Down Below. Short Story.

So tired.

I’ve been really wrecked the last few days, don’t know why. I’ve basically been reading, watching tv or sleeping. It isn’t all that fun. I was able to go to a friends surprise birthday party before it set in though, got to catch up with a bunch of people, plus it was the first time I’ve been to a surprise party where the guest has an obvious and visible reaction. Was a good night over all.

On with the show!

Jeff lay in bed, unable to sleep, he couldn’t tell what, but something seemed off. He rolled over, trying to get comfortable, but it didn’t work. He continued to toss and turn before getting up for a glass of water. He stood in the kitchen, on the cold tiles, sipping slowly when he noticed there was no sounds of birds. It was never that loud, but usually there was irregular hooting or cawing, but it was silent. He couldn’t hear cars driving by, there was no cats yowling. Nothing. He moved to the kitchen window and peered into the darkness, a gust of wind rattled the branches and leaves of the trees outside. Shrugging, he finished the water and placed the glass in the sink, then, he returned to bed. What ever it was, he was safe inside. There had been sightings of a large animal in the area, someone was speculating it was a cougar, but that was ridiculous to him. Cougars weren’t indigenous to the area and it was unlikely someone had kept one as a pet. Besides, surely there would be shrieks or calls from the animal if that was the case. He got back into his still warm bed and threw the covers over himself, hoping his feet would warm quickly. He closed his eyes and lay on his side, again trying to get comfortable.

Something moved in the darkness, he opened his eyes, trying to see, he frowned slightly, it must have been the house settling, he was just a little jumpy, overtired. He closed his eyes and rolled over. He never saw it when it attacked.


Jeff woke suddenly, looking around wildly. Something had happened, something bad. He was in what looked like a cave, which was lit by a faint greenish glow. It was surprisingly warm. He stood cautiously, trying to look all around at once. He was standing on rock, and there was an exit about ten feet to his left. He looked around the room, he had been placed on a slightly raised bed of rock, flat and smooth, the rest of the room was empty. He moved toward the exit slowly, wondering how the hell he had gotten here. He remembered something sharp stabbing into his neck and something heavy landing on his seconds later, then everything went dark. He reached up to his neck and found a small, tender lump. He rubbed it absentmindedly as he moved forward. At the exit he paused, he had no weapons, nothing that could protect him, he just had his pyjamas. He scanned the ground and saw a small, jagged looking rock, it wasn’t perfect but it would have to do. He gripped it tightly as he stepped out of the cave and into another, larger one. This one had multiple tunnels leading off in different directions. He stood in the centre and waited, hoping he’d feel a breeze, but none came. The air was still, though it didn’t smell stale. There was no smell. He frowned and took a deep breath, beneath all the nothingness, there was a strange freshness, a reminder of forests and plants, but that was all.


Jeff turned in a circle, then picked one tunnel at random, he entered it to find a place similar to where he woke up, it too had a slightly raised bed of rock, but it was empty. He left as he did he picked up a small rock and placed it in the centre of the tunnel, then he chose another. Again he found another room. He kept choosing randomly, each time finding an empty room the same as the one he had woken in until finally there were only two tunnels he hadn’t tried. He chose the one on the left, this one was another room, however there was a strange, crystal like growth on the raised bed of rock, it was red and shone softly, it was about six feet long and a foot wide. He squinted at it, trying to convince himself the shape didn’t remind him of a person. Jeff reached out to touch it, then stopped himself. It seemed like a bad idea, touching random growths in caves, who knew what the thing was, it could be toxic. He left the room and stood facing the final tunnel.


After a deep breath, he walked into it. The tunnel was long and sloping, it curved gently at times and prevented him from seeing what was at the end. He walked slowly and carefully, trying to be as silent as possible. It seemed like he had been walking for hours in the endless tunnel and the further he walked the more tense he became, expecting to stumble into someone or something at any moment. He was taking a short break, sitting on the ground, when he heard a noise a head of him, a slight gurgling sound. He stood in case he needed to run and held his breath. The gurgling had a steady sort of rhythm to it and after a moment, he realised it was the sound of water. He began to move again, the tunnel straightened out and he could see a large lake. He stepped out into another cave, this one bigger than the others. It stretched off into the gloom, he was unable to see the far shore. As he approached he saw a small bubbling section, where the water was flowing from. The rest of the lake was still, making no noise. Cautiously he crouched by the waters edge and sniffed the water and smelling nothing foul, he scooped some into his hand and brought it to his mouth, he tasted a small bit, swirling it around his mouth, it tasted clean and that was the best he could hope for, there were no sticks, nothing to make a fire and even if there had been, he had nothing to hold the water to try and boil it. He scooped some more and drank until he was full. There was an area around the water of about four feet that was dry, he chose left and started to walk, the water didn’t look deep, but it could be deeper in the centre, he was worried that he might tire himself out if he had to swim to the far shore, drowning was not how he wanted to go.


The water of the lake stirred gently as something slowly rose from the water, its glittering eyes followed the man that had been placed in its domain. Soon it would attack, soon it would feed.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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