Anne feels like she’s been walking forever. She can’t see where the spiraling cement-like staircase is going.
Her foot steps on something in the dark. It cracks, and she feels it slide down, pushing her forward. She trips, unable to catch herself. Something digs into her stomach, and she reaches down. “What the hell?”
As she feels the shape of the object, it becomes unmistakable.
It’s a bone.
“Oh God,” she says. The bone slips from her hand, and she hears it tumble down the stairs. She pushes off the stairs, reaching up to get a better grip. Her hand comes upon something else.
She picks it up, and—even before having to feel it—she knows what it is.
A human skull.
Anne curses, dropping the skull, and gets up. She hurries, jogging up the steps as fast as she can. Just when she begins to think that the stairs will never end, dim light flutters down the stairs, like a rug. She slowly walks up, taking short breathes, and stops.
The stairwell ends at an opening several inches short of her complete height. She ducks down, passing through, and finds herself on a ledge. She steps out, making sure not to get too close to the edge. The entire ledge ends to her right, backed into the wall of the cliff. Ahead of her, she takes a glance over the ledge. A thin layer of fog fades some of her view, but she can see that she is high up from the river.
To her left, the ledge pushes on a few feet to another set of crudely carved stairs, moving straight up into the fog. She follows the ledge to the stairs, and without hesitation, climbs up.
She finds there are only several steps, and around her the fog parts, allowing her to see where the stairs go.
They lead to a chain-link door, which opens up into a chain-linked, metal-grate floor tunnel walkway. She can easily see through the chain-linked walls, and moves to the door. There is now handle, or lift-lock, so she wraps her fingers around the link, and pushes on the door.
It swings open, and she steps off the dirt steps onto the metal grating that is that tunnel’s floor. Inside, she finds that the tunnel goes straight, against the canyon wall. It’s supported by metal bars, latched into the canyon. The tunnel is made up of different smaller tunnels, each connected to make the one tunnel itself.
Around her, the fog seems to push in. Anne passes her fingers over the chain-link as she walks, and says, “I think I hear a plane.” She smiles. “I’m not surprised, since I’m probably in the clouds.”
Up ahead, the tunnel breaks: one path continuing straight, with several metal steps leading up to it; the other veering off away from the canyon wall, into the mist. “Hmm… Ominous tunnel continuation number one, or ominous tunnel continuation number two. Tough choice.”
Anne turns right, heading away from the canyon. The new tunnel leads straight out, into the fog. Anne says, “It must go right over the river.”
She looks around, the fog enclosing on all sides. There is a rail on both sides of the tunnel, and Anne looks up, realizing that the chain-link roof of the tunnel is gone. “Looks like tunnel number two turned into bridge number one.”
She stays close to the rail on the right, passing her hands. She feels a chill, the fog too creepy for her.
Her hand brushes against something, as it slides across the rail. It’s dry, hardened, white power on the rail. She stops, looking at it. She picks it, part of it chipping off and falling into the fog. She whispers, “It’s like—“
She looks up. A shadow in the fog had passed overhead, and her ears had filled with a whooshing noise. She looks back at the hardened powder, pulling back her hand. “It’s like bird crap.”
She begins walking faster down the bridge, seeing the faint outline of the other end—where another chain-linked tunnel starts—begin to appear.
Anne starts to run, as a loud caw rips through the air behind her. She hears the whooshing noise, as something descends behind her. She ducks, feeling something ripple her shirt. She looks up, hearing the ruffle of wings.
“Oh God,” she says, nearing the tunnel, “I’m in hell.”
She darts inside, spinning around to face the bridge as she puts her back against the wall. The tunnel goes off to the left and right, pressed alongside the second canyon. She looks out through the chain-link into the fog.
She runs left, down the tunnel. She continually looks right, through the chain-link, at the fog. In her hurry, she doesn’t notice a small set of stairs ahead, rising to the higher part of the tunnel. In-between each step there is a small gap.
Anne yells, as her foot catches in one of the gaps. She lands hard on the top, sliding several inches on the grating. She rolls over, onto her back, groaning. She rubs her eyes, letting everything readjust.
As she opens her eyes, she screams.
Perched on the chain-link ceiling above the tunnel is a winged creature looking down on her. It’s armed with a beak, with two black eyes resting behind it that just beam down on her. It was about six feet tall, with some sort of odd crest in the back of its head. Its foot claws seemed to wrap around the chain-link.
Anne started to crawl backwards on her elbows, but stopped, as the creature’s wings opened, and it let out a loud caw. Anne flipped over, starting to get up, as the creature lifted off, disappearing into the fog above with several flaps of its wings.
Anne thought, That thing was a pterodactyl! But it wasn’t on that guy’s list. Maybe it’s that Pteranodon thing he talked about.
The walls of the tunnel were now open. The lower half of the walls were chain-link, rising up to a small two or three foot opening where the roof was supported by bars spaced out several feet.
As she ran, she said, “Oh great.”
The tunnel rocked and the chain-link above rattled. She looked up to see the back of a curled up Pteranodon. It was beginning to unfold its wings, trying to take off. She kept running, leaping up another set of four stairs.
There was a crash behind her. She looked back, to see that a Pteranodon had succeeded in breaking through. It lay curled on the grated floor, seemingly dazed, trying to regain itself.
Anne looks back ahead, and stops. She’s at the end of the tunnel. The entire end is a half circle away from the canyon wall, like a viewing platform. “They used this to observe those things?”
In the places where windows were supposed to be were large open spaces, large enough for her to stand on and jump off.
Large enough for those things to get in.
“Oh great,” she said. She was at a dead end.
She ran over to one of the window spots, leaning out to look over the small three or four foot tall wall at the base of it all. Below she could see the river, and the waterfall in the distance crashing down. The fog was beginning to clear, and she saw several of the Pteranodons flying around above.
A caw came from the left, and Anne turned. She yelled, backing off, as a large Pteranodon zipped by the gap, close enough to have pulled her out if she hadn’t moved.
She wiped away sweat off her forehead, and looked back down the tunnel. The Pteranodon that had gotten into the tunnel was gone. “I can make it back.”
Another caw caused her to start running back down the tunnel. As she ran, she heard the flutter of wings above the tunnel, and several more bangs as the Pteranodons dive-bombed the ceiling. She passed under the hole the Pteranodon had made, looking up.
She neared the steps she had tripped on, and immediately jumped over them, landing below. Her knees buckled slightly, but she caught herself and kept running. Something poked her left shoulder, and she turned her head.
She stopped, backing away against the opposite wall. A Pteranodon had come low, flying adjacent to her on the outside of the tunnel. It repeatedly swung its head in through the gap in the wall, trying to get her, but it was too big to fit through.
Its head swung side to side; its beak narrowly missing her chest. It cawed, and pulled out. Anne started running, as the Pteranodon flew off in an arc. She could see it was coming back.
Up ahead, Anne could see the bridge going out across the river, and the tunnel which continued straight. As she closed in to the turn for the bridge, she stopped, as another Pteranodon cawed.
It was in front of her.
In the tunnel.
The Pteranodon limped forward, coming from the other end of the tunnel quickly, blocking off her exit. It cawed, prodding forward with its beak.
Anne noticed the limp, and saw blood running down from its wing.
This is the one that came through the ceiling.
It pushed forward, causing Anne to get further from the bridge. Anne glanced left, backing up slowly, to the outside. She saw the Pteranodon that had been trying to get to her through the gap begin to turn around, coming back.
Anne gripped the chain-link, throwing her legs up. She kicked hard, nailing the overgrown bird unexpectedly along the beak. Its head twisted away, and Anne dropped.
It opened its wings, trying to take off inside the tunnel. It was cramped inside. It cawed, lowering its head. Anne looked back outside.
Anne rolled under the winged creature, feeling the flap of its wings and the heat of it all press against her. She heard it jump, trying to take off again, and completed her roll to the opposite side.
She got up, spinning around to face it. The Pteranodon turned around, as another caw ripped through the air. Anne and the Pteranodon looked outside, as the incoming Pteranodon smashed into the side of the tunnel, trying to stop as it realized its prey had moved.
Its beak poked through, prodding the inside Pteranodon, which squawked, opening its beak to snap. The outside Pteranodon began to fall, tumbling through the air. It finally caught itself, spreading its wings and began to soar away, level to the river.
Anne turned from the inside Pteranodon, speeding around the corner onto the bridge. She ran, hearing another caw above her. She looked up, as a shadow dropped down.
Pain raced through her shoulders, as something clenched her tight. She screamed, feeling her body being tugged up. She looked at the claws holding her shoulders, and did the only thing she could think of.
She bit back.
The Pteranodon screeched, not expecting the animal it had caught to attack. It loosened its grip slightly, and Anne struggled free. The grip went away, as Anne fell.
She saw the bridge below her, but not under her. She reached out as she passed by it, grabbing the rail on the side. She held on tight, looking down at the river below her.
The rail began to groan. She pulled herself, trying to get onto the bridge underneath the rail, as something hit her legs from below. She saw a Pteranodon pass underneath, the wind causing her to shake.
Anne looked up, and cursed. The Pteranodon from inside the tunnel had made its way to the bridge, hobbling towards her spot on the outside. It cawed, looking around. There were several answering caws, and Anne continued to try and pull.
It smashed into the rail, causing it to vibrate heavily. Anne felt her grip weaken.
“Come get me!”
The Pteranodon seemed to stop for a moment, looking at her. She yelled again. It jumped, coming over. It snapped at her fingers wrapped around the rail bar. Anne slowly moved away, at each snap. It pushed against the rail; its belly pushing under the bar.
She looked up, the beak just inches from her face. It snapped, and she could feel a leathery something pushing against her hand and wrist. The animal squawked; the noise filling her ears.
She yelled letting go of the bar with one hand. She wrapped it around the animal’s beak, and pulled. The rail groaned again as the Pteranodon pushed against it.
Anne let go of the rail completely, gripping both hands around the beak. She was beginning to slide, and it was also starting to open, as the Pteranodon began to quickly overcome.
Anne heard a squawk from behind. She looked back, to see another Pteranodon angling up towards her. She looked back up at the Pteranodon, which was beginning to pull back up, bringing Anne with it.
I’ll die when I have to. But it isn’t now!
Anne kicked forward, her body pressing against the side of the bridge for several moments. The beak clanged against the rail for a brief period.
She felt the small bristle of hairs running up her leg as the attacking Pteranodon swooped up behind her, racing up. Anne’s body was pulled up as the Pteranodon collided head-on with the Pteranodon on the bridge.
Her hands slipped from the Pteranodon’s beak as it was yanked from her, and she felt her body hit the bridge floor. She got off her back, running to the other side of the bridge.
The two Pteranodons tumbled down towards the river, their wings an odd mix of flapping fury.
“Wait,” Anne said. “Only one set of wings.”
The living Pteranodon—the one that had swooped up—caught itself in mid-air, taking off before it reached the river. It glided away, as the Pteranodon it had hit crashed into the river below.
Waves rippled away, as the body bobbed up several feet downstream. She watched it float away, carried downstream.
Her breathes were coming in short gasps, exhausted from her effort. She leaned against the rail, trying to rest.
She started running again, as she heard another caw. She saw the outline of the chain-link tunnel, and soon found herself inside. She put her hands out, pressing against the far wall, which was pressed against the canyon to stop her run.
The tunnel ran off left and right. “I came that way,” she said, pointing down the tunnel to the left. “I can go back down the stairs, and try and find a way out. Maybe the stairs break off somewhere that I missed in the dark.”
Thinking of the stairs she remembered the skull. A shiver went down her spine, and she started to run. Almost immediately, she heard a whooshing noise ahead, and looked up.
A curled up shadow jolted down from the sky, wrapped up like a rock, and slammed into the chain-link roofing. Anne stopped, falling to the ground, as the chain-link began to dent in under the weight. The Pteranodon above rose up from the dent, steadying itself and took off, disappearing below view.
Anne picked herself up and continued to run. When she reached the end, she wrapped her fingers around the chain-link and pulled open the door. In her hurry, she almost tumbled down the crude stairs.
She jumped down, landing on the dirt, and looked down at the river as she got up. The entrance to the stairway was ahead.
She screamed as a squawk erupted from above. A Pteranodon landed on the ledge ahead, blocking off the stairs. “No!”
There’s no way in hell I can ever get it off this ledge without me going over too.
Anne turned, hurtling the stairs as the Pteranodon cawed behind her. It flapped its wings; the hot air pushing into her legs.
She pushed the door open, re-entering the tunnel, and began to run back. The Pteranodon took off from the ledge, following her as she ran.
After several moments, she reached the fork. She looked out across the bridge, and then down the tunnel ahead. “There’s no way I’m going back across that bridge.”
She took off up the small set of gapped-stairs to the tunnel ahead, and saw that the tunnel ended up ahead in another of the half-circle viewing bays. She saw several crates pushed against the inside wall of the circle itself.
As well as an opening against the canyon wall.
She entered the half-circle, and realized that the in the opening were a set of spiral stairs leading up.
A way out!
Anne started for the stairs, when she heard the crates rumble across the metal grating of the floor. She turned, ducking away as a Pteranodon passed in through the open viewing gaps. It flapped its wings, beating against her; pushing her from the door.
She tripped on a crate the Pteranodon had pushed as it had come in, and fell back. She opened her eyes, as the Pteranodon’s beak dropped down. She rolled away, pulling the crate with her foot, as the beak clanged against the grating where her head had been.
It cawed, pulling up.
Anne backed away towards the tunnel, picking up the crate, which was only three feet wide. She held it up, moving slowly.
Something was moving around inside.
She dropped it, and jumped, as the crate cracked open; the lid popping off to reveal its contents. There were several bars, about two and a half feet long that had been rolling around inside. There were only six, and Anne bent down, grabbing one from inside.
The Pteranodon snapped, moving forward.
Anne swung the bar, like she had done with the raptor earlier on in the day.
God, I can’t believe it’s only been a few hours!
The bar collided with the Pteranodon’s beak, and it backed off. It cawed, shaking its head side to side. Anne swung again, hoping to hit its head, but only succeeded in hitting the beak.
It cawed once more, flapping its wings. Anne threw the bar at its exposed chest, and it jumped. The bar collided with the animal’s chest, and as it squawked in confusion, Anne picked out another bar from the crate.
The animal has its head down, rubbing the beak lightly against its chest. Anne swung.
The bar collided with the animal’s head, narrowly missing its eye. Anne dropped the bar, as the animal let out a wailing caw. It flapped its wings furiously, turning to get out.
As it began to push out through the viewing gap, Anne ran behind it, towards her exit. Tired and out of breath, Anne Jones ran up the set of metal, spiral stairs, hoping that it would lead to Heaven, where she could finally get away from this place.
Anne came to the top of the stairs, finding herself in a circular room. At the top of the stairs, the wall ahead was split up into several windows, overlooking some sort of lagoon. In the center, where the stairs were, a rail around the circle, to keep anything from falling. On the opposite wall from the windows was a giant door, which appeared to be locked by several bolting systems.
She moved to the windows, looking out. In some places they were cracked, broken. In one spot, much of the window was missing, and she felt cool air drifting in. She looked down at the lagoon below, surrounded by jungle on the far side.
No sign of the dome.
No sign of the river.
Directly below the building she saw a sheer cliff. “That must be the canyon. That cage must be on the other side.”
She turned around, looking at the bolted door. “Well, at least I can unlock it this time. Looks like I get a break after all.”
She walked around the stairwell, passing her hand along the rail. She got close to the door, and began to unlock the large sliding bolts and lift bolts locking it.
As she unlocked the final one, she pulled on the handles in the center, realizing that the door was not one, but two.
Outside she saw grass, and a cool breeze danced across her skin. It was bright; a definite adjustment to her previous surroundings. She stepped outside, looking across the grass at a huge fence bending off ahead. To the right she saw jungle, closing in, and the fence disappeared to the left into jungle as well.
On the far side of the fence she saw more grass, like a small plain, and then more jungle. “Maybe I can get through the fence.”
She began walking across the grass, towards the fence. The fence was about fifteen feet high, armed with massive jack-like objects at the top, armed with massive spikes. Running horizontally along the entire structure were thick bars, spaced out a foot in between each other. On the opposite side of the bars was a final mesh-type drape, formed in squares.
“Great,” she said. “No way I can climb this thing, and no way to get through the bars.” She reaches through, trying to pull apart the mesh square. “Too tough.”
She looks down to the right, following the fence which seems to arc away around the jungle. “Maybe there’s a gap, or something.”
With that, Anne begins to follow the fence right, looking for any way she can get through.