Author's Note: I do not own any of these characters or settings. This is just a fan fiction story I dreamed up based on the game Temple Run 2.
He woke up as daylight broke through the darkness of the cave and fell upon his face. She was gone already. She was always up early on her days to run. He had tried to get up early once, but the brain haze only made him run straight into a fire bar. The 3 days of regeneration reminded him that he had to this his way just like she had to do it her way. They had agreed to this. Not so long ago (at least it seemed like not so long ago) they argued about everything, how much water to take, how to map the ruins, where to camp. Now arguing seemed pointless.
He stood up and wandered to the mouth of the cave. He knew he should go find food and start the fire, but he had to wander where she was at. He worried about her. What if she didn't duck put of the way of a fire bar? What if the rope burned her hands and she let go? Of course she would just regenerate like she had before, but watching her struggle and scream through the process was hard on him. She never remembered the regeneration or so she said. Just weeks ago or so it seemed, he worried she would trip and fall or get dehydrated. He was trying to protect her. She didn't know that, so she argued against his stubborn conservative tendencies.
"This was just supposed to be a job." He said to the wind because there was no one else to listen. "That stupid effin statue."
He paced at the mouth of the cave. Two months ago... Had it only been that long? He didn't have the patience to go count the days now. Something like two months ago, he had answered an ad for an adventurer. While many thought he was crazy to pursue adventure as a career, he found it to be a profitable and adrenaline packed lifestyle. And there were plenty of treasure hunters out there with big dreams and big pockets that lacked the courage to go get it. That's where Guy came in. Over the years he had run into plenty of danger from militia men, wild animals, and other treasure hunters. They were nothing he couldn't handle with a little skill and a little money.
Then came Scarlett. He first saw her and set up his defenses assuming her to be the competition. Then Mr. Theo informed him that she would be his partner. Mr. Theo had expressed concerns about their opposing genders. But Scarlett informed them both quite firmly that nothing got in the way of the job. And that has certainly been born out as true even after Barry and Kharma had been lost to the Fog. That next day Guy was slow to get up and on the way. He had never lost a team member before. He wasn't yet ready to face the day without them. Scarlett however got up early and was ready to move along.
"Now is not the time to grieve. Now is the time to live. Grief will only earn us the same fate as them. There is no time for it in these ruins."
He knew she was right. She was always right. Even the day they found the monkey statue. He ran over to it and started to pick it up. She cautioned him because they had yet to fully map the temple itself. They hadn't read all the inscriptions and the ones they had read warned of horrendous consequences.
"We know about the fire bars. We have our gloves for the rope climbing. And our weapons for the animals. What else can tent throw at us?"
"I don't know, but I would like to find out before we go moving their idols."
"Now who is being 'conservative'?"
"I would call it smart."
Smart. She was right about that too. He hadn't listened because the thought of being done and leaving had been right there in front of him. He could see the way home and he could see Scarlett without this business between them. He didn't want to listen. He wished he would have though.
He grabbed the statue and nothing happened. He handed it to her and nothing happened. No earthquake. No falling beams. No ancient beings chasing them. They walked out of the temple and nothing happened. They went back to camp and slept. They got up the next morning and the statue was gone. In its place was a note.
It read: Your selfish greed has betrayed you. Now you are doomed to search these ruins until you learn the true value of this statue.
What could that mean? They didn't know, so they argued. They left the cave and continued arguing. As they walked, they noticed their speed increased without their trying. In fact, they tried to slow down and couldn't. They stopped arguing as fear took control. They focused on staying alive as their speed dangerously increased. They both missed a turn and fell from the crumbling wall. Part of the way down, he blacked out. When he woke up, they were in the cave again. He didn't know how much time had passed. Only later would they find out that the regeneration process took 3 days and the one being regenerated would remember nothing. However, the screams issuing forth during the process would haunt the other one for days and weeks later.
He knew he had wasted enough time. He left the cave to do the chores for the one left behind. He found the roots and berries they had eaten for weeks. He found no birds or fish. He returned and stirred the fire to find the coals that were still burning. He stoked the fire to bring it back to life. Then he waited. He dreamed of leaving this place and settling down with Scarlett. He couldn't imagine a job either one of them might want or even be qualified for. That didn't stop him from imagining a home and a life with her.
He heard a noise and sought its source. He left the cave and saw Scarlett stumbling back early. "Thank God she can walk back." He thought.
"A few new bruises." She said showing him her multi-colored legs. "A little more singed hair." She said holding up her ponytail. "And some more rope burns." She said showing him her palms.
They were silent with the weight of one more try weighing on them. He put his arm around her shoulders and led her into the cave. They sat next to each other looking at the walls.
"I'm tired." She sighed.
"You can go to bed early tonight"
"Not like that. I'm tired of looking for this stupid thing. I'm tired of failing. I don't even want it. I don't think I even want this life anymore. I just want to go home. "
"Yeah. Me too. The money that Mr. Theo offered just isn't worth it. I would pay him at this point if I could just go home. What do you miss the most?"
"Guy. I don't think we should discuss this. We cant get back there. We don't even know what the note means. What will we do when we find the statue?"
"What if it isn't about the statue? The note said the value of the statue. I don't know about you, but I don't think the value is about money."
"What is it then?"
"I don't know what it is, but I know what it isn't. It isn't worth my family and friends. It isn't worth the pizza I'm missing. It isn't worth the home missing. It isn't with my future. It isn't worth...."
"That's not what you meant. Say it."
"If I do, we can't go back."
"We can't go back now. Say it."
"It isn't worth you. Every time you leave I spend half the day worrying about you and the other half dreaming of leaving here with you. Listening to you scream and watching you thrash around when you regenerate tears me up. I don't want you to have to go through this. I want you to be able to walk out of here and live your life the way you want to. I cant lie because I really want you to want me to be a part your life. But mostly I want you to be happy."
Scarlett said nothing. Guy looked at her expectantly. She looked at the ground and picked at the dirt. As he was turning his head to look away, she raised her head. He stopped mid turn. He waited ti hear her voice. He kept waiting. He didn't hear her voice though. He felt her hand. She was intertwining her fingers with his. She finally said one word, "Yeah."
With that one word, they both had bared their hearts and found them to be same. This time there was an earthquake and falling beams. They stood up hand in hand and ran. They didn't know where they were going. They ran solely on instinct. Ways that had been previously blocked were open. Walls that had been crumbling were strong. They ran until they were out of breath.
"I think the shaking stopped."
"And so have the ruins. Look! The Forrest." She said shaking with joy. The hope of life gave them new energy and they started to run. They ran until they couldn't see the ruins anymore. They stopped for breath.
"Guy, is this real? Are we going to wake up back there tomorrow?"
"I don't know. But look, your bruises are gone. That has to be a good thing."
"I can't believe it yet. I don't want to think we are going home if we aren't."
"I know. Let's keep going. When we find someone, then we will know it is real."
"Right. Let's go this way."
She turned and glared at him. "Because that is north. The town we need to get to is to the north. The wind that is blowing comes from the east. And by the tree growth at the top of the trees shows that this is the direction the wind blows most of the time. So this way."
Guy laughed a hearty laugh. "You always have been smarter than me."
She eyed him suspiciously and then smiled. "I'm glad you spoke the value of the statue. I'm not real good with words, but I'm looking forward to the time we have to work on that."
He wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled again and they set off in the direction she had indicated.