Chapter 9

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As I started following Laura and the others into the basement of Lustig Theatre, I started to rethink my choices.  Was this really the smart thing to do?  Did I have a deathwish? Was I really sure that I wanted to go down into this pit of black questions? I was a little scared at the very idea of venturing down into the dark. My heart pounded so loudly in my ears that I thought there were war drums sounding in the darkness.  Drums in the deep.  The image was terrifying.  

This couldn’t be just some silly prank or ridiculous adventure they were on.  No, something really didn’t feel right.  I could sense the danger that lay ahead.  I could feel it in the dank air wafting through the tunnels as I crept silently behind them.

The further into the blackness they went, the darker it got.  They were far better equipped than I was, however, with flashlights.  I just followed the bouncing beams of light.  Soon though, those beams became thinner and thinner and I soon had nothing to follow.  I stopped, afraid I was going to trip and fall into a giant pit or something if I went any further.  I hugged the wall and weighed my options. After a few minutes I realized both my choices sucked:  I either continued on without any light and no idea of what lay ahead, or I retraced my steps back to the entrance without any light and hoped that I didn’t trip on anything or fall and break my neck.

I was stuck. I was going to spend the entirety of winter break glued to the wall of this tunnel too frightened to make a decision.   I wished Rose had come with me. At least then I wouldn’t be alone.

It felt like forever, standing there, listening to my heavy breathing in the darkness.  I was seriously starting to panic now and I tried to concentrate on my breathing. There was warmth near my arm and I knew that Rose had appeared.  The breath that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding filtered out from my lungs and I sagged with relief.  The warmth grew and grew until there was a soft glow all around me.  I could see my feet now and my hands in front of me.  And I could see her.  She smiled at me and my heart skipped a few beats.

I knew I had to keep going forward, in order to make sure that Laura and the others didn’t die when their flashlights ran out of batteries.  So we continued on, together, the glow of her aura guiding our way.  After a few turns in the tunnel, I could see the bright shine of more light ahead of us.  In fact, there was so much light I had to shield my eyes. I turned and looked at Rose and she too had to squint which was odd since she was aglow in her own inner radiance.

I could hear voices, a lot of them.  It wasn’t just Laura, Perry and LaFontaine down here.  I heard male voices as well.  Above them all though, I swore I heard the Dean.  She was quite commanding and there was no mistaking her voice.  I couldn’t hear distinct sentences though.  The sound seemed to bounce off the walls and the ground and by the time it reached me it was more like a few mumbled words.





The rest of what I heard really paled in comparison to the amount of dread those four words instilled in me.  My whole body shuddered at the ramifications of those words. Everything I’d heard in the past few weeks from behind Laura’s door came crashing down on my head.  The research I’d done, the rumors I’d heard floating around; they all made so much more sense now that a feeling of doom had washed over me.  Maybe the university really was run by a vampire council.  Maybe the Dean really was a vampire.  This is what Rose had tried to tell me.  Like a dork I had ignored the obvious and went with the oblivious.

Now I could see more people streaming into the cavernous like area, Zetas and Summer Society alike. I didn’t know where they all came from.  Maybe there were other tunnels under the theatre.  It was like a Children of the Corn maze down here.  I shivered again.  I felt a warm brush on my skin and knew that Rose had touched me.  If she was corporeal I would’ve turned and found safety and solace in her arms.  As it was, I had to find that in myself.  I had to be brave.

There was a thunderous noise that shook everything.  Bits of dirt and rock rained down on my head.  I’d never heard anything like that before.  It was like lightening had struck something metal down in the basement.  The sound came again. Louder, harder, faster. It literally blew my hair back and I could scarcely catch my breath my heart was beating so hard.  There was a huge flash of light.  Some people screamed, others shouted unintelligible words of anger.  I pressed myself against the wall, trying to make myself small and unnoticeable.  Fear strangled me and I didn’t know what to do.

Then hell broke loose in front of me.

I saw students running at each other. I heard shouting and clashing of metal and wood.  I heard snarls and snaps of something wild and beast like.  I heard Laura cry out and that’s when I turned, tucked tail and ran.  Panic wound through me and I pumped my legs as fast as they would go and got the heck out of there.

Maybe it was cowardly of me, but I couldn’t help it.  I hated confrontation.  I didn’t want to get hurt, I didn’t want to die.  Because it sounded like a few people were in the strangled throes of a death struggle.  I didn’t want to be one of them.

As I ran I felt Rose floating beside me. She seemed to be guiding me to safety.  There was another bright flash of light behind us.  The light seemed to encircle Rose. For just a moment I saw her face as if she truly existed next to me.  I saw fear in her eyes, and her lips formed two words.

Help me!

I stopped and turned just as she was torn from her ethereal cocoon and dragged back down the tunnel toward the now pulsating sickly light.

“Rose!” I shouted.

I could hear her cries for help in my head. It was a sharp pinch in my mind. It hurt something fierce.  My guts churned at the thought of going back into the fray but that didn’t stop me from charging down the tunnel after her.

I burst out of the tunnel and into the cavern with the throbbing light at its center.  People were battling all around me.  Students and council members clashed in a horrific roar.  I pushed past a snarling vampire and headed toward the light.  I could see Rose hovering above it.  Her arms and legs were twitching as if she was trying to swim backwards away from the radiant pool.

I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to save her.

“Rose!” I screamed, my voice ripping out of my throat.

She turned her head and met my gaze.  She lifted her arm, reaching for me.  I could feel her fear deep in my belly and it nearly made me sick.  I couldn’t let her go.  I wouldn’t.

I ran toward the light, and jumped.  I stretched out my arm toward her.  My fingers brushed against hers. Then the light blinded me, seemed to burn me from the inside out.  The only thing I could focus on was Rose’s words in my head.

I love you, Mary.

Then everything went black.

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