– You can still give up before it’s too late! – I hide my head under the rocks, ignoring the shout. A bullet of some kind pass whistling over. It ends up on the wall close to me. Some splinters reach my head. I squat a little more.
– I will not give up! People should know what’s going on! – I shout. My unknown interlocutor shoots again in the dark. It is clear he or she has some kind of night goggles. Maybe infrared. I’m sorry I broke mine, otherwise I could return its fire. In my pocket, I feel the reassuring presence of my plastic gun. That I don’t know if it will shoot.
– Come on! It’s been going on for a while already! Why do you want to reveal it now? – Another voice is shouting this time. This one comes from the left. I crawl in the opposite direction, trying to be as silent as possible. Another bullet seems to impact where I was a minute ago.
– Why do you want to keep it secret? – I know why, but I want them to explain it to me. With a little bit of luck, if they talk, my mini-camera still will be able to record it.
– Is that what you want? – The new voice comes from somewhere between the other two. Maybe I should shoot them there. But I’m afraid of dying also. I don’t know the power of my gun. And as far as I remember, unfortunately, these caves were having the consistency of an old bread and the structure of a sponge. An impact can shatter the whole area, leaving a brand new hall in its place. Or maybe even an open space. – You want to come with us, don’t you? – The voice continues. – It can be arranged. – I explore the wall with my bare hands, trying to find a hole to flow through. – Just give up, stop hiding and come to me. The rest can be spoken. – I’m tempted. But then I find it. A passage, close to the floor. Some kind of slide. I think I can fit in. Temptatively, I put my head and arms inside. It looks like an old lava tube, fortunately polished by some ancient liquid. I have no idea of the geology that created this place, but the water we use comes from somewhere, so it could be that it was polished by water.
– You’re not the first one. Other people, as smart as you, joined us before. Why do you want to give up your life so easily? Why don’t you bet for the winners? – This voice, the first one, I think it comes from my boss. So he should know I have a weapon. He should assume I have the glasses. The speech, as he is, is an old one. If I give up now, they’ll treat me like one of them, only to kill me when I’m more confident.
– Last chance! If you don’t show yourself voluntarily, we’ll destroy the whole place! – Not a very promising offer. Yes, I fit. I’m almost sure my tunnel doesn’t end in a civilized place, but what other chances I have? Shall I shoot my weapon? And by the way, does it work? After all, my boss gave it to me.
I’m ready when I hear the last two dry shots. My legs are in the tunnel. One bullet impacts close to my arm, the other in my forearm. I bite my tongue, not to shout, and slide down.