Day Thirty ➣ Part Two

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"WHERE IS IT COMING from?" Rance asked.

Maeve crawled back toward the door, to the panelling at its base. She tensed. "Oh no."

Raina followed her stare, then scanned the walls, the vents. "When you disengaged the lock--"

"Something must have short-circuited," she said. 

The smoke began to rise.

"Find an exit," Raina said. "Now."

They sprung into action, running between the towers of beds as they searched for a door. Their lights illuminated mere steps in front of them, and the smoke thickened as they ran up and down aisles, the beds still made up and polished beside small drawers, immaculate except for the layers of dust that cushioned them from over a century at rest. They towered over the group like sentinels, their shadows watching them as they passed, pivoting from one section to the next, looking for something, anything through which to escape.

"That can't be the only door!" Maeve yelled. Her voice rebounded in the room, echoing higher and higher as it vanished beneath the cloud that thickened as more smoke poured into the room.

"Hey!" Raina yelled. She coughed. "I think I see another one!"

Maeve and Rance followed her voice, waving the smoke out of their faces as they spotted it. Maeve searched for the locking panel, blinking hard. She swore. "When I hijacked it, the lock system shut down! I can't override it!"

They dropped to the ground, pressing their stomachs against the slats of metal in a desperate attempt to breathe. "What do we do?" Raina called, her voice hoarse. She gulped in what little air she could, but her head began to spin. She could not get enough. The smoke swarmed them, wrapping around Raina's wrists, her ankles, enveloping her body. It burned her eyes.

"Raina!" Rance called, but his voice cut off. She watched him run between the beds, throwing the sheets back, opening the sets of drawers. She heaved in a breath and choked it back out, and panic bloomed in her, stretching down to her fingers, her toes, but she could do nothing. The smoke continued to pour in, and she could see nothing beyond herself, not even her friends as her heart hammered in her ears, so loud she barely heard Rance's shout as he called her again.

She and Maeve crawled to him, squinting at him as he knocked on the metal floor between fits of coughing. Something glinted in his hand--a bottle opener. He tried to pry at a panel with it, but he sliced his finger, losing his grip.

Raina crawled to his side. Wheezing, her hands trembling, she took it and dug in. Her vision wavered. Her thoughts grew muddled. But she worked the panel loose and yanked it off, revealing a black hole beneath.

They jumped.

Raina splashed into knee-deep water and coughed out the smoke, relishing in a few more moments of clean air. Maeve braced her hands on her knees, wheezing. Rance landed beside her with a loud splash, cursing. 

For a moment, the ripples of water and the deep gulping of their breaths were the only sounds, intertwining as they echoed into the darkness around them. Still heaving at the smoke, Raina's body thrummed with panic, and it tingled along her skin as she peered around, barely able to process where they were. 

"What is this place?" Maeve asked.

Rance's voice came out a croak and his body shook, but his eyes were firm. "Bunkers like these, they often have an escape tunnel beneath, in case of attack."

"Well," she said, still unable to catch a breath, "I'll take it." 

Raina looked to her feet. The water inched higher, and in the distance, faint amidst the heartbeat hammering in her ears, she could make out the sound of trickling. "The tunnel's flooding," she said. "We'd better move."

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