The City by the Sea (Part Two)

Fisher’s mouth dropped open. This was the last thing that he had expected Amelia to say, and the very last thing that he desired. “What? Are you mad? Why should we go back there?”

“Richard, I love Nikos”, Amelia said, in a softer tone. “I can’t leave him in a place like that, even if he is dead. We have to do everything we can to find him.”

Fisher gripped her shoulders. “Amelia. You heard Nicolaides. They’re going to send people in tomorrow. Let the police deal with it. What if…what if we go back and we end up in danger too?”

“I don’t think whoever is there will expect us to go back”, Amelia replied. She drew closer to Fisher and whispered in his ear. “Richard…I have a gun.”

Fisher stepped back and looked at her in amazement. The words seemed ludicrous coming from her lips, a woman who despite her slim figure looked to all intents and purposes like a mousy academic. She wasn’t exactly Lara Croft, he thought. “A what? A gun? Where on earth did you get that from?”

“Ssshhhh! Keep your voice down! We are near a police station, remember?” As she whispered harshly in his ear, an officer crossed the road, and looked at them with curiosity before entering the station. Once he was out of sight, Amelia spoke again. “I had an ex-boyfriend who was into shooting; he was a member of a gun club. He gave me this gun for protection. I have bullets for it.”

Fisher blinked and shook his head. “Well…do you know how to use it?”

“Of course”, Amelia said. “Come on, let’s go back and find them.”

“Amelia, no. Leave this to the police.”

“Richard if you don’t come with me, I’ll go alone. I am not leaving Nikos there.”

Fisher did not know what to say. He did not particularly want to return to that strange place, particularly as he was terrified that he had genuinely seen something weird and supernatural. At the same time, there was no way that he could let Amelia return there alone. He saw that there was no way that he could persuade her to take a different course of action. She was determined to go back and find Nikos, whether he was dead or alive. He was terrified that something might happen to her if he let her go back alone. At least if she was telling the truth, they would have a weapon that she could fire. It made him feel a little better about going back, although he was not sure that he relished the idea of entering that dark, strange tunnel again- the entrance to the catacombs.

“Okay”, he said reluctantly, and Amelia thanked him profusely. He glanced at his watch to see how long they had left in the day. It was now mid-afternoon he was sure, but his watch had stopped while he had been in that tunnel with Nikos. It still insisted that the time was twelve-forty.

It was almost four thirty in the afternoon by the time that Amelia and Fisher returned to the historic site of the mysterious isle, taking the motor-boat across the stretch of water to its rocky shore. They had taken a quick detour to Amelia’s apartment in Nicosia to collect her handgun. Fisher had watched silently as she had dropped it into her handbag. It was a woman’s gun, but he had no intention of firing any weapon. He’d never fired a gun before in his life.

The sea around the isle was deceptively placid, the weather hot and idyllic, yet Fisher became edgier by the second as he saw those ominous strange temples and structures of red stone once again. Ironically, Amelia had become the more brave and resolute one, driven onward by the disappearance of her boyfriend, while Fisher was more cautious. He was still haunted by the image of the terrible face that he had seen floating in the air behind Nikos in the tunnel. He was glad that Amelia had the gun.

He had thought that Nicolaides might have sent an officer or two to guard and watch over the place, which would have posed a problem for them. However, the place was as empty and silent as ever. They walked quickly toward the temple that Kostas had originally entered, armed with Amelia’s gun and a pair of torches.

At the entrance to the building, Fisher halted. He stared questioningly at Amelia. “Are you absolutely sure that you want to do this?” he asked her.

“Nikos is in there somewhere”, she said. “Nikos and Kostas. We have to, Richard.”

“I thought you suffered from claustrophobia”, Fisher said quietly, as they entered the shadowy gloom of the temple hall.

“We have to find them”, she repeated. She marched resolutely toward the black entrance of the tunnel, waving the beam of her torch in front of her. “Come on, Richard.”

Fisher lingered in the hall for a little longer. He felt a growing sense of unease. Flashbacks to events earlier in the day were figuring prominently in his mind. The image of the hideous face he had seen returned to the forefront of his memory.

Amelia had already walked deep into the tunnel. He could see her torchlight in the distance, receding sharply as the tunnel twisted around. Fisher drew a deep breath and bounded after her, switching on his own torch. “Amelia, wait up!” he called. Yet again, his voice echoed ominously along the corridor of the tunnel, against the slimy, cavernous walls and ceiling. How had she persuaded him to come with her?

Moments later, he caught up with her. “There you are”, he said breathlessly.

“Here I am”, she whispered in reply.

They walked onward for several more minutes. The silence and soft padding of their footsteps seemed ominous in the dank, sterile darkness around them. The solid rock around them seemed oppressive. Fisher wondered if Amelia was feeling the strain of her claustrophobia, or whether thoughts of Nikos inspired her to go onward. From her resolute march, he guessed it was the latter. For his own part, Fisher was feeling the nervous tension. Every so often, he imagined a face with scarlet eyes and gaping fanged jaws floating in the murk, appearing briefly in the beam of their torchlight.

Suddenly they reached a point in the tunnel where the passage forked. Two tunnels led away in different directions. Fisher realised that he and Amelia had walked further than he and Nikos had. They had not seen any sign of a struggle in the tunnel as they had proceeded. There had been no sign of any…blood? Fisher was not sure that he dared to think about it.

“What shall we do?” he whispered.

“I’ll take the left fork, you take the right”, Amelia replied.

“What?” He looked at her, astonished. “You want us to split up? You’ve got the gun…”

“Richard, I’m sure you can look after yourself”, Amelia told him haughtily. “I’m a woman remember? If there are lunatics lurking about in these tunnels, then I’d prefer to be armed. At least you can smack one of them over the head with your torch.”

“I understand that”, Fisher said testily. “I just don’t think that it’s a good idea for us to split up. We don’t know where these tunnels lead. We could easily get lost. And Amelia…I wasn’t entirely honest with you, or Nicolaides.”
She frowned at him. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Amelia, I saw something…something really weird down here. Something strange. You remember the monsters that were depicted in the glyphs? The thing that took Nikos…it looked like a monster, something with a terrible face. That was why I was so scared. I heard him scream, Amelia…there’s something evil down here in the tunnels…”

Amelia stared at him for several seconds before she burst out laughing. The sound did not echo, but sounded very loud down here, deep within the tunnels. “Richard! I thought you were the one that was always so practical and rational. You sound hysterical! Nikos was taken by…a monster?”

Fisher was silent, stung by her words. He had known that this would be her reaction.

“Let’s carry on”, she said. “I am sure that someone did frighten you down here, but it was probably a kid who has come down here and was wearing a mask. Did you think about that? It could be a bunch of kids and Nikos and Kostas are hanging out with them even now, waiting to play a practical joke on us. Let’s go, you take the right tunnel, I’ll walk down the left. If the tunnels fork again, we’ll come back and choose the one that we think is the most promising. The batteries in the torches are fresh, we will be fine.”

Fisher remained silent, reflecting on her theory. He had not considered the possibility that it had been some kids from the mainland, messing around here and playing games in the tunnels. However, there had also been the case of the previous man who had disappeared. He’d come up with a theory for that himself, that the man had slipped or simply got lost in the tunnels. It was not impossible. For that reason, he realised that Amelia was probably right. They had to carry on and see if they could locate Nikos and Kostas.

“Okay”, he said. “We’ll go on alone. But if the tunnels fork again, we come straight back here-alright? Don’t carry on, unless you find those men.”

“Agreed”, Amelia said. She gave him an encouraging smile before pushing on down the left hand tunnel. “Good luck.”

Fisher moved onward down the right hand tunnel. As he moved down it, he realised that there were puddles of water present upon the ground as he travelled deeper. Grumbling softly to himself, he splashed his way through them while waving the beam of his torch around the walls and ceiling of the tunnel. How had he managed to get himself into this? When Amelia had called him two weeks before regarding the discovery of a site of historic interest, he could never have imagined that he would be wandering through subterranean tunnels in search of missing men, startled by the sight of anything remotely frightening.

Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks. He listened carefully. He had heard something, which he then heard once again amid the silence. A dull thud. A gun being fired? He listened carefully again, and thought he heard a whooping cry. Amelia?

He turned and ran back the way that he had come. Within a minute, he was back at the place where the tunnel had forked. Breathlessly, he stood in front of the left hand passage that Amelia had proceeded down, and shone his torch into it. “Amelia!” he shouted. “Amelia, are you alright?!”

There was no answer. He listened carefully, and heard only silence. Cautiously, Fisher moved down the passage, swinging the beam of his torchlight around as he proceeded. Every so often, he called out Amelia’s name.

Suddenly he saw movement. He raised his torch and shone it straight ahead. In front of him, he swore that he could briefly see a group of figures, but then his torch began to splutter and threaten to go out. Panicking, he looked closely at it and began to bang the exterior. The torchlight stopped flickering and the beam became consistent again. He raised the torch once again to light the way in front of him, and saw Amelia and Nikos together, standing in the midst of the tunnel, their faces turned toward him. He thought Nikos looked pale, but otherwise unharmed. Amelia was watching him calmly, her eyes glinting yellow in the torchlight as it reflected off the lenses of her spectacles.

“Why didn’t you answer when I shouted to you?” Fisher asked. “Who was that with you?”

“We were talking”, Amelia replied. “I could not shout back to you.”

“There’s no one here”, Nikos said. “No one here but us.”

“I thought that I saw others with you”, Fisher said, approaching them. Both Amelia and Nikos looked unscathed and in good condition, he noticed. He observed that Amelia no longer had her torch, or her gun. Nikos also did not have his torch with him. “Nikos, what the hell have you been doing all this time? Did you find Kostas? What was that thing in the tunnel earlier? Amelia and I were worried about you.”

“Yes, I found Kostas”, Nikos answered.

“Okay. Then where is he? Why are you two acting so weird? Come on, let’s get out of here.” Impatient to leave, Fisher turned around and started to walk back the way that he and Amelia had come. After several steps, he realised that Amelia and Nikos were not following him. He looked back and could dimly make them out, shrouded in darkness. Behind them he thought he saw another figure within the darkness, walking slowly toward him.

“Is that Kostas with you? Come on!” he shouted to them. Yet even as he spoke, his voice began to shake, as deep down his senses told him that something was very wrong.

He shone the torch into their faces. The transformed demonic visages of Amelia and Nikos glared back at him, their eyes blazing yellow fire, and their jaws open wide, displaying a row of sharp glittering fangs that dripped saliva. They grinned at him with the delight of an ancient evil, now returned in the present day to poison humanity.

Even as he began to scream and they quickly moved toward him, his torch spluttered and finally went out for good.

The City by the Sea (Part Two)

Steven Mace

London, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Conclusion of ‘The City by the Sea’

Artwork Comments

  • Emraldae
  • Steven Mace
  • KMorral
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