“So, we’ll camp out here before moving on or do you want to try and push on a little further by foot?” Hans didn’t want to be the one to make the decision at this point.“I’m all for pushing forward.” Duke said and looked down at Honora who nodded her agreement. “I mean we can always call it a night if we don’t find anything, but there’s no light this time, should we still put the goggles on?”
“I think we should be prepared for anything.” Hans took a deep breath and opened the case with the goggles in it. Right away a little red light began to flash, but there was nothing they could do about that. Hans only prayed that his calculations were correct and no one would be receiving the signal.“Duke, it gets really narrow up there. I want you to stay here with our stuff unless we need to call you on the pickup if we need you, but I think it would be better if we don’t all rush in blindly.” Hans was worried for a second that Duke would argue with him.
“I can see the wisdom in that. Just keep radio contact okay?” Duke shrugged and then sat down on the hard ground.“Definitely, I’ll open up a line as soon as we’re out of sight.” Hans smiled and grabbed his artefact. He started to head further down the tunnel and then glanced back to make sure that Honora was following him. She gave him the thumbs up and he continued forward. After a few minutes of walking he turned on his short range communicator. “Testing, are you receiving Duke?”
“Affirmative. Do we have two way communication?” Duke’s voice sounded small and tinny in his ear instead of the normal overpowering tone that he was used to.“Affirmative.” Hans shined his light up ahead. “I’ll keep you apprised of any change in situation, but right now it’s just more the same.”
“Understood. I’ll just be here committing a bit of temporal homicide.” Duke’s chuckle was cut off as he turned off the voice pickup on his end.Hans pressed forward hoping that they wouldn’t suddenly be hit by a bright light. It was strange that there was nothing this time, but in a way it was also a blessing. Now they wouldn’t have to test out the effectiveness of their goggles against the alien light.
As the tunnel became so narrow that he was forced to crawl he could see a deeper darkness up ahead that his light wasn’t cutting through. He slowed down as he approached closer to the cloying darkness. “Duke, this is Hans. We’ve reached the end of the tunnel and the access point is up ahead, but there’s something strange going on. It’s dark up there and my light isn’t cutting through it.”“What do you mean?” Honora piped up from behind him.
“I’m not sure what is going on. I’m going to get closer to see if I can see anything.” Hans crawled forward till he was at the edge of the opening. He reached out and touched the darkness. His hand went through it as though nothing was there, but as soon as his fingers crossed the edge of the circle he could no longer see them. He yanked his hand back and inspected his hand.“Okay, this is some sort of negative light. I can’t see anything past the rim of circle, not even my own fingers.” Hans looked down at his hand again just to make sure he had all his digits. “It’s not harmful, but there is no way to see anything past this point. It just absorbs all light.”
“I’ve never heard of anything like that before.” Duke’s voice rang in his ear.“That makes two of us.” Hans responded.
“Three.” Honora said from behind him. “So, what do we do now?”“I don’t know.” Hans said. He didn’t even have an inkling of an idea on how to proceed past this point. This was not a possibility that he had prepared for.
“You said your little artefact gave out that painful light? Why not try to see if that light can counteract the darkness?” Duke said after a few moments of silence.Hans looked at the artefact and shrugged. It was the only idea they had. “Okay, I’ll give it a shot.”
Backing up a bit Hans slammed the artefact down on the ground as hard as he could. It broke apart, showing the button as it had the first time. He pressed the button and waited for the artefact to put itself back together again. He picked it up and placed it near the edge of the entrance.“Is it working?” Duke asked.
“It took a while last time, a few hours actually. I think we’re going to come back and call it a night. Hopefully it will have done something by the morning.” Hans motioned for Honora to start backing up and they made their way back to where Duke was waiting.Honora was the first to get back to where Duke was waiting and she gave a low whistle as soon as he was in sight. “Hans you have got to see this!”
Hans picked up his pace and it wasn’t long till he saw why she had called him the way she had. Hans grinned as he looked at the wonderfully set up campsite. Duke was in the centre preparing a meal over a portable cook stove and glaring at them both.Honora opened her mouth, but Duke spoke before she could get a single word out. “Don’t either of you say one word or I swear I will murder you both in your sleep tonight.”
Hans pressed two fingers over his lips as a sign that he would stay mum about everything, but he couldn’t stop smiling. “I will say it was nice of you to get this all done for us. It’s been a long day and I think we could all use some food and a good sleep.”“You’re welcome.” Duke shrugged and started serving out the food.
It was a fairly quiet meal and they all decided to get to sleep as soon as they could. None of them had much to say, all they could think about was the impassable darkness. They could only hope that their only idea would work.