CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-SEVEN
“Vince!” Alex said. “Look at me. Don’t look down. Look at me!”
Vince’s eyes were rooted to the ground.
“Look at me,” Alex said, screaming at the top of her lungs. “Don’t you dare look anywhere else, soldier! You look at me!”
Vince’s eyes flicked to Alex’s face. For a long moment, he stared at her with blank eyes.
“Hi Vince,” Alex said. “You want to sing with me?”
His eyes still vague, his head went up and down.
“How about one from Sunday School?” Alex said.
“This little light of mine …” Seth started singing.
“I’m going to let it shine,” Alex joined in.
At the sound of Alex’s atonal voice, Vince’s eyes began to clear.
“Let it shine! Let it shine!” Alex and Seth sang together.
“Just tie the rope around your waist, son,” Seth said, in the soft kind voice usually used for children.
Vince’s eyes flicked to Seth’s face. For a moment, the men just looked at each other.
“Tie it around your waist Vince!” Alex said.
Vince’s eyes flicked to Alex. He gave her a grin. Just like that, he let go of her hand so that he could awkwardly tie the rope around his waist.
“Nicely done, son,” Seth said.
“I’m going to let go of your wrist,” Alex said.
Vince shook his head.
“I need to pull you up soldier,” Alex said.
“You’ll swing to the wall where I am,” Seth said.
Vince looked at Seth for a moment. With a nod, he let go of Alex’s wrist. He swung toward the wall, hitting it just a few inches from Seth.
Alex turned her attention to the rope that held Vince. She grabbed onto the rope and began to pull. Vince’s military training kicked in. His legs worked automatically to walk up the wall. Once his head was visible, she grabbed the back of his jacket and pulled him on to the edge of the salt tunnel.
Breathing hard, Vince lay face down.
“Now you!” Alex leaned over the edge to look at Seth.
“Sounds good,” Seth said.
Alex grabbed Seth’s rope. While she pulled, Seth was able to leverage his legs and the rope to basically walk up the wall. Seth fell over onto his back with exhaustion. Alex dropped to her knees to catch her breath.
“There … is … supposed … to … be … three … more …rooms,” Seth said. “We just went through two.”
“We need to look for traps near the entrance,” Alex said.
Seth nodded. Alex climbed over to her pack and took out her water bottle. She gave it to Vince. He took a drink and gave it back to her. Alex gave the water bottle to Seth. He drank deep. When he was done, there was just enough for her to have a drink.
She threw the aluminum bottle hard at the floor in the room. The floor began to crumble. After a few minutes, the floor fell away to show a deep cavern that dropped at least a hundred feet before hitting an underground stream.
“Whoa,” Vince said when he looked over. “I’m glad you …”
He looked at Alex and then at Seth.
“Thanks,” Vince said.
“We’re not there yet,” Seth said.
Seth hopped to his feet. He looked left and right before stepping into the salt tunnel.
An arrow came out of nowhere and struck Seth in the shoulder. The arrows momentum was such that the arrow knocked Seth off his feet. He slid toward the chamber with no floor. Vince threw his body over Seth’s legs to stop his movement toward the empty chamber.
“Ow,” Seth said, in a mild, joking tone.
Alex and Vince laughed. Seth pulled the arrow out of his body armor.
They collapse to the ground to rest.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…
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