Dark Things Down Below

“Hey guys, check it out!” Brad pulled back the ivy vines to revel the mouth of a hidden cave. His call brought the other three teens like a drop of sugar to ants.

“Wow,” said Martin, “this is awesome!” His words returned to him echoing from the silent world they invaded.

“I’ll bet we are the first ones to find it” said Trinity, glancing at the ivy.

As Brad stepped back from the entrance, he removed his backpack. Emma peered into the darkness. At 17, Emma is the newest member of the group to spelunking; the sport of exploring caves, although she has developed a love for it. And this is an opportunity to do just that. However, as Brad squatted to pull out the needed gear from his pack, he looked up at the other with pursed lips and wrinkled brows. In his excitement he forgot that they did not have all the gear they needed. Without a word, the others formed the same expressions. They only brought the necessities for a day’s hike. Brad looked in the direction of their campsite as if he could see it through a mile of trees.

“You know what your Mom and Dad would say” said Martin

“Yeah” said Brad. “They would want to come and check it out first.”

Every Halloween Brad and Trinity’s parents try to plan a camping trip around the holiday. They thought that such a trip would help make up for the fact that they don’t go trick or treating any longer due to their age. Today is the eve of Halloween and they would be heading back home first thing tomorrow.

“Well, we can go in a little bit, can’t we?” Emma asked. Aware that they would be due back at the campgrounds before dark, her desire for the adventure made it worth the risk of getting back a little bit late. The others were all but too eager to agree.

“Sure,” said Trinity, “we will only go as far as we can with what we have.” The group had four flashlights, a collapsible lantern, and four buck knives. Digging through his back, Brad found a twelve foot length of rope.

Martin easily agreed. At 18, Martin has a strong leadership character and often tends to take charge. The others tended to look up to his decisions, especially Trinity. Besides, he knew Brad would never miss a meal. They put their packs inside the cave, just past the entrance. Brad opened the lantern. The white light from the lantern mixed with the gray walls giving a look of an old black and white movie. Attaching their flashlights to their belts and grabbing a water bottle each, they looked at each other with smiles of excitement.

“I wish we had our cave helmets with the mounted lights” said Emma.

Emma is a quiet girl. A year before, her 14 year old sister had disappeared on Halloween night and was never found. It was believed she had been abducted; however there was no evidence to that effect. Emma had been very depressed over the loss, which is why the others elected to have her join them in the sport of Spelunking. Since this is the first Halloween since her sister’s disappearance, Brad and Trinity’s parents felt this would be a good way to keep her focus off the past. None the less, Emma wanted to be sure she was home on Halloween night so she could be with her parents at this time.

“These will be fine” said Martin. “We won’t be climbing that much.”

The four started down the path. After a short walk, the horizontal shaft ended. All were disappointed in the brief adventure, until Emma found a crevice.

“Hey guys, I think this is the way.” They all looked as Emma pointed her flashlight into the fissure.

“Yeah, it looks good,” said Martin, let’s go.”

The width of the opening allowed them to squeeze through without much difficulty, except for a few places at the end of the fissure where they had to pull themselves through. There they clipped their flashlights to their belts so they could use both hands. The lantern provided enough light as they passed it along to each other while climbing. One particular spot seemed very tight. As they passed through it, they felt a tug on their clothing, so they moved carefully so as not to tear anything.

On the other side of the fissure they found another shaft which descended down. Moving down this tunnel they found it became narrow, requiring them to crawl. There was a worry that the tunnel may end abruptly, but this worry became tempered with their experience in caves. They knew that often a narrow passage precedes a larger room. After descending an estimated 200 feet they came to level ground again and in a few feet an opening created by three large boulders leaning on one another.

“It looks kind of like a doorway” said Brad.

“Yeah, it almost looks like someone made it as an arch” said Trinity.

The friends passed through into a much larger room. The light from the lantern reveled the size, with a ceiling at least 40 feet high. The lantern also allowed them to see that half the floor had fallen away, leaving a large pit the length of the room. They all walked with short gated steps towards the edge.

“It looks like it sheared away,” said Martin, “probably from some great earthquake a long time ago.”

“I wonder how deep it is” said Emma.

Brad set down the lantern and picked up a stone, tossing it in. They were in silence as they listened. No sound.

“It must be bottomless” said Brad with a knowing smile.

“Don’t be silly” said Emma. “Bottomless means that stone fell all the way down, past the Earth’s crust, mantle, and inner and outer cores, all the way to the center of the Earth, and then continues back out to the other side.”

“It is just a figure of speech” said Brad, his expression turning to a sheepish grin. Brad is very imaginative and loves adventure stories. He is also the youngest at 16. Emma is very precise, and a lover for all kinds of scientific facts.

Their attention turned to the rest of the room, which appeared to be another dead end.

“Let’s take a look around and make sure there’s not another passage we are missing” said Martin.

Trinity looked over the wall seeking a passage when she tripped over an object, possibly a large rock. Looking down she gasped.

“Martin, what is it” she said with a tone of urgency.

Martin joined her. On the floor they observed a human-looking skull.

What do you think?” asked Trinity.

“I don’t know,” replied Martin. As he bent to pick it up there was a sound, a strange sound.

“What was that?” asked Trinity, looking around.

“I think it was the wind.” Martin’s answer was as much for him himself as for Trinity. He again reached for the skull. Again they all heard a sound. It was like words, but it was also undiscernible. Yet the sound left them with the impression of anger.

“I don’t think you should pick it up” said Trinity.

Emma thought the sound was coming from the pit. She moved closer to the edge, her curiosity driving her. The gravel loosely sifted beneath her feet. She slipped a bit with her steps.

“Hey, my flashlight is missing!”

Emma stopped as Trinity’s words caused the others to check for their flashlights. They all became aware that none of them had a flashlight any longer.

“We must have lost them in the fissure” said Martin. He still wanted a close up look at the skull. “Brad, bring the lantern over here.”

Brad took a step towards the lantern. As she did, Emma noticed the lantern near her and reached for it.

“I’ll get it” she said. As she turned away from the edge, she felt a large hand pressing on her back, followed by a push. She started to fall towards the edge.

“Emma, be careful!” shouted Brad. He grabbed her arm and pulled her to him. Both now lost their footing. As the fell, one of them kicked the lantern, which toppled and rolled over the side. In the last of their only light, Martin and Trinity watched as Brad and Emma fell safely away from the edge and onto the floor of the cavern.

On the surface of the earth, darkness is a varied condition; even the stars giving some light will allow human eyes, in time, to adjust. In the bowels of the earth, darkness is absolute. In this darkness, you are actually blind.

For the moment there was silence. Trinity suddenly remembered the skull. In the black darkness she couldn’t see it. Panic set in.

“Martin?” her voice sounded taut.

“Over here” he replied with assurance.

Trinity swung her arm until she lightly hit him, and then pulled on his shirt. Martin wrapped his arms around her. He could feel her trembling. His attention turned to his other two friends.

“Brad?” he called out, keeping his voice low so as not to generate an echo.

“Yeah” he responded.

“Are you and Emma okay?”

“Yeah; we’re alright.” In the pitch back neither had let go of each other as both were quite scared.

Martin reached for his watch, pushing the light button. He couldn’t see by it, but Brad and Emma should see it. He raised it up for them to see, however the light faded out. He tried again but it would not illuminate. At his urging, he used his voice to guide them and they crawled to him. Once there, they each held onto some portion of the others to reassure themselves that they were still together. Emma felt guilty about losing the light, however Martin reminded them that all things are small compared to the big consideration of getting out.

“You don’t think we should stay and wait for someone to find us?” asked Trinity.

“That would only be good if we were someplace where we can be found. Our backpacks are inside the cave, so your parents would have to know where this cave is. The entrance is well hidden so they could walk right past and not see it. I think our best option is to go back the way we came.”

“In total darkness?” said Brad.

“It won’t be that hard. We’ll have to crawl so we don’t run into low rocks or stalactites. We’ll just feel our way along. The only concern I have is losing someone.”

“Hey, I’ve got a rope” said Brad.

“That’s right. We can use it to keep everyone together.”

They tied one end to Martin’s ankle.

“Okay, now everyone hold onto the rope, and we will simple follow each other out.”

As he talked, they heard a new sound. They stopped to listen. It sounded like footsteps. Not those of a person, but rather heavy and large, moving slowly, accompanied by a slurping kind of sound. No one asked what it could be. Everyone felt anxious and nervous at the same time. The idea of leaving became a good one.

“I think we all understand,” said Martin, “but I want everyone to remember that one mistake can be costly. Although we have experience exploring caves, this is the most challenging situation we have ever encountered. Even with proper lighting, a wrong step or miscalculation can cost any of us our lives. Without lights it’s even greater a chance.”

The group became silent at Martin’s words; A sign that everyone understood. They started on their hands and knees, shuffling in single file. As they started to crawl, Trinity giggled.

“What?” Brad asked.

“I just got a mental picture of what we looks like; a baby chain gang. Everyone laughed. It wasn’t the greatest joke but in contrast to the danger they faced, it served as a comfort. They move along well until Martin stopped.

“Hold it!” Martin said.

“What is it?” Trinity asked.

“It’s a ‘Y’” said Martin. “We have a split in our passage; a left and right tunnel.”

“How can that be?” asked Trinity. There wasn’t a split on the way in.”

“Probably as we entered this passage shadows prevented us from noticing the opening. Problem is, I’m not sure which one we came in through.”

Everyone sat quietly.

“We’ll never get out of here” said Trinity. Her words were not welcome ones.

“Take it easy” said Martin with reassurance. “We just need to think of a solution.”

They again became quiet. Trinity thought it’s difficult to think when you’re scared.

“I’ve got it” said Brad. “Martin, you and Trinity will stay here as a home base. Emma and I will go down the left passage. We should come to an incline in a short distance. When we find it, one of us will come to get you.”

“And if you don’t” said Trinity.

“Then we will both come back, and we can all go down the other passage, which we would know to be the correct one.”

“Sounds good” said Martin. He started to untie the rope.

“Brad, give me your foot.”

“No,” said Emma, “I’ll lead!”

Emma still felt guilty about losing the light, and wanted to do more than her part. Her voice was determined so Martin untied the rope, and Emma moved her foot in the dirt so that he could hear it. He tied it to her ankle and Brad felt around until he found his end.

“Keep taking so we can hear where you are as long as possible” said Martin.

Brad thought for a second, and then started to mimic the music from the retro television show Wild Wild West. Martin and Trinity listened

“Dum-dum, dum-dum, dum dum da dum ta dum dum-dum” could be heard in the darkness. They laughed at the song. Slowly Brad’s voice faded. Trinity suddenly felt cold and alone. She reached to find Martin and hugged his arm.

As Emma and Brad crawled along they noticed the floor becoming wet.

“I don’t remember it being wet when we came in” Brad commented.

“Probably because we weren’t crawling in it” replied Emma, her hands starting to numb due to the icy cold water. Emma’s words of reassurance started to fade as the water got deeper.

“This can’t be the right way” said Brad.

“I think your right. We better turn back.”

Emma started to turn around when she felt the ground sink. Suddenly she heard a crunching noise and the ground broke from under her, sending her sliding down. Because of being in pitch black darkness, it happened very quickly. The rope unexpectedly snapping from Brad’s hands gave him rope burns.

“Emma!” he cried, but only the sound of running water could be heard. “Damn this darkness…Emma!” he called again; no reply. She could have fallen 10 feet and got hurt, or 1,000 feet; there’s no way to know he thought.

The ground beneath Emma swung like a gate and she slid into a passage below. She felt herself slide downward. The water around her seemed to fall in the same direction. It felt somewhat like a waterpark slide. In the darkness she could feel the sensation of speed. Her mind told her she raced downward but she had no frame of reference. What lay ahead hid in total darkness and this frightened her. She wanted to close her eyes but realized it would make no difference. There is no way to know what would greet her at the end; if it even ended! She moved faster and descended deeper.

She seemed to be sliding for some time when she started to slow, finally coming to a complete stop. She was shaking as she tried to feel for the walls of the tunnel. Suddenly she felt something. At first she thought it was a plant. Then she realized it was not a plant. Plants don’t wrap themselves around your arm and work their way inside the sleeve of your jacket. She pulled back quickly! She got onto her knees, moving her hands over her head to feel for the ceiling. In an instant, the rock under her disappeared!

As she fell, her entire body tensed and braced for an impact. Then, she started to notice the feeling that the air was getting thicker. It soon thickened to a paste-like consistency and she seemed to be floating. She reached a point where she felt like she was almost stopped. The paste-like substance around her covered her whole body, including her face. She held her breath, fearful of inhaling. Her need for air started her to panic, and she began to move her arms wildly, attempting to escape.

Then, it felt as if she fell through the paste-like substance into the air again. Will I ever reach the end she though. With that, she hit water. Instinctively she closed her eyes and held her breath again as she went under. She didn’t seem to be under water very long, and quickly broke the surface. She immediately started to shiver from the cold water. Once she felt her head break the surface, she opened her eyes to find total darkness once again.  She knew that she didn’t have long in this cold water but she had no idea which way to go. In total darkness she had no idea which way would lead to the water’s edge.

The weight of her wet jacket and boots pulled her down. She took off the jacket, discarding it in the water. It may be cold, but it beats drowning. As she prepared to go under and take off her boots, she felt a tug on her leg from the rope she still wore. She stomach became knots as she felt another tug. She also heard bubbles around her. Her body seemed to have motion, and she felt a steady pull on her leg. It was like some giant fish had grabbed her. Removing her knife she ducked under the water to cut herself free. Her initial attempt was unsuccessful as the rope was too thick for a quick cut. She surfaced to catch her breath, when it suddenly felt like whatever held the rope let go. She relaxed as she seemed to slow.

Then she bumped into something. She felt with her hand; it seemed wooden, it felt like stairs! She had no idea where they would lead, however it was out of the water. She reached the top and felt around, locating the ground. On her hands and knees she slowly moved a short distance before she collapsed from exhaustion. The ground felt of sand, soft and cool. Thankful for the ground, she lay recapturing her breath.

She wondered where she is. She knew it was deep, wherever she may be. Her thought turned to time. She realized that time is quite elusive in darkness as well. She actually didn’t know how long she had been in the cave or even what time it is. She had a watch; however hers did not have a light. The watch with the light, the one used for spelunking, was at home. It frustrated her. She thought about her friends. She wanted to get a message to them, to let them know she was alive.

In the distance she thought she heard the sound of something in the water. She listened. Then, from an unknown direction, she heard the slurping noise she heard earlier, followed by the whispering sound. She wanted to find a corner to press into, but it was dark. She drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs. Her tired condition hung heavy in her eyes. She closed them, thinking what difference does it make; I can’t see anything with them open. With her eyes closed she fell asleep.

___________________

Emma drifted back from a deep sleep. There seemed to be sounds in the distance; sound inconsistent with being in a cave. In a cave there are not a lot of sounds. She was now in a light sleep, and gave more attention to these sounds, although she really couldn’t identify them. With her eyes still closed she wondered how long she had been sleeping. She also didn’t know if she should go back to sleep or not. She slowly opened her eyes, ever so slightly. She could see light; there was light!

She opened her eyes more. Her mind was still foggy, but she seemed to be looking at a hardwood floor. She also felt something soft beneath her. Without moving any other part of her body except her eyes she looked around. Across from her was a fireplace built into a brick wall with a warm fire burning. She also felt a soft, warm blanket covered her. A blanket she thought; who covered me with a blanket? She rapidly sat up!

With the palm of her hands she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked around. She was in what appeared like a living room. The furniture and walls gave a rustic impression of a cabin. A large heavy wooden and brass door could be seen next to the sofa she sat on. Next to the stove appeared to be an arched entrance to a kitchen. She could see a table, chairs, and even a stove.

“I’m dreaming” she said out loud. As she stood she noticed a chair near the stove with her jacket draped over it. She felt the jacked and found it to be dry. I threw it into the water, so who brought it here, she thought. “I must be dreaming” she said more loudly. She looked further to see stairs with a landing. She could see a door next to the stairs, ajar with light pouring in from the room on the other side. Listening, she heard running water.

She moved closer, cautiously however, considering the reality. There was a new sound! Stopping at a spot just outside the door and with her back to the stairs, she heard a man’s voice. It came from the room by the stairs, and sounded like… singing? As she stepped closer to the entrance of the room, the water stopped and the singing became louder. Peering around the door she saw a bare arm reaching for a towel. She jumped back, both in fear and embarrassment. She thought what’s he doing in my dream?

“Excuse me” she said. The singing stopped.

“Oh, hey; you’re finally awake.” The voice was a man’s, and made with a very social tone as if greeting a guest. “Are you doing okay?”

“”Yes sir,” she replied out loud, followed by a hushed, “at least I think I am.”

“Great! Listen, I need to finish in here. You can go to the kitchen and get a juice from the fridge. Just make yourself at home and I’ll be out in a few.”

“Yeah, uh, sure.” Emma went to the kitchen, and found a very modern refrigerator. Inside were various items such as eggs and cheese. She found bottles of juices and selected one. This is the most detailed dream I’ve ever had she thought. She made her way back to the living room. There she noticed the lack of any windows. Rather, where the windows should be rocks protruded into the room. She was back at the foot of the stairs when she heard another voice; the voice of a young girl singing. It flowed down from the top of the stairs. As she listened her stomach tightened. This voice sounded familiar.

Her feet didn’t want to move; however the voice compelled her to climb the stairs. This has to be a dream she thought, there is no way she could be here. Each step was more difficult, as if there were weights on her feet, getting heavier with each step. She reached the top of the stairs. The voice came from behind a door. Her breathing was labored and her body resisted the urge to move. None the less, she pushed the door open.

There, seated Indian style on the bed was a young girl of about 15. Her long black hair cascaded across her shoulder as she sang. With the appearance of Emma, she stopped singing and looked up at her. Her emerald green eyes made contact with Emma’s and she spoke.

“Hello” she said.

Emma couldn’t speak. Her mouth opened but the words were suppressed.

“What’s your name?” the girl asked, her voice sweet but inquisitive.

They both were silent for a moment while Emma forced a response. Tears were welling up in her eyes.

“Naomi,” Emma said, “Naomi, it’s me, Emma!” Her words were brittle.

“Emma?” Naomi said in contemplation. She looked away for a moment.

“Emma, your sister” she said, wondering why she didn’t remember.

“Sister” Naomi said in further thought. Emma’s tears were now falling across her cheeks. Then Naomi’s eyes widened and a smile formed on her face.

“Emma” Naomi’s voice now in joyful recognized of her sister.

Emma’s emotions reached a peaked as she rushed to her, wrapping her arms around her and falling with her on the bed. Naomi too started to cry and hugged her sister.

“I’ve missed you so” Emma’s said with tears flowing. “It’s been so long.”

It’s has?” Naomi said, once again contemplating. Then there was another voice.

“I guess you two know each other” said the man, standing at the door. Emma looked at him.

“This is my sister; I haven’t seen her for a year. We had no idea what had happened to her.”

The man took a deep breath. He crossed his powerful looking arms.

“I did not know that Naomi had a sister; a very pretty one at that. I am Christian Knight.”

Emma sat up, looking at the man. Christian appeared to be in his mid-thirties. Like his arms, his build was slender, but muscular.

“I’m Emma. Emma Baker” she said, not wanting to leave her sister’s side.

“Please to meet you Miss Baker” he said, extending a bow. Suddenly a thought occurred to her.

“You’re the one who pulled me from the water.”

“Yes, it’s not every day I find a young girl swimming in the lake; especially in total darkness. However, I am glad that I rescued you so you and your sister could be reunited.”

Emma looked over at Naomi with a smile.

“But, I don’t understand. Where did you find Naomi? How did you two end up down here?”

Christian looked down for a moment, and then his eyes returned to the girls.

“I’ll have dinner ready in about thirty minutes. You two can visit until then. I’ll call you.” Christian then turned and left.

__________

Naomi and Emma spent the time talking. It was clear to Emma that Naomi did not recall a lot of both what happened to her, as well as her past before her disappearance. It was Naomi’s inability to remember her life with her family that disturbed Emma the most.

“Okay, Diner’s ready” Christian called from downstairs.

Naomi stood up to go down stairs. As she started, Emma reached out and held her hand.

“You do want to come back with me, don’t you?” she asked. Naomi paused.

“I’m not sure” replied Naomi. She walked to her door and stopped looking back at Emma.

“We need to go down to diner” Naomi said. “Christian is a very good cook.” She spoke with a tone of sadness in her voice.

The two joined Christian at the table. As they ate, he noticed the quietness of the others. He decided to try and get some conversation going.

“So, how does it taste girls?”

“It’s very good” said Emma. “It seems like I haven’t eaten in days.” She then thought that might be rude to say. “Naomi said you are a good cook, and I think she’s right” hoping that would be better.

It got quiet again, and Emma had many questions on her mind, some of which were ready to flow out of her.

“Mr. Knight, Naomi doesn’t remember a great deal. I really want to know what happened.”

Christian looked at Naomi, who lowered her eyes and nodded to him.

“She can’t talk about it, and I don’t like to in front of her. However, you have a right to be told.”

Christian paused and looked back at Naomi. She was looking away in an attempt to hide her emotions.

“Go ahead, I’m fine” she said without looking back at him.

“Naomi doesn’t remember because the degree of trauma she experienced was severe.”

“Trauma,” asked Emma, “she was hurt?”

“No, no. She experienced mental trauma. A year ago she was taken from the surface by a creature that roams the caves of this planet. They are an agent of evil.”

“Who are they; what do they look like?” asked Emma.

“My people refer to them as silent daemons. In your culture they would be called orcs. Basically they are a hideous looking creature with large claw-like appendages and several tentacles about their face. They are much larger than a human, standing about nine feet tall. They communicate with sounds, as best as I can figure.”

“Your people?”

“Yes, like the silent daemons, I am from another world.”

Emma sat for a moment. This was a lot to consider. It seemed so unbelievable, yet she couldn’t deny the fact that Christian was here, and with some pretty amazing technology.

“I was sent here,” he continued, “to try are learn as much about these creatures as I could since my world is experiencing the same.”

“So what happened to my sister?”

“As I said, the silent daemon took her and brought her down here. They are carnivores, with a special liking for humans, especially young humans. Your sister was one of several young people who had been brought here. I was able to find her and rescue her.”

Emma looked at Naomi, who was still looking away.

“I understand the trauma, but I still don’t understand the severity of her memory loss.”

“It’s hard for the human mind to separate extreme horror from other realities when the mind finds it necessary to shut out certain events. I agree that on the surface, what I’ve told you is not sufficient to cause the kind of memory loss she has experienced, however; it is sufficient considering that by the time I got to her, they had already started to feast. She was actually next.”

The thought tore through Emma. She looked at Naomi who was now tightly closing her eyes.

“I’m so sorry!” she said to Naomi, who suddenly spun around at her.

“I hate them,” she said in anger, “they all need to die!”

Christian calmed her, and then turned back to Emma.

“After I rescued her, she wouldn’t talk. For six months she was silent. After that I started to make some headway. I got a name, and some basic information. But she didn’t smile until about a month ago. And she never cried; at least not until she saw you.”

“When you called us to dinner, I asked her about going home with me and she said she didn’t know.”

Christian turned to Naomi who was now looking at the two of them.

“Naomi, I think it would be a good idea for you to go with your sister.”

“But, I want to stay and help you” Naomi said with a pleading voice.

“I know, but you really need more than what I can do to help. And you should have proper training, and an education. Despite their appearance, these are intelligent creatures. You really need to be smarter than them.”

By the conclusion of dinner, Christian and Emma convinced her to go home. However, it was not without a concession.

“So every summer, Emma can bring me back here and I can help you.” Naomi confirmed with Christian.

“Yes. I will give both of you a device which you can use to let me know when you have returned and where you are.” Naomi smiled a wide, bright smile. “Now, you better get ready.” With that Naomi ran upstairs.

“It will be good for her” said Christian.

“I think so too” said Emma. “Uh, not to change the subject, but you did say you are from another planet?”

Christian took a deep breath and didn’t answer right away. Finally he spoke.

“That is something we need to keep between us three. I am from a star many light years away. Our technology exceeds your by many years. I communicate regularly with my own people concerning my findings and progress, but there numbers still increase across this part of the galaxy.” Christian excused himself so that he could change, and left Emma in the living room. Soon Emma looked up to see Naomi coming down the stairs. She wore similar uniform attire as Christian, who came from his room.

“Boy, you guys look snazzy.” Emma said.

“Naomi needed something durable to wear if she was going to join me on my missions.”

“Oh,” said Emma, looking at Naomi, “you didn’t say anything about her actually going on your missions with you.”

“Yeah,” answered Christian.” It ended up being good therapy for both of us. Besides, she was out growing what she had. Everybody ready?”

As they walked to the door, Emma remembered something.

“You know, when I was in the first cave, it felt like a hand pushed me. Could that have been one of those creatures?”

“Very possibly” Christian answered as he opened the door. “In fact…” Suddenly both Christian and Naomi went sailing through the air, and Emma felt something grip her around her body so hard she could barely breathe. She looked and saw what she assumed was a silent daemon in front of her, its arm holding her several feet off the ground. Its several tentacles attached to its face moved about like a bug’s antenna, and drool dripped from its mouth. It also made the most hideous slurping kind of noise, which she recognized from earlier.

The creature drew her up close to its mouth. She closed her eyes thinking it was going to take a bite of her right there, but she felt it moving her away. She heard Christian call out.

“Naomi, quick, I can’t get to her!”

Emma looked in the direction of his voice, seeing Christian in the lake, and a second creature at the ladder. She also saw the second creature’s head swing around. She looked to see Naomi in a crouching position on the dock, and realized the second creature was looking right at her. Emma struggled to get free, but the grip was too tight. Suddenly Naomi hurled a knife at the creature, hitting it in the neck. Emma thought that might be affective, however, the creature just pulled it out and dropped it.

“Come on,” yelled Naomi, “come get me!”

“What, no, no” cried Emma, struggling even harder now.

Naomi pulled another knife, and taking careful aim, let it fly. This time it hit the creature in the eye. Emma plummeted to the ground; the creature releasing her due to the pain. None the less, it didn’t deter the attack as both creatures now focused on Naomi. Both creatures screamed a cringingly loud sound which gave Emma the impression of an amplified squeak of a marker across a white board. Emma jumped to her feet with every intention of attacking the creature, although she wasn’t sure how. Then she saw Naomi go down on one knee, raise her arm, pointing it at the creature, fist clenched. In disbelief a blue light emitted from her arm, striking the creature and vaporizing it.

Emma stood in awe, not noticing the other creature was nearly upon her. She heard it snarl, and turned quickly to see it vaporized by the same kind of beam coming from Christian’s arm. Emma, light headed, dropped to her knees.

“Are you okay?” asked Christian.

“Yeah, I think so” she answered as Naomi helped her up. “How did you, uh…”

“It’s an energy field modulator. The ground is loaded with positive energy. The modulator creates a path of least resistance to the creature and then draws the positive energy, channeling it to eliminate the threat” Christian explained.

“That was pretty awesome” said Emma. “So that’s a couple of those silent daemons, huh?”

“Yep, that’s what they look like.”

“They’re certainly not shy about coming up to your front door.”

“Well, normally they don’t. I’m sure they followed you here from the surface.”

Christian’s comments caused her to remember her friends.

“What about my friends?” she said in a panic.

“They generally don’t travel in the light, but assuming your friends are in the cave looking for you…”

“Then my friends may be in danger and not know it” Emma interrupted.

“It certainly is a consideration. And today is Halloween; they will tend to be more aggressive on this day. I believe we should go” said Christian. He pressed a button on his belt, and the sub engines came alive. The sub pen lights also came on, and the cabin lights when out.

“Aren’t you afraid more will come back to your cabin?”

“What cabin?” Naomi said.

“Well, that one” Emma said looking back, however all she saw were rocks. She turned to face the others; Naomi giggling, and Christian smiling.

“You know, I think we should modify the arrangement, “said Emma. “If I’m bringing her back in the summer, we both should work with you.”

Christian opened the sub entry hatch, and turned to look at Emma.

“That’s really not such a bad idea. I can certainly use the help!”

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The Experience

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn. (C. S. Lewis)

J. Rae Moore

Writer of MG and YA Fantasy. Author of nothing. Reader. Quintessential introvert. Often confused. Looking to publish Youngspell. Contact at j.rae_moore@yahoo.com

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