Roland rubbed his hands together and something like fire appeared in his hands. He dropped the flame and it illuminated the shaft all the way down, about twenty feet,
“Here’s a rope,” Jessica said and brought one end to Latasha. She went back and tied the other end to a steel column that held up the ceiling.
“Me first,” Roland said and grabbed the rope from Latasha.
Officer Dickenson spoke while Roland went down, slowly and quietly. “Science teacher?”
“Biology,” Boston said. “I’m thinking of letting Latasha do her project on arachnids.”
“I never had cool teachers like you. My science teachers in high school were all dorks.”
Roland directed his speech up as he got some kind of lights in place that stayed on. “Come down quietly.”
Fiona came next, but she looked first at Jessica and spoke to Harmony. “You did say these were not spiritual creatures.” Boston made Harmony call her troop so they could guard the opening while they went exploring.
Boston was the last to reach the bottom of the hole. She saw a cavern made of natural limestone and granite. There was an old cot along a wall with a couple of moldy woolen blankets folded on top. Several boxes held World War II ration packs and there was a rifle and a rusty revolver in one corner.
“Fallout shelter,” Harmony named the place.
“Nineteen-fifties, I would guess,” Boston agreed.
“Wow,” Latasha was curious about it all. “People used to think they were going to get bombs dropped on their heads?” She did not understand the thinking behind bomb shelters in America. Boston at least understood the history.
“Over here,” Roland called, and he showed them an opening at the back of the cavern. It was a perfect archway, like a door, framed in metal. “Looks like someone uncovered this more recently.” He pointed to the rocks and rubble pushed aside.
“Or some slight earthquake revealed it, and someone recently dug it out,” Jessica, the California girl suggested.
“Possible,” Boston agreed. She stood in the opening, tried to pierce the darkness of the long hallway and made a decision. “Roland and I. The rest of you wait here. Latasha, you have to guard our escape hatch.”
“But I—.” Latasha saw the look in her teacher’s eye and amended her words. “Yes Ma’am.”
Roland had another globe in a hidden pocket which glowed with a silver light that he could increase or dim with a word. It was like the three globes he left floating around the cavern with no visual means of support. Roland went first and Boston followed with a hand on his back. She immediately spoke.
“I have to call Lockhart.” They had entered a hallway of some kind of ship—no doubt an alien ship. There were small chambers on either side of the hall that glowed ever so slightly with a sickly green light. Each one held a spider, unmoving, and the hall looked like it led to a huge central room that gave off a green glow from hundreds if not thousands of such chambers.
“They appear to be in suspension, some kind of cryogenics,” Roland said, touching the outside of one of the chambers.
“I wonder how long,” Boston thought out loud.
“So wait.” Boston tapped her head and paced in the hallway while she talked. “Latasha’s enemy, Carlos the drug dealer finds this place to hide out from the police. He finds a partially uncovered door and manages to open it. After a time, he manages to revive a spider. A stupid thing to do, but it turns out to be a not so smart male with whom he can make a deal to kill off his rival drug dealers. All is well but he does not know that secretly the male has revived a female which he keeps hidden while she is busy laying eggs. When the babies are born, Carlos finds through the male he can have some control over the babies. He thinks this is even better, but when he meets Mama, he has to make a new deal, especially after Jessica and Latasha slice up the male. Mama goes along with it while she gets the lay of the land, but terminates Carlos as soon as she realizes she will do better without him.”
“That is correct.” Roland and Boston heard the voice. The big spider was clinging to the ceiling of the hallway looking down at them with multi-faceted eyes and snapping jaws. Roland and Boston wore a glamour that made them appear human, but they were not human. The spider shot her web to trap them, but they vanished at elf speed and were already in the cavern yelling by the time the webbing struck the empty hallway floor.
“Get out! Get out!”
A strand of webbing shot from the darkened hole before the Mama appeared. It wrapped around Latasha’s leg and yanked her feet from beneath her. A whip of the spider’s head and Latasha shot across the room to crash into the cavern wall. That hurt, but mostly it made Latasha angry, and she still had her ax gripped tightly in her hand.
Harmony rushed up the rope first to prepare her troop for what she expected might be an invasion of spiders. Officer Dickenson was right behind her, but not elf fast. He stopped at the hole. He swore mightily, turned, pulled his revolver and fired on the giant spider. Jessica and Fiona both fired their arrows as well. Officer Dickenson did not have the best aim, but both arrows struck the spider. The spider did not seem bothered by two arrows. Jessica and Fiona escaped up the rope without a word.
Mama spider tried to fire her webbing several times, but Boston had her wand up and the webbing went astray. Officer Dickenson ran out of bullets as Roland had his bow out and fired a flaming arrow. It struck the back end of the spider and exploded even as Latasha arrived. The spider was already leaking guts from the back when Latasha brought her ax down on the head and ended it. And there was silence for a moment before they heard the clickity-clack sound of spider feet in the hallway.
“Babies!” Officer Dickenson shouted. He about had his revolver reloaded.
“Get out!” Roland said again and Boston repeated it as she held her hands and her wand up.
Dickenson grabbed Latasha by the arm and also repeated the words, but softly, “Get out.” Latasha looked like she wanted to argue, but she did not. She went ahead of the police officer and jumped almost the entire way to the top. Dickenson followed more slowly.
Roland grabbed Boston around the middle and brought her to the base of the hole, even as the babies came pouring into the room and stopped at the magical barrier Boston put up. Roland tied the bottom of the rope in a harness around Boston so she could be pulled up, then he raced to the top.
Boston was straining against the pressure of the spiders trying to break through when the rope tightened and she began to move. Immediately, she pulled her barrier back to cover only the bottom of the hole, and then she tried to do something she did not know if she could do. As she went up, she sucked the air out of the hole to create a vacuum. The rocks around the hole collapsed into the vacuum to seal the exit. No doubt some babies were crushed at the bottom when the rocks settled, but it was more magic than Boston could handle and she arrived at the top of the sealed hole, dizzy and incoherent.
Roland kissed her quickly and stole her phone. “I have to call Lockhart,” he said without explaining for the uninformed. But even as he started through Boston’s interminable contact list, Jessica interrupted.
“Ghouls?” Officer Dickenson asked in a shaky voice. Latasha could only nod
Jessica stared for a second at her phone before she asked. “Ghouls in city hall? Why is that unusual?”