If it weren't for the sound of a her father calling out her name softly, Kim Chaewon would've continued sleeping. Reluctantly getting up, she slipped out of the covers and slide the tent open to peek outside. “What?”
“Shh. Come on.” Chaewon yawned and stretched out her arms. She re-entered her tent to find jacket to keep her warm and a flashlight. Walking towards the table, she grab an apple out of the fruit bowl, took a bite, and left it with a sigh. “Here we go again.” Chaewon silently walked out of her tent, trying not to make any noise to avoid waking up the other explorers in the campground. She passed by her bestfriend's tent, Kwon Eunbi, hearing the older girl snore like there's no tomorrow. Stiffling a laugh, she finally reached her father who was waiting for her beside the campfire.
“Were you asleep?”
“If I was before, I'm certainly not now.” Following her father, Chaewon stared at the back of her father's silhouette. He is definitely not getting any younger. Sooner or later, he needs to stop going to these explorations. But not yet. He's too determined to quit. Chaewon can't help but think about the good old days where exploring was a thing they do because it makes them happy. Now, exploring is a reminder of someone they had just lost. “So where's our destination?”
“You'll see.” Seunggi said making Chaewon scoffed. Of course, a normal answer wasn't something her father knows. Currently exploring a mountain in south america, her father's group is convinced that the remains of Minzhou resides here. It is called Mount Roraima or Monte Roraima, a giant flat-topped mountain, or mesa, in the Pakaraima Mountains of the Guiana Highlands, at the point where the boundaries of Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana meets. It is more known as the Floating Islandl. It is so unique that different kind scientists are still trying to understand its ecosystem. Mount Roraima is the site of the highest peak of the country of Guyana's Highland Range. The mountains of this range, including Roraima, are considered to be some of the oldest geological formations known, some dating back to two billion years ago.
“Dad, We should've brought more things other than just a flashlight.” Chaewon had looked up the stars and noticed that there's not a single one to be seen. “I think it'll rain soon.”
“Why do you say so?”
“Because when you can't see the stars shinning normally in the night sky, then the cumulonimbus clouds are covering them.” Chaewon answered, rolling her eyes. “Which usually means I don't know maybe rain?”
“60 years ago, anyone could walk outside at night even in a city and see the Milky Way galaxy arch across our night sky. Being able to see thousands of stars was part of everyday life.” Her father retorted, looking back and forth with a flashlight in his hands. “But now watching those great clusters of thousands of star has become history due to light pollution.”
“There are several explanations to one phenomenon, for example this rumbling on the ground. In order to explain this phenomenon, we need to find it's source. as an evidence.” Just then, Chaewon looked down on her feet. He was right. The ground was shaking, very faintly. That's when she noticed that they're surrounded by gigantic fields and mighty forests, only the light of the moon and the reflection of their flashlight illuminates the forest but it wasn't enough. Seunggie stops but Chaewon was too preoccupied that she didn't noticed. She bumped into him and scowled. Seunggi comes closer to the center field and inhale the beautiful aromas of the trees with full chest. “It's peaceful right?”
“We're going to die out here.” Chaewon looked around and moved closer to her father who laughed in return. “Don't laugh! This is how horror movie starts!”
“Ring around the rosie~” Her father started singing out of nowhere and how badly Chaewon wanted to punch him. She hated that song! Clinging on his arms, she pinched his sides.
“Ow! Let. me .go. you. scaredy. cat.” Seunggi tried to remove her grip but struggled to do it. “You practically grew up surrounded by danger!”
“That was before I started finding out the different ways nature can kill me! Need I remind you that it's about to rain, we're in a deep forest without any humans around us! That is how creepypasta stories starts!” Chaewon finally let go and tried to search for a stick. Seunggi shook his head at his daughter's antics and started walking to their left. Thinking of distracting her daughter, Seunggi thinks.
“Oh right. Eunbi told me you got dumped by Hyewon.”
Succesfully snapping Chaewon out of her thoughts where she was thinking about being stabbed by a serial killer in the middle of a forest, her fear was replaced by anegr. “I didn't got dumped! I dumped Hyewon!”
“I can't hear you over the sound of your heartbreaking spotify playlist everynight, kiddo!” Chaewon flushed in embarassment and grumbled as her father keeps teasing her. “You don't think I heard you singing yesterday? Try singing with one of your earphones out. You sound a little flat on some parts.”
“Oh gee thanks for the advice, dad.” Chaewon sarcastically replied, her eyes squinting through the parts her flashlight couldn't reached.
Chaewon yelped when her father was loudly stomping his feet in a side to side notion and clapped his hands in front of him. “Chomp. Chomp.”
“............Why did you do that?” Chaewon felt her eye twitched. She thought it was the sound of a bear!
“There.” Seunggi grinned and continued walking. His daughter stared at him like he grew another legs. “Oh? That was me being a dinosaur. No main character in a horror movie starts it like that so we're safe by now.”
“You're such an idiot.” Chaewon let a small smile grew on her face, shaking at his father. She knelt down and glanced at her dad, worriedly. The more step they take, the stronger the quaking of the ground gets. As if on cue, Seunggi whistled to her daugher and motioned to follow her deep into the woods.
“Are you sure this is safe?” She asked, trudging their way through low-hanging branches and crops of prickly flowers. Her stride carried her past bushes that held crimson berries and pulled her across a coursing river that bent to ancient rocks, all while attempting to keep up with Seunggi ahead of her. “You know these rocks are slippery and there's going to be mud everywhere, right?”
“Would I bring you somewhere dangerous?” Chaewon deadpanned while Seunggi started chuckling. It's certainly not an exploration without any danger. Chaewon rolled her eyes and jogged up ahead towards her father.
It started to rain a litte. The raindrops was soft on their skin, small droplets of cold tears that soaked their clothes and hair. The only sounds around were the flowing winds; the careful dance of the leaves; and the pitter patter of rainfall, Chaewon kind of felt at peace for a moment.
“It's not my fault you have two left feet!”
Chaewon groaned when she followed through a large fracture of a solid rocks on top of each other, and there was an opening that almost looks like an entrance to a cave. There was a gap in between the rocks, big enough for a human to squeeze through. Chaewon pondered while squeezing through the gap sideways. This was the first time she's ever been to this place. Her father wasn't kidding when he's going to look through every bits of the mountain. Being preoccupied by her thoughts once again, Chaewon yelped as she bumped into Seunggi who stopped walking. She followed his gaze and gaped. “Woah.”
“Be careful okay?”
Now standing in front of a cave, the cold musty air from inside the cave pricks her skin. Ignoring the goosebumps forming on her skin, Chaewon entered the cave with Seunggi leading the way. The moonlight from outside the cave makes the walls glisten and bright. Their flashlights could barely reflect any light on the walls inside. Chaewon stares ahead into the darkness ahead of them. You see, the scariest part about caves is that you don't know how far they go back. There could be something waiting for you inside or it could lead you to a discover that'll change the whole world. Chaewon hopes for the latter part. She flinches hearing small rocks falling from the roof of the cave and keeps hearing a distant rumbling. “Dad, I think we should just go back tomorrow morning with the whole crew.”
“Dad?” The distinct change in the atmosphere was sudden. Suddenly, Chaewon could hear a heartbeat. It was so loud, it was like a hammer hitting her head. Feeling dizzy, Chaewon extended her left arm to hold onto something but there was nothing. Taking a step to her left side was a mistake. In a split second before it happened, Chaewon saw a sillouette of a girlreaching out to her.
The icy water shocks her system as she plunge beneath the surface of the water. Chaewon's chest tightens as the cold fist of understanding squeezes the breath out of her. She exploded from the water, spraying droplets everywhere. Taking numerous breaths to fill her lungs, she keeps treading to avoid sinking. “CHAEWON!!”
“I'm fine!!” Chaewon yelled out, looking up to the hole where she fell. Of course, there’s a lake in the cave! They should've thought things through first! Ugh! Her father's impulsive traits was always a pain in the . “Mom was always the reasonable one.”
“I'll be back! I'll get ropes! I'll call help too! Just stay there!”
“I don't think I have anywhere else to go but sure, I'll try not to drown.” Chaewon deadpanned.Floating on her back, Chaewon softly paddles. Her mother was the one who taught her when she was a kid. She had to. “Mom...Are you really gone? Dead?”
She trusts her father. He'll be back. She just hopes the rain will stop or it'll take him a while. Having nothing better to do than avoid drowning, she spoke loudly. “It's been two months but still, the pain won't go away. Dad and I....we haven't had a chance to talk things out about you. When you died, Dad buried himself in works and I joined Eunbi's exploration. We went to Egypt in hopes of finding another artifact just like the Tutankhamun's Mask but we found nothng. I met someone named Yena though and she's really good in different kinds of ancient languages! I hope to learn one someday.”
“Huh?” Chaewon blinked as she stops floating. She looked around properly this time. Did someone just talk? Chaewon screamed but this time, her screams were deafen under the water. She tried to squirm, trying to get on her back but it won't work. Something was her deep down the lake. A chill seeps into her bones and weighs her down. Her arms and legs grow heavy. They won't move at all. Move legs. MOVE! With no more strength left, Chaewon sinks through the abyss of the black water. No matter how hard she tries to swim, it just won't work. Feeling herself running out of air, a ringing in her ears stars. Her chest feels like it's about to explode as she faintly sees a sillouette deep down. “χρυσή μου…”
Frozen in shock, Chaewon forgot the fact that she was drowning. All her thoughts and all of her senses had stopped working. The sillhouette swam slowly towards her, reaching out and that was the last thing Chaewon seen before engulfing into complete darkness.