He could not stop sliding. He kept trying to grab hold of something solid to prevent his descent, but failed with each attempt, sliding further and further down the mountainside; further into the abyss.
Our lock awoke, disoriented and terrified. But to his surprise, he felt a soothing warmth and a comforting presence. Savoring the solid ground, he clutched at the dirt resting beneath him. Only a dream. Almost expecting to see a friend, he turned his head but was met instead with an aged combination lock. Gasping, he flashed his shackle, attempting a fatal blow, but his strike was shackle on shackle: the combination lock had disarmed him while he was asleep.
Defeated, and even somewhat embarrassed at his rash outburst, our keyed lock sat down. “Why did you let me live?” He asked the combo lock out of shock. But the combination lock spoke no words, only offering a knowing gaze in return. The keyed lock thought about the question himself, but the only answer that surfaced involved his rescuer delivering him as a prisoner of war to combination lock homeland.
Yet the keyed lock knew that if his rescuer had wanted to capture him as a war spoil, he would be halfway to combo lock kingdom by now. Muting his previous fear, he thought again: Could it be that he wants an alliance as a result of the increasing barbarians? No, it is impossible. Surely their prides would prevent them from ending the war out of fear.
After what felt like an eternity, the combo lock rose, walking toward the cave entrance. The keyed lock followed, leaving the shelter with his companion. Blinded by the harsh daylight, the keyed lock wondered if he had slept for a few hours or a few days. Looking around, his heart sank.
Only a little ways away, a band of barbarians was fast approaching along the mountain pass. The keyed lock gave the combo lock an apprehensive look, but the combo lock simply kept staring. Closer and closer they advanced. The keyed lock could not shake the thought that the savages knew of their location and were coming to tie up any loose ends. Closer still. Each figure was distinct now, growing more horrific with each stride. They’re almost upon us! At last the combo lock headed back inside the cave, and with him, the keyed lock.
Deeper into the mountain they traveled. Our keyed lock admirably managed to swallow his fears during their spelunking, but he nearly lost it all when they reached the back wall. This is no good, they’ll corner us and cut us to pieces! Casually surveying the cave walls, the combo lock seemed anything but distressed. The keyed lock admired his calmness, but given the situation, he was afraid that the combo lock was blissfully unaware of their pursuers, who had by now certainly entered the cave.
After another few seconds, the sounds of brandished weapons and heavy chain mail from the approaching barbarians was audible. The keyed lock was feeling more frantic than ever, but the combo lock continued to search the walls. When the two locks’ opponents were nearly upon them, the combo lock spoke: “Found it.”
But their elation was short-lived, for it was but a second later when a strong voice cut through the cave’s silence: “Halt!”
The two locks whipped around and found themselves face to face with a squadron of savages. The one who uttered the command, the one that looked like the leader of the group, stepped out to face them. Circling our companions, he gave a disdainful smirk that was followed by jeers from the locks under his command. “Shall we start with the keyed lock?” The leader asked with a sadistic taunt. His entourage answered in emphatic affirmation with more rabid cheering.
But before the leader could perform the merciless execution he so desired, the combination lock flicked a switch on the wall behind him, opening a hole underneath the two locks that allowed them to slide down into the darkness below.
To be continued…