Again, since it’s been so long, here’s the last part. It is strongly advised to reread that part before continuing, because I just picked up right where I left off.

Sam’s hand tightened around Hope’s waist as they stared up at the blackened sky. “Do you hear that?” Sam hissed, but Hope was too terrified to reply.

Piercing screams rose from the camp behind them and the two whirled around, watching chunks of rock break off the walls and cascade down the side, raining upon everyone in the camp and ultimately bringing them to their deaths. From what the two of them could see while trying to keep their balance on the shaky ground, people were dropping down onto the rough grey sand, lying lifeless, half-in and half-out of the water. Hope noticed with a sickening lurch of her stomach that the grey lake’s water began to grow darker with dark grey blood.

“They’re all dying,” Sam whispered, horrified. He started towards the camp, but Hope grabbed his arm.

“If you go in there, you’ll die too,” she told him. “There’s nothing we can do now but wait until it’s over and search for survivors.”

Sam nodded, understanding, but still in shock. He pulled Hope close again, trying to protect her using his large, muscular frame. She huddled beside him, just as shocked, and waited for the storm to pass.

After what felt like hours since the storm started, the ground’s quakes slowed to a stop. The walls stopped breaking apart, leaving a jagged edge dimly illuminated against the black sky. Hope took an unsteady step forward, waiting for another tremor, or maybe an aftershock, but nothing came.

After a moment of stunned silence, a ringing echoing in Hope’s ears after the deafening storm, she took off towards the rock. Sam ran with her, matching her stride for stride, despite his longer legs. She understood why – she wouldn’t want to lose sight of him either, after what had just happened.

They neared the foot of the massive mound of wall chunks. Hope wasted no time, clambering over the lowest one, which was twice the size of her. Sam joined her, and together they began to scrape away the debris.

By the time they uncovered something, they could hardly see their hands in front of their faces, but they kept digging. An arm poked up out of the rubble, hanging at an awkward angle, but they worked to uncover it. After finding the shoulder, both of them grabbed the arm and pulled, nearly tumbling back down the pile.

Sam drew in a sharp breath and Hope gasped as they turned the young man over. It was Terrence, and he was clearly dead.

They laid his body on the sand near the shore, next to the dead bodies they’d dragged up from the lake. So far, they’d found no one alive.

There was a sudden movement from under the rocks. Hope froze, but Sam hadn’t noticed, and kept digging beside her. She nudged him and pointed up at where the rocks trembled, shifting a little. They crept over cautiously, Sam holding up a large stone.

A hand poked out of the hole, clawing frantically at the rocks. At once, Hope dove down and began to pull away at the rocks. After a moment, Sam dropped the stone and started to dig with her.

Before long, they pulled Melody out from under the rocks. She gasped for air as she came up, covered in dust and dirt, grimacing in pain.

“Thank the Lord,” Hope breathed. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Melody huffed, catching her breath. “We were running out of oxygen down there, but now there’s an opening.”

“‘We’?!” Hope yelped, then dove at the hole again. Sam and Melody joined her now, with vigor.

“Jay!” Melody called into the hole as they dragged stones away from it. “Can you hear me? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine!” came Jay’s voice. “I think I found Kestrel.” A section of debris caved in higher up the mound, then Jay’s muffled swearing from below.

By the time they had fully uncovered the small cavity where Melody and Jay had been hiding, it was completely dark, and no light shone from above – Hope couldn’t tell if it was from the clouds, nighttime, or both, but she didn’t like it one bit.

Hope and Sam pulled Jay out while Melody lifted Kestrel out of the tiny space. Jay’s twin was unconscious, with a gash of grey blood on his forehead, but it was dry, and he was breathing steadily.

“You three should rest,” Hope told them as she and Sam helped them down to the shore. “We’ll take care of the digging until you feel better.”

“Are you sure?” Melody asked, wavering between wanting to help and her own exhaustion.

“Absolutely,” Sam said firmly from the other side. “You three have been through a pretty bruising experience. Take some time to rest, wash up, whatever. Join us whenever you’re ready, not just when you want to, because right now you’re not physically ready yet.”

Melody sighed. “Fine,” she mumbled, reaching for Jay’s hand. They sat on the sand, closer to the water, with Kestrel lying nearby so that they could watch him. Hope turned back to the rubble, where she could see a few more bodies poking out of the rocks here and there. She and Sam set to work, but both knew they had a long night ahead of them.

As they worked, early in the morning, the Darkness’s hissing whisper echoed in their heads again.

Come to me, child. You know you must, eventually.