This story is a continuation of one that started with another flash fiction, but it should be able to be read as a stand alone. But if you’d like to read the whole thing, here are parts one, two, and three.
At Eoin’s whispered curse, Hollis slowly turned, and her breath stalled in her throat. Of all the things she expected to find beyond the elaborately carved gothic door, a cavernous, underground tunnel — or maybe it was a cave — hadn’t been on her short list. Which, when she thought about it was kind of dumb. After all, they had been in the underground vault of the university’s library prior to going through the door.
Reaching behind Eoin, she felt for the doorknob and gasped.
“What’s wrong?” he whispered almost soundlessly against her ear.
“The knob is gone.” As near as she could tell in the gloom, the door was still the same. She could feel the raised carvings, except, as she moved her hand over the surface, they were quickly becoming stone. “Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck.”
At Eoin’s inquiring murmur, she grabbed his hand and placed it on what remained of the wood and watched his face as he registered what was happening. His eyes widened, and he turned and looked at her, seeming unsure for the first time tonight.
“Now what?” he asked.
She shrugged, her shoulders brushing his chest as she realized how close they were still standing. “Can’t go back. So…I guess we go through.”
“I don’t suppose you had the foresight to bring a torch, did you?”
She reached into her jacket pocket and withdrew the small flashlight. “I’ve got the one on my phone, too, but I don’t want to kill the battery.
He nodded. “Same.”
She pushed the button, and a narrow beam of light revealed more of their surroundings. Rough walls, ceiling and floor — naturally formed — from the looks of it, extended for what seemed like forever. She suddenly felt very small. She wondered if Eoin did, too, because he reached out and grasped her free hand, lacing his fingers through hers. The comfort was immediate. And despite her earlier annoyance at his threat of blackmail, she couldn’t help but be glad that he was with her right now.
Hollis scanned the floor again. It looked solid enough. There weren’t any gaping fissures or bottomless underground pools that she could see. Though, she was slowly becoming aware of the sound of rushing water. There must be a subterranean river down here somewhere.
She took a cautious step forward, and he followed. “Where do you suppose we’ll end up?”
“Faery.” His muttered response sounded more like an epithet than an answer.
She snorted. “Right.”
“Where do you think we are, love?”
She shivered as they walked forward, telling herself it was a chill from the surrounding dankness as opposed to his casual endearment or the way his accent seemed to roughly caress his words.
“In a cavern under the library.”
“With a doorknob that disappears and wood that magically turns to stone?”
He had a point. She shivered again, but this time it had nothing to do with him or the chill in the air. She fished her cell phone from her back pocket. There was no signal. Not that she’d really expected one in a cave or whatever this was, but she’d hoped.
She watched as he checked his phone, shaking his head before powering off the device and pocketing it.
They walked for hours — it felt like it, anyway. The path ahead was getting lighter — bright enough that they’d notice any potential deathtraps, so she switched off her flashlight. As they rounded a bend, they both squinted as mouth of the cave suddenly opened up before them.
The world beyond the cave’s mouth was bathed in an eerie golden glow, and as the details slowly came into focus, her breath caught. There was a man standing there. She couldn’t quite tell if he was facing them or looking the other way. Either way, he looked imposing.
He turned with a movement as fluid as a dancer, and Eoin’s hand tightened around hers. “Fuck me swinging.”
That’s it for me this week, but I will be continuing this at some point. Be sure to check out Deelylah’s story, too.