Jared had gone barely one hundred paces when he heard a faint noise. He stopped and listened again, and recognized the murmur of voices … laughing. Pushing his way through the thick cobwebs, he put his ear against the cool surface of the wall.

There, he thought. The voices are louder here.

The sounds joined with indiscernible mumbling phrases; and then suddenly, a pitiful cry.

A child’s cry.

Jared flinched at the sound of it, unexpected as it was.

Was that a sliver of light?

Squinting his eyes, he could barely make out the faint hint of light coming from a thin crack in the bottom of the wall.

He kicked the cinder blocks with the tip of his boot. There was a hollow space behind it, sure enough. Scraping away some of the dirt that had caked the stonework, Jared held the glittering lantern closer. Then, setting it down of the ground, he placed his shoulder and the flat of his hand against the stone and pushed … hard.

The rusty hinges groaned and turned like a rotary door. Immediately, Jared met with a brilliant array of flickering lamp lights. Sneezing from the disturbed dust, he shielded his nose and mouth, and stepped into the room.

At that moment, he smelled the metallic tang of blood.



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