Tropical Nightmare
by : Auctor

I held my breath strongly. Blood rushed to my heart as the growls became more and more prominent. "Weiss," Andrew, my cousin, muttered. He put his fingers in front of his lips. The creature passed. We breathed a sigh of relief.

How? How could a simple school trip turned into such a nightmare? We were supposed to have fun in this tropical island (now the cold winds of England felt hospitable); we were even vaccinated against this island's diseases a month ago. This was a night crew; nothing more than a little fun for us high schoolers. So how?

I knew that that creature was not simply a teacher in disguise. Its odour was foul, its claws and fangs looked all too real. What was that? Was that even a human? "Jess!" Andrew rushed to Jess, our partner in the night crew. She had been mauled horribly by the deformed creature.

"She's dead," Andrew murmured. Andrew's brown skin turned pale. He grabbed his spiky hair in frustation and fear. Neither of us were close to Jess, but her death was real. That creature, the fiend with a human body but a lion head and scorpion claws and tail, had murdered her.

"What is happening here?" I asked, my voice very low and weak. I clenched my heart.

Andrew pulled out his lighter. "Let's make a fire for now," he said. I nodded, agreeing.

A campfire was enacted while Jess' body was buried. We sat around the fire, awaiting help. Our homeroom teachers, Mr Henderson and Mr Jones must be searching for us (and the other students) by now or they may even call for more help. Both of us knew a little martial arts, but we couldn't hope to survive with it and pocket knives. "What do you think that was?"

"I don't know, honestly," Andrew admitted. "It looked like something from a horror film."

A growl was heard. We brandished our pocket knives, our legs trembling.

The creature has returned.

It extended its claws, nearly cutting my throat. I fell to my knees. Andrew stabbed the creature's arms, drawing some green blood. It shoved Andrew to the ground. I rose, slashing its abdomen before the creature bodied me. It lifted its paws. And orange fire rose from the campfire, turning into a coccon of flames that encircled the fiend. I saw Andrew awaken, throwing fireballs from his hands. The creature fell.

"Andrew?" I shrieked, "what was that? You could control fire?"

"That-are you fine?" he asked, lending a hand. I took it.

"Well, yes," I said. "Now back to the fire."

"Truthfully, I didn't know how this ability manifested. I started noticing it about three weeks before our trip."

I stared at him with disbelief. Even in the wildest dreams never had I seen such anomalies. First the fiend, now Andrew's fires. "What on earth is happening?" I whispered to myself.

"We can't stay here forever," Andrew said. "They would have known by now that we are here."

I nodded carefully, pocketing my knife. We walked out the wilderness of the island, a flashlight on hand. Andrew carried a torch. Our hotels were near the shore; our only hope was to return there.

"Look at that!" I whispered. I saw two people, both wearing the blue uniform of Wellstein High School, our institution. Andrew and I walked slowly towards them. "Hey, you two!" I called out.

But the two students stayed silent. We kept on walking towards them.

Wait. Don't tell me!

The two students had mutated severely. Two pairs of arms had protruded from their abdomens, scales covering their faces. A pair of antennae had grown from their necks.

"Damn it!" I cursed. "Andrew!"

Andrew called upon a sea of fire, drowning them in a blazing hell. To my surprise, they emerged unscathed. "Desert ants!" Andrew exclaimed. "Damn it, they're resistent to fire!"

"Akh!" One of the creatures pinned me down, my knife out of reach. Andrew held off the other one with wild swings of his knife and a barrier of fire. Almost as it had been an instinct, I raised my arm while the creature was opening its jaws. "Heah!"

An explosion occured out of nowhere, without sound. Pieces of flesh flung everywhere. I drew breath from the polluted air. I extended my arm at Andrew's direction, blasting apart the other creature. "What-what was that?" I muttered.

"Thanks, Weiss. You could do something similar, after all!" Andrew exclaimed.

"N-no! I just realised it." I saw a small branch on a tree. I pointed at it, exerting a bit of energy. Another explosion occured, felling the branch. "So I can create explosions at will ...."

"That's even crazier than my ability is," Andrew commented, "but it only emerged now? That's strange."

"But where did all these powers come from?" I murmured. Andrew shook his head.

"These abilities will help us survive until we can get to safety, at least. Let's keep it a secret between us, will you?" Andrew said. I nodded; surely, we couldn't let others know about this madness.

"Kh!" I groaned while clenching my arm. The creature might have cracked a few of my bones. I looked at Andrew. He himself had a few bruises on his face and part of his cloth was torn. I inspected the corpses.

"Hey, look at that earring," I said, pointing at the azure blue earring one of the creatures wore, "isn't that Rein's earring?"

"Rein, that delinquent from Class III? I'm not sure, but the other corpse has a wide, old scar on its forehead. Only John from Class IV had it in the entire school."

"So these were Rein and John. Something clearly mutated them," I said, "but what?"

"I don't know. But, well, this is my hypothesis; maybe most of our friends had been mutated. That fiend from before might be one."

I gulped down my spit, cold sweat drenching my forehead. My knife had been retreived. We continued our nightmarish journey. We walked in silence, our eyes vigilant. The quiteness of the night now felt more terrible by sixfold, as if behind every tree another horror would appear.

"HELP! HELP!" A screeching sound broke the silence of the night.

"Angelia!" Andrew rushed, for he knew the owner of the voice: his lover, Angelia.

"Wait, Andrew!"

I trailed him. Damn it; love had driven him blind in a bloody tropical island littered with forests. I heard small squeaking noises very similar to those of bats.

From the shadows, another creature emerged. Four armed with a human body and bat wings, it struck with its claws. I enhanced my palm with explosive power, pushing the creature back and tearing its abdomen apart. And I had felled it.

A mere thirty metres away, Andrew was weaving his flames, forming a wall of flames that held three of the same creatures at bay. Two students were behind him. One of them dashed forward with a long sword, beheading one of the fiends. I stretched out my arm, shattering the body of another with a huge explosion. Andrew's fire burned the last to black ashes.

"Seira?" I asked the silver-haired girl wielding the blade. She was Seira Loveheart, daughter of the head of the organization that owned Wellstein.

"Weiss. So you and Andrew got the mutation, too," Seira commented.

"What do you mean by ‘too'? Do you have one of your own?" I asked.

"No, but Angelia does. I'm relying on my swordsmanship," she replied while putting her blade back in its sheath.

"Augh!" I muttered, clenching my shoulder. The shattered bones began to affect me.

"You got an injury?" Seira asked. "Angelia, mind helping Weiss a bit here?"

Angelia, who had previously been hugging Andrew, approached me. She was tiny and timid; not taller than 150 centimetres. She smiled widely. "Where's your wound?"

I unbuttoned the topmost button of my shirt, pointing at my shoulder. Angelia cut her own palm, drawing some blood (and my confusion). She slithered her bloodied hand in and applied it on my wound. I felt my crushed bones restored. The wound on her palm closed immediately.

"Regenerative powers?" I wondered.

"I would have had died long ago if not for it," Seira admitted.

"Do you have any idea what is happening now?" Andrew asked.

"Do I look like I do?" Seira replied. "Something is infecting and mutating us. We're just the lucky survivors."

"Speaking of survivors, have you met the others?" I asked.

"Mr Henderson was with us, but he was killed; brutalized so horribly Angelia's blood was futile. We buried his corpse just minutes ago. I'm afraid most have been mutated, some like me killed, and, I guess, a few with powers like you guys."

Silence befell us for a few short moments. "We have to move to the shores. A Navy vessel has been called to our aid, but they lack personnel to search the forests," Seira claimed.

"Alright. Let us go."

We walked again. Seira led at the front, Angelia and I in the middle, and Andrew protected the rear. Seira kept her hand at the handle of her sword. "Are you sure we are on the right direction?" I asked. Seira nodded weakly.

"Huh?" Seira muttered. A strange sound occured.

"AAAA!"

We fell a few metres down, cracking a few bones. Angelia rose very quickly, her body recovering what the fall took from her. She bathed us in blood, healing us.

"Blood, and not Angelia's," Andrew commented. "There is something stenchful here."

It was a wide tunnel. Andrew summoned his fires, litting the path. Corpses decorated it; some of mutated creatures, most of students. I scanned the tunnel a bit, and I thought there were some 100 corpses there-easily a tenth of our entire school. "What is that?" Andrew pointed at a blue goblet.

"Not sure. Let me use my flashlight," I said. I did and I saw some fifty creatures guarding the goblet.

"Damn it!" I cursed as those creatures charged. Some were similar to the lion beast, some winged, some with four or six arms. "Hold your ground!"

Andrew conjured his fire, flooding them with his sea of fire. I cast explosion after explosion, felling the winged beasts and the creatures that broke through. Stacks of corpses started to form around us as more and more of them were destroyed by explosions and fire.

"KRRR!"

"Seira!" I screamed as one of the last creatures leaped in front of her. The creature momentarily stopped, allowing Seira to behead it. Andrew turned his fire wall into a fireball, consuming the last ones.

Huh? Strange. Why did it stop when it was near Seira.

Honestly speaking, the creatures relied on shock value and ambush too much. When faced with frontal strength, they fell apart.

"NO!" Angelia broke down. She sobbed and cried. "I can't take this anymore ... no more ...."

"Angelia!" Andrew hugged her. "Don't worry. We'll get through this together, okay? Calm down, sweetie."

I inspected the goblet with Seira while Andrew comforted Angelia. There seemed to be a peculiar blue crystal in it. "Strange. What do you reckon it is?" I asked.

"No idea. Looks a bit like a sapphire, but the light emitting from it looks really artificial."

Andrew had calmed Angelia down. I patted Angelia on her shoulder. "We'll get out of this hellhole."

Angelia nodded. I shone my flashlight. There was a monkey ladder at the end of the tunnel. "Ukh!" I gasped and vomited. Blood poured from my throat.

"Weiss!" Seira and Andrew immediately came to my aid, patting my back furiously. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Ugh, must be a side effect of my explosive powers."

"Then you must use it sparingly," Angelia commented. I nodded.

We climbed up the ladder, with me last. The glorious cruiser (I mean, a gigantic patrol boat) of the Navy was there, only forty metres away. We rushed in, adrenaline conquering our minds. Freedom, freedom at last! I could imagine going back to my home, fish and chips ready on the table ....

"Wait!" I shouted. "I smelled blood!"

My friends halted. They, too, must have sniffed it. "Caution, caution," Andrew muttered.

We boarded the boat. A scene of massacre greeted us; there must be a skirmish here, and, judging from the lack of living humans, the fiends seemed to have won. "Is that you, Andrew?"

"Mr Jones!"

Mr Jones was a pale, tired, thin man with glasses. He held an empty pistol on his hand. He was shaking, but he seemed unharmed.

"What happened here, Mr Jones?" I asked.

"They stormed the vessel, whose landing was botched. We fought back and won, but all ammunition has been expended and I am the last one standing."

"What about the other students?" Andrew asked.

"After calling for help, Henderson and I splitted to search for the students. I found Marie; she could summon thunder somehow, but she was murdered. Henderson never returned."

"Mr Henderson found us, but he was killed shortly after."

Mr Jones sighed in dismay and sadness. "Let's move. The Navy have sent another vessel, but it won't land here; not after the botched landing."

"Where?"

"We must search for a possible landing site."

We agreed and we marched again. I noticed Mr Jones keeping the empty pistol.

"Hey, this sounds crazy," Andrew said, "but I feel like the vaccines we had a month earlier had something to do with this whole situation."

"What-what made you say so?" Seira was startled.

"Come to think of it, you weren't vaccinated because of an allergy, were you, Seira? And teachers also weren't because they had it during childhood. All others were. At least four; Weiss, Angelia, Marie, and I developed powers while the others mutated. You and the teachers were untouched. Isn't that strange?"

"That sounds kind of plausible," I said. "But it was a month ago. How could it all erupt now and here?"

"Weiss is right," Seira dismissed Andrew's theory. "There is something else."

"Well, some diseases work better in hot climate like in this tropical island than in cold climate like in England."

Seira stared at Andrew blankly. "Just saying," Andrew said.

"Sorry, kids. But our main priority here is to survive, not to quarrel," Mr Jones said. Angelia nodded hastily in agreement.

"Sorry, Mr Jones," Andrew and Seira said simultaneously.

I noticed Mr Jones' excessive sweating. I knew it was a hot climate zone, but his sweat easily outnumbers all of ours combined, as if he were extremely afraid of something. Something far more than simply monsters.

"Ow!"

It was only for a fraction of a second, but I saw Mr Jones tripping Seira. She fell to the ground.

"Seira! Are you okay?" Andrew and Weiss helped Seira get up. I glanced at Mr Jones briefly, but then I spotted two very peculiar gems dropped by Seira. Before she recovered them, I had snatched them. One of them was eeriely similar, no, identical to the one in the tunnel, its size as large as an eraser. Another had the same uncomforting aritificial light, only it is red in colour and smaller in size.

"Seira. What are these?" I asked sternly. "This gem is identical to the one before."

"Tch!" Seira lashed out, brandishing her blade and snatching the gems back. She dashed backwards, hiding behind Mr Jones.

"Dear Magnus," she said with a sultry voice that sounded chillingly dangerous. "Finish them off for me, won't you? But don't kill them."

Mr Jones raised his pistol, crying. The pistol was loaded!

"Mr Jones! Are you mad? And Seira! What's the meaning of this?" I shrieked. Seira only smirked.

"I'm sorry. She got me blackmailed. I worked at some ... less than legal endeavours to cover my mum's cancer treatment costs. I-I ...."

"Andrew, Angelia, back off," I said, stepping forward and extending my arm. "Mr Jones, I won't let anyone harm my friends anymore. You fire that pistol and I blow you up. We'll kill each other." Seira stepped back a little bit.

Mr Jones was silent for a little while. "Who was pulling your strings?" Andrew asked.

"Seira's family corporation. This entire trip was staged. Your assumptions about the vaccine were true, Andrew; they were fauxes. They brought us here to find out their results, and I am to capture the three of you, who have displayed their desired outcome. This kind of scientific breakthrough produces money, money produces power, and power fulfills all your wishes."

"My threat is still active," I hissed.

"My, my. I don't need this melancholic drama. Fire away, Magnus, or you can say goodbye to your job and your freedom."

Seira, you power-hungry whore!

"No."

"No? What do you mean by that?"

Very swiftly, Mr Jones turned, aiming his pistol at Seira. But Seira, faster, drew her blade, decapitating Mr Jones, who fell with a dreadful scream.

"That was unfortunate," Seira commented nonchalantly. She showed the blue gem, and all manners of creatures began to appear from the forests and the sea.

"That blue gem definitely attracts them," Andrew commented. "Form a circle!"

Andrew held the front and I the rear, while Angelia was protected in the centre. Andrew conjured a ring of orange fire; our line of defence. Seira had a red gem in her clutches. "And the red gem repels them. That must be how she evaded the creatures in the tunnel," I murmured.

Andrew summoned fireballs from his ring of fire, burning the fiends into dust. I watched the skies, shooting down a couple bat-like and bird-like creatures that were too close. I felt my blood rushing from my throat to my mouth. "Kh!"

I vomited again. And at that time, one bat creature snatched Angelia right in front of my eyes. "Angelia!" Andrew and I screamed.

Angelia struggled, clawing her captor. I took an aim, but my vision had blurred and I feared what would happen were I to fire. Andrew was spared no time, for he had to fend off the advancing foes. Angelia struck an exposed organ, and the creature shrieked in pain.

And then, just as my vision cleared again, she fell. "ANGELIA!"

I had hoped, I had prayed, that her regenerative powers would have saved her, but she fell from a height of 60 metres, her head bashed against a sharp rock. Seira sighed in dismay. "NOOOO!" Andrew screamed, nearly breaking ranks. His fire tripled in power.

"Andrew! Watch out there!" A few bloated creatures, three metres tall, emerged from the seas. They fire jets of water from their mouth, evaporating Andrew's ring of fire. One lion-like fiend leaped, and, just like that, Andrew was killed.

"ENOUGH!"

I shouted, a consecutive chain of explosions occuring around me. Seira's army fell to my powers. My left eye's vision blurred again and my right eye lost its sight. Blood poured from my mouth and ears and I felt as if my organs had been struck with a metal pole.

"It's just you and me now ... Seira. You have killed enough in the name of power."

"Hmph. My father's men are coming here. You are on your last legs ... why don't you join me instead? We'll study your mutations and we'll give you anything you want in return. Money, private cruisers, mansions; anything, Weiss, anything."

"Heh. Are you sure about that?" Mr Jones asked. He was, apparently, not yet dead. He pulled his cellphone.

"Breaking news. All executives of the Loveheart Corporation, including Mr James Loveheart himself, have been arrested for illegal activities regarding biological warfare and human experiments ...."

"I will die here, but I shall enjoy the look of horror on your face, Seira. I am proud to have destroyed the very foundations of your criminal empire."

"No ... no ...."

"Serves you right, bitch," I mocked. Seira glanced at me.

"Then I'll kill you and escape!" she screamed, raising her sword. I swung my hand, blasting apart her right hand. "Arrgh!"

I almost wanted to faint from the pressure in my body, but my rage lived on. I wanted her dead by my hands. Seira took Mr Jones' pistol, firing three times, hitting my chest. I clenched my heart and bit my lips, blood bursting from almost all my orifices.

"Heah!" I extended my palm for the last time, exploding Seira's head, severing it from her body. Her cold corpse fell to the ground.

I collapsed. I sat on the grassy ground, knowing death was imminent. But I was satisfied; I have exacted retribution for Andrew, Angelia, and so many more. Our revenge was complete.

My eyes lost its vision completely. My feet became numb and cold. Blood flowed swiftly and my body parts died one by one. The heat of the tropical island turned into a cool breeze as the sounds of the sea waves faded. My last breath was had in satisfaction, and, perhaps, a little happiness.

Everyone had been avenged.

-Auctor