“I don’t think this is such a good idea.” Vincent frowned as he looked around. “The old quarry is so eerie at night.” His voice trailed off, and he flipped his collar up to protect himself from the light rain that ran down the back of his neck. It felt like tiny shards of ice. He looked to one side at his best friend, the younger girl called Melanie. “You should run home, Melanie.”
Melanie shook her head and held his hand, as around them, the six adults kept the two moving inside their circle of bodies.
Almost every adult had a grim expression, save the leader, a blond man with brown eyes, looked amused at something or another as he walked at the front of the procession. He held himself above the others, as though he viewed himself above all of the rest.
As the group neared a table at the center of the old hole in the ground, they began to reach inside their circle. While only one man gripped Melanie, the rest held tightly to Vincent, The boy began to struggle, but their hands, so thick and strong, held him in place.
Melanie took his hand and held on tightly as she looked around at the suddenly very close adults that seemed about to crush the pair with their proximity. Just as Vincent felt like he was being suffocated, they spread out. The table was right in front of the blond man.
Finally, Vincent spoke up. “Father, what are we doing here?” He looked to either side, at the still-grasping others, and then back to his smug-faced father.
“We’re just playing a little game, don’t you worry.” The man reached forward and gripped his son’s arm. “Come on, up on top of the table, Junior.” His eyes gleamed with a sense of impending victory.
In his belly, Vincent felt only impending doom as he looked at what was on the table. There were shackles, a knife, and strange markings scrawled across the surface. For a moment, he was still, and that was all the adults about him needed. All but one picked him up and chained the adolescent in place.
Panic set in, and he began to struggle. They tightened the chains of the shackles, and his thrashing became useless. He looked around for Melanie. The remaining woman held Melanie’s head to face Vincent, and the six year old stared with wide, terrified eyes. She shrieked, and he suddenly felt a hard punch to his belly.
Again, and again. He locked his eyes on Melanie. “Let her go!” he shouted. “Let her go! She’s scared!” His voice began to crackle, fluctuating between high and deep. The punching quickly began to make his stomach upset, and he suddenly vomited. The red spew fascinated the boy, and he became silent. The punching continued, and he shamed himself by soiling his pants.
Melanie was screaming and struggling, trying to reach for her friend as tears streaked her small face. Sudden heat surrounded Vincent, and the punches began to burn. He finally looked at his belly. It was shredded. His father’s hand descended again with a red-hot dagger. A scream ripped from the boy’s lips.
The table beneath him felt very hot. He began to writhe as he spotted the adults shoving wood underneath. “Father! Stop! Let me go!” He howled as he yanked at his bonds until he dislocated one of his shoulders and felt something in his ankle break. Again, and again, Vincent’s father fetched a new heated knife and stabbed it into the flesh of his son’s thin stomach. Organs began to push out the wounds, and his vision began to move slower than reality.
“Stop, please!” Vincent begged.
From around, he heard snippets. His father chanted something. He couldn’t catch much. The followers joined him. Melanie’s screams cut through their chanting as she tried to get free.
The woman who held the girl drew a knife and carried the small girl to Vincent. “-Strengthened by an innocent’s blood-” She drew a red line across Melanie’s neck, and Vincent’s father did the same to his son. Blood flowed from both their necks, and as the pair perished, the ground began to shake violently. Lightning shot down, burning all of the gathered people to char. The ground shifted. Up and down, it moved. It made plateaus and deep valleys, and a yawning chasm appeared in the center. A worm crawled up and feasted on the bodies as an underwater stream opened in one of the walls. The lake was born, and the worm feasted on flesh, hair, bone, and cloth. The table rotted, and all around, rings rose with foreign lettering etched deep into them. The worm finished its meal as the lake finished filling with water and settled into the hole in the center– the deepest part of the new lake.
Eventually, the sides of the old quarry became smoothed to some nice beaches. A few hundred years later, a construction crew hired by the government dumped sand along a few of the sides to make beaches, and tested the water. They built a camp, and unusual children began to attend.
From a place far under the water, two dead children watched as they laughed and played, and decided their own suffering should end. They held each other, and the small one promised that the next time, she would protect the older one, and they both shot up into the sky.
Melanie found a family with a pregnant mother quickly, and became reborn through them.
Vincent struggled to find a suitable family, and it took him much longer. Finally, something yanked him into an unborn child’s body, and he was born to Vincent Vance, the descendant of his own younger brother from so long ago.
The two met at camp five and a half years later, and although they had no memories of their previous lives, the pair was nigh-inseparable, and both remembered the young Melanie’s promise.