they hand in hand,
with wandering steps and slow,
through eden took their solitary way
She gasps awake, taking in as much air as she could, flooding her lungs with oxygen as if she'd long been deprived of it because her body just keeps on taking it. She felt like dying already.
Her eyes flutter open, immediately scanning where she was, enormous tress with thick branches that looked magical under the glittering stars and the silvery light the moon provided. There was a certain hue of purple color the fog has and despite the unusualness of waking up in the middle of an unknown forest, she felt oddly calm. At peace. Contented.
Then she shot up almost immediately, mind racing at the blank canvas that was her brain because all she could remember was her name, Jiu was her name right?
"Oh Jiu's awake!"
She hears a crackle of burning wood and she turned around to three girls circling the camp fire, grilling some kind of meat and her stomach rumbles despite her confusion. Memories rushes back to her mind and she's left breathless.
"Are you okay, unnie?" Siyeon asks.
Siyeon. Lee Siyeon. Childhood friend Siyeon with her new short blue hair and chubby cheeks and Jiu's eyes travelled to the next person with the unusual silver hair and her brain sends her information and that this is Yoohyeon and besides her, the short person who spoke earlier was Sua.
She waits for her mind to process anything else but she only knows her friends and her name and how she feels and she can't remember anything else―where were they? Who were her parents? Did she live here?
"It's weird when you're silent, unnie. Please do make some noise." Yoohyeon exclaims, a serious frown forming on her brows as she stares at Jiu.
Jiu, on the other hand, feels the anxiety rise up to .
Sua gives her a concerned look, "What's wrong?"
She looks at Sua with panicked eyes.
"I can remember everything," She breathes shakily, "Except myself."
Yoohyeon gives her a confused look, "How is that even possible?"
Siyeon squeezes Jiu's shoulders, maybe as a sign of reassurance but somehow her touch made her even more nervous and it was as if her body wants to reject her friend's affection and it was absurd because Jiu knows she had always liked to be with Siyeon. It was weird. Her repulsion to Siyeon at the moment was weird. Jiu stays quiet.
She looks at Sua who was standing behind Siyeon and her friends gave her a comforting smile. Or at least an attempt at a comforting smile because suddenly Jiu wasn't comfortable with her very best friends.
"You don't need to remember yourself."
"I said it will come around. You just woke up after being unconscious after all," Siyeon explains, throwing an arm around Jiu's shoulders this time before dragging her to sit with them by the bonfire.
She was pretty sure Siyeon said something else. Was she hearing things?
Yoohyeon sits on Jiu's other side, her presence calming Jiu's nerves for some reason she couldn't pinpoint. As far as she remembers, Yoohyeon was anything but calming.
"Now that I think about it," Yoohyeon started, scanning Jiu's figure before getting Sua's attention, "You both never told me where you found Jiu unnie."
Jiu snaps her attention to Sua and Siyeon, "You both found me?"
Yoohyeon answers for them with a nod, fingers rubbing Jiu's wrist to calm her sudden tense tone on reflex which escalated to her playing with Jiu's hands. Jiu's a bit distracted now, and it seems like Yoohyeon is too. Like she was somehow disoriented even though she's obviously conscious earlier than Jiu. Where are they again? No one answered her yet.
She's about to ask when Sua answered Yoohyeon's previous question.
"At the beach. Her head using a rock as a pillow. Probably explains the amnesia."
Jiu squinted her eyes a bit, searching Sua's eyes and darting them every now and then to Siyeon and Yoohyeon but it hurts to even think too much. Something's amiss. She just can't piece it together with the stinging pain that lingers at the back of her head. If it was just amnesia then why was it so specific?
Siyeon serves them the food and an uncomfortable quiet fall upon them as they started eating. Jiu's eyes still keep on wandering and at some point, she caught Yoohyeon confusedly looking around too. Maybe it was them. Yoohyeon doesn't bode well with silence and it seems like it's the same thing for her. But what does she know? Her memories aren't exactly reliable.
A minute or more of thinking and Jiu remembers her unanswered question again. It seems like she keeps on forgetting. Or losing the timing to ask.
"Where are we?" She finally speaks up, wincing as her voice seems more louder with the silence of her friends. And she's confused again because somehow she knows she never used to mind screaming over silence.
Yoohyeon gives her a shrug as an answer, Siyeon just stares at her, leaving it to Sua to answer and the shorter girl does so with a sigh. Jiu feels like she'd said something wrong.
"You don't remember that too. Figures."
Another uncomfortable silence descends upon them.
Secons later, Siyeon elbows Sua, a forced grin painted on her lips, "Chill. Your mood swing is getting worse. Most of us doesn't remember too. In fact, you're the only one who does?"
Jiu gives Siyeon a questioning look but she only refers her to Sua who suddenly sags and gives her an apologetic smile and she maybe confused and her memory has gaps but she remembers everything about her friends and if there's one thing she knows its that Sua and Siyeon seems a bit off.
Still Sua seems regretful with her previous tone. When did she feel afraid of the girl though?
"I'm sorry. It's just— this island just brings out the worst of us."
Jiu blinked, "What?"
"You remember that place Yoohyeon found in some book a few months ago? About some kind of mythology related thing but we all also joked around and thought it was a good idea cause apparently it's like an escape island where no one will find us here and we can just do whatever the hell we want?" Sua elaborates and Jiu's memories started turning.
"And it's like we have our own island kingdom?" Siyeon asks incredulously, her eyes rapidly reading the book Yoohyeon handed her.
Yoohyeon nods excitedly before Jiu snatches the book from Siyeon's hands.
"This is kind of sketchy though?"
A groan could be heard, "Jiu's acting like the eldest you guys!"
"I am the eldest!"
"Wait we're actually—we took it seriously? But as far as I remember I dug up a whole lot about it and its—"
"Something we can never get out of once we're here." Sua finishes.
Jiu takes in a sharp intake of breath, everything finally setting in. Siyeon pats her shoulders as Yoohyeon looks away from her, probably guilty at having discovered the island in the first place.
Siyeon gives her a lopsided grin.
"It's unfortunate Jiu unnie but— Welcome to Lotus Land."
The first thing she registers when she comes to her senses are the towering lush green trees, then the pastel colored night sky, then Gahyeon.
Gahyeon with the furrowed brows, staring at her hands intensely before someone- Handong- blocks the sight and stares back with her own scrunched up expression.
"I still can't find the unnies and Yoohyeon," the older girl exclaims, disappointment thick in her voice.
Yubin finally sits up, unable to go back to her slumber now with the two other girls awake.
They've been camping somewhere in the middle of the island forest, sleeping a temporary lean-to shelter.
"We'll find them," Yubin assures, squeezing Handong's hand as she did so, "Or they'll find us. Then we get out of here."
Handong doesn't budge, "But isn't this that island?"
Yubin remained silent, the gears in her head turning and frustration bubbling in her chest. Whoever signed them up here, if this was really that island, she was going to ing murder them.
"It's not so bad here..."
Yubin snaps her attention to Gahyeon, the girl staring back at her with intense dark eyes, something unreadable flashing in them for just a millisecond. Yubin narrows her own eyes at her.
"This island will kill us. We don't know where the others are. It's bad. "
Gahyeon doesn't talk back, only avoids her eyes as Yubin continued to give her a look.
"What if..." Handong starts, pausing for a bit as though she struggled forming her next words, "...what if something bad happened to them?"
Yubin swallows the bile that's rising up . There isn't any information of the island that they were sure of except that it's dangerous.
"I'm sure they're fine," Yubin assures.
I hope they're fine , she thinks.
Next she scans their surroundings. The trees towers around them with no indication or clue that could lead to a clearing. They only had three days worth of food and water too, courtesy of some backpack Gahyeon found earlier.
Yubin finds it a bit suspicious but she wasn't about to refuse offered necessities.
"Maybe we should get to somewhere with a higher ground? Then we can see where to go from up there?" Gahyeon finally spoke, hesitance thick in her voice.
Yubin nodded, deciding to ask about Gahyeon's odd behavior later before sending the younger girl a quick smile, "That's actually a great idea."
Gahyeon leads the way and they all walk in silence. Yubin goes back to her thoughts.
As far as she'd read from the research she did with Jiu, Lotus Land was supposed to be private property. Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. However, the only means to get to it was to register and win some game tournament of some kind which was what might've brought it to Yoohyeon's attention in the first place.
'Further information will be disclosed upon arrival'
So far it's been almost two days, they still don't know anything and Yubin can't shake away the feeling of dread that continues to creep up her spine. It's not exactly assuring that she had no idea where the others were.
"Maybe they're at the beach?" Gahyeon said, pointing southeast and sure enough, Yubin could see it from where they were now standing.
"But Jiu unnie knows camping," Handong spoke up quietly, "They'd probably be looking for a water source inland."
Gahyeon shook her head, "But that's assuming she's with the others. I don't think either Siyeon or Sua unnie would want to wander."
Handong was about to protest again when Yubin decided to step in, softly squeezing the older girl's shoulder to calm her down.
"You're right unnie, however, Gahyeon has a point too," Yubin starts before her face scrunched up into a frown from the decision she's about to make.
"Look, it would be harder to wander around looking for them inland. Why don't we check out the beach first and if they're not there, then we try Dong unnie's idea?"
Gahyeon heaved a sigh of relief, throwing Handong a tight smile as the older girl just shook her head.
As soon as Gahyeon started the trek, Yubin held on to Handong.
"There's something wrong," Yubin whispered, half asking, half stating a fact.
Handong's shoulders tensed, "It's more than something."
Yubin wanted the older girl to elaborate but she had already shook off the younger girls hold, fists clenched as she followed Gahyeon.
Somewhere at the back of her mind, there's a part of her that's telling her something is missing. Something Yubin should know but she can't remember any damn thing other than the night before the island, her vision spinning as colorful mist surrounded her room and a crashing sound that made her already ringing ears bleed.
In her dreams she sees a blurry face and a surge of anger hits her like a truck but she doesn't know why, only that it's interlaced with bitterness from... hurt? betrayal?
Yubin's not sure and before she could take hold of the emotion, the ground shook as somewhere in the island, an explosion was set off.
Her ears rang again.
Yubin doesn't know when she dropped to the ground but Handong was now helping her up, her voice distorted as Yubin struggled to get her hearing back.
It was close to that last memory- the feeling of dizzy and sharp ringing but this time she was just rattled. Terrified.
"Yubin, look up!"
Explosions. Who the hell?
"Yubin!!" Handong finally screams and Yubin followed the girl's finger pointing up to the sky.
It took a few minutes for the words to sink in and when it did, her blood ran cold, chest hammering with the rising panic that's crawling up .
Handong tugs on her as Gahyeon looked at Yubin, eyes wide with pure fear and something else she couldn't identify with the rush of adrenaline that's coursing through her.
"Yubin!" Handong snaps her back to reality.
She squeezed her eyes shut to steel her nerves before opening them again, trying to ignore the holographic words in the sky.
"We have to find the unnies," Yubin exhaled shakily, "We have to find them ing fast."
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