Maria Soler was one of five people who were trapped in the Tompkins Haunted Cave Tour last Halloween.
Along with the guide-Alan- there was a young couple- Craig and Elspeth, there was an amatuer photographer named Herman and there was Mindy and Leah.
The young couple were looking for a little romance in the dark, the photographer had gotten himself lost looking for a Halloween party on Lawton Road and ended up on Paradise Road instead.
Mindy and Leah saw a flyer for the Haunted Cave Tour taped to the gas pump at the Midnight Mart and decided that since they were dressed up as Zombies and had some time to kill before the Halloween Ball at Zombie Fest in Seattle why not check it out?
Maria Soler had no reason to be at the Tompkins Cave, she had no idea the Cave was out there- and it was only twenty miles from where she grew up in Vantage, Washington.
That night there was a full Moon
Outside of the small shop that was over the entrance to the cave Maria bought her ticket from Alan The Tour Guides assistant and she listened politely to Alan The Tour Guide tell a story about the Giles Family who had a house on the property and how the cave system was discovered.
One winter an intruder broke into the Giles home which was still standing ( though it has been empty for several years ) about two miles down the road.
The Nameless Killer cut the heads off of each and every member of the family as they slept- all eight of them.
Even the baby.
The bodies were discovered a few days later by a family friend who had stopped by to help Mr. Giles do some repairs to the roof which had suffered some damage in a recent windstorm.The heads were discovered by some hikers 80 years later when their dog seemed to just appear out a hillside with a skull in it’s mouth.
That’s how the Tompkins ( that was the dog’s name ) cave system was discovered- and the rest of the Giles family.
After the story Alan The Tour Guide led the small group through the shop that had been built over the cave entrance- he opened a very ordinary door and led them down into the darkness.
Maria was the last through the door, she heard it swing shut and she heard it click.
That’s when the hairs on the backs of her neck stood up. She put her hand under her hair and tried to smooth them down but they wouldn’t stay.
With her hand still on the back of her neck, she stopped and turned around and looked back up the stairs and she almost walked back up. The only reason she didn’t was that she knew in her bones that it was locked and that she could only go forward.
It wasn’t in her nature to panic, besides the lights were working. At least they had those she thought.
That and the Lantern Alan The Tour Guide was carrying.
The small group walked on a boardwalk, there were hand railings to keep them back from nature ( Maria guessed ) and above the cave was lit by strings of lights.
Following beside them in the cave there was a little river. There several little ponds and even rock formations that looked like twisted bodies- arms reaching up, fingerless hands reaching out, jaws clenched shut in terror on misshapen heads.
Alan explained that the formations were natural, caused by water running down from above.
Craig held Elspeth and said something into her ear that made her giggle, Mindy and Leah compared the figures to modern art and Herman whispered in Maria’s ear ” Obviously fake.”
Maria shrugged noncommittally as they followed the group up a ramp. Alan stopped halfway up and pointed out a series of gaps in the wall where the skulls of the Giles family had been found.
He didn’t tell them about the black metal kettle wrapped in chains under the shelf of skulls.
At one point he had it x-rayed and inside the kettle were bird bones, nails, human finger bones, bullet casings and knives.
Alan The Tour Guide had been trying for years to get rid of that evil looking thing and when he couldn’t he buried it here
As the group walked over the kettle Alan The Tour Guide noticed the woman, Maria stop short of stepping on the buried kettle.
She walked around it and when she looked up at him her dark eyes were expressionless but he didn’t believe that look for a single minute.
The next room in the cave system was called the Cathedral- it’s ceiling was high and the floor was cracked and surprisingly even.
” Years after they found the remain of the Giles family, five graves were found here in the Cathedral.
The remains they took from the ground were headless.
” Every bone in the bodies found in these plots were smashed and broken.”
The Zombie ladies walked around the plots and moved the soil around with their toes. ” What happened to them, do you think?”
Maria said, with surprise, ” Their were bones broken and ground to dust in their skins and their were torn heads off.”
Alan blanched, ” I don’t think…”
” Oh but I do. Don’t you know what this place is, what happened to that family? And you’ve been selling tickets to take people through here? You’re fucking crazy!”
Maria started to back away from the group.
” Tell me…go on.” Herman asked. ” You’re part of the tour right?”
Craig and Elspeth were holding hands and it smelled like Mindy and Leah may have fortified themselves sometime during the tour with a little bourbon.
Herman looked bored.
Maria answered :
Mindy said slowly so as to not slur her words- plus it made her sound authoritative ” Vampires don’t tear anyone’s heads off.”
” No they don’t tear heads off. But Werewolves do. One, maybe two caught the scent when the Giles family began turning into Vampires, the graves down here are where the Vampires were sleeping.”
Alan said trying to get his tour back, ” There are no Werewolves down here…”
Maria pulled the lantern from Alan’s hands down and tried to cast some light directly on the opened graves.” How complete bodies did they take out of the graves Alan?”
” Three…I think.”
Maria pulled the lantern from Alan’s hands and swung it up so that she could get a look at the ceiling.
They all looked up and Elspeth said for one of them as one of the shadowy figures turned it head and looked down and snapped it’s teeth at them, ” Oh hell no.”
As a group they ran the rest of the way to the end of the tour.
They came to the sliding metal door that should have slid to the right to let them out but of course it wouldn’t budge.
Not one inch.
” I have been down here a million times, ” Alan insisted and I have never seen those things on the ceiling!”
” Someone woke them up.” Maria told him. ” Other Vampires must be on their way, close maybe. And where there are Vampires there are Werewolves.”
” Oh that’s just great.” Craig said. ” If we don’t get our blood sucked we’re going to get our bones pulverized by Werewolves.”
” Then let’s get out of here.”
Maria ran the lantern close to the wall. ” See these handprints? Push on them.”
” Why?” Herman asked with interest.
” Because you’re human. Now do as I say.”
The door slid open and Maria pushed Alan and Craig and Elspeth out and just as Herman cleared the threshold the door slammed shut.
” Now that I can have the real stuff “
Mindy pulled the small bottle of bourbon out of her purse and dropped it to the ground.
Leah loosened her collar and they both looked at Maria.
“That trick with the handprints won’t save you . And there’s two of us.” Leah said. ” I’ll snap your spine and Mindy will drain your blood before you hit the ground.
Maria backed up against the wall and that’s when Leah and Mindy saw the crude wolf drawing near the floor under the hand prints.
” No you don’t you bit…”
The wall slid open and Maria fell backwards.
As she fell she grabbed Leah and Mindy by the hair on the tops of their heads and pulled them after her
the door slammed shut.
She had taken the heads of Mindy and Leah back into the cave and buried them near the kettle.
Maria Soler was saying goodbye to what was left of the group and Alan The Tour Guide.
They wanted to thank her, they also didn’t want to get any closer to Maria then they had to. But she had saved them and they wanted to be polite so they shook her hand and Herman even threw his arm around her shoulder and gave her a quick hug.
” When the Moon is full” Maria said when Herman asked her how it was she ended up there that night with them, “I seemed to get pulled along by it. I can never tell where I’ll end up.”