Deep Below. Short Story.

Kelly opened her eyes and felt a sudden jolt of panic, she closed them again hoping that she was still dreaming, but when she opened them she was still in the tunnel. She sat up slowly, looking around herself, how had she gotten here? The last thing she remembered was going to bed the night before and everything had been fine. She had kissed Brian goodnight and then dropped off to sleep pretty quickly. She looked down at herself and felt a chill spread through her, she wasn’t wearing her pyjamas, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, she was barefoot. The air felt warm and humid and almost like it was pressing against her. Slowly she stood, expecting a jolt of pain or twinge of tender muscles, but there was nothing. Once she was on her feet she looked around again, she ran her hand along the wall and was surprised to feel tiny bumps underneath her fingertips. She looked closer and saw the wall was covered in names, laid out in tiny, neat little rows. The names were carved into the rock, but who ever had done it must have used a tool, the names were clear and crisp. The walls were about eight foot high and as far as she could tell every inch of the walls were covered, she couldn’t make out the ceiling, but she suspected it was full too. After a moment Kelly realised that there were no lights in the tunnel, yet she could see pretty well, the tunnel faded to shadows in the distance but she could easily see twenty feet in either direction. Somewhere in the darkness she heard a noise, like something shuffling along the ground, “Hello?” the shuffling continued for a second before stopping. “Is there anyone else here?” There was no response.

Kelly took a deep breath, she needed to stay calm, panicking would be the worst thing she could do right now. She exhaled slowly, she had gotten here somehow, but if she had gotten in there had to be a way out. Her feet were clean so maybe she had been carried, she had checked her scalp for any cuts or tender areas but there was nothing, so maybe she had been drugged. She looked both ways down the tunnel and after a seconds indecision went left. She walked slowly, hand running along the wall as she went.

After ten minutes she stopped, confused. The tunnel wasn’t getting any brighter but it seemed like the light was moving with her, when she looked back the way she came she could see darkness in the distance and same with ahead, but the light never dimmed or shifted. She looked at the ground and saw she had no shadow, it was as though the light was coming from everywhere. She cupped her hands against the wall and leaned in, expecting to see a dull glow, but there was just blackness. Behind her something shuffled again. Kelly jumped slightly and started walking, she hated bugs and creepy crawlies and she knew there had to be some of them in here with her. What ever that shuffling thing was she didn’t want to be anywhere near it.

The dry scratchiness of her throat was maddening, her tongue felt thick and heavy in her mouth, how long had she been walking down here? Hours? Days? She hadn’t slept, but that wasn’t much help, she hadn’t felt tired yet, though her legs and feet were starting to ache. The warmth of the floor had been welcomed at first, but now it was starting to unnerve her. The ground felt oddly soft, like she was walking on a very thin layer of carpet, the image of a long, undulating throat came to her mind and she pushed it away. That was ridiculous. What ever this place was it was man made at the very least. She paused, what if it was just a giant circle? Would she even notice? She leaned against the wall, feeling the warmth of it on her back, that strange shuffling sound returned, though it sounded closer than before, beneath it there was something else, it sounded almost like someone gently breathing. She felt a ripple of goose bumps over her flesh, feeling a spike of fear Kelly started walking again, jogging for a few feet every now and then.

Kelly sat against the wall, her legs were so tired and her feet burned, it felt like she had been down here for weeks, months. Part of her feared that maybe this was her life, this is all that there ever had been or ever would and that her memories were just the remnants of a vivid dream she had had. She tried to push the thought away, tell herself that it was crazy, but it kept coming back. The shuffling was getting closer though she had yet to see what was causing it. She wanted to continue on but she didn’t have the energy. Her throat burned and her stomach grumbled sullenly. She had never been this hungry or thirsty before, the hunger held an edge of nausea to it, the thirst was starting to become maddening, she ran her tongue over her dry, cracked lips and winced at the pain. From the darkness came a soft whisper, too soft to make out. “Hello? I know you’re there.” Her voice was weak and scared, even to her own ears. The whispering came again, “Please, whoever you are, just let me out of here, tell me how to get out.”
The whisper came, just barely audible, “there is no way out.” Then silence fell.
The sound of her heart thudding filled her ears, panic filled her with a new energy and Kelly stood, she started stumbling down the hall, her hand dragging along the wall as she leaned on it for strength.

Kelly stopped, her hand running over a small, tiny smooth patch on the stone, she paused and looked at it, there was a small gap between the names. Did that mean anything? Was it a signal? A way to tell direction down here? Maybe it was how you got in and out, after all there had to be an entrance and there had been no twists or turns in the tunnel so far. She ran her fingers along the smooth spot, looking for a catch or something that would tell her she was right. She felt a breath of air on the back of her neck, Kelly froze, she let out a faint whimper, the whisper returned, a stench like rotting meat filled the air, “I see you’ve found your spot. They always do down here.” Kelly’s eyes scanned over the names, there were thousands of them, maybe even millions, long bony fingers slid across the back of her neck and Kelly started to scream.


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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2 Responses to Deep Below. Short Story.

  1. bellnight says:

    I liked this one, but was a bit confused at the beginning with the size of the tunnel.
    The names on the walls was a great idea! Creeped me out…

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yeah I can see why, I don’t think I said how wide the tunnel was and tunnels can be large or cramped!

      Thank you, honestly the names creeped me out a bit too!

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