𝒜nthony stood alongside Thomas as they kept their eyes fixed on the middle tunnel, growing worried for the remaining numbers of their party hadn’t returned.
“What if something happened?” Anthony feared, “It’s past the thirty minute wait period.”
“It’s alright, Tony…” Thomas rested his left hand on his brother’s shoulder, “they’re alright. And knowing how resourceful Caleb and Yzavela are, they’ll come back.”
“They’re fine!’ Leonus argued interrupting their moment of concern, “Give them time.”
“But that’s the problem. Time is something we don’t have.” Luke added, “If those things are walking the tunnels, we’re all screwed because we can’t keep hiding behind the boulders each time they pass through. Surely they’ll catch our scent then. If they haven’t already, I’m sure!”
“I agree with Leonus.” Nathan said, “I say we wait.”
“Who the hell asked you, Nathan!?” Nick argued.
“We’re all in on this rescue, remember!?” Nathan leered, followed by a low growl, backing away toward near one of the tunnel entrances with Derek and Leonus close behind.
Nick shook his head realizing Nathan’s words were true as he, Anthony, Thomas, Luke and Jeremy turned away to speak among themselves as well.
“You think something happened to them?” Derek glanced around making sure their conversation wasn’t overheard.
“If it does...it does. It would solve our problem.” Leonus answered smugly.
“What a pity too. Never had the chance to have her.” Nathan added.
Derek and Leonus rolled their eyes as they walked away, for his thoughts were on sex and perversions. He shrugged, removing a cigarette from his pocket; not lighting it, but just to have the taste of nicotine on his lips and thought to himself, “BLOODY HELL…I NEED A SMOKE.” but knew if he had, the fumes would cause an explosion or cave in. He could care less about everyone else, but when it came to his sister’s health and safety, he had a weakness. Always had.
Nick, standing nearby sharpening his axe blade, overheard the entire conversation. Turning his head slightly leering in their direction, he released a low hiss knowing he’d have to keep his eyes on them.
Once making it to the ledge, I instructed Lucy to climb off my back. Fearfully, she did giving a slight squeal as she scraped her feet on the sharp stone. Turning around, I swiftly picked her up, handing her to Jon, who just held her in his arms not wanting to let go.
“Lucy...are you alright? Did they hurt you?” he whispered, examining her sweet face, giving her a few kisses on her dirty cheeks and forehead.
“No.” she replied burying her head against his neck, “Johnny...they’re ugly ladies. I want to go home. I want Mommy and Daddy. I’m hungry.”
“I know, Button...and we will. Oh, thank God…” he held her tight.
Climbing up the wall and attempting to arrive on the ledge, my foot slipped off a loose stone. Feeling myself slipping backwards, someone grabbed my wrists. Looking up, there stood Erik holding on tightly. He gently pulled me up with little effort onto the ledge.
“Are you okay?” he asked as he examined me.
“Yes, thank you.” I replied then knelt down, scratching Zanzs’ neck, “Good boy.” then I turned to Abraxas calling him in. Arms out, he landed in them snuggling his head against my chin. I continued telepathically, “You too, Abraxas…good boy. Thank you.” and hearing rustling coming from below, I continued verbally, “We need to get out of here...now!”
Everyone turned watching as figures began to wake, growing restless for they sensed someone didn’t belong in their domain. As Caleb handed me my weapons, he shone his flashlight toward one of the womens’ faces, taking notice that her eyes were extremely sensitive to the light, as she shielded her eyes. The women had wild matted hair and dressed in skins of some kind, while others were bare breasted with their lower torso covered or laid in full nudity All had long unkempt and untrimmed fingernails, plus a few missing or sharp teeth. These weren’t mortal women anymore; all of them taking on the appearance of neanderthals. The children were disfigured hybrids I suppose, with fawn legs and pig-like snouts. Others with hooves and claws, while the remaining few were so mixed together, he couldn’t even begin to describe them. All looked to be experiments gone wrong, obviously from lots of inbreeding.
“We need to leave.” Caleb urged as the women crawled toward Lucy’s empty location, “Now! Go...go!” he turned to his friends urging them to do so.
Sensing the child’s absence, the women and children signaled each other in a series of grunts and screams. Backing away, we observed as they approached the ledge of the cavern, thinking Lucy may have escaped. As we continued backwards, we heard a faint voice coming from Caleb’s watch for we had turned ours off,
“Anyone there…hello!?” and glancing down at his watch, there was Nick’s image.
“Nick, mate...” Caleb replied, “we found Lucy and we’re heading back to you now.”
“That’s amazing news!” Thomas added as he used his watch to connect to Caleb, “But you might want to hurry because we’re beginning to hear movement and it’s growing more hostile.”
“We’re trying, mate...we’re bloody trying!” Caleb answered observing Thomas’ image spring into view, allowing multiple connections, “We’ll be there…don’t worry!” he turned off the watch then paused, “Wait…” he hollered out quietly.
“We don’t have to wait.” I argued.
“I know which is why I’ll take Lucy.” Caleb urged as he approached Jon.
“No.” Jon protested, “I’m not letting her go!”
“But Jonathan, mate...I’ll get her to the others and wait for you there. It’s traumatizing her enough having been here but do you want to put her through more by running down these dark bloody tunnels?”
He was right and Jonathan knew it.
“He’s right, love…” Sarah added softly, “but instead of having Caleb take her, why don’t you portal all of us to the pit instead?”
“No.” I argued, “The magic and energy given off from its opening could bring this tunnel down on us or create a chain reaction and collapse the whole cave system.”
We heard shuffling behind us growing closer and closer which pushed Jon to his decision.
“Alright.” he nodded, “But Caleb...you hold onto her and don’t let her go until I get there.”
“Jonathan, mate...I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to protect her.” Caleb answered bravely.
“I hear something…” Sarah bserved and shining her flashlight down the tunnel behind us, figures crawled along the stone ground releasing low grunts while shielding their eyes from the disturbance of light, “no-no-no...they’re coming! They’re coming!”
“Caleb, get her out of here now!” Jon quickly handed his little sister into his friend’s arms and before she could cry out, Caleb sped down the tunnel in his Wraith speed; his presence was gone in less than a second, “Let’s go...let’s go!” he turned running down the tunnel with the rest of us eagerly rushing behind him but in the haste, our feet slipped on the stone ground but once gaining our footing, we were in a full run...with company right behind us!
“Do you see them?” Nick worried; his eyes seeing nothing but the darkness of the tunnel ahead of him.
Suddenly those standing around heard a grunt and turning around, there stood Caleb holding onto a small child.
“Caleb!” Nick grew relieved to see his friend.
Leonus rushed toward the young Wraith and attempting to examine the child’s small face in an act of great concern, Caleb turned his body away from the Lycynian, keeping his word to protect her. Leonus frowned but understood the reaction.
“There…I see them! I see them!” Anthony called out as he saw the glow sticks left behind and flashlights moving around up ahead and they grew closer until figures emerged from the tunnel greeted by smiles and brief hugs.
Knowing the moment probably wasn’t the best, Nick stepped forward commenting as he briefly placed his hand on my shoulder,
“Thank God you’re safe, isn’t that right, Leonus?” he turned, glaring at Leonus letting him know he overheard his earlier conversation.
I caught the leering stares between them; especially the disappointment in Leonus’ eyes but now wasn’t the time to bring it up.
“Yes, I’m fine.” I rushed the words, “But right now, we need to get out of here. We have what we came for. Lucy’s safe, so we have no more business here so let’s get out of here!”
“Yes, please!” Sarah begged, “The bloody women are coming this way!”
“Women?” Leonus grew curious.
“And children, but they’re not…” I sighed heavily, “children as you might think which is why...we need to get out of here! Caleb, get Lucy out of here and to the hospital and once she’s safe, call her parents! They’d want to be with her.”
Caleb nodded but before he could teleport, Jon stepped forward with Sarah asking if he could take them outside as well. The young Wraith nodded; Sarah and Jon held onto him and before our eyes, they vanished leaving us behind to listen to squeals and vibrations emanating from the left tunnel.
A massive creature crawled its way across hundreds of its kin toward a tunnel listening as distant echoes disturbed its peace. In the blackness of the environment, its red eyes squinted as its nose sniffed the air before it turned its body around into a position where it itself, would emerge down the tunnel to investigate but beasts crowding around it, began rushing down the tunnel for they caught the scent of intruders that had been here before. This massive creature released a guttural squeal that shook the walls.
Appearing outside, Caleb and his friends felt the sting of the cold winter air hit their faces. He quickly rushed the child toward one of the snowmobiles as Sarah rushed through the bag searching for a blanket. Caleb handed the child back to her brother who sat rubbing his hands along her small back attempting to provide some warmth as he wrapped the blanket tightly around her like a burrito. She shivered as Sarah handed her a bottle of water of which Jon made sure she drank slowly for she would’ve gagged if she had drank it all at once. Caleb stepped aside as Sarah walked over sitting alongside them.
“I’ll get the others and make sure they get out.” he revealed then vanished leaving behind his supernatural essence.
“Sarah..” Jon looked deep into her blue eyes, “I need you to do something for me.”
“Anything.” she answered softly.
“Take Lucy to the clinic.” Jon replied, “I’d take her myself but…the others need me and we both know sh*t is about to hit the fan down there so I have to be there with them.”
“But…” Sarah muttered.
“Please, Sarah…don’t argue with me, please!” he begged.
Sarah sat hunched forward, studying Jon’s handsome face with a pleading expression in his eyes. She glanced down at Lucy who leaned her head against her brother’s chest continuing to shiver.
“Alright…” she nodded in agreement then leaned in, “but you come back to me.” she kissed him.
“Promise.” he returned the kiss then stood, handing the small child over to her and turning around behind him, he opened a portal that would take him directly to the hospital, “Go…” he stood Sarah to her feet then leaned in stroking Lucy’s hair whispering, “I’ll be back, Button. I just have to go get our friends but Mama and Papa are going to be there waiting for you.” he kissed her head then backed away watching as Sarah’s figure disappeared through the portal that closed seconds after.
He glanced down at his feet then removed his phone, sending a message to his parents that Lucy had been found and to get to the hospital as soon as they could. He didn’t say anything more other than ending the message with an I LOVE YOU and once seeing the sent label flash across his screen, he tucked the phone in his pocket then ran toward the hole in the ground, quickly descending underground.
Sarah held on tightly to Lucy, who was afraid of letting go, as they abruptly appeared in the hospital’s lobby. Frightened by her sudden appearance and presence, nurses and Doctor Matthews rushed to her aid. Escorting her to the pediatrics ward upstairs, Sarah refused to part from the child but upon strict orders from Doctor Matthews, she obeyed his instructions to shower and wash away the filth she had brought with her. Hearing the commotion, Beth emerged from her clinic that was closed for lunch break and offered her assistance in any way she could.
Sarah stood in the shower feeling the hot water as she scrubbed her skin over and over until her skin turned pink from the constant friction of the sponge. Afterwards, dressed in clean hospital scrubs she wandered the hall where she could hear Lucy’s voice crying out.
As the vibrations grew more intense, I turned to Abraxas and Zanz, instructing them to wait outside for I didn’t want them here for this fight; I grew fearful they’d be attacked or injured. After listening to my plea, they ventured outside, waiting near the entrance. Focusing my attention forward as my eyes had adjusted, what we didn’t know and couldn’t see, were women crouching within the center tunnel; their eyes leering in our direction. As we spread out, it left me vulnerable; I stood directly in front of the center tunnel and immediately upon seeing me, one of them lunged from the shadows, catching me off guard. It happened all so quickly that neither I nor anyone could react. Lunging forward, she knocked me backwards attempting to gnaw with her sharp chipped snarling teeth and scratch at my torso through my leather padded armor. Closing my eyes, I began steaming beneath the woman’s weight listening as she screeched, feeling the burn from my Aura’s flame. Before she could further react, she was roughly pulled off of me from behind by two powerful hands and thrown across the clearing, hitting the rock wall; knocked unconscious. We didn’t care whether or not she lived. I looked up, seeing hands held out, belonging to Derek. He quickly pulled me to my feet and commented as he knelt down, reaching for my sword,
“Thank you.” I nodded, extinguishing my Aura.
Just then, Nick’s voice shouted in utter terror,
“They’re coming!” he pointed down the left tunnel with his axe as thunderous thuds boomed from the tunnel; sets of red eyes grew closer and as the creatures emerged, Boar-wolves spread out across our path in both directions. All we could do was back away close to the pit’s ledge, watching our footing carefully.
“Ready your weapons, and try not to get yourselves killed!” Leonus shouted out, “And still want to leave them be, Keeper?”
I groaned leering in his direction as I and everyone, held onto our weapons of choice, waiting for these creatures to charge. After walking around in a taunting manner, catching our scent, they indeed did just that.
Everything happened in an instant; we didn’t have time to plan their defeat.