A wall of panic slammed Brett toward the tunnel entrance. She scrabbled over ancient lava, smooth and jagged. It sliced through her flesh leaving a trail of red dots.
"Oh crap!" Brett froze. It looked just like the warning at the entrance. Blood? The warning was blood spatter? She gulped back hysteria, acrid and burning. She scratched at her chest as she ran, fighting for breath.
The entrance glared ahead in white light. Like a halo of refuge. She ran, she crawled, she pulled and pushed toward it. In the outside world's umbrage of warmth, Brett squinted, blinded. Her eyes watered and her lungs strained against the assaults of light and heat.
She fumbled with her cell phone swiping at the stream of tears. The salty rivulets mixed with the blood smearing her face. She stuck out her tongue at the lack of a signal. Her voice took on a sneering bite. "Can you hear me now? Worthless piece of crap!" She shook it, stumbling over the razor-sharp lava. Six thousand years had done little to tame its bite.
Like Liberty leading the masses, Brett held up her phone looking for the telltale beep. It yelped soft and wimpy. She threw her head back. "Thank you! Thank you!" Then dialed the sheriff.
"Deschutes County Sheriff's Office."
"H-h-hi. Is Bill in?"
"Yes, Cindy, that Bill. It's Brett."
"Oh, Brett! I didn't recognize your voice."
A buzzing grew behind Brett. It couldn't … She reeled. So fast, she almost lost her balance. It made her vision swim. Reality faltered. Red dots swarmed above the lava tube. "I need help, Cindy. Tell Bill-" Her own scream cut her off.
The signal went dead as Brett scrabbled up the embankment. The lava gnawed her hands and knees raw. She headed toward camp then veered toward the truck, praying Paul hadn't locked the battered old Ford.
The buzzing grew louder. Brett wasn't going to make it. She whipped about in a tight, little circle in the middle of the woods searching for safety. She ducked below a fallen, gnarled juniper. The sun scalded. The lava scraped. The old wood offered splinters.
Brett stared at the red dots moving toward her in a rapid hum. The noise tickled at her nerves and blood inciting her to scream again. It drove the swarm in a fury all the faster.
"Hell!" The first stalker came it. It bit at Brett's arm. A bee? Was that a bee? Red, molten hot bees? She slapped at it. The others swarmed in chomping away chunks of her flesh. Blood trickled cool. Then her cellphone rang. The bees backed away. The caller ID said 'Bill'.
"Bill? Plea-" The bees moved. Humming toward her. "Call me back! Bill! Call me back and don't stop calling!" She clicked the phone off. Call me. Please, call me! On her hands and knees she ran until she could get her feet under her. Then she sprinted holding the phone behind her.
Part 1- Spelunking on a Wednesday Afternoon
Part 2 - Stepping in It
Part 3 - Sirens at the Earth's Core
Part 4 - Liberace Haunt, Or is It?
Part 5 - Tunnel of Death