The Experiment  – Part 010

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As Shona looked around the room, she could see the several survivors panicking. If they were going to get out of this alive, she needed to get them moving.

“Are you sure we want to go through the cave?” Billy asked, walking over to the cave entrance and peering into darkness over the edge of the precipice, the torch failing to illuminate much. 

“What choice do we have?” Shona replied.

The beating on the door behind them continued as the demonic creature continued to try and force its way back in. Shona couldn’t help but wonder how the door was holding against the strength. As if in answer to her thought, a splinter of wood flew across the room as part of the door began to bend outward.

“Shit!” Billy shouted, looking around for some means of securing the door more. 

A hand pushed him aside, in the haze of the darkness a large figure came forward. Howard Smythe took a step towards the door, glancing back at Billy and nodding in silent recognition. The large man moved to the door and placed his hands against the splintering wood, holding it back. 

“It won’t hold for long,” Billy said, turning to Shona. The large body of Smythe was struggling against the force from the demon inside.

“Come on,” Shona nodded in agreement. 

The cave seemed to extend downward without any sign of the ground being seen. Even the glow of the torch only gave illumination a meter below the edge. Shona searched for a means of climbing down, but there was little to hold onto, as the rocks that jutted from the wall were either sharp or too small to grip. Leaning forward, she could just make out a small ledge to the right, and a roughly carved out stairway leading downward. 

“We might be able to get down this way,” Shona said. Glancing back, she saw the door was cracking open, shadowed hands reaching through the splintered wood.

“Go, I’ll keep watch, I think my grandfather is trying to protect me, so it’s best I follow last,” Billy shouted.

Shona paused, while she hardly knew the man, Billy had done nothing but help her, but she knew he was right. 

“Follow me,” she said to the four remaining people.

Stepping forward, Shona carefully stretched her leg to the ledge, tightly gripping the wall for support. Once she had a foothold, she half-threw herself across to the other side, landing to the ledge. It was only a metre square, but rough stone steps led down, giving her enough room to stand and put a hand out to get a torch from the next person to help them across.

The four had made it over, Shona taking time to see who they were. Two men, and two women who were all around her age. They all looked terrified, and she wondered how they had all ended up in the same cave. If they all had stories like her own. Now wasn’t the time for discussions, however, now they just needed to get out. 

Shona leaned back to see where Billy was, just as the sound of splintering wood exploded from the main room. A deep-voiced scream from, Shona assumed, Howard Smythe. 

“Billy!” Shona craned her neck to try and see, stretching around the ledge. However, the angle prevented her from seeing what was happening, unless she went back across.

Before she made a choice, a hand thrust into the air in front of her face, it was slightly bloodied and burnt. 

“…run…” the whispered voice of Billy spoke from around the corner.

The hand was pulled back with such a force it scraped across the stones, leaving a small trail of blood and skin behind.

Shona froze for a second, long enough to see the body of Billy be thrown over the ledge, its disjointed limbs bent at unnatural angles. The sight kick-started her movements, and she began to run down the steps, following the others who had already begun their journey. 

The steps led down into the darkness of the cave, the roots of the Malham tree spiralling down beside them. In the space ahead of her, she saw the others had paused, looking at something.

“What is it?” She called out.

“A dead end,” one of the men replied. 

Shona saw that there was a wall before them, the steps ending. A small carving was on the stone, depicting a tree with a lightning bolt striking it. 

“That’s how it all started,” she said, remembering Father Jerimiah’s words. Shona traced the carving with her fingers, the stone flaking away at her touch. 

A gust of wind behind them preceded the sound of footsteps, the shadow figure was descending slowly towards them.

“Screw this!” One of the men shouted and ran towards the figure. The flick of a hand and the body was thrown into the dry wall behind Shona. A crack split the stone, echoing the symbol of lightning in the brick.

A hollow voice filled the air.

“The pact is broken, the sacrifices were not granted,” the shadowed figure spoke. “The protection is lifted.” As it finished, the wall behind Shona crumbled away. 

What she saw through the portal, her mind could not comprehend. A vast landscape of flames, smoke, and horrors filled her vision, while distant screams echoed around her ears emanating from the land. 

A rumbling shook the floor, as rocks began to fall from above her. She knew the cave was collapsing. She had two choices, enter the hellish landscape before her, or leap from the steps into the unknown beside her.

What would you do?

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The End?

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