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|Charlie MacDuff and the Test of Time|
by I. MacPenn
Charlie, Alice, and George protected their heads with their hands, but it wasn't working - they couldn't stop the attacks. They ran as fast as they could down the slippery passageway -- at least there was some light from a tiny, overhead airshaft. That was the light that George had seen.
As they passed the airshaft, George realized what was happening, and screamed, "Bats!"
It was a cloud of shrieking black bats that was attacking them. Their sharp claws tore at the kids' hands and faces.
Charlie, Alice, and George ran for another 20 feet before they escaped the bats. As they stopped, Alice and George caught Charlie as he slipped; he had almost fallen on the floor, which was carpeted with lumpy, brown, bat-droppings.
They were each out of breath. Alice was checking her hair desperately for bats or anything bat-related. Charlie said, "The bats must nest in here, and fly in and out of the pyramid using that airshaft."
"Wonderful," said Alice, "let's keep moving -- I want to get as far away from those horrible bats as possible."
They walked quickly along the corridor, away from the bats and the airshaft. The corridor twisted and turned, and quickly got smaller and smaller. Soon, they could no longer stand and had had to crawl. At least the floor was clean here. Soon the ceiling was so low that they had to shimmy along on their stomachs.
Charlie called back to the others, "This is a dead end. We're going to have to back up."
"Are you sure?" asked Alice. "Check for a secret doorway or something. I'm not going back by those bats."
Charlie tried pushing in all directions, but there was no response. He shouted, "This really is a dead end. I can't find any way out."
They each squirmed backwards until they could turn around. Charlie passed the flashlight to George, who was now in the lead. As soon as they could stand up, they did. Alice spoke first, "We can't go back through those bats."
Charlie replied, "We have to - there's no other way out of here."
George suggested, "Maybe if we're really quiet by the bats, they won't fly around." Alice and Charlie nodded, then they started walking back towards the bats and the airshaft.
When the airshaft came into view, they started walking even more carefully, trying to make as little noise as possible on the slimy floor. They looked upwards, trying to see the bats hanging from the ceiling above, but they couldn't see them on the tall, dark ceilling. George knew better than to shine the flashlight on them.
When they were almost underneath the small airshaft, the now-familiar rustling sound began - the bats had been disturbed. Charlie, Alice and George automatically protected their heads, and began running. One bat became entangled in George's hair, and he shrieked and struggled to get it out. He used the flashlight to hit the bat away, and the light shone everywhere but down the passageway in front of them. Running was almost impossible, so they all staggered blindly down the dark, slippery hall. In a few seconds, George had gotten rid of the bat, and shone the light down the passage in front of them. They ran ahead to the hole in the ceiling and climbed back to the upper corridor, to the passageway with the twisty turns.
They were free of the bats, and they knew that the return trip to the room with many doors would be simple. They walked very quickly - they were almost running.
After a few U-turns, the light of flashlight shone on the statue of Anubis. They quickly backed away from it in stunned silence. Something was terribly wrong.
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