Three as Three - Part 2
How it happened was anyone's guess. Buba snored away, annoying the hell out of Brand and then Megan. To him nothing was out of the ordinary. Of course he didn't even realize he snored, as it didn't bother him any. So he snored away and drove off his friends then continued on snoring in peaceful oblivion. Why not? He'd seen that terrible nightmare about that crazy looking woman and it took him forever to get back to sleep without seeing her wicked face whenever he closed his eyes.
Nobody knows when it happened, least of all Buba himself. Sometime after Brand and Megan went for their little trip through the woods, Buba went for a little trip in a different direction. He was still sleeping, mind you, and this was not any ordinary circumstance; he'd never been known to sleep walk in his entire fifty plus years of living.
No, sleeping was a foreign concept in the life of Benjamin Bufford Bleu. But sure enough he got right up out of Buba and wandered out of his tent. It was still early in the morning and the camp was pretty much just starting to rise so nobody found this large man walking toward one of the exits strange at all. Anyone that happened to see him found his clothes strange, but that was to be expected since he was still wearing his security guard uniform complete with that strange thing hanging on his hip (known to some people as a gun).
Was it a coincidence he happened to walk straight for the one way out of the camp that wasn't guarded? Oddly, Buba pulled a chocolate bar from his pocket and took a bite out of it but in his sleeping state he ended up dropping it. If he'd been awake you can be assured he would have picked that chocolate bar right up, dusted it off and kept on eating it. So he passed right out of the camp without anyone who knew better noticing and kept on walking.
While Brand and Megan sat at the canyon and enjoyed the unusual sunrise, Buba headed off west through a different forest. Perhaps it was his heavy sleeping habit that kept him asleep, perhaps it was some supernatural force, all that is known for sure is that Buba stepped right off the path tearing through the forest and started to head north. The way was thick with brush but none of it left so much as a snag on Buba's clothing. It was as if the plant life reeled from him.
Emerging from the forest, Buba aimlessly walked straight toward a large, clear lake directly ahead of him. He was in that forest for some time, the sun was fully visible and the sky was a magnificent crystal blue and cloudless. Every lumbering footstep squashed the poor tall grass underfoot, but once his foot raised back up the grass sprung to life as if Buba Bleu had never stepped on it to start with. This continued all the way to the lake and then he just stopped and stood there. Had he woke up right then, Buba Bleu would have gone and fainted at finding himself standing in front of a lake without any idea where the camp was, where Brand and Megan were, where anything was at all.
Then the air grew fiercely cold and sleeping Buba shivered to the bone. A voice, soft and luring whispered, "Step into the lake," and Buba did just that. He took one step then another and another, and before anyone was the wiser Buba was waist deep in the water then neck deep. Despite the coldness that filled the area, the lake itself was very warm and very inviting. Four more steps and Buba was completely gone from view. If anyone looked into that clear blue lake at that moment they would see no sign of Benjamin Bufford Bleu. It was as if he'd never been there.
Once Megan had been brought to Brand, she almost wished she'd stayed in Adara's tent. Brand was out of it, in a coma if you will, and just took up space on the cot. At his side was Megan, gazing at his prone body in silent shock. It was explained to her that the foliage surrounding this entire encampment had been poisoned so as to prevent anyone from getting any kind of nourishment from the land at all.
Chaos was king during these past few hours and it was all Megan could do to keep from breaking down right there at Brand's side as she tried to figure out what had occurred in the middle of the night to turn a bad situation ten times worse without much help from the participants. Loneliness crept its way through Megan deeper and deeper with every breath she took. She was alone now. Very much alone, indeed.
At first she resented being held up in Adara's tent with One-eye, but then, then she found out exactly why Adara was in their tent before Brand passed out. "Benjamin has wandered from the camp," Adara informed Megan. It took a few moments before Megan let it fully sink in. During that time, she wondered again why Buba wasn't here at her side. Then she finally swallowed the information she'd be told and more pieces had suddenly become yanked from the fabric of her existence.
With the knowledge that Brand was unconscious with a rare chance of recovery and knowing that Buba had wandered off into the wilderness for who knows what reason, Megan couldn't help but feel abandoned. For the first time since she could even remember, she was totally and completely alone.
The tears fought their way to the surface, striving to escape by any means possible but Megan held them at bay. For a while at least. The harder she tried to keep herself from crying, the harder it became for her to prevent it until at last the battle had been won. She sat up a little straighter, cleared her throat and smiled in a weak and pathetic manner as Adara walked in sans hood and nodded.
"Are you well?" Adara asked.
"Peachy," Megan said. "What's the status of Operation Find Bleu?"
The quizzical expression that crossed Adara's face would have normally brought Megan to tears with laughter. Now wasn't the best of times though. Instead, Megan just rephrased. "Any idea where Buba is yet?"
"Unfortunately, no. We cannot find a trace of him outside this camp. Technically speaking, he should still be here. However, we can trace his path from this tent to the exit but then it's like he just up and disappeared."
"People don't just up and disappear." The bitterness of the words bit at Adara, but Megan made no sign of caring.
Adara, however, just let it bounce off of herself as if she were made of rubber. "Do not fret, Megan. I should not tell you this but Brandon will make a full recovery and Benjamin will return to us."
"What?" Megan didn't believe her own ears. This was a complete turn around from what Adara had told her not an hour ago. Yet here she was telling Megan exactly what she wanted to hear and Adara didn't even try to do it subtly. "Telling me that won't suddenly make my dreams come true."
"All of this is in the book. Your journey truly begins not on a single path together but separate from each other. Everything that has transpired this morning was supposed to happen and has happened accordingly. When you three are finally reunited, you will all be far more powerful than when this day began."
Megan was on her feet and in Adara's face before either of them realized what was happening. "You listen to me! I don't care if the good Lord himself came out of heaven and told you all would be well in the end. We don't live our lives based on some ancient, dusty book written before people had sense enough to know what they were writing about. This all happened because of you. Ever since we've gotten here, you've been treating us like some kind of experiment in prophecy. This piece fits. This piece almost fits if I really jam it in and bend it a little. Oh this piece won't do, we'd better hide it. News flash! You've been found wrong before Adara and you're wrong now. So fix this mess you've made and then we'll kindly leave and never come back!"
"It's not in my power," Adara said softly. "I'm merely here to fulfill my part in this all, just like you."
"Oh," Megan murmured. She turned and took a few steps from Adara. Her mind was racing her heart, both trying to out run the other. The thoughts coursing through her head were gibberish though. She couldn't center in on a single idea; everything flowing through her mind was gone the second it came. One thing stood out among it all. Her searing anger overwhelmed her to the point of no return.
In a flash, Megan was back in Adara's face. Only this time, she had the large knife Buba and Brand were given to shave with. She didn't really feel the blade as it slid into Adara's stomach. Nor did she fully realize that she'd stabbed Adara, but as soon as she did it everything seemed to become clear in her head. Her mind stopped racing and over and over she repeated the same thing: what have I done?
That's when the tears finally broke through.To be continued...