The Arizona moonlight reflected from Robbie's glasses as he slid the back door silently shut. It was the first time he had ever done anything like this before. Creeping down his driveway, he was careful to restrict any sound that might penetrate his parents window. As he passed, his reflection became visible: a graceless fifteen year old, clutching his fathers D-cell flashlight, dressed in black and ready to go. Robbie paused for a moment to reflect on this foreign character staring back at him, and pressed on. He was to convene with Mouse in fifteen minutes, and he didn't want to be late.
Page High School was home 49 teachers, 8 janitorial staff and 635 students, (grades ten to twelve) three of whom were now seated in it's dimly lit dugout going over their final plan.
"Let's see that flashlight then Robbie," said the boy in red, "Four batteries! This thing is huge! We run into any trouble down there, I'll just give 'em a swat with this bad Johnny."
Jed swung the flashlight like a pseudo bat, cracking an invisible fastball into left field.
"I thought you said we wouldn't have to worry about anything like that…"
Mouse always seemed concerned about some detail in their plan. His short outline was defined by the moonlight to his back. In his hands he held out three candles for the others to see.
"It's all I could manage on short notice. My sister and her friends took all the flashlights in our house for some dumb camping game, and never put any back!"
Jed inspected the wax sticks and scoffed,
"As if we'll need any of these, Rob brought the torch."
Mouse seemed a little offended.
"Yeah, well, we'll need something to light the wick with."
Jed reached into his sack and reveled the large, red-white-and-blue cylinder, complete with wooden launching platform, holographic stars and four feet of wiry brown wick. Leftover from July, it was the only firework the boys possessed, and launching it from the bottom of a forsaken subterranean missile silo seemed the best way to make use of it.
Or at least Jed thought so anyway. The other two boys did their best to imitate his thrill-seeking fantasies, but at heart, they were scared. Mouse did his hardest to hide it, but it always seemed to become obvious when his speech would become faster and softer. Robbie tried his best to be brave, usually making a joke or witty observation.
It had been ten minutes since Jed and Co. left the school, and the desert skyline was becoming visible. Like pushpins, the cacti stood along the horizon, breaking the smooth line between sky and land. The silo was not far from Page, making it all the more surprising it had been derelict for so long. Jed had explained to the others that the military had all sorts of crazy projects out here in the sand, and that after the war they were all sealed and forgotten. Except for one.
For Robbie, it was his first time seeing the hatch. Mouse had seen it before, and of course Jed discovered it, but none of them had ever been inside. Jed inserted a flat head screwdriver to the small gap between metal and concrete and opened what seemed like a dark portal, silent, and endless.
"Let see one of them candlesticks."
Jed flicked his lighter and after transferring the flame, dropped the candle into the space. It fell twenty feet or so before being stopped by a loud crack as it met the floor. Robbie illuminated the hatch and found a sturdy metal ladder leading down to the tiny flame waiting at the bottom.
There was a moments pause as the boys all stared down at the tiny light looking back at them. The darkness below seemed to reach up and blend with the shadows of the sandy scrub. It was if whatever existed below the surface was reaching up for breath, longing for escape. None of them moved until Robbie, taking in a breath of the muggy air, silently gripped the first rung of the ladder. The other two followed, and Jed closed the hatch to the world behind them.