I look around, we’re in a compound, tents, crates and barrels are scattered in an orderly fashion, the area surrounded by rocks. A group of armed men stand near by, they have taken a key. We were taken captive, my best friend, myself and our friends, more accurately our team. Having got what they wanted, they were to decide our fate. We were able to acquire a vehicle last night and now we needed to cause a distraction to get the key. The leader kept it in his pocket, he was trying to convince us girls to join his rebel group, I guess he thought we would be a ” nice… feminine addition” his words when he stood before us, he grabbed a lock of my hair and gently let it slip through his fingers, never taking his eyes of mine. My hands were held together behind my back by one of his men, if not for that I would wipe that smug smile off his face. I flinched when out of the corner of my eye I saw our friend get loose, he came up to him grabbed him with both hands by his collar and made it clear that he wasn’t to go any where near us. Our hearts sank in fear that he would be killed for such actions, it took a minute to realize that he knew where the key was kept and was using misdirection in order to retrieve it. Guns drawn he puts the leader down, an evil gleam in his eyes, he ordered that we all be put together to be taught a lesson. Our friend comes up and hands us the key, he says under his breath in a hurried tone that everything we need is in the vehicle, we wont all be able to escape, the most important thing is that they key be returned far out of reach of their power. He urges us to go, Now!, we run into the jeep and start the engine before anyone can realize what has happened. We throw it in reverse, we watch as our team ,guns in hand, go up against the entire compound. I throw it back in drive and floor it out of there as fast as we can, its a large compound built like a maze. It takes us a moment to figure out how to get out and then the engine falters, our speed is slowing down, the gas tank is full but its also a partial electric engine and the battery is low. This causes us to still keep moving but our speed is very slow. We pull over and try a different vehicle but the same issue occurs. Climbing back into the jeep we hope that we can make it out without trouble but they soon see us and chase after us. I have the pedal to the floor and we are creep along at a mere 10 miles an hour. My friend shouts out that they are getting closer, I take a harder path hoping that our jeep can handle the terrane, I was right but even we have difficulty because of our speed. we make it out, they are no where in sight at the moment, so I fiddle with the engine and that seems to restore our speed. As fast as we can we flee the compound, the winding dirt road carries us to our freedom, leaving only dust tracks behind us.
We make a stop at an old cottage of mine to gather a few remaining supplies, we have to keep driving, no stops or resting until we return the key. I look down and in the ashtray are three crystals, oddly shaped but nothing too out of the ordinary. I didn’t peg our friend as a crystal carrying guy I think to myself, my heart heavy, I don’t know what will become of them.I don’t know If they are alive, if they are dead or worse if they are being tortured. They made the hard choice and it wasn’t in vain we made it out but we aren’t safe yet. To my knowledge they only knew of the keys importance but not how to use it or where it belongs. We make it to the city, it looks just like any other, tall buildings stretch to the sky, their design and facade made to catch the sun and reflect the light. It’s the perfect place to hide really, no one would assume that the element to hold all life in balance was contained within man made structures. We enter the building and head for the top floor, upon entering the room, it looks just like any other penthouse loft apartment, to the left is floor to ceiling windows, you can see through to the other buildings and their offices and apartments, it was still unsettling, the feeling that people are watching you even though they couldn’t see through the windows to you. I look to my left and see a man in a small room, very plain white walls and grey carpet. He is sitting at a desk with a single lamp ,writing. There was nothing else in his office, he looks right at me smiles and nods, then looks down and continues to write. It made me uneasy, He shouldn’t be able to see me, but yet he looked right at me. The entrance was wide open, and a platform above us looked like the living quarters but no stairs to get there. It was as if the room was changing its structure. I climb up to the platform, waiting at the top is a box on a pedestal, a command center. I thrust the key into the mechanism and nothing happens, I do it again, trying to twist and turn it but nothing. I study the surface there are three other slots oddly shaped but we were told the key was the most important thing to return. I look out the window, the man is starring at me again a concerned looked on his face.
The sky darkens, suddenly the door bursts open, the leader of the criminal organization strolls through, bruises dapple his skin, a cut above his eye, his lip split open. His clothes now torn and tattered. He points a gun at her head, he demands I come down and hand the key over to him. As I do he pushes us both in front of him, and demands us to walk. We enter the parking garage and he throws us into the vehicle we arrived in. We sit contemplating what will happen next, I look down into the ashtray to see the crystals again and a burning sensation runs through my whole body, It’s not just the key it’s the crystals. I breath in deep, my nerves on high alert. The air feels ominous and the men keep talking about the sun disappearing. It’s going to be too late if I don’t return these to the command center. I pocket the crystals and look at my friend, we have to get the key back. The leader hands it to the man he told to guard us, as he tries to figure out what to do with us in a city full of eye witnesses. He simply pockets the key in his jacket. He also never looks back so I quietly slip out of the vehicle and crawl around the side. When he seemed distracted I quietly, gently as I can reach my hand in his coat pocket and pull out the key. I dodge between vehicles in the parking structure and make it back into the building, back to the top floor. I look out the windows, the sky is so dark it could be night, there is light though streaks of it, like ribbons in the sky. I see it reflected off the other buildings, where it comes from I don’t know but its there. An immense unsettled feeling overwhelms me, instinct telling me I’m not safe. The man is still there, across the way, he is no longer writing, he simply stands starring out the window, motionless, an expression of worry on his face. The platform is even higher and more difficult to climb now but I have to try.
I am about 1/2 way when the wall begins to shake and I fall into water, a small pool has formed. The wall turns smooth like black marble, impossible to grip and water begins to flood in. I look up to the ceiling four steady streams of water come crashing down on me, I panic at first but then realize if I can stay afloat it will carry me to the top. As the water fills to my chest now, it turns a bright icy blue, it is freezing. Too cold to float, too cold to survive. I start treading water hoping I can keep my body moving to stay alive, nearing the top my movements and breath slow, Hypothermia is setting in. I think about the people I love, the innocent people who don’t know whats happening, all the lives that could be lost if I don’t return the items. I think to myself that I have to live just long enough to make it to the top and then I can rest. I fix my eyes on the platform, and when I can reach the edge I hold on and with all my strength I pull myself up out of the water. I roll myself onto the platform my body trembling and shaking. I can’t keep my movements steady, I crawl over to the box, I reach into my pocket, pull out the key and the three crystals. It takes me a moment to get the key into the mechanism due to my unsteady hands, I twist it until it clicks, like before nothing happens. However I now insert the crystals, they also work like a key, the hole cut out down to each and every notch and dent in the crystal. The crystal lights up, I insert the other two and a bright white and blue light emanates from the command center. I block my eyes with my arm and back away. I turn to the window and the man is packing up his desk, his face no longer worried but calm and collected. The streaks of light fade away, the sun reappears, and the sky returns to a deep ocean blue. Balance had been restored. My friend returns, stairs appear to the platform and we breath a sigh of relief. We explore the rest of the room, as we do memories resurface. This was our house and we were the guardians.