TITLE: A Maze of Possibilities
By Francie Snell
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Shawn clicked on the small light in the brim of his cap and crept slowly. Something wasn't right. "What happened Jessie? Why'd the phone go dead?" he whispered into the empty tunnel, his mind filled with dread.
He focused down at the narrow walkway covering the small stream of drain water below him. The aging planks creaked loudly under his weight.
He took ten steps, and stopped to listen. Sounds of trickling water resonated through the large cement pipe. He inhaled a shallow breath of the dank musty air and continued.
He knew the way by instinct. Often he lumbered through the passage way with heavy supplies strapped to his body. But tonight was different. He had to travel light;danger was imminent and he couldn't be encumbered.
As he came to an intersection of adjoining tunnels, he stopped and clicked off his light, and waited in pitch black for his eyes to adjust.
"PSSST. SHAWN." A voice called in a forced whisper. "Don't go any farther, we have company."
Shawn jerked. "Jessie?"
What's going on? I thought something bad happened when your phone went dead.
Jessie clicked on a flashlight and cast its beam at the top of the tunnel. The indirect light cast a faint glow.
"I dropped my phone. Some guys I haven't seen before came to the cave tonight - rough looking. I didn’t expect them and I was alone. So, when they came in the north tunnel, I ran out the south. Dropped my phone on the way out."
"Did they see you?"
"I don't know…maybe. I just ran from the cave, hid here, and waited for you. I've been listening to them. They speak Spanish."
"What are they saying?"
"I don't know; I don't know Spanish."
"You never learned Spanish?"
"Well, yeah, enough to get by anyways."
Jessie's eyes opened wide. "SHHH, hear that? I think their coming. Come on, follow me."
Jessie turned around and cast his beam down the tunnel and ran. Shawn clicked back on the light as he followed. "Where does this go?"
"Grate number three."
"Number three? I didn't know there was a number three."
"Yeah, I just hope we can get out that way."
"You don't know for sure?"
"No. No one ever uses it."
They ran through the maze of drainpipes, tripping and splashing through small channels of water.
"I hope you know where you're going," Shawn called out breathlessly.
They skidded to a stop when they reached a dead end. In front of them was the bottom of an iron ladder affixed to a cement wall. They scanned up the twenty-five feet of rungs. On the ceiling, was a steel hatch.
Men's voices ruminated through the tunnel behind them.
"Let's go!" Jessie was first as they scrambled up the ladder.
At the top, Jessie gripped the top rung with one hand and pushed up on the hatch with the other, gritting his teeth as he strained.
"Let's both try." Shawn climbed up next to him. They pushed up at the metal grate together. The hatch didn't budge.
The voices were close.
With panic, They desperately slammed the iron grate with the palms of their hands. "Oh, Jesus," Shawn pleaded, "please help us."
"Senior Jessie?" A man's voice called from below them.
Jessie and Shawn looked down towards the voice and into three blinding beams of light.
"We are looking for Senior Jessie the el-lider of de jardin. Do you know him?"
Jessie looked at Shawn. "De jar din?"
"Yeah, the garden. He's looking for you, dude, the leader of the garden, you know, the cave."
He squinted into the lights. "I am Jessie. Who are you?"
"Praise God. I thought we'd never find you. I am Jose and these are my friends. We know of you from my brother Alex. We are miners from Mehico and have built many tunnels. But, no longer do we do diablo work; we want to work for Jesus. We are here to help you.
Jessie and Shawn gawked at the men. "MINERS? And you want to help?" They quickly descended the ladder and gave all three men joyful handshakes. "God is good and definitely has a plan for us."
"Yes," they all agreed with a grin and a nod.
"Let's get back to the cave and I'll show you my ideas."
With Jessie leading the way, one by one, they all filed out and started back to the cave together.
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