In the dim light I nearly ran into it. Valctor and Feela were sobbing for breath. Both looking to me for a solution. Down the tunnel behind us, the feeders were closing the distance – us, their escaping prey trapped. The passage blocked off with rock.

No other way.

As I unhooked my mask, blood, warm and sticky, ran down my cheek – seeping out of every place worn down and taken over by the living piece of metal and wood that I now pulled away from my face. It felt like I was stripping a layer of skin off.

Tossing the torch down the hall, I pressed my mask to the stone before me. They were watching me, hoping I could save us.

Not us… but maybe them.

I grabbed a fist full of their hair, both screamed. I did too – ramming their foreheads against the mask along with my own. I felt it break in my skull, somewhere near the back.

Sickening motion, and we were on the other side. Always a cost. My mask, destroyed to create and open a door through the rock. My skull, fractured.


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