Saturday October 9th 1982
None of them said a word as they stared at the hill, remembering all the horror stories and legends they’d grown up with.
Andrew placed Berta’s necklace with the charm around his neck. What if the stories were true? he thought to himself. What if some evil entity actually dwelled inside the cave? He would find out soon enough if the legends were fact or fiction.
“Well,” said Andrew, being the first to speak, “according to the map, this is it.” He glanced at the others. “You guys ready to go in?”
“Yeah, we’re ready,” said Butch. “But you two have to wait out here. Only Shane and I are going in.”
Andrew looked puzzled. “What are you talking about? Why don’t you want us to come with you?”
“Because I don’t.” Butch shined his flashlight in Andrew's face. “Wait out here till we come out.”
“But you guys’ll get lost in there,” Andrew protested. “Caves can turn in many directions. I won’t be able to help you if you lose track of where you’re going.”
Shane glanced at Andrew and nodded his head. “He’s got a point, Butch—might as well tell them why we're here.” He narrowed his eyes and glared at the troopers. “They won’t blab to anyone. I trust them. And besides, Harper’s right; if we get lost, we’re screwed. He'll know how to get us out.”
“Fine,” said Butch reluctantly. He snapped his fingers and called the troopers over, then explained to them, partially, why he wanted to come to Grimdamun Cave. And he made it clear what he’d do to them if they said a word to anyone.
“So let me get this straight,” said Andrew, after Butch finished. “You think there’s money in there?”
“I know for a fact there is,” Butch growled.
“None of your business!” Butch pulled Andrew closer to him. “Don’t ask anymore questions! I’m not telling you anything else. And remember what I said: if you or your chubby little buddy mention this to anyone, I’ll make it so the two of you have to eat with straws for the rest of your lives.” He shoved Andrew back. “Got it?”
Andrew gulped. “Got it.”
“Good. Let’s stop wasting time.”
They approached the cave slowly, still wary about the strange sounding wolves. When they reached the mouth of the cave, Andrew was the first to go in, shining his flashlight all around.
The cave was damp and cool inside, with an unpleasant musky scent. For a place that was supposed to be legendary, it seemed quite dull, or so Andrew thought—until he noticed footprints on the dirt floor.
“Hey...you guys,” he whispered, “I think someone’s here.”
The others entered the cave to see what he was talking about, and the sight of the footprints sent shivers up their spines.
“That’s weird,” said Steven. “I think maybe we should leave…”
“I think you should shut up,” snapped Butch. He gave Steven a slight shove. “We just got here, chubby—we aint going anywhere.”
They crept a little further into the cave, Andrew once again leading the way.
“Wait a minute,” said Andrew. “What’s that?” he pointed his flashlight to a deeper part of the cave, and sitting on the floor was a black briefcase, nestled between two large rocks. He inched his way closer, carefully observing the item, then reached down to pick it up.
“That’s it!” said Butch. His eyes lit up with excitement. He ran to Andrew, and snatched the briefcase out of his hand, then immediately tried to open it. He started to tinker with it, fidgeting and getting impatient because it had a combination lock. It wouldn’t budge. “Shane, come here,” he continued. “See if you can get this thing open.”
“I need a knife,” said Shane, after studying it for a minute. “Or something sharp and pointy.” He turned around to face Andrew. “Harper, give me that pocket-knife of yours.”
Reluctantly, Andrew handed it to him. It was his favorite knife. He had earned it in The Youth Troops, and the thought of giving it to a juvenile delinquent troubled him. He wondered if he’d ever get it back.
Shane grabbed it and pulled out a thin, pointy blade to pick away at the lock. Andrew couldn’t figure out exactly what the bully was doing, but he had a feeling Shane was a pro at this. After a few minutes of tampering with the rotating dials in the combination lock, Shane pressed the buttons and the briefcase popped open. They all stared in amazement. Stacks of money were all lined up neatly inside the briefcase.
“Told ya!” said Butch, smiling like a young child on Christmas morning. “We’re rich!”
While the two bullies celebrated their new fortune, Andrew noticed another object in the distance: a small, wooden chest, tucked behind a boulder. He walked over to it and picked it up.
“What’s that?” asked Steven.
“I don’t know.” Andrew shook the chest and it made a clunking noise. “There’s something inside of it.” He turned it to the side, and noticed peculiar lettering engraved in the wood. Some kind of ancient rune. “There’s some kind of writing or symbol on it," he went on, "but I have no idea what it means.”
“Well open it up!” snapped Butch. “Maybe it’s something valuable.” He rushed over to Andrew, holding the briefcase tightly in his hand.
Andrew opened the box, and gaped at what he saw. Eight sharp-pointed daggers, each with a golden handle, covered in jewels, glittered in the beams of his flashlight. Amazed and startled, he became wary of the whole situation. “Is there something else you want to tell us?” he asked, staring up at Butch. “First a briefcase full of money, and now this? What’s going on here?”
“I don’t know anything about no daggers,” said Butch. “And since when do I have to answer to a dork like you?”
Andrew rolled his eyes and closed the box, realizing it was pointless to ask Butch any questions. All he knew was what Butch had told him: there was money hidden in the cave. But he had no doubt there was a lot more to the story.
“Fine, sorry I asked,” said Andrew. “What do you want to do with these daggers?”
“Put em in you backpack for now,” said Butch. “You can give them to me tomorrow morning after we leave.”
“Why don’t we talk about all this back at the campsite,” said Steven, shining his flashlight on the cave floor. “I really think someone, or something, might be in here.” His hand shook. “Look! There's more footprints over here—and…..”
“And what?” Shane said.
“Paw prints!” Steven pointed to the ground. “This might be where the wolves...or whatever those things are, live.” He grabbed Andrew’s shoulder. “We need to get out of here, Captain!”
And then they heard it again, that same strange howling they’d heard earlier. Only this time, it was coming from within the cave!
The boys panicked. They darted toward the cave’s entrance, and scrambled out into the night, racing toward their camp. And by the horrid sounds the creatures made, Andrew was convinced they weren’t typical wolves—but he certainly didn’t want to stay to find out!
They made it out of the cave quickly, but the creatures were close behind, and then they heard the voice of a man...coming from deep within the cave; a raspy voice that shouted, “Get them!”