Anne climbed up the slope, stepping out onto the landing. She jogged across it to the elevator platform. She stopped at the control terminal and pressed the Up button.
She stepped onto the platform, which slowly waited for several seconds. After a short wait, the platform rocked, and began moving upward. The rumble reverberated through the structure, and Anne said, “Almost there.”
The sky was now a faint, deep orange, fading into a slow, deep purple. She saw several stairs twinkling above, as the platform continued to rise.
The forest she could see began to expand, and she could see further across the island. It looked oddly different from such a height.
She was now at least forty feet up, and the platform stopped. She turned around, stepping off of it onto the new part of the mountain.
Anne looked down the path ahead. It sloped down, weaving through the rocks, before veering left and sloping up from view around the cliff-side.
Anne started down, passing in-between the rocks. At one point she stopped looking east at the ocean, under the darkening sky.
She turned away, continuing down the trail. The path itself was dark, blocked from being lit up by the higher part of the mountain.
She followed it left, sloping upward alongside the mountain. As she walked, the trail was lightened as she headed west. She came to a junction where the trail switched back and started up in the opposite direction.
Anne followed the curve, taking it up, and found another switchback at the end, which sloped east. Tired and aching, Anne continued, fueled by the urge to get off the island. She guessed she had another half hour or so until it completely fell into darkness.
Are they here yet?
She shook her head, imaging herself climbing into the chopper, being treated for the injury on her head. Heading back to Costa Rica… Or the US… Anywhere…
As long as it’s away from here…
She came to where the ground leveled off. She was not yet at the top of the mountain, but she continued on. The trail curved left, and she followed.
It leveled out once more, and Anne stopped. It forked right and left. The right trail she could see continued on for a bit, before switching back and sloping upward ahead of her. The trail to the left continued on and entered through a tunnel in the mountain.
At the turn to the left trail she saw two metal, triangular gates sticking out. A sign connected to them read:
To Summit / Landing Pad – Caution: Loose Path
“If they didn’t label the right trail, it might not go directly to the summit… I’ll go left.”
She pushed open the two gates, which swung open, and Anne could see that the sign was actually attached to the right gate. She followed the path down, turning left at the end and entering the tunnel.
It was dark, and for a second Anne thought of going back, but could see that the path led straight ahead to the end, where there was an opening.
She walked through the dark, keeping a cautious step. At the end of the tunnel, she stepped out into the light again, and she could see she was overlooking the forest once more. The trail bent right, sloping up into a switch-back heading east.
She followed it up to the switch-back, and saw that there was another tunnel at the end of the switch-back.
She climbed up it, and stopped at the outside of the tunnel. This time it was dimly lit, and she could see that there was no end of the tunnel.
Instead, the trail ended and opened up onto a metal bridge, with railing on either side. There were dim, plastic lights attached to the rail at intervals, illuminating the metal. She stepped out onto it, listening to the clap of her shoes.
She stopped, listening closely. She thought she heard a distant chugging, but couldn’t be sure. She looked over the rail, seeing that twenty or thirty feet down, the ground was lit by a series of lights.
There was another bridge leading away from her, directly below the bridge she was on. She walked down the bridge, reaching the end, which was entirely attached to the wall. An elevator platform was there, and another button system was attached to the rail.
The platform itself was enclosed in railing, unlike the first platform, and the opposite side looked like it opened up.
She turned to the button system, which had an Up button and a Down button. She looked up, realizing quickly there was no way she could go up.
She looked back down the bridge. “This trail goes to the summit… Maybe I just need to go down and follow another trail up. That’s all…”
She pressed the down button, and stepped out onto the platform. There was a five second wait, before the platform rocked and began to slide down through the darkness.
As it moved down, she looked over the rail at the ground below. The bridge below became clearer, and she could see the lights attached to the railing. Several had burnt out, throwing small parts of the bridge into darkness.
As the elevator stopped on her end of the bridge, she pushed the rail open, and it swung out, hitting the rail of the bridge.
She stepped off, onto the bridge, and began to walk down it. She looked around, squinting through the darkness. The light that was in here showed her there were a series of caves around her, all dark and leading somewhere into the mountain.
At the end of the bridge she found that it led right into a cave of its own. The bridge ramped downward at a slight angle, and she continued following it, thrown into a more encroaching darkness trying to push its way through the light given off from the bridge railings.
Now she could hear it.
The chugging was real.
It was coming from somewhere ahead.
The ramp leveled out, and broke apart. It angled away in either direction, forming a circle around a clearing below before connecting on the other end with a set of stairs dropping down to the ground in either direction.
She stopped at the junction, looking over the railing at the clearing below.
There were four large machines making the chugging sound, and each had steam coming out of it at intervals. Lined up in rows in-between them were groupings of vents, which slowly opened and closed puffing out gas.
“Some kind of harvesting plant… Those vents much collect steam, or gas, and send it to the machines, which send it to the rest of the island…”
Maybe some of the island runs on geothermal power…
She followed the circle bridge around, walking over to the opposite side, where she looked back at the harvesting system. There was a set of stairs leading down to it, but she needed to move on, and instead climbed down the other set.
It stopped down at another bridge, which continued on for a small bit of time, before entering a wide opening. Anne’s eyes fixed on what was in the center: a large machine with attachments pumping the ground. Only two of the attachments were working, but at first it looked like oil pumps.
To the right, the bridge bent off to a large steel structure rising up into the ceiling. “An elevator… It’ll take me up.”
She started walking down the bridge toward it, looking around. There were caves all around, and the bridge was suspended ten feet above the ground floor.
Anne stopped at the elevator, looking at the terminal. The platform wasn’t there, but she pressed the Down button. After a five second delay, the elevator started moving down through the ceiling, until it completely passed through and started moving down through the open air to her.
She looked up through the structure, seeing what as probably the sky at the end of it.
When the platform stopped at her level, she pressed the Up button.
She stepped out onto the platform during the delay.
The platform rocked, beginning to move.
But not up.
The platform was slowly moving down to ground level, only twenty feet away from the machine. She started to worry.
As the elevator stopped ten feet down, she could see a small terminal on a pole a few feet away. She stepped off toward it, pushing the Up button, and then returned to the elevator.
Five seconds passed.
She was stuck here.
“Maybe I’ll wait awhile… There’s got to be some way up besides this… Stairs, or something.”
She walked away from the platform, toward the pumping machine. As she got closer, she could smell the scent of oil. Her eyes drifted past the machines to the several large openings of caves leading somewhere through the mountain beyond.
When her gaze drifted back to the machine, she could see there were rows of oil drums lined up on one side, all marked with a flame and reading: “OIL.”
There were half a dozen standing lights circling the machine, lighting up it and the surrounding area. The wires underneath the bases ran toward the machine, and they stood five feet high.
She got closer to one of the pumping attachments, and could hear it puffing. It seemed to be pulling out nothing.
She leaned in, trying to see, and saw that it was running through the air in one back-and-forth motion before pulling up and then back down to repeat.
She walked around the machine, passing by the oil drums, and went to the other side, where the caves were. Curious, she walked to one which was dimly lit an odd, dark blue.
She moved to the entrance, where she saw the rocky ground sloped down, leveling out farther down. The ground there was the deep blue as well.
She started to turn around, when something echoed through the cave on the left. It sounded like a snarl.
Anne hurried over to it, peering around the edge of the entrance.
This time it was unmistakable.
It had been a snarl.
From a raptor.
She squinted into the darkness of the cave, and could see two shadows making there way toward her. They were snarling and hissing, and Anne froze with fear.
No way out this time.
I could hide in one of the caves!
She turned, running through the entrance of the odd, blue-lit cave, carefully making her way down the rugged slope. She came out on the bottom, leveling out, and almost dropped onto the ground at what she saw.
Ahead of her there was a small river—which, she figured, was the giver of the blue light. To her right and left there were several boulders circling the clearing on the opposite bank, and she hid behind one.
She started rubbing her eyes, trying to picture what she had exactly seen. There had been a mound in the center of the clearing, and there were little white clusters, that looked ominously like eggs. There were several dead animals around the outside of the mound, and she could hear distinct snarling and hissing coming from further beyond.
“I’m in a raptors’ nest…”
Her heart skipped a beat.
Behind her, she heard a growl, and turned her head to see the two raptors she had seen making their way down the rocky slope of the tunnel.
She slid away, moving around the boulder to block herself from view.
She heard the raptors shuffling over the ground opposite the boulder, and then heard them splash through the small river to the opposite shore.
Anne was trying to think if she could make it up the tunnel fast enough without being seen, when a loud shriek ripped through the cave.
She craned her neck around the boulder, risking a glance around. She was surprised at how well the cave was lit.
The two raptors had moved near the mound, and a third had quickly shot from around a boulder to the left. All the raptors were a dark brownish-yellowish, like the ones she had seen at the tall grass, and were unlike the ones she had seen earlier, when she had first been attacked.
The third raptor was larger, and was an odd, dark green-brown. It leaped up, raising its toe claws, and landed against one of the two raptors. The surviving raptor from the original pair turned, backing away around the mound, watching as the third ripped into the carcass of the first.
It snarled, snapped, hissed. It had flesh dangling from its jaws which it snapped up quickly before tearing into the carcass once more.
It stopped, frozen for a second, before snapping its neck up. A small group of raptors had entered from a cave off to the right. Three other raptors had appeared from behind the mound, moving toward the new group, but the large raptor that had just killed cawed, and they stopped, backing off slowly toward the mound.
The group moved forward, stopping short of the mound, but the lead raptor continued toward the large green-brown one. Anne recognized the confronting raptor.
It was the raptor she had seen earlier who’s skin was a mix of purple, blue, and a hint of black. Compared to the brown-green raptor, it was slightly smaller, but still threatening.
As it walked, the three odd, feather-like protrusions on its head bounced slightly. It stopped a few feet short of the green-brown raptor and gave a low, rolling caw, throwing it twice out.
The green-brown raptor turned its head, moving over the carcass to its confronter. It stopped within inches, and hissed.
The second raptor repeated its caw again.
The green-brown raptor snarled, snapping at its confronter, who snapped back. The green-brown raptor spun in a three-sixty, before leaping up, claws raised.
The confronter backed off, as the green-brown raptor hit the ground. The confronter slashed at its exposed side, and Anne saw a small wave of blood roll into the ground.
The green-brown raptor kicked off, snapping at the confronter. The confronter shook its snout, and then backed off. The two poised to leap, and then cawed.
They both stopped, stepping back. The confronter raised its head, baring its teeth, snapped, and then turned, moving lazily away from the brown-green raptor, who was nuzzling its side.
The confronter cawed to its group, and they left through a cave on the right.
“I need to go…”
Anne shuffled away from the boulder, crouched down as she walked. She stopped at the base of the tunnel, lifting her foot, and began to climb.
She made her way up the tunnel, trying to stay as silent as possible.
Near the top, she slipped. A group of rocks were flung into the air, clacking on the slope below, and clattered all the way down.
Anne heard a snarl from below, and hurried over the top. She stood up, looking around.
Her eyes glanced over the oil drums by the machine.
She looked back down the tunnel, and then nodded her head as she ran toward the drums. She pulled on one of the drums, which was only half-full, and it began to slide over the dirt.
She tugged, doing her best to hurry. The row of drums had been close enough to the tunnel to make her work go faster, and she moved it to the edge.
She slid open the hole cover on top, pushing the drum at the edge. She gripped the base, tipping it up, and in moments the oil began to slide down the slope, bathing the ground in a direct, wide stream.
She emptied the drum, pushing it sideways, and lined it directly at the top of the slope.
She turned around, and returned to the oil drums, pulling another over and repeating the process. After setting the second sideways, she headed back to the drums for the third time, and started pulling another drum over.
Halfway through her pull, she heard a distinct caw. She let go of the drum, running to the tunnel. She looked down, seeing two raptors sniffing the oil which was making its way down.
Anne returned to the third oil drum, and finished pulling it over. She pushed away the hole cover, knocking the drum onto the ground, and helping the oil drift down over the slope.
The raptors looked up, hearing the new oil sloshing down, and Anne laid the drum sideways. “Do it…”
One by one, Anne pushed all three drums over the edge of the slope. She listened to them banging around, sloshing in the oil, and heard the raptors snarling and hissing at the barrels. She glanced over the slope edge to see that two of the barrels had rolled completely away from the base, toward where she guessed the river was.
She stood up, as the two raptors snarled, spotting her. One shrieked, while the other cawed, and Anne knew it was time to go.
Anne turned around, heading to the other rows of drums. She quickly pushed away the hole cover, doing her best to quickly move the drums apart from each other so the holes faced in different directions, before knocking them over.
Oil splashed in every direction, rolling across the ground.
She moved to another cluster closer to the elevator, and did the same, oil splashing onto the ground.
“How am I going to light this and give me time to get out of here?”
She looked at the standing lights, and got an idea.