Carter found himself scratching his head furiously. “Are we supposed to rearrange the alphabets or something?”
“I don’t think so.” Mariah smirked. “These words are Latin I think.”
“You know what it means?” Carter smiled.
“I’m from Spain.” She nodded. “Guess you never know when your mother tongue will help you out huh?”
“Great! So what does it say?”
“I’m not too sure what it means when you put them fucking together.” She sighed for a moment “The first word though sounds vaguely familiar to ‘saccharinus’ which in Latin means sweet.”
“So saccharinum to saccharinus? And the other one?”
“It’s a bit odd to put them together but” She paused. “Acer is Latin for sharp, keen, eager, severe. It’s an adjective of sorts. Basically, it just doesn’t make shit sense when you put them together.”
“So maybe it’s two messages?”
“Fuck would I know.” Mariah cussed. “I’m stupid here. Remember?”
“Well.” Carter said in a bit of disappointment, he was hoping Mariah could have solved this problem. “So we got to find something sweet huh?” Carter looked around for the obvious items like honey or nectar. There were however no bee hives nor flowers he could spot from where they were standing. This would rule out both honey and nectar from the list of items they were finding. “What other things are sweet?” He said in monologue.
Looking at the leaves under their feet, Mariah squat down and picked up a single leaf from the stack underneath them. It was shaped like a five pointed star and looked brownish red. “I think we have a winner.”
“Canada’s national leaf I think.” She said. “And their favorite fucking pan cake topping.” She seemed to blurt in disgust at the word ‘pan cake’ for some unknown reason.
“Pan cake topping huh?” Carter thought for a moment. “Maple syrup?”
“This is the leaf I guess.” Mariah scratched her head. “It could be a papaya leaf too but I don’t see a fucking papaya tree anywhere.”
“Well, let’s see if we can find one then.” He seemed a bit more cheerful now that hope had been somewhat restored. “Do you know how the tree looks like?”
“I’m have no fucking clue.” Mariah pointed upwards towards the tree line. “But I guess we can look at the leaves on the trees to find it.”
“Point taken.” He said as he looked at the tree tops trying to spot similar shaped leaves on it. His eyes glanced across the entirety of the room as he stood atop the tiny hill.
“Hey.” Mariah lay her hand on Carter’s shoulder unexpectedly. “When did you get the gun?”
“Oh!” He was taken by surprise. “Carla gave it to me.” He answered quickly. “Earlier in the previous room.”
“Can I have look at it?” The tall lady asked.
Carter was a bit reluctant for a second but he reached for the gun in his back pocket anyways and picked it up with his right hand. “You’re not going to hold me hostage are you?”
“Don’t be a retard.” Mariah replied. “I just want to see the fucking thing.”
“If you say so.” Carter handed the gun over slowly to Mariah. She snatched it from him in a blink of an eye.
“It’s a nice gun.” Mariah said nodding as she twisted the bright silver handgun around to have a good look at it. “I don’t tell a lot of people this, but I really like guns.” She laughed as her finger grazed over its rather short barrel.
Carter was a bit lost for words. He had never had an interest for guns before and so didn’t know how to follow up with her statement. He thought for a moment before speaking. “Is it a good gun or something?”
“It’s a bit of a lady’s gun. Mostly because it’s light and good for self-defense purposes when you’re in a pinch.” She unclipped the magazine to see how many bullets were left to use. There were 5 loaded in. “It’s reliable though, even some police forces issue this gun as standard fare.” She laughed.
“It’s pretty small if you ask me.”
“That’s what GLOCK guns are like.” She said referring to the palm sized gun. “Small, compact, easy to carry around and overall just a reliable handgun. Not too much firepower though, but six bullets is usually enough to fuck up some guy at close range if they’re not armored.” She paused, looking at the number imprinted into one side of the gun. “The good thing about GLOCK guns are that they conceal well if you have a big pocket so there’s usually a bit of an element of surprise if you have one equiped.”
“Great.” Carter said, unsure of how follow up. He simply had no words to throw around. Mariah just continued on anyways.
“The model you have is a G43. And it’s silver which isn’t the standard color by the maker itself, usually it’s black. It’s probably been altered by a smith.” She said as she pressed her thumb across the embedded ‘43’ on one side of the barrel. “I like this. Reconditioned well by whoever was handling this shit.” She was smiling as she looked into the barrel of the gun. Something Carter thought was incredibly dangerous to do.
“Here you go.” Mariah pushed the gun back into Carter’s hands. “Pass me that gun once we’re out of this hell hole. I haven’t got that model yet.”
“Sure.” Carter replied awkwardly as he received the gun. He had really wanted to keep the firearm for himself if the chance had arisen, but he thought better than to get on Mariah’s bad side, seeing as she was an aggressor of sorts.
“Keep that in your normal pocket, not the back side. It’s sticking out like a sore thumb. At least try to conceal it a bit.” She said and then added. “Never know when you need to call upon a bit of trickery to get out of a tight spot.”
“Okay.” Carter stuffed the handgun into his right pocket instead. It sank to the bottom of his saggy jeans and weighed it down a bit.
“Also, if you ever need to shoot it, don’t waste bullets like fucking water.” Mariah said. “That’s a 9mm pistol. Its effective range is around 30m at best, so if you don’t have good aim, don’t fire the damn thing until you’ve gotten close enough.” She scoffed. “I hate it when all the new guys fire guns like they know shit and end up wasting the entire mag. It’s disgusting and wasteful.”
Carter nodded as he turned back to the task at hand. Looking down at the ground, he could only find around eight five-pointed leaves. He picked them up among the hundreds of others and thought for a moment. According to the ratio of maple leaves to regular leaves, it would be safe to assume that there were only a few maple trees being planted within the room, if not only one. Looking up into the tree tops, he could see most if not all of the leaves were quite normal looking meaning the maple tree should be quite spottable amongst the rest of the bunch.
They walked down the slope following the path back, staring at the tall tree tops as they did. The very top of the tree line was covered in shades of golden brown and yellow leaves, ready to detach from their branches and fall to the ground at the slightest touch. Above the tree line in the very middle of the room, an artificial sun sat comfortably. It was a huge inverted dome of light that shone through the entire room in an autumn’s yellow. The rest of the ceiling was fitted with light brown tiles similar to that of the ball room they were in initially.
After taking a stroll to one end of the room, they saw nothing but oak and pine trees filling the tree line. Moving backwards, they climbed up the hill and stood atop it, observing the other half of the room.
“I don’t see shit.” Mariah chipped in.
“Well.” Carter took a moment to consider. “Maybe there aren’t any maple trees after all and we got the whole thing wrong.”
“But there are maple leaves around.”
“That’s true.” Carter looked around for more clues as he thought. He then noticed a problem with what they were doing. “Maybe we aren’t looking right then.”
“What do you mean?” Mariah looked at him. “We’ve been looking for the wrong tree?”
“No.” Carter started. “It is autumn in this room I guess and there are some dead trees here and there. Maybe some of those are maple trees?”
“So we check the dead trees?” Mariah asked.
“I don’t think we have to do that.” Carter responded. “We’ll just have to see which dead tree has the largest amount of dead maple leaves on the ground to get a rough guess.”
“Ah!” Mariah slapped him in the back. “That’s pretty smart!”
Carter jerked forward, almost tumbling over and down the hill. Quickly, his feet stopped his fall as his body was about to bend over from the sheer force of Mariah’s right hand.
“It was nothing.” He replied as he got back up to position. “Now to find some of those leaves.”
“I’ll check this side.” She said looking from atop the hill across the room where they had not ventured yet. Carter turned to the other side from which they had already pranced through twice to see if they had missed any clues.
“I see a bunch there!” Mariah exclaimed all of a sudden. Quickly, she ran down the hill towards a dead tree not far from them. She squat down and picked up a handful of maple leaves and raised them up for Carter to see.
“Nicely done!” Carter shouted back as he ran towards her. As he approached Mariah, he could see that the tree was a rather old looking tree which seemed to have recently lost its coat of leaves. It was a huge tree with a noticeably crooked trunk. It had huge branches at the very top which were now empty and sad looking. Its giant bark was mostly covered in what seemed like an abundance of dark green moss and chips of dark brown algae. At the base of the tree, a large number of dead maple leaves just sat there waiting to be found.
“So, what now?” Mariah asked.
“Let’s take a look at the tree for a moment and see if we can find any clues.” Carter said as he walked closer to the bark and circled around it. The thick green mosses seem to have overrun most of the trunk of the tree as his eyes peered through any cracks and crevices he could find. As he circled around the tree, he found nothing but just an old ugly tree bark. His fingers moved closer to the moss next and started to strip out pieces of it to see if anything was hidden behind it. As he did, he noticed something in the midst of the tree. Something heavy. For a moment, Carter stood there wondering what it was as he stripped off more and more of the moss. In the next moment, he was screaming his lungs out.
“What the hell!? What the hell is that!?” He shouted as he landed on his backside.
“What the fuck is going on?” Mariah came running.
“There’s something in the tree bark!” Carter shouted as he peered back into the crack he had made within the moss from afar.
“What the fuck?” Mariah approached the moss and looked into it as well. She saw something inside the moss which made her cringe. “Fucking hell.” She cussed as she took a few steps back.
“What the hell is it?” Carter shouted at Mariah.
“You don’t want to know.” Mariah took Carter by the armpits and dragged him backwards away from the tree. “Give me the gun for a moment.”
Carter hastily plunged his hand into his right pocket and took out the G43. Mariah snatched it off his fingers and pointed it at the moss as she approached it once again. Slowly, her fingers touched the top portion of the dark green substance. She tightened her grip as she aimed the small gun with her other hand. In one fell swoop, she pulled down the thick layer of moss and hopped backwards quickly as whatever that was inside tumbled flat onto the ground.
“Fuck!” Mariah shouted as she saw the sight before her.
“What the hell?” Carter gasped. “No! No! This isn’t happening!” He tried to get closer but Mariah grabbed his collar to prevent him from crawling any nearer.
“Shut up and look away, you idiot!” Mariah screamed. “Fucking hell.”
“No! No!” Carter screamed as the grizzly sight before him unfold. A body lay flat on the floor before him covered in blood and its own guts. It made him sick. It made him feel like puking.
“This is shit.” Mariah cussed. “Fuck knew where he went. Now we find him dead in a fucking tree.”
“Shit! Shit!” Carter shouted. “What the hell happened!? What the hell happened!?”
The body in front of them was of an elderly man with a bald head as his top. His face was pale white and his body as limp as a wet washcloth. His eyes were dilated as bloody tears seemed to stream down his cheeks. His mouth especially was horrifying, a large gash had been purposefully cut into the sides of his cheeks to extend his mouth of which was clearly filled with vomit and blood mixed into a disgusting brownish and red cocktail. His shirt and pants were all still in tack although a bit ruffled here and there.
The both of them couldn’t believe their eyes.
It was George.
Written By HoiHoiSoi
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