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D Is For Damien: Chapter 23

An Escape?

EVERYBODY TURNED WITH a start. Behind them in the shadows stood a figure with a gun, which cautiously stepped forward into the dim light. It was a woman, and in the dimness they saw her aim again at Mabarak.

"Lady, I don't know who you are, but we sure are glad to see you!" Harvey sobbed.

Mabarak hissed like a snake and attempted to reach his gun.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," the woman said, and, hearing her voice, Damien stepped back involuntarily, stunned.

"Miss--Miss Clare?" he stammered in disbelief.

The figure stepped closer, and he could tell that it was indeed her. "Yes," she said. "I followed you to the tunnel. I thought you might need help." She frowned as she looked at Mabarak, who was cowering and growling like a trapped animal. "You should have told me about him before. He's been with Scorpio for a while now."

"We have to get out of here. There's others down here looking for us," Father Damien urged.

"Which way do we go?" Dino asked, for what seemed to be the millionth time.

"That way," Miss Clare said, waving her gun at the tunnel ahead. "The way you were going. I heard people behind me. We have to keep on the path."

The others agreed and filed in while Miss Clare held her gun on Mabarak, who merely held his wounded shoulder and continued snarling.

"Nonbelievers!" he shrieked. "Soon enough you'll feel the full power of the Scorpion! POWER TO SCORPIO!!"

Scorpio bounced off the walls and rang in the group's ears as they hurried down the tunnel in near darkness. The air wasn't hot but in the small space it was nearly suffocating. Finally the passage widened again and started upward, leading eventually to another room. They squeezed in and looked around. This time there was only one tunnel left, and it arched upwards steeply.

Far behind them they could hear Mabarak's shout as his companions finally found him, and then their thudding footfalls steadily grew louder, the cultists again attempting to hunt them down. The kids cried with fear.

"All of you go up to the surface," Father Damien said suddenly. "I'll distract them."

"No! It's too dangerous!" Damien insisted. But his uncle shook his head and firmly stood his ground.

"I'll be all right. As soon as they get close I'll hide behind the entrance. Go now and hurry up!"

Damien started to protest again, but Dino grabbed his arm and pulled him away. "Come on!" he shouted. They disappeared up the tunnel behind the others.

Left alone, Father Damien moved slowly to the entrance and stood to one side, flattening himself against the wall. The sounds of pursuit grew louder. He guessed that there were two of them now, three at the most. If he stayed where he was he could knock out one and try to take on the other two face to face. He didn't enjoy the thought but it was all that he had. He scooped up his cross, whispered a prayer and kissed it, then dropped it back in place.

Suddenly a cultist appeared. Father Damien seized his chance and struck him sharply in the back of the head. The Satanist fell senseless to the floor. Two others rushed in just as he was picking up the shotgun the cultist had dropped. Too alarmed to do anything else, he hit one with it, knocking him out, and also knocked the gun out of the other one's hands. The remaining Satanist took a swing at him and he ducked, then kicked the cultist in the stomach. When he doubled over Father Damien clipped him under the jaw, sending him flying backwards into the wall. The Satanist collapsed in a disorganized heap, out cold.

The priest rubbed his smarting hand. "An eye for an eye, my friend," he panted.

He'd successfully knocked out three. But he hadn't counted on Derrick Grant, who had stealthily crept into the room after the others. The second in command sent a flying chop at his neck, and Father Damien's eyes rolled back, his knees buckled, and he collapsed to the floor, unconscious.

"As you wish," Derrick said in a low voice, staring down at him. "An eye for an eye."

Back in the tunnel, Damien and the others had reached the surface; Damien forced open a trapdoor set above and they crawled out to enter a big dusty room filled with boxes. They all just stood there, dazed and bewildered. Though Damien was sure he'd never seen this room before, something seemed too familiar about this place. Suddenly he realized what it was.

"It's the warehouse," he said with dismay. "We've walked right into Scorpio's trap!"

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