THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Part 55
Chaney opened her eyes.
*I’m still alive?!*
She could see light. She rolled over from where she had landed on her belly. The flashlight lay beside her, still burning. Good flashlight. The air had gone foggy, thick with dust.
Chaney sat up. Where the tunnel had been, the flashlight’s beam now revealed a wall of black rocks, large, small, of all shapes. The Beast lay with its upper body hidden, buried beneath the curtain of stone. Mathilda lay a few feet away. Chaney saw no sign of the little creatures, save for three of four crushed bodies jutting out of the rocks, a few more scattered around, dead.
“Mathilda!” Chaney crawled over to the old woman.
“Shush, chile.” Mathilda opened her eyes. She’d lost her glasses. “You hollerin’ like that liable to bring the rest a’ the place down on us.”
“Are you okay?” Chaney asked.
“Got a busted leg,” Mathilda said. Chaney looked her over with the flashlight. She almost gagged when she saw the yellow bone poking through Mathilda’s skin.
“Good Lord lookin’ out for you, chile,” Mathilda said. She raised a hand, pointed. “Look there. Way out still clear.”
Chaney looked at the tunnel behind her.
“You gets goin’ now.”
The world shook.
Chaney looked over to see the Beast pulling itself free from the collapsed rock.
“Oh my God! It can’t be stopped! It can’t!”
“Lord mercy!” Mathilda wheezed. “Even down here, ‘way from the Moon!”
The Beast got its head free. Its gaze settled on the two women. It snarled and tried to leap at them. But it couldn’t.
“It’s caught,” Chaney said.
The Beast’s left foreleg had been pinned beneath one of the fallen support beams. The entire tunnel had fallen on top of it, crushed the limb flat. The Beast growled, pulled at its leg, but it couldn’t get away.
“Go on, chile!” Mathilda said. “‘Fore it gets loose!”
Mathilda clasped Chaney’s hand. “Listen, chile,” she said. “I’m gon’ give you what strength I gots left. Be enough, maybe. Then you gots to run, you hear me?”
“But what about you?”
“I’m all done in,” Mathilda said. “You couldn’t haul me out here if’n they was ten of you. An’ I sure can’t move myself.”
Chaney felt a warm tingling sensation, crawling up her arm. It reached her shoulder and spilled out into her chest.
The Beast howled, pulling at its trapped foreleg.
The warmth filled Chaney’s belly. The pain seemed to dull a little. She felt stronger.
“Mathilda?” Tears began to spill out of Chaney’s eyes.
“Shush,” Mathilda said, almost a whisper. “You get on, now.”
Chaney looked back at the Beast. It had started to gnaw at its own leg.
“Lord mercy!” Mathilda said. “Run, chile! Run!”
“Can’t help me none now!” Mathilda said. “All you can do is stay here an’ die! Now run!”
Chaney leaned in and kissed Mathilda on the forehead. “Thank you,” she said.
She followed the mineshaft in the direction that, to her, seemed to lead away from the nightmare behind and below. She ran as fast as her stiff legs would allow. She ran until the mine no longer looked like a mine, the walls less square, less smooth in the bouncing flashlight beam, the floor less even. She almost tripped over the remains of some wooden barricade, kept going. She followed the smells. The smells of foul things that clung to the walls of the tunnel and told Chaney that she had passed this way before, while in the jaws of the Beast. The dead dog stench of the monster and that other, stranger stink. Followed them like a trail of bread crumbs up out of the darkness and the madness.
Chaney saw light ahead.
She choked on a sob of relief as she passed through the cavern mouth, but she dared not stop. The monster would be right on her heels. She ran through the woods, not needing the flashlight now to see, up an incline. Her burning lungs filled with the sweet night air, clean air. Over the top of the hill and down the other side. Out of the woods into an open field. She could see the highway down below, a gray strip in the moonlight.
When Chaney reached the blacktop, she allowed herself to stop, doubled over with her hands on her knees, panting. She scoured the field and the edge of the woods with her flashlight. She saw no sign of the Beast.
*It’s not coming.*
Chaney laughed, a laugh that became a sob. She wiped her eyes. She heard the sound of an approaching car, then saw its headlights, and knew that she would live. She would survive.
“Thank You, God,” she muttered, as she raised her arms to flag down the car. “Thank You.”
* * *
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!