I'm moving this serial to every other Monday. Fridays are just too busy for me during observatory season.
Tunnel of Death
Brett collapsed at the top of the vertical tube panting for breath. The maddening hum had filled her, vibrating the pulse of her blood and gone silent. Where had it come from and where had it gone?
She moved herself around peering down the hole. "Where did it go, Paul?" She peered intently into the pitch black looking for the bauble of his headlamp. She couldn't make it out. Was he that far behind her? "Paul?"
Full lamp light on the ropes, she could see the line lay slack. "Paul!" In fright she sat up and pulled on the ropes. He wasn't there.
Her back against the solid wall of lava, Brett sobbed in great gasping gulps. Jen had been mutilated. Is that what happened to Paul? A beautiful day of spelunking shredded into ruins. By what?
Brett dug a lantern out of her rucksack. She tied it and her camera onto the rope. She set the camera on video and turned it on. With care as the spin of the camera slowed, she lowered them down into the pit.
"Paul?" She called soft and hoarse. She expected no answer. Brett took her time lowering the camera inch by inch into the fathomless dark. A bump vibrated through the rope whenever the camera or lantern scraped against the walls. The bump reverberated through her hands more solidly when she hit the bottom. The pull of the objects went slack. With the same care, she pulled them back up.
Anxious to see what the camera recorded, she pressed the replay button. The battery sign flashed. There wasn't enough power to obey her command. "Damn it!" Using the side of the cave, she pulled herself up onto her feet.
"Paul! I'm going for help now. If you're down there …" Where else could he be? In answer a glow rose up from the abyss like the thing that had come at them while they screamed over what remained of Jen. 'He's coming back,' Brett mouthed in silent terror. Then she screamed, "He's coming back!"