Dead on the Fourth of July (David Dean Mysteries) (Prologue, page 1 of 5)


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The glow from the flashlight barely illuminated the next few feet of inky darkness as the two youngsters crept along the dank passageway. The mine tunnel narrowed and the pair was forced to hunch down under the low ceiling that closed in the fetid air around them like a soaked and musty blanket. They inched forward, one behind the other, hands at their sides lest they rub the slime of the rock walls that wept on either side. The single cone of light flickered on the dripping stone, casting yellow dancing goblins in its shadowy glow as the pair stumbled forward. The girl tried to ape the boy's swagger, the way he kicked and splashed at every rock in his path like he was going for an ice cream or coming home from school instead of crawling deeper into the earth in this hell hole. She was half afraid to speak, fearful that a quake in her voice would expose her trepidation.

"This is stupid," the girl finally said, trying to sound angry. "You never said it was this far."

"Don't be such a cry baby," he muttered, holding the flashlight out in front as if to see inches more of what lay before them. The ringing echo of his voice faded, leaving only the constant sound of dripping water as they moved deeper into the mine.

The girl wondered if he was as frightened as she. The thought that he might be gave her a modicum of confidence. "It's no different than being in a dark cellar," she said. "Just colder," she added with a shiver, as if to apology for the crack in her voice. "I didn't think it would take this long." They slopped forward, feet sloshing the muddy floor, no longer trying to avoid the water that oozed in rivulets down the narrow passageway, back toward the entrance, now out of sight behind them.

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