Spelunker (Part 4)
Colin’s frantic voice impinged on her dreamless sleep. She was being shaken awake.
“Www.. what? Colin, wha-?”
Confusion cleared rapidly. Memory crashed on her and her eyes flew open. He was hovering over her, dripping wet, a look of concern on his face.
“Colin? How did you get here?”
“Same way you did. But I did it on purpose. And less gracefully.” Lorelei saw the scraped bruise on his forehead and reached up to touch his face. Then she froze and looked down, squeaking. She was covered – barely – draped by her own clothes. She looked back to Colin and saw a blush that must have matched hers.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I woke up hearing you screaming through the hole. You didn’t answer me back… and then I saw this weird light coming up…” He looked away. “I was scared. I hesitated too long before I could make myself go in. I couldn’t stop it.”
“Did you… see?” Lorelei would have been mortified, before. Now she wasn’t sure.
“Some. The end. The… rocks. They wouldn’t let me into the chamber. They knocked my hammer out of my hand. I wanted to help! I tried… I tried! And then the light got too bright and everything started shaking. Next thing I know, you were lying there half in the water next to that center formation. Lorelei…” Worry and guilt lined his face. She reached up again.
“Shh. It’s OK. I’m OK.” And she was. She felt… fine. Alive. She was tired, but comfortable. “I can’t explain it, but whatever it was, it’s over, and I’m all right. I think something happened.”
Colin’s eyes widened. “Uh, Yeah. I know something happened!”
“No,” she smiled. “I mean something… was accomplished. I don’t know. It feels like I did something important somehow.” She couldn’t describe the satisfaction she felt. Not without sounding perverse, anyway. Colin didn’t have an answer for that, it seemed.
“Um… Are you OK Colin, your head…” she reached up to his bruise.
He winced a little and stopped her hand with his. “Yeah. I’m alright. No concussion, I’m pretty sure. Um… you know, I don’t think you had those before.”
Colin gestured to her wrists. Lorelei looked down to see a stone bracelet around each one. They looked like seamless limestone, and also like they had been formed in place around the narrowest part of her wrist. They wouldn’t slide off easily, if at all. Lorelei also realized that two similar stone rings encircled her ankles. Little reminders of the stone columns that had imprisoned them? Was there other meaning there?
“No. I don’t think I did.”
“…You want me to help you back up to the lip-thing over there? Get you out of the water?” He kept holding her hand.
“Mmmm. In a minute.”
It took longer than a minute. Lorelei dozed for a while, and Colin settled himself next to her, never letting go of her hand. When she awoke again, he did help her to the ledge – he being far more uncomfortable with her nudity than she was, which surprised her again. But she had refused to put on her soaked clothes, and Colin became the first boy to ever see her naked. He spent most of that time trying not to look and failing, especially when he had to partly support her up the last slope. ‘He’s so sweet’, she thought catching a peek of him catching a peek, ‘He’s blushing almost like the chamber was…’
He’d turned his back out of respect as she finally fished dry clothes out of their plastic protection and sloshed carefully around the upper chamber as she dressed.
She was about to ask what he’d brought with him if they had to wait together now when he came slipping and sliding back rapidly through the shallow pool.
“Lore! Hey! The earthquake thing opened a passage. And.. and I think it goes all the way out!”
And it did. Reflected sunlight bounced its way down a long, but pretty direct route out. An hour’s hard scramble later, Lorelei and Colin stepped into the open air.
They got their bearings and found they were probably, amazingly, only another hour’s hike from the cave entrance. It was mid-morning, and they wondered if they could beat the rest of the group back to their vehicles – maybe head off the rescue party.
They set off, munching on granola bars. Lorelei did her best to describe what had happened to Colin, leaving out most of the intimate details, though he’d seen enough of those. They speculated on whatever it could have been in that cavern, and talked about what they would say about it. Was it safe for others?
The topped a barren hill at about the halfway point and paused. And stared. The Deadlands lay all around them. But also all around them, hints of green poked through the cracks and dust. The place had been blighted and empty for generations. But now it looked like the first hints of spring had finally found it.
“You said you thought you’d accomplished something, Lore?”
“You think… this might have something to do with it?”
A sacrifice for a bountiful harvest? A bargain with the gods for prosperity? Lorelei wondered – maybe suspected now – if the cave pictures – which they’d photographed heavily before leaving – might be telling that story.
“What are we going to tell everyone.”
I don’t know.” Shyly, but also slyly, Lorelei slipped her hand into Colin’s. “Will you help me come up with something?
“Er… You bet!”
Hand in hand they walked through the greening badlands.
Lorelei and Colin walked completely around the office building before going in. The granite facing was soot covered and dingy looking. Definitely a “sick building”. Buildings didn’t call to her that often, but it was unmistakable when they did.
They walked into the empty lobby carrying their equipment cases, and found the building manager anxiously waiting for them.
“’LC Consulting’?” He asked.
“Yes,” answered Colin, extending his hand. “I’m Colin Mackay, and this is my wife and partner, Lorelei.”
“Pleased to meet you,” the manager, a Mr. Jeffreys, said, shaking each of their hands and noting the stone bracelets around Mrs. Mackay’s wrists. They seemed to match the stone of the building almost perfectly. “So, you think you can help? You come highly recommended!”
“Oh, yes. I know we can. We’ll spend the night on site and meet you in the morning with our findings and a plan of action. We won’t need access to any locked areas, I don’t think.”
“Really? OK, good.” Jeffreys was relieved, but also unsure of whether he needed to do anything else. He had no idea what the little private consulting group did, but their results in other contracts were top rate. The testimonials had been abundant and clear. “Well… I guess I’ll leave you to your work.”
Colin nodded, and the manager left through the revolving front door, probably swallowing a half dozen questions. The lobby was faced with of the same stone as the exterior, though polished instead of rough. That made things easier. He looked up at the security cameras, and determined a spot along the wall that fell between their fields of view. Then he took Lorelei by the hand and guided her to the nearest wall ignoring the cases. They only contained changes of clothes anyway. She turned and leaned her back against the stone as Colin moved in to kiss her. She was already warm.
“I love watching you work,” He said, and guided her right hand up to the wall over her head. The stone of her bracelet flowed and melded with the wall, holding her fast. Her other hand moved to the growing bulge in Colin’s pants.
“I know you do, darling,” she breathed in his ear as he caught her groping hand and brought it up to be imprisoned against the stone. He knelt to push her ankles back to be caught one at a time, scenting her arousal. His hands moved up her legs under her conservative business skirt, finding no panties and a moist, inviting junction with the tips of his fingers. Already the rock was seeking her, a hard, rounded spur growing up between her parted legs. The walls started to glow with a faint blue light.
“Come with me?”
Colin stood and faced Lorelei, the thrill and fear of the invitation apparent on his face. He loved and dreaded it when she took him with her.
“Yes,” he whispered, and leaned in to kiss her passionately. She moaned into his lips as the granite found her entrance and delved deep. Colin wrapped her spread-eagled form in his arms as granite flowed around them, swallowing them in stone.
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