It was the only smart thing I did that night.
I ran with my hand along the side of the tunnel to keep from smashing into rock when we came to a bend. That's what I say now. But I know better. I needed to touch something that night to steady me against the black chaos of the pursuit as we went further down into the underground abyss. We were running for our lives. The sound of the creature's roars of rage echoed around us as the tunnel narrowed.
My lungs were hot with pain. My legs were numb with exhaustion.
The fear of death drove me like a whip.
The monster bellowed. It was farther back than I expected, but I ran harder. When it bellowed again, I could sense its helpless hatred. The sound was much further behind us.
I could hear its frothing frustration as it continued. Further and further back still.
"Sissy," I shouted.
From somewhere up ahead, she yelled for me to shut up and keep running.
The monster's screams were getting farther and farther behind us.
"I think it's stuck," I said.
We both slowed down and then reluctantly stopped. I leaned over with my hands on my knees. The creature continued to bellow its frustration and rage while I tried to catch my breath. I felt Sissy's hand on my shoulder and it startled me. But enveloped in total blackness with a terrifying creature somewhere behind us bent on ripping us to pieces, her touch was the best thing that could have happened to me.
"You think it's really stuck?" she said.
"Maybe," I said.
"I hope so," she said.
It howled with manic frenzy. I could imagine it writhing in a narrow passage, insane with the desire to break free of the rock walls that trapped it.
"It's sounds pissed off," I said.
"Good," she said. "I hope it gets so mad it blows itself up."
"Not likely," I said.
At that moment, from far back the way we had come, a bright blue-white starburst of light exploded like an overheated transformer. The pressure wave knocked us both backward and I caught a brief glimpse of Sissy tumbling head over heels before I hit my head on the rock floor and blacked out.