As the two locks slid down the opening that the combo lock had opened, the keyed lock had a flash of insight: So my dream was a premonition of sorts. But why was it so terrifying when I was asleep?

No light accompanied them: all they knew was that they went down. They descended relentlessly, plummeting deep into the darkness. After what felt like an eternity to the two locks, the passage’s slope began to decrease. They had reached the end of the tunnel at last.

Much to the keyed lock’s dismay, they were met with familiar darkness at the bottom of the tunnel. Only a moment later, he heard the combo lock start a march forward, so he followed quickly behind him, plunging into the unknown. For the first hour or so of their trek, both of their spirits were high; they felt rather invincible since they had evaded the barbarians. I am so lucky to have found such great company, the keyed lock thought. If it hadn’t been for him, I would have never made it out of the mountain pass that night, let alone from the barbarians in the cave.

But the keyed lock’s morale and admiration faded quickly, for he began to struggle to find any optimism given their predicament. His fatigue was meddling with his mood as well; since he never wanted to be a soldier, his poor training ensured that he was not in shape. Ahead of him, he continued to hear the steady footsteps of his partner. Growing jealous at his clear physical superiority despite his older age, the keyed lock’s mood worsened still.

“Where are we going, anyway?” The keyed lock asked bitterly. As per usual, no response was returned. “Fine, I’m stopping to rest.” And for a moment, the combo lock stopped too, but the keyed lock heard him resume just a couple seconds later, and he let out an exasperated sigh.

Sinking to the ground, the keyed lock gave way under defeat’s heavy weight. He knew he should not sleep, but he was in no state for rationale. Such a fierce black, such an absence of light. Width of the tunnel narrowing. Closing in fast. All sides. Strangling. He embraced the surrounding darkness, letting his consciousness fade into the shadows.

***

Our keyed lock awoke to silence. Where am I? He had no dreams during his rest, and he felt completely disoriented upon waking up. Oh, he realized, heart sinking. The combo lock left. He wished he had not woken at all.

Despite his poor mental state, he knew that he could not continue to laze around: Even though those barbarians probably would have found me by now if they had been searching, it’s still not a good idea lying here utterly vulnerable.

The lock knew there was no other way to go but forward, so he started off down the tunnel. Light, he thought. Oh how I miss the light of above. And seemingly out of nowhere, he heard the sounds of approaching company behind him. Even though they were some ways behind him, or so he thought, terror shot through him.

He continued his march nevertheless. If all I have to do is keep a safe distance between us, I have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, our naive lock was unaware of the complications that were about to test his wits.

To his great surprise, our lock ran straight into a wall. Up until this point, he had been plowing forward at a good pace. He stood up, jarred, confused, panicked: Is there no way out? Desperate, he tried to his left and found that where there would have previously been a wall, there was open space. Likewise, the path to his right was available.

But he was running out of time, he could hear behind him that the soldiers were approaching, and he better make a decision, the right one, before it was too late.

***

To be continued…

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