“I don’t want to be here either!” Sig screamed as she sprang off the chair. “I hate you and your stupid farm and, and, and…” Her throat tightened and hot tears spilled from her eyes. She spun and barreled out the door. Tears blurred her vision as she raced to the barn. The door stood open, airing out the acrid smoke lingering in the building.
Sig tossed aside the two bales covering her secret tunnel’s opening and crawled through the passage. It ended in a small cave she had excavated in the deep stack of bales. She kneeled and reached into a niche formed by three bales and pulled out a Ziploc bag and flashlight.
She turned on the light. With the seventeen dollars she had collected this morning, the bag contained almost two hundred dollars. Her savings account held over four hundred. More than enough for a bus ticket to San Diego, which was the last address she had for her dad. Aunt Charlotte’s signature had taken awhile to master, but Sig had a withdrawal slip ready with the inscription.
Bits of loose straw and dust fell on her as she placed today’s loot in the bag.
More straw fell and she swatted the air to clear the suspended chaff. An overhead bale fell next to her, and she scuttled towards the tunnel. Bales began to fall, blocking her path, and she retreated, scrambling backwards to avoid the crush of straw collapsing the tunnel and the cave.
She hit the back of the barn with her head, a loose board cracking against her skull. Sig grabbed the end of the board with her hand, pulling until it snapped in two. The next board broke as easily, and she wriggled through the resulting hole. Bales fell on her legs, but she freed them with a tug and tumbled to the ground headfirst.
She blocked her fall with her arms and rolled onto her back still clutching the flashlight and bag of money.
“What the?” she said. Instead of falling onto the grass on the sunny side of the barn, she had landed in a chilly darkness. The flashlight beam shot through the falling straw and dust as she shone it this way and that, illuminating walls of damp rock surrounding her.
She stood and reached out to touch the wall. It was freezing cold and covered with a layer of ice. She wiped her hands on her jeans and inspected the rest of the cavern. The ceiling loomed just a hand’s width above her head, an icy sheen reflecting the light. Sig pulled her hood up and drew the strings tight.
The cave was shaped much like a keyhole, with a narrow neck leading away from the small enclosure. Taking short, hesitant steps, she walked through the fissure. A biting wind blew and a murky light appeared through an aperture ahead. She squirmed through the opening and gasped. Only quick reflexes saved her from a fatal step.
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