Atticus took aim, squinting one eye into the scope of his gun.
Suddenly, as the High Priest raised the dagger high over the shrieking baby, Atticus fired once and his bullet entered the back of the Satanic High Priest’s head and exited the center of his forehead, producing a red cloud around him before he fell to the floor behind the sacrificial table on which little Kennedy lay.
The other cult members gasped, not knowing what had just happened. As several of them ran toward the pulpit and table that contained the crying baby, Atticus, and Chris fired a hail of bullets and took out about twelve of the running Satanists, keeping them away from the child. Jesse then fired his shotgun at even more Satanists as they ran toward the baby. Big Bruce also began firing.
Amid the melee, Brielle and Cindy tore off their hoods, signaling to the gunmen on their team that they were the good guys. Brielle ran up on the stage and quickly unfastened Kennedy from her restraints while Cindy fired her gun at three cult members who charged her, raising their daggers. The Satanic trio dropped to the floor and didn’t move. She then fired her gun at two Satanists who ran on stage trying to attack Brielle. Daniel fired his gun, wounding yet another four cult members.
Brielle finally freed Kennedy from her restraint and lifted her in her arms. As she began to run with her baby in her arms, another cult member tried to block her way. Shifting the baby to her hip and holding her with one arm and raising her gun with the other, Brielle fired several shots in lightning-fast succession, killing the Satanist who tried to block her. Atticus then came running out on the stage from behind the red curtains, firing his weapon to keep the rest of the cult away. He and Malcolm joined Brielle, firing their guns, shooting their way through the crowd and clearing a path to the front doors of the underground sanctuary. Jesse and Big Bruce begin running down the catwalk and then down the stairs to the bottom.
Once they were out of the sanctuary, there were only about ten cult members standing. The remaining cult members started giving chase, running toward the front doors. After Daniel pitched a smoker into the sanctuary to confuse them, smoke filled the sanctuary and Atticus took the grenade that hung from the loop on his belt and unclipped it from the ring. He then pulled the pin, turned around and threw it into the sanctuary at the remaining cult members before he, Chris, Jesse, Big Bruce, Malcolm, Daniel, Brielle and Cindy met in the tunnel outside the sanctuary and began running back toward the fork and remaining vehicles as fast as their feet could carry them.
They heard the blast about three seconds after they began running and the blast was so loud, it shook the tunnel and they heard the roaring sounds of the sanctuary collapsing. The blast shook the tunnel such that cracks spidered across the arched ceiling of the tunnel and water began to spray or pour from the newly developing cracks.
Chris, Atticus and the rest of the group stopped and looked up at the leaking ceiling.
“Holy shit! Get to the cars! Fast! We gotta get the hell out of here!” Atticus screamed.
As Popeye, Alvin, Miles, Jo, and Alexandra continued to watch, they felt the ground shake under them then heard a muffled boom in the distance. The sound came from the direction of the lake.
“What the hell was that!” Popeye cried.
“Damn! Did you feel that?” Alvin asked.
“Earthquake?” Jo asked.
“Nah! That was no earthquake,” Miles said, “That was a blast from a freakin’ grenade.”
Meanwhile, Chris, Daniel, Jesse, and Big Bruce jumped in the first vehicle. Atticus, Malcolm, Brielle, and Cindy jumped in the second vehicle. They then heard another loud roar as the tunnels shook with a vicious tremor.
“Jeee-zus!” Jesse groaned as he looked out the window and noticed more leaks springing from the walls and ceiling.
“Oh, shit, Chris! You better punch it, man!” Big Bruce said nervously.
Chris turned on the ignition and threw the van into reverse. He then spun it around, shifted into drive, and floored the gas. The loud scream of squealing tires echoed throughout the tunnel as Chris took off.
Atticus followed suit, then took off behind Chris as the leaking from the ceiling intensified.
Further up the tunnel, Shannon, Raina, and all the kids reached the end of the underground road. They drove onto the elevator platform and stopped. Suddenly, they heard a distant boom behind them. The boom was followed by a tremor that rocked the vehicle and frightened everyone inside, prompting Kelsey, Jane, Roxie, and Brenda to gasp in horror.
“Hang on, everybody,” Shannon said as the platform began to rise, lifting the vehicle up. The set of doors automatically opened above them and they ascended through the ceiling of the tunnel toward the surface of the ground.
Popeye sounded over the comms after watching across the field and seeing a vehicle rise up from underground on the secret elevator. The vehicle then proceeded up the gravel road toward County Route 16.
“Shannon is that you?” he asked.
“In the flesh, Popeye. All the kids are with me. We got them all out safely and we found Raina, but she’s hurt really bad. We’ve got the get her to the hospital,” Shannon responded.
“I gotcha, Shannon,” Popeye said with a sigh of relief.
“Make sure to contact Paul and let him know that we found Raina. She’s hurt but she’s alive. Tell him to meet us at the hospital,”
“Will do, Shannon,” Alvin assured.
Back in the tunnel, the two vans sped down the paved underground road. Atticus drove behind Chris as the archway continued to spring more and more leaks.
“C’mon, Chris, get a move on, buddy! That damned lake is about to come crashing down on top of us, dude!” Atticus thought aloud but in a breathy voice.
“I’m driving this thing as fast as it’ll go, Atticus,” Chris said over the comms.
“I know. I’m just- I’m nervous as a whore in church. This is not how I want to die,” Atticus told him, touching his earpiece and mic with one hand.
“Amen on that, man,” Chris agreed.
Overhearing the conversation over the comms, Shannon gasped as she drove down 16, speeding toward the bluff.
“Chris, you got to get out of there, honey! Please!” Shannon said as a tear ran down her cheek.
Kelsey looked over at her mother.
“Mom, is Chris going to be okay?” she asked.
“I don’t know, honey,” Shannon answered in a dreadful sigh, “From the conversations I’m hearing over the ear comms, it sounds like the whole tunnel is about to collapse.”
Jane looked up as her eyes widened.
“What??? Oh, God, Ms. Shannon! My mom, Uncle Jesse, and baby sister are down there! And so are your husband and in-laws…and Bruce’s dad!”
Bruce clutched his gold crucifix that hung around his neck. He took the cross, kissed it, and began praying.
Popeye and his group were also listening.
They all sat in the Escalade with looks of terror on their faces. Tears ran down Jo’s cheeks.
“Oh, God! Atticus! Hurry! Just hurry!” she cried.
“C’mon! C’mon! Hurry up and get the hell out of there!” Popeye grunted anxiously.
Back underground, Chris, Atticus and the rest continued to speed through the tunnel. By this time, the road was wet and the walls and ceiling were leaking like a sieve. Atticus turned on his windshield wipers.
Suddenly, several stones in the walls and ceiling began to give way from the water pressure. As a result, a few stones fell from the ceiling in pieces, dropping onto the road in front of Chris, followed by a stream of water that ran from the resulting hole in the ceiling like turning on a spigot.
“Holy shit!” He yelled as he swerved, dodging the pile of large stone pieces, causing the tires to squeal.