Footprints Into the Dark

“Five more minutes,” Mariano huffed quietly to himself, blinking in the dark at the hands on his Swatch, taking a stab at what time it was. His flashlight beam bounced and darted ahead of his gradually slowing footsteps.

His brain seethed with ideals instilled by comic books and Saturday morning cartoons, “Heroes don’t give up. Heroes never falter. Heroes save the girl.” He breathed deep to brace his nerves but only wound up coughing on a bit of dust.

At the bottom of one hill, the start of another, he stopped and had to admit out loud, “Heroes don’t have to face being grounded by my mother.” Defeated and deflated, he turned to go, swinging his flashlight in a careless arc.

He froze at three quarter turn. Eyes wide in the moonlight crept back slowly with the flashlight’s return path. There, only a few feet away, a cement drainage tunnel protruded out of a tangle of rocks and weeds.

Clear as day in the middle of the night, muddy footprints led inside. Tiny, petite footprints off into the dark.

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