Gabe turns and holds a hand out at Justin, handing him the equipment.
“Stay here and keep trying to reach them!” Justin nods and Gabe turns and starts running again, each step producing a quick squish. As he passes back under the wing in between the cabin and the engines, the bottom of the wing is a few inches closer to the top of his head this time, and he bends slightly. One of the flight crew is leaning out the emergency exit and looking to the left. They hear Gabe approach and turn to face him.
“That man from before ran off over there!” They point into the darkness. Gabe nods in response and keeps running past them. Guess he took me up on that offer to leave. As he passes the front of the plane, the ground begins to slope downward, an almost imperceptible incline. He looks back and forth as he goes but there’s no sign of the man in the suit. After a few more minutes of running the slope becomes steep enough that he has to slow down, stepping heel first so as not to slip on the soggy surface. The walls, ceiling, and floor retain their uniform smooth gray appearance, but the mist has grown much heavier as he moves deeper. Off to the right he sees a round shape close to the ground and he comes to a complete stop. As he moves closer, the shape is revealed to be the businessman, slumped over.
“Hey, you okay?” Gabe reaches a hand out, but then notices the grey point sticking out of the man’s back and the patch of dark red blood surrounding it. The fabric of his coat is pulled up a bit around the spike. “Shit!” Gabe recoils. He bends to take a closer look. The spike is smooth and slick, protruding seamlessly from the ground, curved inward towards the direction of the plane. Gabe wipes a hand across his sweaty forehead. “Goddammit. Idiot shouldn’t have run off.” His words are quiet, and he puts his hands on his hips. “… but it’s pretty suspicious that this is the only stalagmite around here. And that guy was the opposite of suicidal.” He looks to his left and squints into the darkness. There is a light hissing noise from the shadows, which is then joined by a faint rattling or buzzing. Both noises increase in volume as he stares, and he takes a few steps back, eyes wide. “What the…!” When the cacophony only continues its crescendo, he turns and sprints back up the slope, pumping his arms and breathing hard. As he crests the top he slips and falls, skidding on his shoulder through the muck. “Ow! Dammit!” He scrambles back to his feet, looking back over his shoulder as he begins to run again. He only stops running once he can no longer hear the noises, slowing to a jug and still looking over his shoulder every minute or so, breathing heavy and even sweatier than before. From his right shoulder and down his clothes are damp, white shirt stained through, and he shakes the arm as though it had fallen asleep. After walking for awhile longer, Gabe stops and looks around. Where’s the plane? I should’ve reached it by now. But there is nothing, just empty passageway in front and behind, the sound of Gabe’s ragged breathing swallowed up by the empty space. And then, footsteps from up ahead, one, two, one, two. Gabe’s breath catches and he stares unblinking into the darkness.
( ©2016 Sean Dorsey )