Deeper inside the tunnel, Bobby, Ashton, Johnny, Stephen, and Breanna stood over a bound Brielle as she and the rest of the captives were held in a holding area. The rest of the cult members who’d escorted them earlier left to attend the ritual. The chants of the Satanists were loud and in the next room. With her hands and feet tied up, Brielle sat there and gave Bobby a defiant look. The other captives sat behind her, also with their hands and feet bound.
Bobby returned the glare.
“Why do you look at me like that?” he growled.
“Really, Bobby? You don’t know already?” Brielle asked in a defiant tone.
“Well, hell. I guess that would be a stupid question. Because, to tell you the truth, I don’t give a fuck what you think of me. Your opinion of me means shit!” he growled, baring his teeth.
“Likewise,” Brielle bit back.
“You know, Brielle, none of you are in any position to make wise cracks! Being a smart-ass is going to be your undoing, sweetheart!” Rita threatened.
Brielle the Smartass
Suddenly, before their hooded captors had time to react, Chris, Atticus, Jesse, and Malcolm burst into the holding area and fired a few shots, hitting Johnny and Ashton before they collapsed. Brielle and the over captives, with their hands still tied, squirmed out of their chairs and hit the floor.
Atticus then smashed Bobby in the head with the butt of his machine gun, knocking him unconscious as Chris threw a punch and knocked Stephen unconscious. Breanna tried to escape, heading for the door to the sanctuary, but Atticus fired a shot, hitting Stephen in the back and Jesse blocked the door, pointing his pistol in Breanna’s face.
“All your friends are indisposed now. I wouldn’t move a muscle if I were you, little lady. If you want to see your eighteenth birthday and know what it’s like to finally be a legal adult, you won’t make a sound,” Jesse warned.
After untying Brielle and Big Bruce, Chris removed the Satanic robes from the unconscious cult members, then looked at Brielle and Bruce.
“Untie the rest and you all head back to the fork. Put the kids in the vehicles and wait for Shannon and Cindy. They’re on their way! When they get there. Load all the kids into Shannon’s truck. Tell Cindy we’re going to need her. Then Tell Shannon to take all the kids back to the surface and wait across the field with Popeye until the rest of us get above ground. Go, do it!” Chris said before he turned to Jesse, “Jesse, you and Malcolm take Breanna to the cellar. Tie her up, gag her, then lock her up. Big Bruce, hang with me and Atticus.”
Atticus stood over Johnny and Ashton.
“These two are dead,” he said.
“Then we’ll get them last,” Chris advised.
Chris, Atticus, and Big Bruce bound and gagged the unconscious cult members with duct tape before dragging them out of the holding area. It took them a while to get them to the waiting vehicles, but they did it without being seen.
Once they got them to the cells, Big Bruce stood as the lookout and Atticus took the keys from Bobby’s police-issued belt. They then drug each of the unconscious cult members into the cells, then slammed and locked the doors.
Next, they went back, collected the dead, then drug them to the cellar and locked them away. After locking the doors to the cellblock, they hurried back to the fork.
By the time they got to the fork, Shannon and Cindy had arrived and Brielle was getting the kids into Shannon’s vehicle. Shannon and Kelsey embraced, crying.
“Oh, Mom! I’m so happy to see you!” Kelsey sobbed.
“I’m so glad to see you too, baby! But we’ve got to go! We’ll have plenty of time for this later,” Shannon told her, “Get in the car, honey!”
They helped the injured Raina into the car and laid her down in the very back, next to the hatchback door. Jane got out of Atticus’s van and joined the kids in Shannon’s SUV. Cindy got out of the vehicle and joined Brielle as Shannon jumped into the driver’s side and slammed the door. Cindy looked at Shannon.
“Go! Get above ground as quickly as you can!” she said before Shannon backed up and swung the car around to face the opposite direction. She then took off.
Now that the kids were on their way to safety, Chris, Daniel, Big Bruce, Jesse, Atticus, Malcolm, Brielle, and Cindy could finally make their move. Daniel, Cindy, and Brielle donned the Satanic robes to blend in with the cult members and keep from being seen. Chris handed Big Bruce a gun, and they, Jesse, Atticus, and Malcolm took their positions.
As Daniel, Cindy and Brielle entered the front doors of the sanctuary in their disguises, the Satanic High Priest stood on the stage of the sanctuary as the parishioners continued to chant praises to their god. The High Priest then spread his hands and arms, then turned his hands, palms down and lowered them, signaling to the evil congregation to be silent.
Meanwhile, as Shannon drove back up the tunnel with an injured Raina and all the kids in the back, she noticed that, on her way out, more sections of the tunnel were leaking from the arched ceiling, then they had been when she was on her way in. In several spots, water rained from the leaky ceilings. In some areas, the leaks were as a sprinkle, in others, a downpour.
Her gut seemed to fall through the floorboard.
“Oh, my God! This is not good!” she mumbled under her breath.
Kelsey, who sat in the front passenger side, looked over at her mother.
“Is everything okay, Mom?” she asked, concerned.
“I hope so, Kelsey. But to tell you truth, I don’t know, honey. This tunnel is leaking awfully bad,” Shannon said in a tone mixed with fear and dread.
“I know. We’re under the floor of a big lake,” Roxie told them.
“Exactly,” Shannon sighed.
“We need to get Raina to the hospital,” Jane called from the back.
“I know, Jane. We’re going as fast as we can, honey. You just keep an eye on her. Okay?” Shannon said.
Everyone in the back were packed in the car tightly and it felt like riding in a sardine can. There were so many people in the SUV that Brenda had to sit in Andy’s lap on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Roxie sat in the middle with Nanda in her lap, and Bruce sat on the passenger side. Then Jane sat in the second back set next to the hatchback with Raina’s head in her lap. Jane rubbed Raina’s shoulder.
“It’s gonna be okay now, Raina,” she assured softly, “Just hang in there.”
Bruce turned around, looked at Jane, and placed his hand on her shoulder.
“I love you,” he mouthed silently.
“I love you too,” Jane mouthed back.
Suddenly, they began to drive up an incline. The incline grew steeper and steeper and Shannon pressed harder on the gas as they drove upward, toward safety. They drove through another downpour of leaking water as they drove further upward. Shannon turned on the windshield wipers as she continued to drive through the eerie but lit tunnel.
Back in the sanctuary, Atticus took his position behind the curtain of the stage, facing the High Priest’s back. He readied his weapon and poked the barrel through the crack between the two huge, red curtains.
Jesse and Big Bruce took their positions on the catwalk amid the stage lights. They aimed their guns down on the congregation, looking for any sign that anyone might recognize Daniel, Brielle or Cindy and come for them.
Chris took his position on the balcony, aiming his weapon down and watching for any movement among the cult members that might signal danger. Cindy and Brielle blended in with the cult members, walking slowly down the aisle between the rows of pews, readying their guns under their robes. And Daniel took his position at the door, behind the last row of pews.
The High Priestess emerged from the crowd of devil worshippers and approached the High Priest, holding Kennedy. She then passed the baby to the High Priest. Brielle’s eyes widened under her hood.
“No! Not my baby!” She groaned in terror under her breath.
She quickly approached the pulpit where the High Priest was standing over a table, holding a crying Kennedy. He lifted the baby up high, presenting her to the congregation before laying her down on the table before him. The High Priestess buckled Kennedy’s little ankles and wrists in the restraints that held her still.
The baby began to cry louder, then struggle against her restraints.
“No way you do, goddammit!” Brielle growled as she ran down the aisle between the two rows of pews in which the rest of the cult members stood.
“Brielle, stop! No!” Cindy cried in a grunting whisper amid the eerie organ music.
The Satanic High Priest slowly picked up a dagger from another table that was beside him. The top of the table was lined with a selection of different blades. He then took the dagger and, holding it with both hands, raised it over the screaming baby.