“I reckon I can just about fit through there," he said, crouching and looking inside the tunnel. He crawled through the small, circular opening and disappeared into the darkness.
“Are you all good in there, Dave?" asked Foster.
Foster dropped down onto his hands and knees and followed David into the tunnel.
“See you in a minute, chicken,” said Dana as she prepared to go in behind Foster. Carl didn’t reply. There was nothing much to say. Carl watched as Dana crawled into the darkness, the soles of her Reebok trainers the last thing he saw of her before she too disappeared. He stood listening to the sound of his friends shuffling down the tunnel, staring into the blackness within.
“Wait a minute...I’m stuck!" said David.
“Hold on," replied Foster.
“No wait! There’s something...." David began to scream.
“Baby? Baby, what’s wrong?" screamed Dana. But David continued to scream.
“Get out, get out!" cried Foster.
Carl was now right at the entrance of the tunnel, peering in, but could see nothing. Then Dana’s Reebok trainers appeared as she frantically crawled backwards out of the tunnel. Foster followed closely behind her.
“Dave!" screamed Dana. “Foster, help him!"
David’s screams had now become sobs, made more haunting by the acoustics of the tunnel.
“Dave?" shouted Foster.
“Just go and help him, Foster!"
Foster quickly disappeared into the tunnel.
“Something is pulling me in! Help me!" called out Foster. Carl ran forward and grabbed hold of Foster’s foot before it disappeared into the darkness. Dana had gone silent and just stared into the tunnel.
“Help me, Dana!" cried Carl.
Dana got to her feet and reached into the tunnel for Foster’s other foot which he had kicked out towards her.
“Pull!" shouted Carl as he planted one of his feet on the side of the mound. He pulled with all of his might, but Foster was gradually being dragged further inside, pulling Dana and Carl with him.
“I can’t hear David anymore," yelled Dana. “Why isn't he...."
She screamed in terror and let go of Foster. She swung her top half back out of the tunnel.
“It’s got me, it’s got me!"
Without Dana pulling, Carl's feet were slipping further inside the tunnel.
“What’s got you?"
“It’s got my leg. Help me, Carl!" Carl looked at Dana in time to see a thick black tentacle tighten itself around her waist. He let go of Foster’s foot and jumped backwards as another black tentacle lashed out towards him, narrowly missing his head and making a thudding sound as it bounced off the tunnel wall. He took a couple of paces away from the tunnel entrance and Dana looked back at him in disbelief.
“Carl? Help me, Carl!"
Foster began screaming from deep within the tunnel.
Carl watched as Dana was dragged into the tunnel. Her torso was still above the top of the entrance, but the tentacles had locked around her bottom half. Dana clawed at the dirt of the mound above the entrance, but it was all in vain. Carl watched in silence as Dana’s torso folded back over her legs with a sickening snap sound. Her screams melded with Foster’s as she disappeared into the darkness, her head almost between her knees. Once again, Carl watched as her Reebok trainers were lost from view, then stood fixed to the spot. The tentacle that had almost caught him flopped about in the entrance, searching for him. The skin of the tentacle reminded him of an elephant’s trunk. Foster’s screams subsided and only Dana’s remained. Soon enough, they stopped too. More of the tentacles appeared at the entrance, feeling around and lashing the sides of the tunnel. Carl burst into tears and fled.
* * *