“What the hell is that?” Jack asked, taking the flashlight from Elaine and holding it steady while she took her cell phone and snapped a photo of it.
“My mom’s way of communicating. When she was in school, she had a friend named Gwen who used to write upside and backwards out of boredom.”
Before she could continue, Jack hushed her and turned off the light. They listened intently and heard voices speaking Chinese. He groped in the dark and found a good sized rock, stepped out of the niche and threw it down the tunnel, way ahead of their current position. Grabbing Elaine, he pulled her into a cut out in the wall, behind and right of the opening. The only noises were the occasional shots of wind through the mine and dusty footsteps running their way. If they stopped at the niche, hopefully they would only shine their light in the opening; revealing just the graffiti and crates, and not their tucked hideaway.
Jack counted to five and then eased out of the tuck with his hand firmly around Elaine’s wrist. “Stay close to me,” he said barely above a whisper as he hugged the tunnel wall and moved at an agonizingly slow pace so not to alert their pursuers. And when they rounded the soft bend in the passageway, Jack flipped on the flashlight and then they began to run as fast as the old mine would let them. And the mine wasn’t letting them without incident; Jack caught his toe on a railroad that sent him tumbling. The tunnel behind the was illuminated and Jack looked straight at the source. A warning shot singed past his head and careened off the tunnel wall.
“Jack, old friend,” came the call from Slim, and then he admonished in Mandarin the one who shot at Jack and Elaine, but it ended with the name of “Boris”.
“That son-of-a-bitch is everywhere!” exclaimed Elaine, righting Jack and heading for the clearing.
They came to the circular spot where all of the tunnels met and with one single thing on his mind, Jack threw the backpacks and hoisted Elaine into the first mining car. Giving it all he had to make it move, it started down the tracks, slow at first, then picking up speed; as they now were going opposite of uphill.
Elaine wasn’t waiting; she perked up and fired two rounds in the vicinity of Slim and his merry men. They bounced off the walls and it took a great deal of discipline for them not to return fire.
“Where did you get that gun?” Jack demanded as he peered over the edge of the car, measuring their lead and how fast the others were gaining. Then suddenly they ran out of track; and the car tumbled, along with them. As they scrambled to collect themselves, they knew Slim and his merry band would have the same fate.
They heard the crash and the screams, and though they had a substantial head start, Jack wasn’t counting on that to deter Slim. Blindly he searched his backpack and found what he was searching for. As Elaine kept running ahead, he stopped and plugged one of the pot marks with a stick of dynamite. He lit the fuse and ran, catching Elaine by the nap of her jacket he threw her down as the stick explode, sending shock waves throughout the mine.
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