Wide-eyed, he pointed in the direction of the mountains. “They’re still there!” he screamed. “They’re lurking there, waiting for a chance to pounce on us!”
Despite ourselves, we all turned to look. “There’s nothing there,” said Sheridan.
Colin Broke glanced at me uncertainly. I presumed he was recalling what I had told him about the tupilak and their ability to render themselves invisible. “Where is Young?” I asked the professor.
Kinnock was gulping air into his lungs. If he didn’t stop, he ran the risk of hyperventilating as well. I slapped his face hard and repeated my question. “Cave,” said Kinnock in a moment of sudden lucidity. “He wouldn’t come with me. They’ll have killed him.” “Who will?” demanded Broke. “The beasts,” Kinnock whispered, feverishly looking around once more. “We must get out of here. At once! Young is done for.”
“You two, take the professor back to the station,” I told McCafferty and Sheridan.
“Dr. Hurd will attend to him. Meantime, we’ll go and look for Young.” “If my training didn’t forbid it,” Colin Broke said when the other men were out of earshot, “I could almost believe in your story about those demons.”
The last of the daylight was fading on the horizon when we came upon the cave, a dark hole the size of a railway tunnel running into the side of a crag at least fifteen hundred feet high. To me, it looked like a direct route to hell.
We had turned on our battery-fed flashlights. I directed the beam of mine at the mouth of the cave, but it was as if the darkness simply absorbed it.
Then it picked out a chalk-white face. “My God!” Broke exclaimed. “There’s Young!” The biologist emerged from the mouth of the cave,
moving like a puppet, then halted abruptly.
He didn’t react when I went up to him, he just stared into the distance with an expressionless face. He was clearly in a catatonic state. In many people exposed to an extreme situation, the mind simply switches off.
I listened for any sounds coming from inside the cave. All I could hear was the incessant drip-drip of water.
“Will he remain like that?” asked Broke, shining his flashlight at Young’s face. Although the biologist must have been dazzled, he didn’t blink even once. “I hope not,” I replied. Physically, Thomas Young appeared to be in good condition. I could not, at first sight, detect any injuries. It would be impossible to tell if he had sustained any frostbite until his clothing was removed.
I took his arm and said, “Come with me.” After two or three seconds, he put one foot before the other and followed me like a well-trained dog.
“Look after him for a moment. I want to take a look inside the cave,” I told Broke and left Young in his care.
“What do you think you’ll find in there?” Broke asked. “Are you armed?” “If it’s what I suspect,” I replied, “firearms would be ineffective.”