The Cavern – Part 6

‘We need to get this hydraulics in place to hold the ceiling up,’ snapped my old lecturer. I nodded dumbly and got out of the way whilst they began to prepare the area, the medic took me aside.

‘I may have to euthanaes, you realise – are any of them going to object?’ she gestured to others behind us. There was loads of space, the public expeditions I only ever sent through apparently large tunnels, each group had one or two geologists with them, I looked at the boulders and scree and wondered what had caused the rock cascade.

‘They should be,’ I said quietly, ‘I don’t recall seeing any Life Lighters in the records.’ I swallowed and looked away.

‘They are probably dead already,’ I said, the weight of it pressed me down, the world seemed to recede away from me, they had had families, children, mothers, fathers and siblings, I would have to tell them the news. Guiltily I wondered what the impact would be on the moral of my people, it drove home how sickeningly trapped we actually were.

The medic had lost interest in me and was checking supplies, I heard the hissing of the hydraulics going into place and wondered fleetingly just how many of them we had in the cavern with us, if there was a structural issue in the main chamber we were screwed. If we had enough of the things maybe I should order the shoring up of all the major branches of the cave system but then I worried that I might need them for the digging out tunnel. I wanted to cry at the situation. Instead I tugged nervously on my ears which were drooped pretty low to begin with.

‘Is it possible to safely excavate?’ I asked.

A worried glance from on of the cavers told me they didn’t know. ‘Are we getting any responses, any calling from in there?’ I asked hesitating as I didn’t really want to know. I had hoped to find them lost or maybe dead from gas build up but this not knowing was bad news.

A sob of frustration caught me off guard, my old lecturer was thumping the wall of rubble, ‘we can’t do the rite!’ he sobbed. I moved over to him.

‘We will attempt to dig them out,’ I murmured to him softly.

‘You fool!’ he hissed, snapping his head around to me, ‘we can’t afford too.’ I nodded hated myself and looking away. He was right, the chances of there being a way out down there was remote and digging resources had to be kept for the Main Dig, the one that could save thousands and thousands of lives.

Sighing I looked at the supplies we had and shrugged, ‘you and you stay here and guard,’ I said dying a little inside, ‘we shall return and get… something to seal the area.’ I shuddered and walked away, the other two followed, the Medic had nodded knowing that if someone did claw their way out she would be the one best qualified as to weather they needed euthenasia or not.

My lecturer was in a state as we walked back, shaking and trembling, whispering, ‘no rite! We did not help them pass,’ and other such things which in the dark confines in the tunnels began to press in on me crushing my heart flat.

I found my feet had become heavy in their boots, it seemed to take all my energy just to keep moving forward, what in the hell hole that our existence had become, was I going to do? I had to seal that area and perhaps I could flood it or something? The thoughts sickened me, but I couldn’t leave them there to slowly starve to death or… Images from my child hood nightmares reared in my thoughts once more, that preternatural fear of the undead, I wanted to laugh at myself but at that point I didn’t think that I would ever laugh again. My stomach was cold, and every meal I’d eaten in the last week seemed to be swishing around within me, my purples were closed and pale – if we had been in the sunlight they would have been an unhealthy lilic.

Back at my base I just wanted to slump but I dare not, I had lost a team and their families would be starting to notice their absence and worse than that I had two of my crew guarding the entrance to their possibly living grave, we had no idea where the tunnel lead – their putrefying corpses could poison the air or the water supply (if we ever found one – we were currently running on condensation traps erected in the cavern roof.). I needed to consult the council, I picked up a hand unit to message them and thought angrily about the resources we could have had, enough units like this and we could have had a roaming network whilst we explored and then maybe we could have saved the team. I screeched with anger and almost threw the unit, I gripped it too hard and my joints ached in my long fingers.

But the buzz of my message being viewed caught my attention and I swayed as my mothers voice emerged from the unit.


‘I’ve lost a team,’ I said, no emotion seemed to be filtering through my system now, there was just a blank nothing-ness, I shuddered. The silence from the other end seemed to spiral in on me. ‘They may still be alive but I can’t afford the resources to dig them out… and I can’t leave them to starve….’

‘Do their families know yet?’ came her quiet, infuriating voice, did the woman never react to anything like a real person?

‘No not yet, I shall go and see them personally..’ I began only to be cut off sharply by her.

‘You will not! You will send a message saying they have found an exciting potential and are off for several weeks on an explore.’


‘Just do it Gingnar, we can not afford for this to get out. And I will send some… sealing supplies to you, we had planned for this eventuality, now go in peace.’

Then the woman broke the connection and I slumped into a chair and sobbed, my lecturer looking pale and worn beside me, he put an awkward hand on my shoulder.

Posted: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 @ 6:39 am
Categories: Series, The Cavern.
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