“Okay, Shannon and Cindy, stay with the vehicle. The rest of you, it’s time to boogie!”
With that, Chris, Atticus, Jesse, Malcolm, Daniel, and Jane quietly jumped out of the vehicle and crept across the dark street to the courthouse.
Meanwhile, Popeye and the second group were driving west on County Route 16. They topped a hill and began passing deep gullies that were covered in kudzu.
“We’re almost to Sinai,” he announced as he turned his headlights off and allowed the light of the full moon to guide him.
Atticus whispered back over the group comms.
“The drawbridge is down and we’re storming the Castle!” he said.
Back at the Courthouse, Jane quietly pointed out a rectangular hole along the side of the courthouse. The hole had stairs that led to the walkout basement. Chris led the group down the stairs to the door. He carefully twisted the handle on the door and slowly pulled it. Sure enough, it clicked open. As the five of them crept inside, Atticus, who was the last person inside and guarding the rear, pulled down the shade over the door window before easing the door closed. They pulled out their flashlights and began searching for the trapdoor.
“That’s it!” Jane whispered loudly as Atticus pulled back a huge area rug in the middle of the wooden floor and found the secret entrance in the floor.
He then knelt and worked to wedge his fingers into the crack and pulled it up. Surprisingly, it was heavy, and Chris jumped in to help. Daniel then shone his flashlight down it.
A flight of wooden stairs led into an underground room. They each crept down the stairs and Atticus and Malcolm closed the doors behind them. The wooden stairs creaked with each step, causing Jane to flinch.
“If somebody’s down here they’ll hear us and that’ll be it,” Jane whispered frantically and gruffly.
“It’s just one of the risks,” Chris said quietly, “You guys be sure and watch out for cameras, infrared trip wires, anything that might alert those bastards that we’re here. Daniel, do you have a hidden spy camera detector app on your phone?”
“I’m already using it, so far, the app hasn’t detected any,” Daniel answered in a quiet voice.
“How good is the app?” Malcolm asked.
“It’s a damn good app, Malcolm. I’ve used it before, and it detected every spy camera in the place.”
“Do you have a cloaking device that could possibly make us invisible to spy cams?” Chris asked.
“Nope. But if I detect a spy cam, I can jam it,” Daniel assured.
“That’s good enough.”
“Honestly, they may not have any down here. If no one but a few VIPs know about these tunnels, and as arrogant as the few people who do know about them are, they might have figured that cameras wouldn’t be necessary.”
“Still. Keep scanning just in case you’re wrong, Daniel.”
When they got to the bottom of the stairs, the room was just as Jane had described, arched entrances of tunnels all around them, each entrance had a burning torch on the stone-built wall beside it. And the arched, brick ceilings of each tunnel were lined with hanging 40-watt bulbs.
Slowly and steadily, they all crept down the tunnel with Daniel in the lead, scanning for spy cameras. Atticus took up the rear with his machine gun held firmly.
They approached a section of the tunnel where the bulbs were blown and pulled out their tactical flashlights to navigate the darkness. Suddenly, tiny squeaks peppered the quiet.
Squeaks in the Dark
“What the hell is that?” Jesse asked in a gruff whisper.
Just then, they all looked up and, by the light of the flashlight, saw a multitude of rats scampering toward them. Just as Jane started screaming, Atticus grabbed her and clapped his head over her mouth, then mouthed, “shhhhhh.”
Chris took a mini blow torch that hung from his belt and aimed it at the approaching rat colony. A stream of fire roasted many of the rats as Chris waved it back and forth. The surviving rats turned and scurried away.
It was about a thirty-minute walk until they came to the underground across road.
“We’re here! This is the access road. And there are the vans they took us in. But there were two more when we were here.” Jane told them.
On the other side of the access road was another archway with two dark vans parked underneath.
“Well, my heat sensor doesn’t detect anyone inside those vans. And I still haven’t detected any spy cams anywhere so far,” Daniel whispered.
“Good! Let’s check out the vans,” Chris said.
The Underground Highway
Chris, Daniel, and Jesse shone their flashlights in the windows of the first van and peered inside. Although the windows were heavily tinted, he could see see inside with the flashlight. Atticus, Malcolm, and Jane peeped in the second van. Chris, peeping from the passenger side of the vehicle, shone his flashlight on the ignition to see that the keys were still in it.
“Hey! Psssst! The keys are still in the ignition!” He whispered loudly.
“Boy, these are some real dumbasses!” Jesse said with a derisive chuckle.
“Not really. Remember, hardly anyone knows about these underground tunnels. So, they know it’s a lot safer down here than it is on the surface,” Chris told them.
“Not in this car! I don’t see any keys,” Malcolm whispered back.
“I can hotwire it if I have to,” Daniel said as he approached the keyless vehicle.
He leaned into the vehicle and quickly searched under the visors and floormats. Daniel then searched the middle console and the glove compartment. No keys. Finally, he reached under the steering wheel, grabbed the wires and fiddled with them. Sure enough, the engine roared to life.
“Okay, everyone. Let’s take the vans and find out where this road goes. Jane, which way to the exit you were telling us about?” Chris said.
“That way,” Jane said as she pointed to their left.
And they all jumped into the vans, three per van, with Chris, Daniel, and Jesse taking the first van and Atticus, Malcolm, and Jane taking the second.
Chris cranked the ignition and pulled out, with Atticus driving the second van behind him.
As Popeye topped the bluff and began to drive down it, Alexandra looked off to the west and, by the light of the full moon above, it seemed that you could see the entire world from the top of the bluff. One could see a section of the mighty Mississippi River and it ran along next to the horizon and disappeared among the trees as it took a curve around an island. On the horizon, beyond the river, you could see the lights of a small Arkansas, town.
Popeye and His Group Reach Sinai
As they reached the foot of the bluff and proceeded down County Route 16 through the bottoms with the headlights still off, using only the light of the moon to see the road ahead, Popeye touched his earpiece as the voices of Chris, Daniel and the rest of who was underground began to break up.
“Chris! Atticus! Can you hear me! It’s Popeye! Chris!” Popeye said louder as a crackling sound slowly grew louder and distorted the voices of those in the tunnel, “Damn it!”
“Shit!” Miles said as he tapped his earpiece with one finger, “We’re out of range!”
“Not only that, but there’s hardly any towers down here so the signal’s gonna be pretty fucked up!” Alvin said.
“Too bad we didn’t think about that before we left!” Oliver said as he shook his head.
“Shhhhit! I can’t hear them either!” Alexandra said in frustration.
“Than we just better hope and pray they don’t run into something in these catacombs!” Jo said.