“Dunsany,” Petra whispered as the creature approached. If only it were a nightmare. If only there were some way to wake up. Petra balled up her hands into fists but it suddenly felt oh so very insignificant. Nevertheless, she adjusted her stance even as her knees began to quake.
The nightmare only intensified when from out of the shadows emerged two more of the gigantic creatures. Horrid white knobby limbs and long stringy hair. The two newcomers flanked the first creature, all three pausing, staring with a penetrating intensity. She raised her balled up hands close to her chin, bile rising in the back of her throat.
“Petra!” a voice piped down from above. “Wha’s goin on?”
She wanted to call out for Tubby and Cyrus to run, but her throat was frozen and dry. One of the new creatures leaned in close to the first. They both observed her closely, and then one asked: “What exactly is your purpose here?”
Petra blinked. “I… I… I’m on… a quest.”
The creatures, which had been moving closer to her steadily, now stopped. “A quest?” asked the third, which had until now remained quiet. She nodded, her fists quivering. The second creature leaned toward the ear of the first, and whispered something with a hoarse and horrible breathy voice. All three regarded her again before retreating backwards into the gloom.
“Petra!” It was Cyrus this time. “This is not amusing.”
She watched the morlocks shuffling deeper into the darkness, thinking it was strange they should blend so quickly… being white as they were.
She unclenched her fists and reached for the ladder… slowly, rung by rung she started to climb, feeling at any second as though those horrible bony white hands might snatch her and pull her back down into the moist darkness.
“Where is she!” came Malus’s hoarse voice from above.
As she approached the light, arms snatched down grabbing her around the collar of her old worn peacoat… lifting.
“You brat!” Malus shouted as he held her up to his face level. She stared into his angry green eyes for a moment without focus, still lost in the darkness below. Suddenly her eyes narrowed.
“Lemme go, ya git!” her holler coinciding with a tremendous kick to the kneecap. Malus dropped her like a sack of potatoes.
“Petra!” Tubby and Cyrus yelled out in excited unison. “What happened?”
“What happened?” she repeated their question, a laugh barking out of her. “I’ll tell ya what happened. Petra Flax is what happened!” she held up both fists. “Three of ‘em, I tell ya, quakin’ with fear at the sight of these dukes!”
Malus exhaled, looking at the manhole.