photo via Coldplay's new video for Midnight
Henry's light illuminated the rough walls of a cavern of Bruce Wayne proportions.
"Has this been here the whole time under the house?" Henry said, incredulous.
I stepped forward with Henry to the edge of a steep drop.
"What is it?" Lida said.
"Oh, my God!" Luke's voice came from directly above. Juliet appeared beside him. "Is that the piano?"
And then I realized what we were seeing: a hole had opened up in the side of the hill so when I looked to the right I saw nothing but cloudy sky.
"Can you guys get down?" Lida called up to Luke.
"I think so," he said. "Come on, Juliet. I think the stairs are still intact."
"I'm not going down there," Juliet said, almost too quiet to hear. But Luke seemed to possess strong powers of persuasion because they both came down the stairs moments later.
"I think we can get down over there," Henry said, pointing to the left where the rock and dirt sloped at a gentler angle.
"Where's Rob?" Luke said.
We all looked where Alex still sat. I didn't even have the heart to go over and try to take her from her grief. I would only have empty words for her anyway.
There was a moment when Luke looked from the form of Rob to Lida, understanding dawning on his face, then to Alex and back to his sister. "Oh, Lida. I'm so sorry."
She let him hold her, comfort her for a few seconds before she broke away in a sudden fit of rage, and began yelling at Alex, hurling words at her. "That's enough, Alex! Get away from him!"
"Don't be a bitch, Lida." Alex's voice sounded flat, lifeless.
I wondered if this man's death had taken my best friend with him.
Lida looked like she wanted to yell more, yell with her hands and leave Alex unmoving like Rob. But Luke held her back. "Come on, Lida. Let's get you out of here." She let Luke steer her to the path Henry found.
I looked back at Alex before she disappeared from view. It didn't seem like she would move anytime soon, but I had a feeling she would follow us and I was right. As soon as we'd reached flat ground again, Alex was stumbling down the rocky slope after us.
She came to stand with me, as far from Lida as possible. "I don't see what the big hurry was to get down here," she grumbled. "How do we know we're any safer down here than up there?"
Luke shook his head. "If all of this didn't crumble to pieces in that earthquake, I think it's pretty safe down here. I don't even see any debris besides where the piano is."
They were much farther from where the piano had fallen now, the grey sky smaller in the distance.
They walked deeper into the cavern, and the rock overhead seemed to get taller and farther away the deeper they went. They came to a large tunnel on their right that sloped upward. Henry still led the way, the light from his phone highlighting a giant rock formation ahead.
Alex gripped my arm suddenly. "I don't like this," she said. "I don't think we should be down here."
"No one asked you, you stupid little whore," Lida spat.
"Oh, don’t start with me!" Alex yelled, finally fighting back. "Why don't you save your anger for Rob? You know, the one who was cheating on you! Oh, wait. You can't be mad at him because you let him die!"
"Let him?! I didn't let him die! He saved my life! He had to shove me away from that stupid fucking case that crushed him. I'm angry at myself for saving your life when I told you to leave!"
Luke was still holding on to Lida, but Alex was moving toward her and I was afraid of what they might do to each other. There was no way I could hold Alex back myself. I looked for Henry for help, but he was a good fifteen feet away transfixed by the rock formation.
"You're just angry," Alex went on, "that he loved me more than you!"
"He didn't love you!" Lida scoffed, disgusted. "He was married to me. We were going to have a baby together!"
"That's what you wanted, Lida. He was going to leave you so he could be with me."
Lida slapped Alex so hard across the face the sound reverberated across the rock walls like a ping pong ball. Juliet gasped with her hand over her mouth, as if any of this was surprising.
"Hey, guys! Come look at this!" Henry called to them, completely oblivious.
"Henry!" I said, annoyed. "It's a rock. Would you get over here? Alex and Lida are trying to kill each other." I turned in time to see Alex connect her fist with Lida's nose. Lida stumbled backward, blood running down her face like red tears.
"Alex!" Luke yelled, shoving her away from Lida. "That's enough!"
But it was unnecessary. Alex said what she wanted to say, and now she was done.
"Guys, this isn't a rock!" Henry said.
"What is he rambling about?" Alex said.
I sighed. "Then what is it?"
"That is my ship," a voice said.We all turned in unison to see a man standing at the mouth of the tunnel.
...to be continued.
P.S. As always, you can read the previous parts to the story here. I'll be posting the very last part next Thursday!
P.P.S. Happy first day of Spring!