Into The Dark Zone

A small boat was moored at a small dock on the coast of California. The hot sun shone on Rob Hubbard and Bob Altman as they climbed inside.

“Are you excited, Cristal?” Bob asked the 10-year-old girl sitting on one of the boat’s seats.

“I’m so excited!” Cristal said. “Camping on an island just by ourselves sounds great!”

The trio had planned a trip to a small deserted island Rob found on Google Maps. For three days, they would camp on the island.

“Is everyone ready?” Rob asked.

“Yes!” Cristal said. She sat on a seat and pulled her backpack beside her as the boat started up and shot away across the glistening water. 


After a few hours, thunderclouds began to form in the sky. The hot sun was gone. The small boat began to be tossed back and forth through the waves. 

“According to my GPS, we’re about a mile away from the island!” Rob shouted above the wind. 

Cristal looked around at the huge waves all around them. It seemed that at any moment, the small boat could overturn and send them hurling into the depths of the ocean. The small boat rode up a huge wave, turning almost perpendicular to the water’s surface. Cristal felt herself sliding out of her seat. She grabbed at a metal post as a huge wave swept over the boat. But it was too late. Cristal was thrown out of the boat and disappeared in the turmoil of the crashing waves.

“Cristal!” Bob yelled and made as if to jump overboard after her. Rob grabbed his arm. “If you jump in there, it would be your death. Those waves are too big.” 

“But that means that Cristal will be–” He stopped short as the boat slammed into something hard with a crash. 

Rob ran to the edge of the boat and looked out. The boat was wedged between two large rocks. A tall, mountainous island was before them, barely visible through the fog. 


Meanwhile, Cristal was dragged underwater by a strong current. The water was cold, and she felt slimy seaweed slashing against her body as she was pulled along. Her lungs felt as if they were about to burst when her head finally popped out of the water. 

All she could see was darkness. This confused her. The day had been cloudy, but still light enough to see well. Then something grabbed her arm. Cristal screamed, trying to get her arm away from the unknown creature. 

Then a voice spoke out of the darkness. “What are you doing in our hideout down here?” A flashlight beam split the darkness, blinding her for a second. She now saw that a huge strong man was holding her by the arm. 

She was dragged out of the water and onto a dirt floor. Suddenly the place was illuminated with light. She now saw that she was in a large cavern, next to her a pool of water, which had a strange blackish color. 

“W- Where am I?” Cristal asked the man. 

“It doesn’t matter,” he growled. “Now come with me.” 

He dragged her into a long dark hallway with a pinpoint of light at the end. When they got to the light, she realized it was coming from a small window on a door. The man knocked. 

Then a voice came from inside. “Come in, Rushwell.” The man opened the door, and Cristal was staring up at the face of Dave Parker.


Rob and Bob tied the boat to one of the rocks and climbed onto the island. Through the rain and fog, they spotted a small indention in the cliffs ahead.

Grabbing their bags, they ran towards it. After ducking under the rock, they began to spread out their gear. 

“What about Cristal?” Bob asked.
“We’ll just have to hope she makes it to land,” Rob said sadly.


Cristal was tied up and locked in the office. She struggled against the ropes, trying to break free. It was no use. She was trapped. The door burst open and Parker and Rushwell burst into the office. Tapping a few buttons on the computer at the far end of the room, Dave turned to Cristal.

“You can at least see your friends,” he said. The computer screen showed Bob and Rob sitting under the ledge, talking.  He and Rushwell walked out, slamming the door behind him. There was a click, and Cristal was once more locked in.


Bob and Rob sat under the overhang, never dreaming that Cristal was watching them at this very moment. Bob was eating a sandwich and watching the water anxiously as if he expected Cristal to appear out of it. Rob looked up from his phone. He was looking closely at the map. 

“It seems we are on a different island than we were planning to be on,” he said. “On Google Maps™, it says that most of the area of it is covered by water in the winter.”

Bob looked up. “How about we pray?” he asked. 

“Good idea,” Rob replied.

The two knelt on the rocks and prayed for Cristal’s safety.

As soon as he opened his eyes, Bob leaped up. “What’s that up there?” he asked. Reaching up, he grabbed a small camera stuck in the rocks.

“It’s probably from the Coast Guard,” Rob said. Bob put the camera down into his backpack.


Cristal stared at the screen. Now all she could see were wrapped cheese sandwiches and trail mix in Bob’s backpack. Settling back against the wall, she sighed. 


Bob and Rob watched as the storm faded. Rob got up and began to look around. Climbing onto a tall pillar of rock, he called to Bob, 

“It looks like the island is entirely of rock! There’s not a speck of dirt on the whole thing!” 

Bob came up to take a look. He noticed something over on the far end of the island. 

“Look there!” he said. “Is that a door?”

Bob leaped off the pillar and ran towards it, Rob behind him. When they got to it, Rob jiggled the handle. “It’s locked.” 

Bob reached into his backpack. Pulling a twisted coat hanger from his backpack, he twisted it into the keyhole. There was a click, and the door opened. Inside was a hallway with many doors on each side. 

“Which one should we pick?” Bob asked.

“What do you mean, pick?” Rob responded.

“Cristal might be in there!” Bob said.

The two advanced into the darkness beyond.


Cristal sat in a small, dark room. Dave had taken her from the office and locked her in this jail cell-like space. She wondered if Rob and Bob had given up looking for her. She tried not to cry. Would she be stuck here forever, down in the darkness?


Rob and Bob advanced down the hallway, opening door after door, only to find a solid wall behind each one. They came to a door at the end of the hall and opened it. There was a narrow room inside. On the wall was a crank. Rob turned it slightly and the whole room began to move down like an elevator. He quickly took his hand off it, but the room kept dropping. Suddenly, there was a jolt, and the room bounced up and down. He opened the door and looked out. A strange red light filled the cavern outside

“I think we’re in some sort of cave,” Bob said. He stepped out. The cave was strangely hot. Rob followed him, looking around around uneasily. The heat increased as they walked farther into the cavern. In front of them was a huge pool of lava. 

“That explains the heat,” Rob said. “What do you think of it?”

“This is creepy,” Rob answered. “Something’s not right here and I don’t know what.”  

They wound their way around the tall pillars of rock, staying away from the lava as well as they could. Bob looked up at the cave ceiling. He noticed something on the cave’s wall. 

“Is that a ladder over there?” he asked Rob.


Cristal still sat in the room. She was now eating a burger that Mr. Rushwell had given her.  She wondered if there was some sort of personal chef down here, making food. Was there any end to the countless rooms and pathways down here?


Rob and Bob came up to the wall of the cavern. There was indeed a rope ladder hanging from the wall. They began to climb up it, step by step. It was about 100 feet tall. They both tried not to look down. Rob reached the top first and stepped onto a long metal platform. It had a railing on each side and was like a walkway. Bob came up behind him.

“Does this look very safe to you?” he asked. 

Rob looked out and saw that the platform extended over the lava pit. “I don’t know,” he replied. “But it’s our only hope.”

The two walked slowly over above the lava pit. The walkway came to an end at another railing. On it was a large control panel. There was a screen showing a map of the cavern on it. Below, there were three buttons. There were two small ones, green and blue. In the center was a large red button. 

“Which one should we press?” Rob asked.

“How about…” Bob thought for a minute. “The green one.” 

Rob pressed it. There was a mechanical grinding sound, and another rope ladder was lowered from above. As soon as it stopped unwinding, Bob grabbed it and began to climb. Rob followed. At the top, there was another platform with an identical control panel, this one with no railings. There was a metal door at one end. 

Walking up to it, Rob tried to open it. “It’s locked.”

Bob reached into his backpack and pulled back out the twisted wire. He stuck it into the keyhole. He twisted it. There was a click, and the door unlocked.

Beyond was a cave like the last one, but instead of lava pools, this had a few pools of water. Walking along them, Rob looked into one. The water looked in some spots like someone had swirled black dye into it. 

“Bob,” he called. “Come over here!” Bob walked over to him.

“What on earth happened?” he wondered.

Suddenly, footsteps sounded from the cavern beyond. Without a second thought, Rob and Bob quickly slid into the water. All was dark in the water. Feeling the rocks, Bob slid himself farther down into the depths. Suddenly, he felt something slippery and long grab him. 

Large suckers suctioned onto him. What sort of thing was attacking him? It suddenly dawned on him: some kind of squid or octopus! 

He grabbed for his machete and began to hack away at the creature. The suckers let go of him and he burst above the water. Standing in front of him was Dave Parker.

Dave looked surprised momentarily, then a smile spread across his face. Pulling out a pistol, he pointed it at Bob.

“Come with me,” he growled. Dave began to lead him towards the door to the platform when Rob burst out of the pool and grabbed Dave from behind. Dave tried to turn around, but accidentally fired his pistol. 

The blast alerted Rushwell, who dashed out from a hidden doorway and pulled Rob off Dave. The two tussled for a moment, but Rushwell subdued Rob in a few moments. 

Meanwhile, Bob ran out the door and onto the platform, bullets whistling by his head. Dave followed and grabbed Bob, sending him flying toward the end of the platform. Bob slammed into the control panel and accidentally hit the red button. 

The whole end of the platform suddenly dropped down on hinges. He snatched at the ladder hanging from the ceiling and got a hold of it. He hung, swinging above the lava. 

Above, Rob had gotten away from Rushwell and ran down the small hallway, searching for Cristal. He unlocked one door and found Cristal sitting inside, tied up.

“Cristal!” Rob cried. He ran over and cut her ropes with his machete. Then they both ran out together and ran right into Rushwell. He pulled out a machete of his own.

“You’re not stopping us!” he said. “You have no right to be here!”

With his machete, Rob knocked Rushwell’s out of his hand and ran towards the door. Rushwell ran after him. Running into the doorway, Rob saw that Bob was hanging over the lava. The dropped platform was beginning to rise once more.

        As soon as it was level, he ran onto the platform and grabbed the ladder. He began to swing down towards Bob. Pulling out his retrieved machete, Rushwell sliced the rope ladder in two. 

The upper ladder dropped straight down. Bob got a hold of the lower platform. Rob snatched at his leg and held on. Rob reached up and grabbed the platform too, as Dave advanced towards them, with his machete raised high over his head. Cristal was grabbed from behind. She was spun around and looking into the face of Simon Rushwell. She kicked at him and squirmed out of his grasp. He unsheathed his machete and lunged at her. She spun and dashed toward the control panel. She pressed the red button in the middle, just as Rushwell swung the machete towards her. The upper platform dropped on its hinges once more, sending Cristal flying towards the platform below. Rushwell hung on above. Meanwhile, Dave advanced towards Rob and Bob, ready to bring down his machete on them. Suddenly he was hit from above by a flying form. 

“Cristal!” Bob cried.

Dave fell and rolled off the platform. Bob looked down just in time to see a form falling. After hitting the lava, there was no sign there had been anyone there at all. Gone, burned up in the boiling, churning lake of lava. 

Rob reached up and climbed onto the platform. Cristal was lying on the platform, not moving. He shook her, and she slowly opened her eyes. 

Bob began to pull himself up onto the platform also when there was the sound of gunshots from above. The platform had risen again, and Rushwell was on it now, shooting at them. Grabbing Cristal, Rob ran towards the ladder leading to the ground. Bob followed close behind. After climbing down it, they got into the elevator.

Rob breathed a sigh of relief. “I guess that’s the end of Dave Parker.” He began cranking the elevator back up toward the surface. “And that other guy won’t be getting out anytime soon,”

“You’re right,” Bob said, who was checking Cristal over for injuries. “Thank God we’re alright.”

As soon as the elevator reached the top, they all ran through the hall and out the door, into the now sunny day. Reaching the boat, Bob started up the motor, and they were off. As they drove off, they said a quick prayer to God to thank him for their safety. This had been a scary adventure, but they had made it. They had lived. And now, they were off to find a new place to camp.


Meanwhile, deep inside the earth, Simon Rushwell began lowering himself from the upper platform with a cable. Upon reaching the lower platform, he laughed softly to himself. Now he would have the run of this place, taking Dave’s place.

“This will all be mine!” he said aloud. “Mine!” He was startled by the sudden grip of a hand on his shoulder. He was spun around and found himself staring into the face of Dave Parker.

“H-how are you alive?” he asked shakily. 

“You don’t think just a mere child could kill Dave Parker, do you?” Dave growled. “ If you thought you saw me fall, you should understand that all that was lost to the lava was my backpack. And another thing: this place is mine, not yours. Do you understand me?”

“Y-yes, sir,”

“Good,” Dave walked over to the cable and began pulling himself up to the top. Rushwell stared after him, then began to follow.

The End

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Into The Dark Zone

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