posted on Sep, 28 2018 @ 06:13 PM
No one understood the significance of the compass better than Malachi.
The cave was filled with a thick, wet musk, the air moist, the scent that of mildew. His stomach churned irritably as he inched deeper and deeper into
the crevice, becoming alarmingly aware of his growing hunger and fatigue. It didn't make sense; Malachi ate a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs,
bacon, and orange juice less than an hour ago. Still, somehow, he felt as if he hadn't eaten for days, as if his nine hours of sleep didn't do a
lick of good in rejuvenating him. Perhaps he'd been walking longer than he thought. He rolled up his sleeve and examined his watch, which read 9:15.
He left his home around 8:30. He shouldn't have been so exhausted already...
Still, he couldn't abandon his nerve now. For years, everyone in his hometown rambled about the golden compass in the cavern on Mt. Salus. So many
legends surrounded the little gem, and to him, they all sounded too far-fetched to hold any validity. Some speculated that the compass had
mild-altering powers, others even suggesting that it could send you back and forth through time. Everyone knew of the compass, and the longer it
remained in the cavern, the wilder the theories regarding it became. Generations had come and gone since the stories began. Families passed down the
story; it was a poem of sorts, a little tale that everyone in town seemed to know by heart.
Time cares not,
Nor does your God
Greed and hunger wrought,
Humanity is flawed.
A tool of guidance,
Steering you away
Seek the treasured tool,
On your final day.
As time goes,
And as your passion burns
You repeat your last mistake
Nobody ever learns.
Malachi wiped away a string of sweat, combing back his stringy brown hairs. He chuckled at the thought of the poem. The town was so superstitious, so
convinced that the golden compass was a mythical relic with divine powers. How ridiculous. It was a simple compass; no one understood that, no one but
Malachi. The treasure was significant in a way the others simply couldn't comprehend - it would end his debts and mealless days. A compass of solid
gold would buy him another hearty breakfast, presumably many more. He'd be able to teach his classes with a full stomach and a level head, never
worrying about paying his bills or the kitchen cabinets becoming empty again.
As he ventured deeper into the darkness, he thought of one of his students, a rather eccentric boy named Johnny. Johnny was fascinated with urban
legends and conspiracy theories. He once told Malachi a detailed background regarding the others who tried to find the compass, many men from town and
elsewhere who were never seen alive again.
"They just stayed there," Johnny had said about a week ago. "When the cops found the bodies, they were all scrawny and emaciated, almost like they
voluntarily starved to death. They went missing and they died in that cave. And the weird part? It always looked like they starved for weeks before
they finally died, but the bodies were always found within just a couple of days after they went missing. Y'know what I think? I think the compass
zapped them back in time and trapped them in the cave."
Malachi exhaled another throaty laugh. The previous explorers obviously got lost in the cave and simply couldn't find their way out. There certainly
wasn't any time travel involved. Malachi brought an LED flashlight, and after his search was complete, he'd also have a compass. He'd find his way
out, no problem.
His boot flattened something on the ground, a rough object that made a dull crunch beneath his heel. Slowly, he aimed the flashlight downward -
a sharp gasp escaped him.
A partially shattered bone was crumbling beneath his foot, and as he moved the light, the fluorescent rays coasted over a collection of wet, decaying
skin, bones protruding from arms and legs, a filthy tank-top covering a sickly, emaciated corpse, its lifeless eyes sunken in, its wrinkled skin
fading a wide variety of revolting shades, brown, purple, and black.
Malachi clasped his mouth, trying to block the sudden wave of nausea sweeping over him. The scent of the cave was more prominent now, a smell of death
and decay. His stomach tried to shove itself upward, forcing his breakfast out, but nothing came up. His stomach felt to be empty.
And, strangely, this massive wave of disgust was followed by an overwhelming sense of De-Ja-Vu as he gazed into the lifeless man.
For several minutes, Malachi simply stood there, trying to decide what to do. Eventually, he resolved to ignore the body. He'd alert the authorities
when he returned home. For now, he wanted to continue his journey - he'd give himself time to mourn the stranger later.
Hesitantly, he stepped over the corpse and continued onward.
As he walked, the image of the rotting corpse invaded his mind with irritating persistence. Time passed, and he began to feel worse, guilty and
nauseous. But he came here for a reason, one most men should understand. He needed to survive, and money was an annoying requirement. He'd take the
compass and return to town. He'd call the police and he'd go home, retiring for the day.
Another flood of De-Ja-Vu ambushed him. He shook it away, thinking it ridiculous. He'd never visited this cave before. Nothing about it was familiar.
Perhaps he'd dreamed about a similar place in the past...
At long last, Malachi emerged in an opening. The enclosure was rounded, and oddly, it wasn't nearly as dark as the rest of the cavern. From the
center, a dim yellow light seemed to illuminate the place, and on a stone-carved podium, a tiny round object sat temptingly in plain sight. The
compass didn't shine; it glowed. Must've been a lighting anomaly.
Flashing a smirk and releasing a relieved breath, Malachi approached it, extending his hand. His fingers grazed the cold face of the compass, and at
last, he felt a rush of contentment, his vision blurring, his mind going blank.
Why on earth was he so hungry, he wondered? He'd just eaten a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and orange juice. Still, as Malachi marched
through the cave, he dismissed the peculiar feeling in the pit of his gut, the misplaced De-Ja-Vu that arose in him from seemingly nowhere. He pressed
on, determined to find the compass and end his debts, feeling as if he'd been walking for several days straight. Still, it didn't matter. He came
here with a purpose, and as he unknowingly approached the corpse for the six-hundred-and-twelfth time, he vowed to continue his search.
After all, no one understood the significance of the compass better than Malachi.