Chapter 27 – Unfamiliarly Familiar
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Five minutes later, I was still walking behind Flaw with Rocky trailing further behind us. Rocky did this instinctively, when we scavenged, someone always had to be the lookout.

We traveled down steep stairs into the depths of the underground structure upon which the church was built.

The basement of the church was directly connected to a large underground space that was probably once used for sacrificial rituals.

It was kind of creepy, but I was more eager to make money than I was afraid of ritualistic sacrifice.

The scent of dried blood and sparse red splashes on the wall just cemented my guess further. Still, the stairs of the underground structure were somewhat beautiful.

Torches did not light the walls, instead, crystals bent the light from the surface all the way into the underground chamber.

The crystals were perfect in angle positioning, deficit correlation, and esophoria. This told me that Flaw had connections as vast as the horizon.

The further down we traveled, the surer I became that Flaw simply planned to kill me and bury my body all at once.

I was already underground, so he didn't even have to dig a grave.

Fortunately, my panic attack was not triggered, and that brought me some comfort. Flaw came to a stop causing both me and Rocky to flinch.

Seeing our reaction, Flaw smiled imperceptibly and gave us an approving nod. Flaw was impressed by our alertness.

Flaw began touching bricks on the walls as he spoke to us.

"When I met you, kids, back then, you were both damaged and suicidal… but now you have a flame of life that is rare to see within the slums," Flaw sighed, finally touching the right bricks as the wall rumbled.

I was impressed that someone would place a hidden door at the midpoint of a series of stairs.

It was a brilliant strategy since humans would often expect to find things like hidden compartments at either the beginning or end of corridors.

Flaw walked inside first, and I hung back until Rocky entered the room and confirmed it was safe.

This type of trust was built by years of teamwork that had become second nature to us both. I would always lead the way in unfamiliar environments since I could spot traps easily with my discerning eyes.

However, when we entered an enclosed space, Rocky would take the lead since he had more combat experience.

After Rocky examined the room and determined it was safe to enter, I darted into the room and took everything into sight.

I wasn't sure why I darted into the room, but I felt the overwhelming need to witness everything inside.

*thump*

*thump*

*thump*

My heartbeat intensified as I took in the unfamiliarly familiar surroundings.

The room was made entirely of stones, from the walls to the desk behind which Flaw now sat. My mind slowly blurred as I felt infinitely close to the illusionary feeling that would always plague my mind.

I could feel clearer than ever before, two concepts existed inside me at every moment of every day.

It wasn't like a split personality, but more along the lines of me not being able to accept who I am until absolutely necessary to do so.

****

"Have you come for it?" an older looking Flaw asked me.

A gasp escaped my lips as I saw an aged Flaw. After all, he was the type of guy that gave you the feeling of an immortal snake.

"I can't find it," I whispered back to Flaw unknowingly.

It was like I was replaying a scene that had happened countless years ago. My voice was manly and I looked down at Flaw instead of up.

That meant my height had also increased significantly.

"You have to find it," Flaw stated with conviction in his voice "Power like that can rewrite the complex networks that now overlay our reality,"

As if finally coming to a decision, Flaw slowly walked towards the nearby wall and removed a hollowed stone.

Inside the stone was a cartridge that seemed even more ancient than abacus calculators. Flaw gestured to me and I swiftly took the cartridge as if it was a treasure greater than my life itself.

Flaw had a relieved look on his face as if a huge burden had been passed on. Yet, the relief didn't last, the next moment I felt my hand blur with lightning as Flaw's neck was slit.

The cut was deep enough to kill him but shallow enough to afford him the greatest feeling of suffocation before death.

"O- o –om- Omari… why?" Flaw asked, but I was also startled by my actions.

Who was I supposed to ask? Even if I felt like the one doing all of this, it wasn't exactly me.

I knew that I was the person who slit his throat, but I was also foreign in my own body. Like I was both the actor and the director of this memory.

I tilted my head in confusion at hearing the unfamiliar name.

"Omari?... my name is…"

****

"Five!" I stated, my hand on a specific stone in the wall, but it was held in place by Flaw who stared at me startled.

This was no longer the aged Flaw I saw in an earlier trance, this was a much younger Flaw who didn't slump like he carried the world on his shoulders.

Confusion dawned on me as I realized, just for a moment, I found it difficult to differentiate between what was a dream and what was reality.

Everything seemed like reality but not my reality, like a reality within another reality.

"Be careful what you touch!" Flaw stated, glaring at me intensely but the fright in his eyes could not be faked.

I followed my outstretched hand that neared a specific stone in the wall, and a ruthless gleam flashed in my eyes before quickly receding.

My breathing froze and I ran out of the room and onto the stairs, puking out my minimal stomach contents for the second day in a row.

I felt my blood boiling to kill Flaw, but that was not the scary part of what I was currently feeling.

The scary part about my feeling was the fact that I knew exactly how I would have done it.

A precise enough elbow jab would fracture ribs four through six, causing Flaw to learn forward enough for me to take advantage of the knife always hidden in the sleeves of his left hand.

Flaw's knife was incredibly sharp so it would have no problem slicing through the tibia of Rocky when I throw it.

Using the time when I threw the knife, Flaw would attempt to muster a sudden burst of strength that would send us both propelling towards the ground.

However, using my short stature, I would target his tarsals. This would allow his legs to spread just wide enough for balance to be impossible.

Flaw would fall to the ground as I slide between his legs and easily grab his neck from behind.

It would take approximately 200 lbs of force to break Flaw's neck, and I know I am too weak to muster that kind of strength.

So I would have to make gravity my friend as I spun in place and wrap my left leg around his neck while I generate enough momentum by falling to fracture his C2 vertebrae.

Of course, breaking a neck isn't as easy as generating enough force and twisting.

So I would have to force my leg upwards at first before twisting during the fall to generate the perfect angle for fracturing to take place.

The fact that I suddenly knew all of that was very taxing on my mind. Rocky came running out of the room as I leaned on the stairway wiping the puke from the corner of my lips.

I turned around, my body shaking intensely as I held myself back from acting the many death scenarios that filled my mind.

"Are you o…" Rocky started but did not finish his statement.

Instead, he pointed at my nose that I quickly realized was leaking a sizeable amount of blood.

At this point I was forced to acknowledge the fact, my struggles were not only psychological but also physiological.

"You handle the negotiations, I will stay out here and get my mind straight," I said and Rocky agreed, entering the room and shutting the wall behind.

"It seems I have to undergo that long-awaited brain scan when I return to The Bunker," I mused, a sad smile gracing my helpless face.

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