“Come down here my little pretties,” Cackled the small wrinkled goblin, disappearing around the bend, “May way my witty, for tonight we feast on twilight and fun.”
The creature waved at the two youths, not even glancing back to make sure they were following. Mel and Rob looked at one another, unsure of what to make of their situation as darkness grew around them. The small lamp that the goblin held bobbed deeper into the cave, throwing up vast shadows that dance around them.
“Are you sure about this, Rob?” Mel asked, her face pale in the dancing light.
Rob looked past her farther into the cave. His face seemed to lose some of its boyishness as hard lines grew around his mouth and forehead.
“They have her down here, Mel. We can’t just leave her.” Even as he spoke his feet were moving him past her own, following the echoing voice of their strange guide. Mel stood still, looking down at her feet as the light faded. Dirt and blood stained her sweater and faded jeans. It had started out as such a normal weekend, just a babysitting job and then dinner and a movie with Rob. But now, this.
“Mel, you know what they are going to do to her the minute the moon’s up right?” Rob had paused, looking back at her, waiting for her to follow.
His patience ran out and desperation filled his voice as he spoke, “They’re going to-”
“I know exactly what they will do to her. I know what I need to do.” Mel clenched her fists as she held herself back from yelling. She knew what these caves held, she herself had been in the same position. But now, it was her turn to act.
The glow disappeared altogether and the two were left in the dark. Mel groped in the darkness for her pocket. Then pulling out a long dagger she held it up before her, reflecting the light from outside the tunnel all around. Next to her, Rob clicked on a flashlight.
“Let’s go find her.” She said, squaring her shoulders and following Rob down the path.
Time passed and a gradual increase in the glow ahead told them they were making some progress. But the light was an eerie red, and she felt it cling to her skin as mist or even cobwebs would.
“Are we close?” She asked Rob, unsure if he would answer. He just shrugged and they kept on. Silence fell between them and Mel felt her anxiety grow. Waves of feeling ran over her body and she shook with each step.
Rob’s flashlight played upon the walls and floor, noting where each turn and branch of the path occurred. And for the briefest of moments, Mel had the strong urge to stop and watch as each rock was passed over with light, but there was no time.
They came to a sharp curve in the path, several empty doorways led away from the spot. To Mel each opening looked like a gaping mouth, stretching wide and waiting for unsuspecting prey to fall in. The air seemed to vibrate with red.
“Where do we go from here?” It a dumb question, but she had to ask it.
“Wait,” Said Rob, cocking his head to one side like a dog. “Listen! Do you hear that?”
Snatches of singing and laughter came from beyond all the doorways and staircases and out of sight around the corner.
“I don’t think it made it that far into the cave, maybe we can catch up.” And with those words Rob stepped forward, almost flinging himself into the waiting dark.
Mel hesitated a millisecond and then followed, knife in hand. Their feet moved noiselessly through the gravel, but something, or more accurately someone in the passage. Rock shifted and pebbles fell. And with that an urge to run and hide gripped the two together.
“We’ve got to keep trying, her life is depending on us.” Mel’s voice surprised her as she looked at where they had come from. She was about to revel in the powerful feeling of standing up for the right thing, but a peel of high pitched screams filled the cave.
It was a young voice, female.
“Go!” Shouted Rob as he ran, flashlight blazing a path through the dark. The screaming continued until tears were streaming down both their faces. And then, as they came around a corner and into a vast atrium both drew back in horror. The sound seemed to expand filling their senses. And then, with a bubble and hiss a doorway opened beside them, billowing smoke and red light poured out.
Mel screamed. Rob wretched.
An archway of human skulls grew from the stone around them, lining the doorway that had just opened. Cobwebs clung to their teeth and eye sockets while sheets of dust settled anew on every surface. The screaming intensified, from just beyond the door.
A stench filled the room as Rob pulled at Mel backing away from the spectacle. Empty eye sockets stared at them, pleading, laughing, screaming, and crying all at once. The screams continued.
“We have to get her!” Screamed Rob, brandishing the sword in his hands at the archway.
Mel nodded, knowing the worst was to come. Death looked down upon the friends as, together, they threw themselves under the arch.