Previous | Next


“You know, analysis shows that cave bears were mainly herbivorous. They probably rarely attacked humans.”

Lachlan jumped, his head snapping around to see Mrs. Sharma standing in the doorway.

“Have you just been standing there, eavesdropping on our little heart-to-heart chat?” he said.

Self-conscious and caught off guard at the interruption, he drew his blanket up around his shoulders like a protective shroud.

“Only for a minute,” said Mrs. Sharma. “I came to tell everyone it was time to wake up. I didn’t intend to eavesdrop.”

Angelina looked similarly caught off guard, hugging her backpack against herself like a shield.

“Let me guess, you’re going to tell us we’re weak and we need to toughen up or something,” said Angelina.

“Don’t put words in my mouth,” said Mrs. Sharma. “Why would I call you weak?”

She stepped over Lachlan, taking a seat in one of the stools.

“Like Sam said, it’s a human survival response,” she continued. “Before I came here, I would have said there was no scientific basis for a statement like that, but it’s certainly kept me alive in here, being alert at every moment, constantly scanning my surroundings. I know my own anecdotal evidence is no substitute for a formal study, but it just… feels so obvious.”

“Yeah,” said Lachlan.

“Before my abilities had fully manifested, one of the Sarah fabrications cornered us. She wasn’t fully mature, but she was too large to fight off, and she was vicious. She knocked out Mahender, and then…” Mrs. Sharma lifted her pants leg to reveal the bottom of a curved scar on her calf.

“How did you get away?” said Angelina.

“It was the dog that saved us,” said Mrs. Sharma. “It threw her across the room and gave me time to drag my idiot nephew somewhere we could hide.”

“With your leg like that?” said Angelina.

“In my time here, I’ve learned that adrenaline is an extremely effective painkiller,” said Mrs. Sharma. “With luck, we’ll get out of here today and none of you will have a chance to learn that firsthand.”

Lachlan almost pointed out that Sam had already learned that firsthand, but decided against it.

No one spoke for a minute. Mrs. Sharma braced her arm against the stool as though she was about to stand up and end the conversation, but then Sam spoke.

“Mrs. Sharma,” he said. “Did you ever see any sign of anyone else being trapped here? Other than you, Nancy, Mahender, and the fabrications?”

“Only twice.”

“What happened to them?” said Sam.

“They died. Both times, all I found was the aftermath.”

Sam’s voice was small when he replied, “Please don’t elaborate.”

“Why do you ask?” said Mrs. Sharma.

“I was thinking about what you said before,” he said, “about the hotspots, and the manmade bodies of water. It got me thinking about the first house I lived in, about how we moved right after my mom disappeared. My dad said it was haunted, that things kept disappearing, unexplained stuff kept happening. I thought it was just him being superstitious or coping with his grief or something, but… do you think…?”

“I’m sorry,” said Mrs. Sharma. “I don’t know.”

Previous | Next

2 thoughts on “9.4

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s