His mind was trying to process what was happening, but it was vibrating and numb. Some pale thoughts and shifting realizations were there, but something was defiantly different. He couldn't quite understand it, but then the pain was and had been dominating most of his mind. Nothing mattered except the pain. How long would the pain last, and how could he end it. There was not enough space between his head and the ceiling to get enough momentum to knock himself out, let alone commit suicide. John's screams slowly made themselves known. Luke could feel his blood pressure rise with annoyance.
" Shut up! You hear me! Shut up! " Luke chocked out in an unintelligible screeching noise.
Luke wanted to kill John, but he could not make his whole body move. Anger toward John was mounting. The bugs were making themselves known. Luke screamed in anger for a while, then in pain, and back again. Luke noticed the dull blue light growing in the darkness, and remembered that a bright white light would soon follow. He could feel the air beginning to move. The coolness of the water was making it's presents known. The smallness of the cave began to fill his mind. Gradually he understood where he was and who he was. Johns crying became louder and louder, and Luke began to cry with the feeling of hopelessness.
" Can you hear me? Can you? Stop screaming! Stop! " Luke yelled.
Luke repeatedly commanded John to stop screaming. Gradually his voice softened, and he began to contiplate silencing John forever. There was after all no need for him to be in such pain. No need what so ever. Luke inched his way closer toward John. John's screams grew louder and louder. Luke couldn't take it anymore, he put his hand on Johns throat and squeezed. He squeezed harder and harder until John stopped screaming. Until John stopped moving.
Luke felt relieved at first, then ashamed, then guilty.
" I'm sorry old friend. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Sorry. " Luke said in a dry voice.
Luke laid staring in Johns direction for a long time. He didn't respond to he bugs crawling on his face.
After a while Luke's attention turned back to the light. He crawled toward it. He got as close as he could.
" If I had a hammer and chisel I could cut a path to the light and get the hell out of here. " Luke thought to himself.
Then the loneliness hit him hard. Now that John was dead he was alone. All alone, and he had murdered his best friend. Luke began to cry again. As laid there crying he noticed the quarts crystals sparkling from the light beaming through the darkness.
" Quartz. Quartz. Quartz is harder than this stuff. " Luke thought in a broken pattern while rubbing his hand over the cave floor.
Suddenly his spirits flamed to an extreme. He now had a way out, a real way out. Then his high spirits crashed. He realized he had killed his friend for nothing. For nothing. He began to cry again. He wanted to through up. The chills and trembling returned. After a while he mellowed, and made his way to the crystals protruding from the cave wall, and used his pocketknife to break one free. He tried scratching the cave floor, and the quartz crystal did indeed wear away the rock. He wanted to say something to John, but he could not even look in his direction even though he could not see him in the dark.
" Okay, here I come... " Luke thought with a struggle, wanting to add his wife's name, but he couldn't remember it.
Luke stationed himself in front of the light and began to scratch away at the cave floor. Hour after hour, day after day Luke scratched the cave floor with the crystal. Then he grew weak from hunger. He thought for just a second of John. He could have eaten John. He didn't take his thought to seriously. He then noticed that rotting smell again. He knew it was John's body. He had smelled that odor before, but John wasn't dead. John was screaming long after that smell filled the cave. There was also his own trouble. For a while he thought he himself had died, but that was crazy. Luke's thoughts were getting sloppy, drifting, and nonsensical.
Luke laid on the cave floor with the crystal in his hand and a small channel scratched into the rock pointing to the light. He felt his life fade away.
Many days later Luke again awoke screaming. He went through the same process of rejuvenating. The days of unbelievable pain gradually subsided as before. He wormed his way into one of the pools of cold water on the cave floor as soon as he had some control of his body. As he laid there trembling and crying, the light gradually came into focus as his eyes began to function. He seen the crystal and the groove in the cave floor. After a while he understood what the crystal was for, but not exactly why he was scratching the rock.
He was unbelievably hungry. He ate the bugs crawling on and around him. Then he heard Johns faint breathing. All he could think of was eating. He could not remember his friend. He only knew the gnawing hunger that twisted every cell of his body. He made his way to where John was wedged in by the rocks that had fallen and shifted. He could sense the heat from John's body. John's breathing felt amplified as did Luke's heart beat.
Luke moved his mouth to John's arm. John's flesh smelt terrible at first, then not at all. Luke could feel John's flesh on his lips. Then he opened his mouth and bit down. John began to grown and jerk. Luke bit down harder and harder until he could feel and taste John's blood in his mouth. At first it was repulsive, then inviting, then the blood induced a craving sensation. Luke suddenly bit down as hard as he could. He wanted the meat from John's arm. He shook his head from side to side until the flesh was freed. He chewed slowly at first, then rapidly. He swallowed, and felt a satisfaction of sorts. John was trying to scream, but he had not fully rejuvenated. All he could do is shake with his teeth clinched and make a hissing sound. Luke took another bite, then another, then another. He ate most of John's upper arm before he felt satisfied. John had stopped moving by the time Luke had finished eating.
Robert Evan Howard