Author’s Note: This is a short fiction posted in installments. Click the link below to read part one.
Bad Latin, Part I
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” said Ducky, whose voice sounded anything but regretful. “We’re not equipped for a mine expedition.”
“Don’t be a coward,” said Zazzy, who skipped away from her spot towards the faint green light. “I’m all for exploring.”
“It’s probably some sort of gas release,” said Leon. “If you all want to go, that’s fine too. I’ll stay back and summon a minion on my own.”
Peter rolled his eyes in the darkness. “Hardly,” he said.
Petra continued for her brother, “What he means is that if you could do this on your own, you’d have done it by now.”
Leon folded his arms outside his robe, bunching up the fabric. He said, “That’s not true. Zazzy, Chastity, and I were making fine progress on our own.”
“Please, Leon,” said Chastity. “What if that light isn’t natural at all? Couldn’t our summons appear somewhere else?”
“It is theoretically possible,” said Ducky, who frowned in frustration. He hastily added, “But not likely!”
Zazzy went a few steps deeper into the mine. “Whatever you decide, it better be quick,” she said. “The light definitely is fading.”
Chastity, Peter, and Petra left their positions and went to Zazzy, followed by a sulky Leon who walked with his arms folded. Ducky squealed, “Don’t leave me here alone!” He jogged to catch up with the others.
All six aspiring summoners ventured deeper into the mine as quickly as the low light allowed. Nobody wanted to use their own lights for fear of alerting others to their presence. Their progress was slow, but they did feel they were gaining on whatever moving light source they were following.
Then, about a mile into their pursuit, the group happened across a small chamber where the shaft split in six different directions. Everyone smugly searched for the correct shaft where the light came from, but they all became a little chilled when they discovered it came from all six paths simultaneously. Ducky finally voiced the obvious. “Sh-should the light be doing that?”
“Oh sure, nothing creepy about it at all,” said Petra, providing enough sarcasm for her and Peter to hide behind.
Chastity scratched her chin and said, “We should split up and investigate each path.”
“Good idea,” said Zazzy, who skipped happily towards one of the smaller tunnels. “I call dibs on the right one.”
“We walk for a half hour, and then meet back here,” Chastity called out behind her. She picked a tunnel in the middle and jogged away before anyone else could stop her. Peter and Petra looked at each other, and picked the two tunnels on the left next to each other. Leon grumbled and dragged his feet down one of the paths. Ducky shivered, and picked the last path next to the one Zazzy took.
A few seconds later, the others heard a loud, bellowing noise coming from Zazzy’s tunnel. Everyone backtracked and almost ran each other over in the main chamber. Leon and Chastity went after Zazzy first, calling out for her as loud as they dared. Ducky had thought ahead to bring a flashlight, which he turned on and pointed past the two people in front of him.
Chastity gasped and Leon groaned when the light ran over Zazzy’s robes laying flat on the ground. They looked like they’d been soaked, and there was a wide trail of red fluid leading further down the shaft. “Is that blood?” asked Ducky.
“Looks like it,” said Petra, who reached for Peter’s hand. “Are those hoof prints in it?”
Leon moved over to examine, taking out his phone and turning its light on. Sure enough, there was a set of wide hoof prints smeared in the middle of the trail.
Flipping over a corner of Zazzy’s robes, Chastity shrieked and replaced them. She went white as a sheet and said, “I shouldn’t have done that.”
“What is it?” Petra demanded.
“I don’t know if I can look again,” said Chastity.
Peter let go of Petra’s hand and threw the robes wide, hitting the mine wall with a wet slap. In the robes, they saw Zazzy lying flat on the ground, a vicious gash across the bottom of her neck. Chastity turned away in revulsion, along with everyone but Ducky.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this,” he said in equal parts curiosity and panic. “It’s like everything under her skin was taken out and carried off. Is this what we were trying to summon?”
Leon and Chastity shared a look. Ducky opened his mouth, but was cut short by a low, rumbling bellow that shook the mines. Small rocks broke free as the mine jostled a bit, the rumbling forcing everyone to brace themselves against the walls. “Was that an earthquake?” asked Ducky.
“I don’t know,” said Petra, looking quietly at Zazzy’s remains. “But I think we should leave now.” Everyone agreed, and they all went back the direction they came.
However, in the main chamber, they discovered that a section of the shaft had collapsed. Their route had been blocked; they were all trapped with whatever killed Zazzy.
And the green light faded completely, leaving them in total darkness.