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The Lurker in Tunnel 13 Part 4 - Escape or Destruction

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 04 December 2017 · 146 views

CoC 7e Jazz Age

* * *

 

Sunday, February 17, 1924, dawned cold but sunny. O’Brien acted as if nothing had changed, getting them their simple breakfast and getting out of the dining room as quickly as he could. They noticed he was not listening in on their conversations anymore. Perhaps that had been M’nagalah.

 

Wallin told them of his dream. Cloverfield suggested they talk to Ezekiel about it. Wallin thought it merely meant M’nagalah was taking more people. Nurse Petrov thought it was Ezekiel’s child and wife but when they went to Ezekiel’s house, his family was still present. He told them he’d see if anyone was missing in town. Later he confirmed no one was gone.

 

Pavil suggested the dreams were the memories of the people being taken.

 

They spent the day searching the town.

 

They broke into the newspaper office. The front area had a printing press and a smaller room in the back was filled with back issues while a larger room in the back had living quarters. A copy of the last issue of the paper was there and some of them noticed a splattered bloodstain on one wall with a bullet hole in the center of it.

 

They looked through the newspapers and found the last was dated Friday, January 20, 1905. It seemed fairly typical except for a strange editorial with a different style from the other articles. It was flowery and strange. It read:

 

Last Issue as Editor
Leaves Once For All

 

Revelations and news
end for this tiny
venue as your own
editor is no longer
really necessary to
elucidate the local
news. Damned if you
do or don’t.

 

Clues are here.
Sometimes they lie in
mostly plain sight
interesting to view
to the layman but
hard to find.

 

First letters sent
have never hidden
among the simply
silent.

 

Redemption is only
happening along the
inside of a mother’s
den. But this
doubting reporter is
ensured someone will
notice his warning.

 

But be warned: no
justification for the
ornery or the
unilaterally ignorant
really matters. If
no one finds the
already obvious clues
lying about: doom.

 

Sometimes the
niggardly way is the
only one that works
really well. The
truest words are
hardly the easiest
when dealing with
entrusted secrets
styling themselves as
truth.

 

Find the answer
coming to you, but
only if you are wise
regarding what
niceties you read and
espy the writing
right before you!

 

They pored over the strange editorial for some time. It was oddly written and, for the most part, didn’t seem to make any sense. Other stories were concise and not flowery. Even editorials in older newspapers were not written as strangely as that one was.

 

A further search of the building found nothing out of the ordinary. Searching through the older papers didn’t reveal anything either.

 

Nurse Petrov read aloud: “First letters sent have never hidden among the simply silent.”

 

Cloverfield thought they should go to the post office. Pavil wondered if the other editorials might have a clue. Pavil still thought the first letter thing was important, either in reference to the post office or the first letters of every word. That didn’t help, unfortunately. Cloverfield suggested down the side of the editorial and Pavil guessed the first letter of each line.

 

“Wait!” Wallin said, looking at it. “‘Reverend Smith has …’”

 

“Where are you seeing that?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“It’s the beginning letters of each line,” Pavil said.

 

“‘… journal northwest corner,’” Wallin finished reading.

 

Pavil had been correct. The first letter of each non-indented line spelled out a secret message.

 

They realized they had to look in the church on the back street. They went to the church which was partially in ruins and boarded up. They broke in to find the interior was dirty but not damaged. A small living area was in the back that doubled as an office. They found church records and looked through them, noting the records went back to 1827 when the church was first established by the young Reverend Marcus Smith. His son, Jackson Smith, took over in 1900.

 

They figured out which corner of the church was in the northwest and found loose floorboards there. They pried them up and pulled out a small, wooden box. Within was a book that proved to be a journal. The notes found stated that since Smith took over the church in 1900, the town continued to lose villagers as the mines had played out. In 1904, there was talk of trying to convince Abraham Monroe to turn aside from the teachings he had been studying as they were the way of the devil.

 

In July of 1904, Reverend Smith noted a change as well as the loss of Abraham Monroe in the abandoned mines, specifically “that tunnel.” It also noted the feeling of being watched that grew in the town after.

 

By the fall of 1904, Reverend Smith was talking of “The Lurker in Tunnel 13,” noting he had been preaching against the thing brought by the devil and the townsfolk who would not resist it. He mentioned “M’nagalah” several times in context with the lurker and, over the months until early 1905, noted he had begun trying to secretly confer with John Story of the Post, who also tried to fight against “the beast’s incessant but elusive influence.” A note in January 1905 merely stated “John Story took the only way out he knew, that of his pistol. I pray for his eternally damned soul.”

 

The writing become more disjointed until the spring of 1905 with paranoid ramblings about “what can the lurker see through our eyes?” and “it influences thought in Perdition and outside of it. What is this thing?” The final entry, dated April 2, 1905, read:

 

I fear I can no longer hold out against the lurker. It calls to me. It needs me. It promises me
eternal life and existence though not one I would choose, not one any sane man would choose.
I do not know why it allows me my own thoughts and I do not know when it looks through my
eyes or that it looks through my eyes or what it sees or what it senses. Is it reading this even now?

 

I spoke against M’nagalah for as long as I could but I find thinking hard and the people will
not listen. They are either content or influenced by this evil or both. I cannot tell which anymore.
I know merely that I feel it calling to me and it has become harder and harder to resist.

 

I at last receive the call. Others have gone. Others have stumbled into Perdition and never left.
I doubt I can resist much longer. M’nagalah knows me. It knows I fight against it still. It knows
all. Is it God, as it claims? Is everything I believed a lie?

 

I fear it is.

 

They discussed the journal, Cloverfield noting it seemed to relate to their eyes. Nurse Petrov said she went blind when she tried to leave. Pavil said the journal implied that M’nagalah saw through their eyes and spoke of an idea of doing everything they wanted to do blindfolded. He pointed out they might be able to hike out of town blindfolded. He couldn’t imagine their fighting the thing blindfolded.

 

Cloverfield pointed out he’d gone up the hill and grabbed Nurse Petrov but hadn’t gone blind himself. She thought it was because he was going to bring her back and M’nagalah knew that. Wallin said the thing could also read their minds. Pavil thought it was because the thing knew Cloverfield couldn’t have survived long enough to get out of there. He said Nurse Petrov could have walked all the way to the next town but Cloverfield was injured.

 

Wallin checked to see how much gasoline his chainsaw had left and found it was about a quarter full.

 

They spent the rest of the day searching the rest of town without finding out anything else of use.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Petrov had a nightmare that night. She found yourself in a small, dimly lit room on the edge of a bed. She recognized it as the living quarters behind the newspaper office. She fiddled with a pistol in her hand and looked around at the room before putting the gun to her head and pulling the trigger. There was a loud noise and a white light.

 

She awoke.

 

* * *

 

On Monday, February 18, 1924, they woke up from more disturbing dreams and had breakfast together in the hotel dining room. Nurse Petrov told them about having a nightmare of the newspaper man blowing his brain out.

 

“That’s pretty specific,” Wallin said.

 

Pavil was reading through the journal they’d found.

 

“‘I do not know why it allows me my own thoughts,’” he read aloud.

 

“It’s sadistic,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

They also talked about the old man who had escaped the town. Nurse Petrov suggested M’nagalah had let him go just to lure them there. Pavil wondered if the old man had been blind. Wallin pointed out he had arthritis. Cloverfield suggested talking to Ezekiel or Dr. Reddick about his condition and Nurse Petrov pointed out he had already told them he had arthritis.

 

Pavil thought that M’nagalah could not influence thoughts, only control. It could control by wearing a person down or taking direct control.

 

When Pavil questioned Ezekiel about blind people in the village, the man told him there had not been any, including Bice. Cloverfield asked Dr. Reddick about the medical health of everyone in town, specifically Bice. People were people was what he learned and Bice was practically crippled with arthritis and was in constant pain.

 

Cloverfield told the others when he had gone to get Petrov, his leg was killing him with pain. He noted he had not been affected by M’nagalah at all when he had brought her back to the village. He pointed out Bice was in constant pain as well. Pavil noted, when Cloverfield told him about returning Petrov, that he didn’t need his cane to pull her back into town. Cloverfield said she didn’t resist him at all.

 

They discussed how often M’nagalah watched them, what it knew, and if it could control more than one person at a time. When he asked Ezekiel about that, the man noted M’nagalah controlled everyone at the dinner party the night they had entered the mine. He asked if that was the way he’d been physically controlled in the mine or if it had just told them what to do. Ezekiel said it made them do what they did: fake Mitchell’s disappearance, control what Jewel said, and the like.

 

“Then why didn’t it just seize us when we were in the mine and have us all just walk off the cliff?” Pavil asked.

 

“Perhaps you were in a weaker state,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“It’s alien,” Ezekiel said. “It does things I don’t understand. Why are any of us still alive?”

 

“The pastor talked about resisting,” Pavil said.

 

“Why doesn’t the town get more people in and get more people?” Ezekiel went on “It’s a thing!”

 

When he was alone with the others, Pavil once again pointed out the reverend talked about resisting but how M’nagalah wore people down. Ezekiel had mentioned that as well and Pavil guessed one had to stay around it for a while before it had a level of control that it had over the locals.

 

“But you?” Petrov asked.

 

“What about you?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“It seized me,” Pavil said. “Complete control.”

 

“But why did you think it did that to you?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“Well, we’re strangers,” Wallin said.

 

“But why do you think it specifically targeted him rather than one of us?” Cloverfield said.

 

“It might not have,” Pavil said. “It might have just tried to grasp at straws and landed on me.”

 

They discussed leaving the valley. Pavil suggested blindfolding themselves and plugging their ears as well as trying themselves together and then walking up and out of the valley. They decided to try out something.

 

They blindfolded Cloverfield and plugged his ears. He tried to walk out of town but the same things afflicted him: nausea, pain, disorientation, blindness. When Pavil went to retrieve him, he also felt the same terrible and uneasy feelings. Pavil managed to get to him and drag him back. When Nurse Petrov tried to simply close her eyes and go, she got the same symptoms before returning to the edge of town.

 

It didn’t work.

 

They realized there was a difference from when Cloverfield had retrieved Petrov two nights before and Pavil had retrieved him just then: Cloverfield had not felt nauseous when he’d gone to get the woman but Pavil had felt it when he had just done it.

 

“He’s starting to get more control over us,” Wallin suggested.

 

“The only thing that was different was that I was cold and my leg was injured,” Cloverfield said.

 

“You were injured,” Nurse Petrov said. “Maybe I should just kick your leg in.”

 

It started to snow heavily again.

 

“Petrov, do you have an idea about how I can irritate my wound?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“Not good idea,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Well, I want to try it anyway.”

 

“No.”

 

“But …”

 

“No.”

 

“I think the key to getting out of town is immense pain,” Cloverfield said.

 

“It can’t mentally connect with you if you’re in pain?” Pavil said.

 

“Because I feel like, at some point, the pain─”

 

“It won’t endanger itself.”

 

“Whack his leg with a shovel?” Wallin said.

 

“Hit me with a shovel,” Cloverfield said. “On the leg. Do it. Do it!”

 

“No,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“Maybe it’s how mentally inhibited your mind is,” Cloverfield guessed.

 

“I don’t know,” Pavil said. “I don’t think it’s pain but …”

 

They discussed the possibility of getting drunk. Pavil wondered if there was something different about Cloverfield two days before, whether it was the pain or something else. Cloverfield admitted he had been in great pain. Nurse Petrov suggested the pain was all he could think of but Pavil wondered if it was because the other man’s intention had been to pull her back. Nurse Petrov pointed out that had not been like that this day, when Pavil had pulled Cloverfield back. Cloverfield pointed out perhaps that was because they were testing it as a plan to get away. Pavil wondered if M’nagalah was listening to them all but Nurse Petrov pointed out it wouldn’t have used villagers to listen to them and watch them earlier.

 

Pavil also wondered why the villagers, who had watched them when they first arrived, had suddenly stopped. He guessed when they first arrived, M’nagalah couldn’t see through their eyes. He guessed it could now because they had been near it. Nurse Petrov pointed out that still didn’t explain why Cloverfield was not affected when he brought her back into the village.

 

Cloverfield wondered if it was because they spoke. Nurse Petrov apologized for running away and Cloverfield remembered she had not said anything to him but was still affected. He wondered if it was related to faith or devotion.

 

They were still unsure what to do.

 

“A surefire way to escape this place is to kill it,” Pavil said.

 

“It was made out of flesh, I can tell you that,” Wallin said. “Flesh burns.”

 

“Flesh burns,” Pavil said. “Exactly.”

 

They realized even the moonshine, an alcohol, would not burn as hot as gasoline. Cloverfield suggested throwing the tank from Wallin’s chainsaw into the hole but the other man shook his head. It wasn’t enough gasoline to burn the mass he’d seen in the pit.

 

Wallin suggested getting a sled and some rope. The others were not excited about that prospect at all.

 

In the end, they decided to explore the other 12 mineshafts. They procured lanterns and oil and headed off, spending the rest of the day looking for clues or information. Unfortunately, they found nothing of use or interest in any of the other mine tunnels. Unlike the horrible tunnel that held M’nagalah, these mines ended without the great pit. Side tunnels didn’t lead anywhere either. It was somewhat disappointing.

 

* * *

 

It was snowing again on Tuesday, February 19, 1924. At breakfast that morning they talked about how to leave the village. Cloverfield noted he was tired when he rescued Nurse Petrov but he guessed she was as well. Pavil wondered what would happen if someone was involuntarily moved out of the village. Cloverfield wondered if that would really be against their will.

 

Pavil wanted to test ways to possibly escape or learn of what M’nagalah could detect. He noted he might want to hit Cloverfield in the leg with a shovel. Nurse Petrov went to get her medical bag. She vetoed hitting Cloverfield as he had been badly injured and another injury could kill the man.

 

They talked about using the alcohol and realized how much work it would take to get the large barrels to the mine and then to M’nagalah. Wallin was also not opposed to using the dynamite, however. He was willing to try to load up the dynamite and Cloverfield agreed with letting him do that. Pavil didn’t trust the alcohol, figuring it would burn it but it might not kill it unless they were going to burn it and then make a mad dash while it burned, if they could even escape. Nurse Petrov noted she had batted one of the thing’s tentacles with a fiery torch while Pavil was possessed and he was not released from M’nagalah’s grip.

 

The others continued to discuss how Bice had escaped. Though Nurse Petrov guessed M’nagalah had simply let the old man go, Pavil pointed out that the thing took the villagers when they got old. Nurse Petrov noted that, according to one of Wallin’s dreams, it had taken a child.

 

* * *

 

Wallin was through talking. He got the sled and headed to the warehouse with the dynamite to load it up. He took the sled to the shed and started very slowly and carefully moving the crates of high explosives. He had also found blasting caps, fuses, electrical wire, and a plunger box. It would take him hours, he knew, to get them on the sled, across town, and up to the mine. If he survived.

 

* * *

 

The others discussed how Bice had escaped the valley. Pavil wondered if it had anything to do with how cold it was that night. He pointed out that M’nagalah was underground in an environment that was the same despite what time of year it was. He suggested it could have been incredibly sensitive to temperature.

 

Pavil went to Wallin to tell him that if he got to the mine to wait as they’d help him. The latter started to very slowly move the sled towards the mine.

 

Pavil, Nurse Petrov, and Cloverfield headed to the edge of town. Pavil stripped down to his underwear and his boots and headed up the hill. He started to feel nauseous. He tried to go further but it got worse so he returned to the others and quickly donned his cold clothing.

 

Cloverfield wondered if any of the doctors in town might have some medicine that would cause some extreme pain. Nurse Petrov said medicines weren’t made for that. Pavil remembered a grandmother who had terrible arthritis and was in so much pain she couldn’t get out of bed. He became more and more convinced pain was what was needed to escape the village. Nurse Petrov noted she could punch him hard in the arm or the face. He didn’t seem to be interested in that.

 

“I think it’s pain,” Pavil said. “I really do.”

 

“Well, I’m not being the test subject,” Cloverfield quipped.

 

Pavil thought about he and Nurse Petrov fighting until they were both in great pain and then fleeing from the town. If they could.

 

* * *

 

Wallin had decided to forgo the rope and actually push the sled carefully through town. It was more dangerous but gave him more control of the sled over the uneven snow. If the dynamite exploded, he would surely die, however.

 

He made his way very slowly and painstakingly down the street.

 

* * *

 

Cloverfield went to Ezekiel and they found him and learned Spur was the oldest person in town.

 

“Can we use Spur as a test subject?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“No!” Ezekiel said. “For what?”

 

“For pain.”

 

“No! You want to stab Spur? No! Why are you asking me!?!”

 

He returned to the other two. He looked embarrassed. He tried to convince the two of them to use Spur as a test subject.

 

“We need pain,” Cloverfield said.

 

“We don’t know that!” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“But we can’t know until we do it,” Cloverfield said.

 

Nurse Petrov frowned and then punched Pavil squarely in the face. There was a distinct snap and the man stumbled back. Blood spewed out of his nose. He let out a cry.

 

“What the hell!?!” he screamed at her.

 

“You wanted pain!” she said. “Go!”

 

“Go!” Cloverfield said, pointing up the hill.

 

Pavil sprinted up the hill, out of the valley, and disappeared into the woods.

 

“I’ll be damned,” Nurse Petrov said.

 

* * *

 

Pavil ran and ran, expecting the nausea or the gut-ache he’d felt before. He ran hard and fast and it was a couple of minutes before he realized he was well past the edge of town. He looked back at his footprints in the newly fallen snow back through the bare trees to Perdition. The town was out of sight and his head throbbed with the pain of his broken nose. He didn’t want to go back.

 

But he was happy. He was in agony and had never been happier than at that moment. Blood dripped from his nose and his chin.

 

He walked back.

 

* * *

 

It felt like Pavil was gone for a very long time before he stumbled back out of the woods. Both of the man’s eyes were going black and blood dripped from his broken nose. He was smiling like a madman though. He hesitated just before he entered the spot the others couldn’t leave before walking down to get the shovels still lying there.

 

Nurse Petrov realized another possible way to give a great deal of pain without actually physically injuring someone was the nerves of the gums. A needle stuck into the gum would hurt terribly and probably produce a great deal of pain.

 

Pavil looked at Nurse Petrov.

 

“You can go get him,” he said, nodding towards town. “Or you can tell him and let him see if he wants to blow it up. If he wants to, let him.”

 

She handed him a handkerchief.

 

“I’m going to dig the car,” he said.

 

“This is going to sound strange,” she said.

 

“Figure out how you’re going to hurt yourself,” he said.

 

He left, disappearing back into the woods.

 

Nurse Petrov got into her medical bag and put a little saline into a syringe. She handed it to Cloverfield.

 

“If you want to follow, stick in gum,” she said. “I don’t want to hit you.”

 

She headed off to find Wallin. She found him near the hotel, pushing the sled filled with dynamite down the street, very slowly. She stopped and watched him from a distance before carefully calling out.

 

“Wallin,” she said. “Step away for a minute.”

 

He did so, walking over to her.

 

“Yes?” he said.

 

“We found a way to leave,” she said. “But … it will not free everyone. It only frees us.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Cause pain. I punched Marco in face … too hard maybe. But it caused broken nose and he left with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on that depressed man’s face.”

 

She more carefully explained that pain seemed to allow them to leave. They heard a tapping nearby and saw Cloverfield on Ezekiel’s front porch, knocking on the door.

 

* * *

 

The door to Ezekiel’s house opened and Mitchell stood there.

 

“Hello,” he said.

 

“Do you know where your father is?” Cloverfield asked.

 

“He’s doing … he’s working. He’s out in the … north field. Or the south field. Or maybe the east field. Or the west field.”

 

“Do you know when he’ll be back in?”

 

“Tonight? He usually works ‘til dinner.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“That’s why he takes a bucket. It’s got food in it.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Cloverfield left, walking down the street towards Dr. Reddick’s office.

 

“Mr. Rich Boy, what are you doing?” Nurse Petrov called to him.

 

“I’m sharing information,” Cloverfield said. “I don’t want to leave them here.”

 

“I don’t know if they’d believe you.”

 

“I’m leaving them to their own devices. If they don’t believe us, it’s their own fault.”

 

“Maybe not best idea: let everyone know.”

 

“But … I want to save them.”

 

“That’s … very good. But, if monster catch on: not good.”

 

“The book did say that it sees through other people.”

 

“Not sure if self-inflicted pain would be effective or not.”

 

Cloverfield sighed.

 

“So, what’s our plan then?” he said.

 

“I’m going to keep pushing,” Wallin said.

 

“You’re determined, even though we found a way out?” Nurse Petrov said.

 

“I have a grudge against this thing,” Wallin said.

 

“All right,” Nurse Petrov said. “You have fun. I’m going to go a little ways away.”

 

She was curious as to how it turned out and so decided to stay and watch. Cloverfield stayed with her.

 

* * *

 

Pavil found the car covered with another foot and a half of snow and so got busy digging it out. It was long cold work and the blood dripping from his nose eventually stopped, leaving a huge bloodstain on the front of his jacket. By nightfall, he had the car dug out and turned around. He was unable to get purchase when he tried to drive it up the hill but at least had it pointed in the right direction.

 

His broken nose had settled down into a dull ache that was only sharp when he touched it.

 

He climbed into the back seat of the motorcar and sat down, exhausted. He soon fell asleep.

 

* * *

 

By the time Wallin reached the edge of town near dusk, having taken several hours just to push the sled through town, he was shivering with the sweat that had gathered under his warm clothes. He was exhausted and felt terrible, having difficulty breathing and coughing occasionally. He found a mine cart and got it on the rails. Nurse Petrov approached carefully to advise him to make sure it was the right tunnel. It was.

 

“I would appreciate it if one of you came with me so he doesn’t take control of my mind,” Wallin said.

 

“I was under impression that you were going to roll down track,” she said.

 

“I am … but that doesn’t go all the way to him,” Wallin said.

 

She remembered the track ended some 50 feet before the nasty cave that housed M’nagalah. Cloverfield walked over.

 

“What are you going to do?” he asked Wallin.

 

“Blow him up,” Wallin said.

 

“But how are you going to achieve that?”

 

“Dynamite.”

 

“Yeah, but how are you going to get it to him?”

 

“Rail cart. And then, once I get as far as I can take it, take it out of the cart─”

 

“Why aren’t you going to bring it directly to him?”

 

“Cart stops.”

 

“Would doing that be close enough, do you think?”

 

“No.”

 

“Would even the ceiling collapsing above the hole be enough?”

 

“They’d eventually just mine it out.”

 

“But if it squishes it … the rocks crush it … it’ll die.”

 

“I don’t think that’ll do it.”

 

“Not sure,” Nurse Petrov said. “Not sure what is … tentacles connected to.”

 

“If you want a helper, I’m not going to help you,” Cloverfield said. “I have a crippled leg.”

 

“That’s fine,” Wallin said.

 

“I can’t help you effectively. Even if I did help you and I tripped, it would be over.”

 

Nurse Petrov just looked at the man silently and frowned.

 

“Do you mind if I take your firearm?” Wallin said.

 

“Sure,” Cloverfield said. “I can buy another one.”

 

Wallin broke open the pistol and found there were four rounds left in it. He asked Cloverfield for replacements for the missing two, but the man didn’t carry any extra ammunition.

 

“That’s fine,” Wallin said. “Worse comes to worse, I’m not getting out.”

 

Cloverfield and Nurse Petrov retreated when he started to move the explosives. It took him another 20 minutes to slowly and carefully move the dynamite into the mine cart. He placed the blasting caps, fuse, wire, and plunger into the mine cart as well.

 

Cloverfield and Nurse Petrov had retreated to a safe distance to watch. Nurse Petrov also kept an eye out for villagers but no one was around. Cloverfield wondered if they should inflict pain upon themselves.

 

* * *

 

Wallin slowly pushed the mine cart from the back, moving it very slowly. It was a hundred yards or more in the dark to the back of the mine and it took him a good half hour to get there. He made it to the end of the line without incident and could see the phosphorescent light ahead of him. As slowly and carefully as possible, he lifted one of the crates. He made his way slowly and carefully to the ledge. It very quiet.

 

He looked down when he reached the ledge.

 

M’nagalah was there. As large as a house and made of various kinds of flesh, bone, and sinew, the horrible thing lay at the bottom of the cave. Portions of it were obviously parts of animal and a small rabbit seemed to sit atop it, partially in and partially out of the thing. Numerous tentacles lay atop it and the great eye he had seen before was closed. It was disturbing and shocked him to the core, but he kept his resolve.

 

Wallin carefully put the crate down on the edge of the ledge. He thought for a moment about whether or not to get the second crate from the mine cart. He looked down and could see the closed eye of the horrible thing.

 

He picked the crate back up, held it over the edge, and dropped it. He saw M’nagalah’s eye suddenly fly open as he turned to run. He only made a few steps before a massive explosion ripped through the cave behind him. He was flung right out of his shoes, tossed down the corridor all the way to the buffer stop some 50 feet away. He crashed into the wooden structure, flipping over it, most of his bones broken, crashing onto the rails. The mine cart was also set into motion by the explosion and slammed into his broken body on the tracks. The secondary explosion from the second crate on top of him ripped the mine cart to shreds and completely destroyed his body as well.

 

The last thing he saw before he died was his chainsaw flying through the air. Or maybe it was just a hallucination.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Petrov and Cloverfield, well away from Tunnel 13, heard the thump of the explosion and felt the ground shake. Debris flew out of the end of the tunnel. Both ducked. Nurse Petrov cursed, realizing everyone in the valley was going to know what just happened.

 

“I don’t think he made it!” she said. “Let’s run!”

 

“Let’s run!” Cloverfield agreed.

 

They fled from the mine. As they ran through town, lights came on in the houses and people came out into the street. They looked surprised at first and many of them looked towards the mine. Someone let out a cheer. Others started crying. People seemed very happy as if they realized what had just happened. Some called out thanks to them as they fled.

 

They ran to the edge of town and up the hill without feeling anything. They ran most of the way to the motorcar before Nurse Petrov had to stop to catch her breath. Cloverfield stopped and waited for her and then they made their way to the auto as quickly as possible.

 

Cloverfield climbed into the driver’s seat and started the motorcar.

 

“God! What?” Pavil cried from the back seat. “Who the hell is it!?!”

 

“Hey!” Cloverfield said.

 

It took him a moment to realize it was Pavil.

 

Nurse Petrov leapt into the passenger side of the motorcar.

 

“Jesus Christ!” Pavil shrieked.

 

She didn’t say anything. She was trying to come to terms with Wallin’s obvious death.

 

When Cloverfield turned on the motorcar’s lights Pavil realized who was in the machine with him.

 

Cloverfield put the auto into gear but couldn’t get it up the hill. With Nurse Petrov and Pavil pushing and digging up snow, they were able to get up the incline and out of the area in an hour or so. They eventually found their way back to Huntingdon.

 

* * *

 

In Perdition, the villagers were torn that night after M’nagalah was destroyed. Some of them wanted to leave the village forever while others thought they should try to make a go of it in the valley. It seemed some would go and some would stay, but there was no hurry.

 

Ezekiel felt a pain on his arm. He reached down to the sudden thick mass that was there and his eyes went wide.

 

Some things never ended …