Loud, distinctive, harsh. The sound reverberated in the quiet and dark space.
Lottie let out a sigh of relief. Three taps was the signal. It was finally safe to come out. As she silently and slowly began to stand up from her crouched position on the ground, easing her body up against the wall, she could not remember how long it had been. Minutes? Hours? Weeks? The tiny crawl-hole seemed to defy time.
Or perhaps she was going insane.
Another three taps. This time, it was louder, faster. More panicked. Lottie picked up the pace, weaving her way through the tunnels. When she was younger, she had been scared of them. Now, the thought was laughable. She knew the tunnels better than she knew the back of her hand. One had to. Otherwise...she shuddered.
The door was close, she knew it. And so did the creatures stirring in the murky waters. As she sloshed forward in her rainboots, she could hear the sound of them beginning to stir. She forced herself to keep going straight. She could not look back. She could not stop.
The murky water beneath her began to churn violently, and she could feel the tunnel constricting itself, longing to crush her within it. A chill swept the air and she knew it was to be true. The creatures were awake.
Lottie shook the thought from her mind. They could be listening, spying. The door was in sight, she focused on that.
5 feet away.
4 feet away.
3 feet away.
2 feet away.
1 foot away.
It was open. She grabbed hold and pulled herself up. A wave of water crashed down onto the tunnel, and the primitive roars and howls slowly began to fade away as she stood on the ground. Lottie was safe.