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D Is For Damien: Prologue


September 1974

HE'D NEVER BELIEVED the dark to be a living thing, yet here it was, slowly but surely choking him. It at least felt that way. He'd managed to steal a flashlight, and though it vaguely illuminated the path he was taking, that was all it did. The thin beam it sent out only made the earthen walls creep in closer.

He clutched the flashlight in one hand, the other clasping to his chest an object which, when the light bounced off a wall and hit it, sent out sparkles of its own. Each time this happened he quickened his pace, as if certain he were being followed.

He would be, soon. He knew that. Maybe they were after him right now.

They would have reason to suspect now that the other two were gone. There had been three. The first two had disappeared, to the outside, and now he was making sure they wouldn't find the last one.

That was why he was in the tunnel. They used the tunnels, sometimes; but the branch he was heading down wasn't used frequently, and the room at its end was used even less. They didn't have much use for tunnels leading under the lake. It could be too dangerous, especially if the tunnels caved in.

The other two he'd been successful with, though he was certain they suspected him now. Who else would know where to find them? He wouldn't even have been considering what he was doing now if Lilith hadn't put him up to it. That was how dangerous it all was.

He came to the junction he was looking for and turned into another tunnel, sometimes jogging, sometimes nearly crawling; he passed through the windowed room with a shudder, felt somewhat relieved when he entered the darkened tunnel again. Not much further now. The statue room was never really used, as far as he could tell; that would be the spot to put it, just for now, until he and Lilith and the others could make their run for it. He owed her that now, with the children; she'd told him she knew someone on the outside who would help them all.

Considering he got out of this tunnel alive.

He came to the big statue hall and paused in the entrance. No matter how many times he'd seen it--he'd checked it out before a few times, before deciding on it as the best place to hide the object in his hand--he'd never get used to the place. It was weird. It was something that didn't belong in such an otherwise normal place.

He listened, almost hearing the air vibrate. Somewhere above him, there was land or water; he wasn't sure, with how the tunnels twisted and turned. It didn't matter what it was above him, though; there was a lot of it.

He shook it off. No time to be claustrophobic now.

He stepped toward the statue, careful to keep the flashlight beam down; he didn't want to light the room up too much. Casting one last look around, he dropped the shiny object in one outstretched hand, immediately jumping back as if expecting it to attack him. He turned and crept back out of the tunnel with a feeling that was half relief, half guilt, with more than a little fear tingeing the whole thing. Relief that he'd finally gotten it done and gotten them all out for Lilith. Guilt that he'd actually done it period.

Fear that, somehow, some way, someone was going to find out. And see to it that he never disobeyed again.

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