It was a wilderness; June couldn’t think of a better way of describing the scene for it was like stepping into a different time zone warping from reality into something else. She didn’t mind the dark the damp or picking her way through the debris. What constituted a wilderness was the vastness of “nothingness” and the unchartered waters in which she now found herself.
If she were being honest with herself, this was the time to turn around and head back, out of harm’s way, but more importantly, out of Nigel and his team’s way so they could carry out their mission. For the first time, June realized what her presence here meant. Nigel had explained but she’d only listened half heartedly in her eagerness to find Roland. June hadn’t considered the ramifications of the hostage side of things, only her ability to track and assist.
As they silently moved onward she hesitated momentarily wondering if she should approach Nigel and ask if she was a hinderance in their pursuit of the two lost men. Radio silence meant she couldn’t say a word but continue with the unit as they painstakingly made their way into what seemed an endless cave.
Having traversed a couple of miles in her estimation, the cave forked left and right narrowing as far as she could see and only one person at a time could make it through the small passageway.
Nigel divided his team and three went left the rest right. It was eerie in the extreme and June was thankful she wasn’t claustrophobic because the walls were literally closing in and she wondered how much further they’d have to walk before they reached a larger portion of the cave.
No sooner had she thought about it than the cave opened into a massive opening. Looking up, she noticed a man-sized hole in the top of the cave which explained where the fresh air was coming from. From the look of it, it wasn’t likely you could get up to it without specialized gear or someone was up at the other end and dropped a harness down that you could attach to so the others could pull you up and out.
Nigel was concerned about meeting up with the perps and their responses. June was a trooper and she’d kept up with them the entire trek without so much as a word or a whimper.
Time passed. It was difficult to say whether it was hours or minutes. Nigel signaled his men to stop for a breather, not so much because they required it but because he wanted to give June a little time.
Since the cave was large, he took the opportunity to speak with her. “Everything ok?”
“Yes, I guess. Nigel, I didn’t realize the position I was putting you in by pushing to tag along. Should I go back?”
“Too late for that June, I’d have to divide up the men yet again and we’re nearly there. My men haven’t heard anything so far but that doesn’t mean anything. We know this cave connects with another but we have to head up to high ground which is another 1000 feet or so.”
“Your sure this is the route they took?”
“Undoubtedly. We spotted bits and pieces of equipment.”
“I never noticed a thing.”
“We’ll continue in a few minutes and it will level out onto a flat plateau before entering the other half of the cave.”