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April 27, 2008

Three knocks were all it took. The door opened soundlessly and as he stepped inside it whisked shut behind him. The darkness he found himself in lasted mere moments before light flooded every corner of the room through a system of mirrors lit by a single torch. The torch was mounted at the top of a long stair, casting a broken light upon a narrow crevice in the wall. 

He took a moment to check his pistol and then mounted the stair two steps at a time. When he came abreast of the torch it went out, this time there was a rustle of wind. A pale light shown through the crooked entranceway, he ducked to step through it. A voice sounded for a moment on the thick, odorless air, but then he lost its sound. 

His path turned liberally through the rock until he found himself at the foot of a stone bridge. The bridge rested on the ground, as if it had been planned for some great purpose but then abandoned. He knelt and felt the stonework, dust came off at his touch. No one had set foot on this bridge in a long time. He stepped around it and walked past it toward another cavelike tunnel.

As he stepped inside he heard the voice again, it lasted a moment longer than before and this time it mocked. As it died away he stepped resolutely forward, not shortening his steps as the passageway bent down into the earth.

As he turned a sharp corner on this downward path a rough hand grabbed him by the collar and held a knife to his throat. There was a laugh of recognition before the man loosened his grip.

“Layne! I thought you’d never come,” there was the rough face of a man behind the knife, he had sleepless eyes. “This place isn’t healthy.”

Layne stepped past his friend and continued to walk, motioning for him to follow.

“What kept you?”

“Ran into a friend.”

“Bender? What happened to him.”

“You can watch it on CNN as soon as we get out of here.”

“About that…”

Suddenly the pale light of the cavern – for they had stepped into a cavern – gave way to a blinding floodlight, there were shouts all around them. Layne thumbed the safety off on his Armalite AR-24 and dropped to his knee. There was a blur of movement to his left and he heard a gun discharge from that direction, it sounded like a .45. He discharged a round at the blur and then rolled back into the passageway, he heard a cry of pain come from the direction he had fired.


He stuck his head back into the cavern looking for his friend, there was the discharge of another gun and rounds struck too close to him. He whipped back into the tunnel and tried to calculate where the last shots had come from. There was the grating of rocks, Layne swung his gun to cover them. Garry crawled into the tunnel, he was favoring his right arm. 

“I’m hit pretty bad, I’ve got at least two rounds in me.”

Layne pulled a dated Charles Daly from Garry’s shirt, Garry had always favored that gun. He checked its load before swinging his gaze back toward the cavern looking for any movement. 

“Can you walk?”

“Just so long as its that way.” he said pointing back up the tunnel.

“Lead the way.”

Layne considered firing a couple warning shots into the cavern but knew they would need the ammunition. He followed Garry sideways so he could keep a clear view of any pursuers. Fifteen minutes into their trek he heard the sound of gunshots behind them, knew that their assailers had discovered they were retreating. He glanced up at Garry, saw he was turning white from blood-loss, cursed himself for not tying off his wound.

“Here wait, let me try to stop the bleeding.”

Garry slumped against the wall.

“Better hurry, they are going to be coming at a running pace.”

Layne smiled as he pulled a small roll of bandages from his belt, “Leastways we’ll hear them coming.”

As Layne tied the bandage into a knot Garry arched in pain and smacked the top of his head into a rock. He let out a solid stream of curses but they were drowned in the sound of grinding gears. Layne leapt up and began searching the rock wall, suddenly it pulled back away from him and revealed a ladder heading straight down.

Layne stepped into the small room and glanced down the hole, “We have to try it.”

Garry stepped beside him and could not see where the ladder stopped, “No! Remember the two holes in my arm, I don’t do ladders.” 

There was the sound of a pretty close shout down the tunnel they had just left, Layne stepped back into the tunnel and let off three shots.

“That should buy us a couple minutes, do you have any rope?”

“Yea I put it here next to the drapery,” he said sarcastically. 

“Give me your belt.”

“You have to be kidding me.”

“Would you rather stay here?”

Garry pulled off his belt and handed it to Layne who had already done the same. Layne quickly tied the two together with a strong knot, he glanced up at Garry who stood mortified.

“If you put it that way..” 

He stepped up behind Layne who whipped the belt around them both and cinched it tight.

“This should help you hold on, it won’t do all the work though; use your good hand.” 

“Thanks, I was looking for a Nanny. Whats your day rate?”

They moved awkwardly towards the ladder but Garry halted them short, “Aren’t you forgetting something.”

“Crap,” said Layne looking at the gaping hole in the tunnel’s wall. He loosened the belt and leapt to close the entrance. He threw all his weight against it but it wouldn’t budge. 

Garry sat down hard and said, “Try kicking it.”

Layne looked at him critically and then stepped back and lashed out with the toe of his boot, he felt a sharp pain and let out a loud cry that was greeted by mocking shouts from out in the tunnel. He cursed under his breath and then stepped out into the tunnel and yelled, “Shut up!” before letting out another warning shot.

“Which one of these rocks did you hit with your head?”

“How would I know, my eyes are on the front of my face, not the top.”

Layne was throwing himself against every rock on the front of wall. There were the sounds of footsteps down the tunnel and of a couple guns discharging at random. He began hitting the wall in desperation and just as a man leapt into view dressed in a ridiculous green jumpsuit he heard gears began to turn from somewhere in the wall. He laughed in triumph as he shot the green-clad man and then fired a couple more shots to stall his friends before leaping into the now sealed off entryway. 

It was pitch black now, he was able to find Garry after a series of repeated marco-polos but no matter how much he groped he couldn’t find the belt. 

“I gave you one simple task!”

“I don’t remember you saying anything.”

“There was a time I didn’t have to say anything, back when I left you behind a desk in New York!”

“Who was it who called me begging for someone to come save them from a completely fictitious warlord in the middle of death valley.”

“He is not fictitious, who do you think was just shooting at us!”

“Hey, don’t remind me about shooting! I was just beginning to ignore the pain, I rather liked my desk in New York!”

“If you find a way to get out of here I’ll buy you a new one.”

“Burnished oak?”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” suddenly the gears began to crank again in the wall. 

Layne looked in Garry’s direction, “Tell me you brought something to barter with…”

The wall began to peel back and a tall, muscular balding man stepped into the barely lit space, “Gentlemen, you have disturbed my very important dinner. Would you care to explain why you are here?

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 28, 2010 6:49 am

    Very awesome post! Honestly.

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