Heather could hear Janus making his way down the hole. She waited pensively, feeling quite alone. How far had Janus gone in? Would he be all right? What was making the glow?
She wished he could’ve taken a lantern with him. Heather didn’t doubt that he had a source of light to go by, but it would’ve put her mind in ease. Her mind was overthinking what could happen or lie in wait.
She paced back and forth a little, listening the best she could. After a moment she looked up back at the hole.
“How are you doing? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” His answer echoed a little but still couldn’t be heard clearly. “It’s a little snug and it looks like the light is up ahead. I feel twitchy and I’m shaking a bit.”
Poor thing. She remembered that Janus didn’t like the dark; he probably was freaking out a little about the cave around him.
“Just go slowly; keep your hands out in front of you. If it gets worse, just start moving backwards.”
Heather exhaled, folding her arms and looking around the chamber where she stood. She dared not leave the hole even though she couldn’t help Janus; however she couldn’t help but to wonder what was down these holes.
She picked up Janus’ lantern that was on the ground, wandering over to one of the smaller holes that she could reach. Lifting the light up she tried to peer down.
The hole was an oval shape, with a smooth but bumpy surface. It seemed to twist sideways ten feet in, preventing any further view. She could feel the air blowing into her face from wherever the hole opened up at. Heather pulled her face away, picking another hole to look into.
The next couple of holes yielded similar results. Nothing had anything interesting or unique about them. Despite this a few moments had passed, her attention turning back to Janus when he called out.
“Heather, I got it! It’s some strange crystal!”
“Okay, be careful and crawl back out. Can you see anything else?”
There was silence for a moment.
“There’s a bigger space here; I’m going to try to turn around.”
“Not very much. The ceiling is still low.”
Heather’s breaths quickened a little, anticipating Janus’ discovery. She noticed that the green glow was getting a bit brighter.
Then it hit her again.
That smell had returned. Heather shuddered as it filled her nostrils; this time she could feel herself rebelling,
An ever so subtle thump was heard in the passageway. She gasped as she whirled around, seeing nothing but the lamp light that faded into the distance. There was another thump as she jumped again, heartrate through the roof. She held her breath and balled her fist when a faint rattling resounded behind her.
Her eyes landed on the wall with the various holes, the rattling echoing through the cave. It was akin to someone dragging heavy sticks along cobblestone. The sound seemed to actually move from hole to hole, as if there was something was in the holes moving along.
As if on cue because Heather was studying the wall so intently, the noise stopped all of a sudden. Heather’s common sense flew out the window as her eyebrows furrowed, taking a few steps forward.
There was no visible changes in the holes as her eyes went to each one multiple times, half-expecting for something to stick its head out and snarl at her. When that didn’t happen, her shoulders sank a little, still pensive about the situation.
It was then that she realized that Janus hadn’t emerged from the hole as yet. Her mind raced into overdrive, immediately concerned about his safety. She turned around and was about to call up to him when she froze and her heart skipped a beat.
There were a large pair of red eyes.
Out in the passageway, just at the entrance of the room they were in. The lantern light showed no visibly body. Whatever it belonged to, it would’ve been much taller than her.
There was a pensive silence for about two seconds before Heather let out a loud scream, unable to deal with the sight. She stumbled backwards, eyes shut and hands flying up in defense.
She didn’t recall much of anything else except that dreadful smell. Her eyes flew open as she saw an actual head emerge into the cave, attached to a long spindly body still hiding in the shadows. The skin was black as night, giving an eerie effect that it was immaterial. The head must’ve been the size of a large flour sack.
There was no doubt. That had to be it. Not at all like the thing in her dream, but it gave the same feeling. She had finally come face to face with it.
Heather screamed again, heels uselessly kicking on the ground to scramble backwards. Her head hit the cavern wall as she saw stars, her movements momentarily affected. She broke into tears, shielding her face for the worst.
Just like that it ended.
It was gone. There was no evidence that there had been a skinny black specter that had frightened the living daylights out of her. The smell had all but vanished, a faint wisp hanging in the air.
Heather gasped for breath, sniffling and wiping the tears that had formed at her eyes. Her frayed nerves didn’t help when she heard shuffling and saw a sudden appearance of green light. Janus’ head appeared, an extremely worried look on his face.
She couldn’t find the words to speak or say anything, wordlessly dashing over to help him down. Heather grabbed him from underneath the armpits, dragging him out. However she lost her balance, both of them tumbling to the ground.
Janus scrambled off of Heather, helping her into a sitting position. She glanced back at the hallway, fully expecting to see that unspeakable thing staring back at her.
“Heather. Hey.” Janus shook her shoulder, trying to get her attention.
Heather turned her attention back to him, breathing finally returning to normal. He looked a bit scruffy from his excursion, dust smudged all over his clothes. He was clutching a strange crystal in his hand, glowing in full radiance with its green light.
She grabbed his shoulders, swallowing and attempting to not look like a wreck. “Janus, I saw something. It had big red eyes and came out of nowhere…”
Heather stumbled and stammered over her words, attempting to relate to Janus what he had seen. He looked at her calmly, his expressions not changing much. It was if he hadn’t seen or heard anything at all except her screaming.
“I didn’t hear anything strange.” Janus was puzzled.
“Not even that rattling of sticks noise?” Heather’s face paled.
He was quiet for a moment, shaking his head.
“You’re a wreck and scared half to death. I think its probably best if we leave and get you out of here.” Janus coaxed Heather to her feet, handing her the crystal to hang onto.
“All right,” She responded with a shaky nod, tucking it away in her apron. The glow was strong enough that it showed through the fabric, giving an oddly pleasant effect.
They picked up their lanterns, heading back to the area with the ladder. Heather was looking over her shoulder every few seconds, expecting those eyes or face to be staring back at her. She stuck close to Janus, allowing him to lead her back.
When they had reached the stalactite/stalagmite area, Janus paused and raised his lantern higher.
“Do you see that?”
Heather instinctively gripped Janus tighter, eyes straining to see into the darkness. “What?”
Janus pulled her a few steps forward, pointing to a clump of stalagmites.
“There. That black spot, right in the middle of everything.”
They had moved closer when Heather was able to make out what Janus had been talking about. There was yet another hole that went straight into the ground, hidden from before by a cluster of stalagmites around the entrance. A few of the tips had been broken off.
Heather peeked down, nothing but blackness greeting her. Her hand trembled as she caught a whiff of that sinister odor again, realizing that it was emerging from the bottom of the hole. She pulled back quickly, eyes wide and frozen in fear.
“Hey!” Janus tried to get her attention to see what’s the matter. When he gave her a shake, he looked about to get her back to the ladder when he caught sight of something that gave him a chill as well.
He grabbed her arm tighter, voice almost a whisper.
That tone was enough to get Heather out of her stupor. She snapped back to reality, eyes wandering downwards to where he was staring.
On the side of the hole was a crudely drawn image. It was some strange figure with an enlarged head. It was outlined in white against the dark rock, having a primal and foreboding feel. It was clear that they had trespassed on some great evil.
“I think you’re right…we need to get out of here.” Heather patted Janus’ shoulder in affirmation, slowly stepping backwards.
The two scrambled up the ladder, Janus going first for obvious reasons. Heather wished she could tell him to go faster despite the speed in which he had ascended. Nothing was a better motivator than to imagine that a hand would grab her by the ankle, dragging her into the bowels of the underground.
When Heather finally saw the small circle of later afternoon from emerging, she couldn’t be any happier. She pulled herself out into the well, a sigh of relief as her feet came into view.
“C’mon. We have to seal this back.” Heather grasped for the boards, hurriedly starting to cover the hole back.
Janus didn’t argue, helping to place the boards back to cover the opening. They tried to put as much as dirt as they could to keep it in place before scrambling up the rope.
As they climbed over the edge back into full daylight, Janus came to a sudden realization.
“Oh no! We forgot the lanterns!” He glanced back down at the two points of light at the bottom of the well.
He started back down the rope before Heather could stop him. But what would be the point? They’d go home and get scolded for being irresponsible. Maybe even more trouble for meddling on someone else’s property. They had to go back and get the lamps.
Janus’ feet touched the ground, quickly outing the flames and tying the lanterns together with the end of the rope. Satisfied that they were secure, he started to climb up the rope.
He was about halfway up when he paused, looking around him in confusion.
“Hey…do you smell that?”
Heather’s face filled with terror. “Janus. Get up here right now! Hurry!”
Janus didn’t move, still looking around him for the source of the odor. Heather took it upon herself to intervene, grabbing the rope and trying to pull him up.
She wasn’t sure if he had even noticed till it was too late. There was an explosion of splintered wood as a black shape lunged towards him. Heather vividly witnessed the sudden terror in Janus’ eyes as he was knocked around, losing his grasp as the monstrosity grabbed him by the leg.
Her heart caught in her throat, unable to do anything. Not even scream.
Janus cried out as he attempted to grab at the rope again, getting a hold as he furiously kicked for freedom. The creature loosened its grip as he scrambled up the rope again.
When she saw that he was still alive, Heather leaned over the well, offering him her hand. She dared not use two, using her other to balance herself. Janus looked up at her within arm’s reach as he grabbed her wrist, letting go of the rope.
He clung to her as Heather struggled with every muscle to pull him up. Below the monster had attempted to jump up to grab him, unable to reach. The red eyes glared at her, almost causing her to falter. Janus’ legs tried to help propel him upwards, heels digging into the cobblestone wall.
Janus’ head was finally over the rim of the well. Heather grabbed him under the arm with her other hand, yanking him out completely. There was a loud thump as the creature tried to leap out again, only to not make it and hit the side of the well.
“The rope. We have to take the rope!” Janus grabbed the rope and started to pull it out.
Heather dropped to her knees and started to unfasten the knots with nervous fingers. Janus let out a cry as the rope tightened, the creature having grabbed ahold of it. She loosened the last knot as she gripped the rope, the two of them pulling on the rope with all their might. They rope gave way as they fell backwards, pulling on the rope along with them.
Janus reached over a temporarily dazed Heather, yanking the lanterns out of the well. By the time he had gathered up the rope, Heather was back on her feet. There was another thump as they took off as fast as their legs would carry them.
By the time they had reached the top of the hill, Heather dared to look over their shoulder. That head was visible peeking out of the well, causing her to let out a cry of distress.
The creature emerged from the well; it was humanoid, about eight or ten feet tall with a skinny body. The head was considerably large in relation to the rest of it. It had no mouth or nose. It didn’t go after them, continuing to stare until they had disappeared out of sight.
They had reached the fence, diving down and crawling under the fence. Heather threw herself over the top, helping Janus out before the two of them continued to streak down the road.
Janus started to slow to a jog then a fast walk, continuing to look over his shoulder. “Did we lose it?”
Heather looked back, seeing that the fence was a good distance. She tried to keep pace with Janus, legs wobbling a little as her corset felt like a vise around her chest. She reached out, hand touching him to keep moving.
“I think so…I think so.”