The grates started coming fewer and farther between and were now at the top of long concrete shafts. Less and less light was able to make it down to them. Frank could feel the weight of the earth above his head. Then the grates stopped. An inky wall of blackness shifted and roiled in front of him.
“Sure is dark here. Maybe we took a wrong turn?”
“A final trial before the shining lights and dancing of the Montilla. But it is awfully dark. Maybe I should show you the way back and then return.”
“Dancing you say? Well I guess we can stumble on a little more for that, after you.”
“My hero, but you first. Don’t worry, I’ll be right behind. The Montilla awaits.”
Frank’s steps were slow and halting. He didn’t want to reach out and touch the wall, remembering all too well the grime that coated these tunnels. As he lost track of where he was, he stuck his hands out in front of him. Overcoming his disgust, he reached to the side as well.
If his feet hadn’t been touching the ground with every footfall, he would’ve felt like he was in a black void. He refused to look back in case Ruth had enough light to see him. He wasn’t cutting nearly the dashing impression he would’ve liked. Finally his fingers brushed against the sides of the tunnel. The passage was narrowing.
Mold and the smell of something rotting filled his nostrils. His hands found each other in the dark as the sides swept together into a small patch of blank wall. He felt around everywhere he could think of, looking for a handle, but there was nothing. Not worrying about looking scared anymore, he pulled out his book of matches and struck one.
The light clung to the match, reluctant to move out into the darkness. There was no handle, no door, just a blank wall with a rough skin of uneven bricks. He turned back and saw Ruth’s eyes out beyond the edge of the flickering light. The tiny flame didn’t seem to touch any other part of her body. The twin orbs flashed green, brighter than they had up on the street.
“We must’ve taken a wrong turn. The Montilla definitely isn’t this way.”
“Oh Frank. You’re so adorable.”
She moved farther into the light. The sputtering match sharpened her features, giving her high cheekbones a cruel cast and making her grin malicious. At least Frank thought it was the match. Her voice sounded thick, almost like she’d been drinking. As her lips parted, he saw her gleaming teeth.
“Maybe we should just forget about those drinks all together. We should probably head back.”
“I wonder if the cat ever loses its surprise at the mouse falling into its trap. I know I certainly don’t.”
As she moved even closer, he saw her teeth had lengthened. The canines burst from her jaw in cruel points. A scream tore its way out of his throat. The match hissed and died as it hit the ground. Darkness closed in around him and he fumbled for another. Striking the head against the book, he couldn’t get it to light. He heard a voice in the darkness, whispering into his ear.
“Don’t worry Frank. It’ll all be over soon.”