Seeing as the figure in the distance was Atlas, she decided to get closer to him and made her way towards him with short and slow steps, trying to not make any sound. Atlas was standing completely still in there. Midori started to feel a little nervous and gulped down while she continued to approach him. She stepped on a tree branch. The sound resonated loudly for Midori, but Atlas was still there, completely still. She sighed and continued her way to him.
— H-hello? —said Midori, arriving behind him—.
— Oh! —he turned around— Midori, what brings you here?
— Well… I heard a sound… sound… the noise! Did you hear something coming from the woods?
— Noise? What do you mean?
Midori tilted her head to the side in confusion.
— … What? Y-you didn’t hear it?
— No, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Midori.
Midori tuned around, blinking rapidly, questioning if what she heard really happened or not. She scratched the back of her heard.
— Anyways. —She turned back around and looked at Atlas— What are you doing here?
Atlas pointed forward. Midori followed his finger with her eyes. In front of them was the cabin that Midori saw the first time she entered the woods. The aura surrounding it was completely different from the rest of the Oasis. The windows were destroyed, only a few pieces were sticking on the frames. The wood was worn out and had an unpleasant smell. The second floor was buried between what was left of the roof, which seemed to have crumbled down. Midori brought her right hand to her nose and covered it. The smell was starting to give her a headache. Atlas didn’t seem to be affected.
— I wanted to see what’s inside.
— Are you crazy? Why do you want to go inside?
— Aren’t you curious? The entire Oasis seems perfect… until we got here. To this abandoned cabin.
— Well… —Midori shrugged— I have nothing to lose.
They made their way to the cabin. Midori stopped in her tracks a few steps forward. She felt goosebumps all over her body. Her legs started to suddenly shake. That cabin didn’t give her a good feeling, she felt how something bad was waiting for them inside. Atlas turned around to look at her.
— Don’t worry, I’m here.
Atlas took her hand, Midori looked at him. Her body no longer obeyed her. She only nodded and let her be guided by him. Atlas lightly squeezed her hand, he wanted her to feel safe.
Just with the light touch of Atlas’ foot over the stair, it crumbled down to the ground. Both took a step back in alarm. Atlas quickly looked at Midori, seeing how she was more anxious than before, it was noticeable in her eyes. Atlas gulped down and nodded to himself. The stairs crumbling down wasn’t much of a problem, they could still make it to the entrance. Once there, they could notice how the two rocking chairs besides them seemed to be rotten. They had worms and holes everywhere. Midori covered her mouth to appease her nausea. Atlas laid his hand down on the doorknob but, with a simple turn, it fell to the floor, leaving the door with easier access to open it. Atlas pushed the door to the side to open it completely. It was pitch black inside; they could barely see anything inside.
They went inside with careful steps, as they could break the floor at any moment. Midori squeezed Atlas’ hand a little more tightly. With the little light provided, they could distinguish a small living room. The dust made the both of them to cough, it was overwhelming. The sofa was perfectly aligned with a small table. Atlas swiped a finger over it, it came out black. The sofa had patches as if someone had tried to fix it. There were missing cushions, which were thrown all around the living room. While they explored the place, every so often they would hear the soft crunch of crystals breaking. There was a chimney in front of the sofa, which had a few wooden logs. It seemed as if someone had put them in recently.
Midori let go of Atlas and got closer to a small shelf that was on the wall. There she noticed a few family pictures of 3 people. A mother, a father and a daughter. The picture was completely blurry and was impossible to distinguish who were the ones in it. Midori tilted her head, taking the picture in her hands, she tried to clean the dirt that was covering it with her blouse, but to no avail. It didn’t matter how much she cleaned it; it was not possible to clearly see the family. She gave up. She left the picture just were it was and kept walking around the house, until she arrived to the back. A big metal object made Midori realize that it was the kitchen of the cabin.
She started to make her way inside it with some caution, looking everything in case there was something weird. When she was completely inside, she turned around and there she saw it. Something she never thought in her life would see with her own eyes. Or at least not this way. Midori shut her eyes down tightly and started to quickly blink. She took a few steps back and stumbled over a few cabinets, making everything on it to fall down. Her legs gave up and she fell to the floor. Atlas, who heard the noise, decided to make his was to the kitchen.
— Midori! Are you al—
Atlas couldn’t believe what he was seeing either. In a rocking chair, inside the kitchen, was the corpse of a person. It was completely decomposed. Its skin almost inexistent. In a few zones the bones could be clearly seen. Its eyes were hanging from its sockets. It had an apron on, over it, there were almost all of its teeth. On the armrests were its arms laying limply in there. Atlas was dumbfounded. Midori’s breathing started to quicken. She brought her hand to her heart, feeling how it was about to burst.
With the little strength she had left, she stood up in a quick movement and ran out of the kitchen.
— Midori! Wait!
Atlas observed the corpse one more time and ran after Midori. She was quick to run out of the woods. When Atlas was out of the cabin, he had already lost Midori out of his sight. He clicked his tongue and started to shout her name all around the woods, desperate. After a good while walking in circles, his throat started to feel tired of all the shouting. He decided to make his way to the Oasis to drink a bit of water.
When he arrived, he saw her in there, in front of the waterfall. Midori was with her head down, still in shock. She couldn’t even blink. She was still breathing rapidly. Atlas approached her and laid his hand on her shoulder. He gave her a water bottle.
— Here, take a drink of this.
Midori looked up. Atlas’ lips curved down in a frown. Midori’s face was completely pale. Her eyes red as if she had been crying for a long time. It was an expression of such sadness he had never seen before. Midori took the bottle and took a small sip.
— What… what happened, Midori?
Midori lowered her head back down.
— That perso… that corpse… that we saw there… —Midori’s voice started to crack, as if she were ready to start sobbing— it, it was my mother.
TO BE CONTINUED.