Deadly Dog Disaster

Compared to the casino entrance of the cave system, the atmosphere inside was sullen. Some passages were so tight that Haley had to lie flat on her stomach, cave ceiling scraping her back as she nudged forward inch by painful inch. Her two companions, Grove and Annabelle, were the only source of entertainment she had in the suffocating darkness. It was clear, though, that they were beginning to feel the miserable effects of the cave themselves.

Even Grove’s usual confident demeanour had been replaced with halfhearted jokes between gasping for air. One of these remarks came, in between grunts, as they squeezed through the latest opening. “Are we there yet?”

Haley could barely respond as she crawled forward on her arms. Grove growled in response to her silence. The sound sent shivers down her spine. How could a human, even a magical one, produce such a noise? Even when regularly taking her dog for checkups at the best vet hospital in the Cranbourne area, visits had never prepared her for the sound.

Her hands felt the ledge of the tunnel’s exit, and she stumbled onto her feet desperately. A gigantic chamber greeted her. Her flashlight winked against dazzling stalagmites. No, not stones. She paused, leaning forward so her light shone against the object again. Six glimmering orbs stared back at her. Then, they moved.

The growl sounded again. It hadn’t been Grove. She found herself face to face with a group of towering creatures resembling… dogs? No. It was one enormous dog, with three heads joined at a neck as wide as a tree trunk. Its eyes were bright red, and its bulging belly moved with every great huff of its nose.

Grove whistled behind her. “I can’t imagine the cost of that dog vaccination schedule,” he whispered dryly, but Haley could hear the sense of fear in his voice. He was thinking the same thing she was: With nowhere else to go but forward, this was going to be the end of their journey. Or, perhaps, their life.