CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-SIX
No one said anything for a moment. Margaret gave a quick shake of her head.
“Navajo people don’t love going underground,” Seth said. “More than that there are dead bodies there.”
Seth looked at Margaret, and she gave a slight nod.
“How can you tell?” Vince asked.
“I can smell them,” Seth said. “I’m sure Margaret can, as well.”
Seth looked from person to person. His eyes stopped on Alex and then shifted to Vince.
“There’s no reason for her to go against her way,” Seth said, with a nod. “I can take Alex or Vince. Or both.”
“What about me?” Ben asked. “I fit the bill. I’m smaller than Hutchins, at least.”
“When was the last time you were in combat?” Seth asked.
“I … uh …” Ben said.
“Exactly,” Seth said. “You and Raz stay here. I’ll use a video link. See you can figure out any traps before they kill us.”
“I can do that,” Ben said.
“Would you like me to go?” Pierre asked.
Seth shook his head.
“I can take both of you or one of you,” Seth said to Alex and Vince.
Knowing that he’d never convince Alex not to go, Vince said, firmly, “We will discuss it.”
“I’ll head in first,” Seth said. “You follow me.”
“I haven’t had a chance to analyze the stability of this segment,” Raz said.
“We can send in a drone,” Troy said.
Seth gave a nod.
“While they dig this up, can you show us where the other entrances might be?” Vince asked. “Leena?”
He pointed Leena to Seth. Leena took two of Troy’s drones and a control tablet for them. They set off back down the mine tunnel with Royce. Matthew and Troy took out folding shovels and began to dig up this root cellar. They found a wooden hatch door under about a foot of packed dirt.
It took three men to lift the heavy wooden door. They opened a chemical light strips and dropped them into the area. To their surprise, it actually looked like a root cellar. There were even jars of pickles and other fermented foods along the walls of the cellar.
Troy dropped a drone into the cellar. They stood around the tablet watching the drone scan the cellar. In one corner, behind a basket of potatoes and a dozen jars of pickles, the drone sensed an opening.
Troy and Matthew dropped into the root cellar to clear the way. They found a small opening, no bigger than three feet wide, behind the potatoes. Troy put up his hand. They could feel a cool breeze coming from inside the mine.
“Do you think it’s an air vent?” Alex asked.
“Too big,” Troy said.
He sent his drone down into the passageway. Even with the drone’s light, the passageway was dark. The drone went no more than twenty feet before there was a larger room that was set up like a nursery for at least twenty children.
In one corner, the drone found the children’s desiccated corpses pressed into a corner with their faces away from the room. The children were small, under five years old. They each had a yellow star on their arm with the word Jude underneath.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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