Darling Clementine Part 3

That realization shocked Clem back to reality and she noticed that the mist was continuing to spread.  The fear over getting lost again and concern over what that noise, heard once when she was 4 and now heard once again, was overwhelming.  “To hell with all this,” she thought.  “I am NOT getting lost again.  I am out of here!”  With that thought, the sound, the one that had been haunting her all night began again in earnest.  There was a definite quality of someone being harmed to that sound…it was a wailing, almost an animalistic noise.  Sigh.  That last thought tugged at her conscience a bit. 

 Cue the reappearance of the horned and haloed ones perched in their respective spots on her shoulders.  Clem reached up and using her middle finger and thumb, she flicked each of them off of her shoulders.  “No way! Not this time!  You two get me into trouble every time! I am making my OWN decision this time!” she yelled at them.  “I am going back into the house. (The little devil began to smirk picturing Clem crawling into her bed and snuggling under the warm covers.) OH NO!” she reprimanded him.  “Don’t you look so smug!  I am NOT crawling into bed.  I am NOT abandoning that poor creature out there!  I am going back into the house so that I can make my way out to the front and onto the street.  I will have much better luck at finding some help out there and then together we will save that poor injured soul!” 

Clem, being a bit of a drama queen anyway, clutched her hands to her heart as she made this outpouring.  “Don’t you see? We can’t just abandon someone who is in such obvious pain and dire circumstances! It’s our duty to help!”  At this point, she notices that now the little angel is the one smirking.  “NO!” Clem yells at her.  “Not from you either!  You are just as much of a trouble maker as he is!  What do you think you were trying to do? Get me killed out here?  It IS our duty to help whoever that is making that god-awful racket out there but it must be done sensibly.  It will do no good whatsoever for us to get horribly lost or so badly injured that we can be of no use ourselves now will it? No of course it won’t!  But you didn’t think of that did you?  Blindly leading me into one catastrophe after another, nearly getting me killed all the time…”

Clem suddenly stopped her rant when she realized something.  That “god-awful racket out there” was no more.  She leaned her head to one side, cocked her ear up, concentrating and listening intently for the sound of the moaning but she heard nothing.  She waited.  And waited.  Still nothing.  Fear was rising in her heart.  Fear on behalf of whoever had been making that moaning sound and now was not.  Fear that it was now too late.  Fear that she had, in arguing with herself, taken too long and that it was now, too late. 

 Clem stood, frozen in place, frozen with fear and guilt and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty.  She was so consumed by all of this that she didn’t notice the continuing rise of the mist.  She didn’t notice it enveloping her entire body, wrapping around her like a cocoon, swirling around and around almost as if alive, and growing thicker and thicker until it was nearly like being encompassed by a blanket.  By the time Clem realized what was happening it was too late.  She couldn’t go back to the house; she couldn’t go forward towards the ravine.  Well, that’s not really true.  She COULD go anywhere she wanted to go.  She just couldn’t see to get there. 

Clem was now completely disoriented.  She was fairly certain that if she just made a 180 degree turn and started walking she would be headed towards her back door but she couldn’t be 100% positive.  And of course, just as she convinced herself that she couldn’t stand there forever and that she would have to take the risk, the moaning began again.  Her prior guilt made her feel even more compelled to find this person, to help them.  “Damn my guilty conscience!” she thought as she walked blindly towards the sound.  After walking into tree branch after tree branch, Clem realized that her lantern was no longer effective. 

 In the foggy dark, it just seemed to make everything look hazier instead of adding clarity and she realized that having both hands free could be advantageous in fighting her way through the trees and the brush.  Clem set the lantern carefully down on the ground.  She toyed with the idea of blowing out the flame but reasoned that she might need to come back for this lantern and use it again at some point and left it as is.  It was a moot point, however, as the moment it touched the ground, it was as if the earth opened up and swallowed the lantern whole.  It completely disappeared from sight.  Clem groped around in the mist and darkness for it, unable to believe that it could have just simply disappeared and choosing instead to believe that she could no longer see it because they were just obscuring it from her view.  It became clear after several fruitless minutes of thorough searching on the ground that this was not the case.  The lantern was gone.  Plain and simple.  Well, perhaps not so simple as this didn’t fit in with any explanations of the world with which Clem was familiar. 

 There was nothing more to do but to move forward.  She reached both hands out in front of her face in an attempt to shield herself from any trees, bushes, or other potential dangers and she stuck her feet out carefully one at a time to poke at the ground before taking a step in case she ventured too close to the edge of the ravine.  She made slow but steady progress in this manner, always following the sound of the moaning.  In fact, she concentrated on the moans, focusing all her thoughts on the sound.  It played over and over in her head like a soundtrack and the familiarity of it had her puzzled once again.  The fact that there was this underlying musical quality to it had her puzzled too.  It wasn’t as if she had heard such generalized sounds of distress before…it was as if she had heard these particular sounds before…the exact intonations, the exact volume, the exact rhythm.  

As she moved closer and as she listened, Clem came back to the same shocking revelation she had earlier.  It was the exact song-like moaning she had heard back when she was 4 years old and lost in that store!  She had been denying it since she first had the thought…convincing herself that it wasn’t possible, that it was her imagination, her memory playing tricks on her but now she knew it was true.   “No! That can’t be!” she thought.  “That’s crazy talk Clem!”  And yet even as she tried to talk herself out of the very thought of it, the closer she came to the source of the sound, the clearer it became and the more she knew she was right. 

It was a song.  A baleful, mournful song.  She struggled to make out the words.  Déjà vu swept over her again…such a strong sense of it!  She felt like she KNEW this song…like she SHOULD know this song!  She continued to move closer to the source of what she now knew was a song.  “I need to hear the lyrics,” she thought. “I must see who is singing this song.”  All the while there was that tiny voice inside telling her to turn around and run, don’t walk, back home as fast as she can.  All the while, little hairs were beginning to stand up on the back of her neck.  All the while tiny little goosebumps were forming on her arms.

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