Chapter 14

No Spiders

When they emerged from the trailer ten minutes later, Oliver and Jeanne were both carrying double arm loads of rolled maps. They hurried back to the truck, where Ray was still relaxing in the bed of his pickup, talking to someone. As they stepped around the corner of the mold-infested trailer, Oliver spotted a black motorcycle, he guessed it to be a Yamaha from the design of the headlamp and handlebars, parked beside the main gate. The rider, who leaned against the cab of the pickup, was a thin, muscled man in his late twenties, dressed in a worn Johnny Cash t-shirt and stained khaki work pants. His skin was a pale brown that might have been equally attributable to his ancestry or hours spent working in the sun.

“That your nephew, Ray?” Oliver shouted.

Ray cocked his head in seeming confusion, then sat up, nodded quickly and said, “Sure thing, Mr. Lucas. This is Tony. Tony, say hi to Oliver Lucas.”

The young man nodded at Oliver and half-raised a hand in greeting. “Oliver. Good to meet you. What you got there?”

“Maps. Lots of maps of the mine. These should tell us most of what we need to know about the layout of the mine.”

“So you won’t be needing Tony to take you down then?” Ray asked.

“No. We’ll still take a look at what’s going on down there.

“Let me take a look at those,” Tony said, stepping towards Oliver with his hand extend. “Might be able to tell you which tunnels are flooded.

Oliver tossed his load of maps through the open window of the truck cab and shrugged. “No need. You just give me a tour of the mine as you know it and I’ll compare that to the maps later. They’re really old and I’d rather not unroll them here in the open.”

Tony shrugged and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Sure. You got a spare flashlight?”

“Really, Tony?” Ray drawled from the back of the pickup. “You knew that I wanted you to them down into the mine.”

“Get of my back, Ray. I couldn’t find a flashlight that had good batteries.”

“That’s just the sort of slacker attitude that keeps getting you fired, kid. Take it from me, you’ve got to actually make an effort if you want to get anywhere.”

“As touching as this family reunion is, can we get down into the mine?” Oliver interrupted.

“Take this,” Jeanne said, passing Tony a small, but bright, LED light from her bag. “That should do the job.”

Tony took the light with a nod, then stalked past his uncle and stood waiting at the entrance to the mine. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“You sure this was a good idea?” Oliver asked Ray.

The old guide shrugged and stubbed out his cigarette before responding. “He knows the passages. Just a bit lost, if you ask me. Never had a lot of guidance growing up.”

Oliver glanced from Ray to Jeanne and raised an eyebrow. She gave him a half smile and adjusted the straps on her backpack. “I’m ready if you are.”