Trials: Part Eighteen

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Vanessa led onwards into the tunnel, with Ashley following close behind. It was dead quiet except for the sound of their footsteps and breathing. This tunnel seemed to be leading upwards at a mild incline. She was starting to get a little thirsty, but it was possible that was due to her knowing that they didn’t have water. Regardless, she needed to push on.

“So, Vanessa, where are you from?” Ashley asked. They’d been walking for about fifteen minutes, and neither of them had spoken.

“Atlanta. What about you?” It occurred to Vanessa that they hadn’t ever really talked about where they came from. Any talk they’d had was very surface level. She decided it would probably be good for both of their nerves to keep some kind of conversation going.

“Hey! I’m from Atlanta too! Well, at least I lived in Atlanta. I was born in New York, and my parents moved me down to Georgia when I was in high school.”

“Wow. I wonder where this prison actually is… If we’re both from Atlanta, it might be close to home. I guess it could be a coincidence…” Vanessa reasoned that if they were actually somewhere near Georgia that would be ideal. Then again, unless this cave let out near people, it didn’t make too much difference where they were. She just had to hope it would. “Say, Ashley. Do you have any camping or hunting experience or anything like that?”

“No, why do you ask?”

“No reason. I just thought about my dad, and how some of his best stories were hunting stories.” Vanessa realized a little too late that she probably shouldn’t be making Ashley think about what happens if they escape, but recovered well enough. She needed to deal with one issue at a time.

“Oh, my gir-” Ashley cut herself off.

Vanessa stopped and looked back. Ashley looked a little startled. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, sorry, I thought I saw something, but it was just a rock.” She laughed weakly.

“Well, we’d better make sure.” Vanessa carried on slowly, and made sure to thoroughly check everything, but there was nothing there. She wasn’t even really sure what she meant by a rock, as there wasn’t anything that big within view. “I don’t see anything.”

“Probably just my imagination…”

“Yeah, maybe.” Vanessa was worried now, but she didn’t want to tip off Ashley that she was. She turned around, and held out her hand. “Here, take my hand so we don’t get separated.”

Ashley obliged, and Vanessa led on. She didn’t want to probe too deeply, but she did pick up genuine fear of something specific. She tried to see if she could catch a glimpse of whatever Ashley saw, but couldn’t.

“So, um, what do you do? Are you in school? Or, were you, I guess?”

“Well, I actually was a superhero. If you lived in Atlanta you may have heard of me. I went by Psyche, I worked with Dayspring.”

“No way! You worked with Dayspring? I didn’t realize I was friends with a superhero! No wonder you’re so good at this!”

Vanessa laughed a little. “No, trust me, you’d much rather have Jude than me. Not counting that his power is light and that he can fly, he’s way better under pressure than me. Besides, I’m kinda rusty. Something happened, and I kinda stopped doing superhero stuff.” Vanessa sighed. She didn’t need to give up unnecessary info about the Jamal incident.

“Oh that’s right… The thing at the bank. I’m sorry that must’ve been hard.”

Vanessa winced as she recalled being blasted across the bank, and waking up in the hospital. “Yeah, that was rough…”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to dig up bad memories.”

“Don’t worry about it, that’s in the past now.” They were both quiet for a moment. “So, what do you do?”

“Oh, I’m an electrical engineer. I work-” She hesitated, “I guess I worked at a firm that did some of the navigation equipment for airplanes.”

“Oh, wow! You’ve got a degree and a real job? I thought you were about my age.”

Ashley laughed. “Well, I’m not that much older than you! I’m only twenty-five!”

“I’m twenty, but I probably wasn’t ever going to actually go to college.” She sighed. “Just didn’t find anything that interested me. Didn’t see much point in working either.”

“Don’t say that! You can always pull yourself up! You just have to set your mind to it.”

“No, it’s just my dad can pay for everything, and I just don’t see any point. He’s an executive for the  CinniStar tech company.”

“Oh, wow! That’s where I worked! Who’s your dad?”

Vanessa laughed a little. She hadn’t intended to drop that she was well off, but it just slipped out. “David Smith.”

“No way! You’re Mr. Smith’s daughter? He was always so nice to us! He’d come by our office and meet us and buy us coffees!”

“Wow, that’s some kind of coincidence, huh?” Vanessa laughed, but something was up. Johan was here too. Her dad had too many connections here.

“Maybe I can actually get my job back when we get out of here then.” Ashley laughed. “I’m just joking, you don’t have to-”

“Hold on, be quiet.” Vanessa whispered. She definitely heard footsteps. She flipped off the flashlight, got against the wall, and carefully pulled Ashley in next to her. The footsteps continued to grow louder, and Vanessa’s heart began to race. She wondered if it was a guard, or if maybe this was one of the tunnels that lead to death. Either way, she had to be ready to strike.

The footsteps were almost to them. She held her breath and waited for whoever it was to be near. When it sounded like they were almost next to them. She covered Ashley’s eye’s, closed her own, and flipped on the flashlight. She opened her eyes and saw someone in a guard’s uniform. She kicked him in the stomach, causing him to fall, then conjured a disc next to his throat.



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