by smelling in the right direction. Just follow the trail of seafood and tropical fruits back to Ecuador’s safety land. That’s all you have to do.” Her laughter smashes against my eardrums. My entire body feels numbed and paralyzed.
“But you were foolish enough to give up that one sense,” she continues. “Oh well. It wasn’t my choice. I did warn you, however. ‘Choose wisely.’ Remember those words? This forest, any mortal man can get lost in it easily. If only you would have kept the right scent.”
I still have enough clarity in my vision to see that she acquires my father’s jar of ashes. “If you don’t mind, I’ll be taking this. I’ll come back for you later, once your soul is rotten and deceased.” I force my head to watch her walk away with my father’s dead ashes. She takes her steps with such perfection, and becomes one with the forest. Her figure grows smaller and tinnier until eventually I see nothing but the overwhelming trees.
The forest closes around me. I feel their corpulent shadows draw me closer and closer to their side, until eventually all I can see is darkness.
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