The prompt for this week is: Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.
The knob was gone. I kicked the door. Nothing, no give, and I couldn’t get any leverage holding Deke. Who’d ripped off the knob? Tension sent itchy fingers through the hair on my ruff as my skin prickled. As quietly as I could, I leaned sideways and eased him down. Whoever it was, they had to have a reason to lock us in.
To separate us from the rest? That indicated intelligence, not a feral creature like the one I’d killed. I moved down a step and crouched in front of Deke. The darkness was still absolute, but I used my senses.
Blood. Shit. Fear, pain, sweat. It all had a scent, and it layered together to create a truly noxious stench with the damp mold and rotting wood. I slid down two more steps then froze, listening, flaring my nostrils to catch any new scents.
A faint breeze caught my attention, the barest whisper of movement. It was coming from under the steps.
Was there another exit from the basement? I turned and stuck my face down in the gap between the wood and took a deep breath. Oh yeah, that was fresher than the rest of the noxious air down here.
But what was I going to do with Deke? I waffled, cursing soundlessly. I crept back up the steps and patted Deke’s face. “C’mon. Wake up.” He moved, and I smacked him harder. I put my face next to his, knowing he’d smell me, and gently placed both hands on his muzzle, carefully covering his mouth without pressing down or muffling his ability to scent me.
Deke’s body went tense, and his lips pulled back.
“Shh,” I warned him.
He nodded once, and I let him go. I placed my face next to his, my lips near his ear. “There’s an exit or something behind the stairs. Someone trapped us in here when I was killing that thing that had you.”
“Are they still in here?” he asked.
“Dunno.” I pulled my gun out. “Ready?”
He nodded. I eased back and stood. Deke stood nearly as soundlessly. He wobbled, but I was close enough to catch him until he could steady himself. He squeezed my shoulder. We made our way down the stairs and then turned. I was operating purely on my other senses, following that sense of air movement.
I held my gun in front of me, pointed upward, ready to lash out with the claws on my other hand. The area under the stairs came to an abrupt end with some sort of shelves, but they were pulled back, exposing a small gap the air was coming through. I stepped to one side and Deke took my place.
“Together,” he whispered.
I holstered my gun. “One, two, three.” We lifted the shelves and slid them far enough to let us through. It made too damn much noise. “If someone’s waiting for us, they damn sure know we’re coming.”
“Can’t be helped.” Deke let me take the lead.
My gun out again, I walked at an angle, keeping one side close to the wall. The breeze was stronger, the smell of old wood and wet dirt taking the place of the basement. This was a tunnel, and that meant out guys probably had no clue where we were going to end up, since it hadn’t been on the plans.
I hated being underground like this. It had my hackles up, my ruff standing out as far as it would go. “Where the hell do you think this comes out?”
Deke stopped. “I don’t know if it does.” He tapped my shoulder. “Look up.” Just barely visible was a bit of the sky through a small tube. “Fresh air.”
“Shit. Do you think this goes to where they’re doing it? The experiments? They seemed to like the basements and underground places.”
“It would make sense. We’ve been looking for camps, abandoned buildings, but what if it was here, all along? Underground where it would be undetected. Trein would have no qualms giving them shelter, if they promised him money and power, territory. He’s always trying to get more.”
“Should we go back?”
Deke cocked his head. “I don’t think we have to.” He turned, and I realized I could see his profile. Lights danced off the dark walls.
Landon was right behind one of his guards and the tunnel behind them was full of men. Back up had arrived. Deke took a short time to pass along what we knew, and I revealed what I’d seen of the creature’s behavior, the feral rat-like man. Whispers sent the information back through the ranks.
“We could be walking into a trap,” I finished off my report with a warning.
Someone snorted. “We definitely are. Trein went running like the coward he is. They’ll have to have more of those things.”
“Who might not be conspirators. They could be victims.” Deke took a gun Landon passed him.
“They come at me, they’re going down. They already ripped out Dustin’s throat.”
“You’re right,” Landon said. “Anyone attacks, they must be dealt with. Do not risk your life for someone who might be an enemy. At the least, we’re putting feral werekin or humans who’ve been turned into monsters, out of their misery.”
“I guess have to assume everyone who isn’t with us is against us,” Deke said reluctantly.
The alphas were shuffled farther back into the group, and I took the lead along with Landon’s beta. We walked in a staggered group, those with guns holding them ready as we snuck down the tunnel as quietly as possible. The tunnel shifted from wood and dirt to rock with tool marks. We must have entered some sort of cave system, but it didn’t look like a natural space.
Predictably, the tunnel ended in a big metal door that was firmly shut. “Well shit. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.”
Want more flash?