Is Anyone There?
October 24, 2012
This week's challenge from Flash Fiction Friday was to imagine ourselves in a cave, far underground, and alone. We hear a sound that sends a chill down our spine. Horror ensues - hopefully.
We were given a picture too, for inspiration. This is the information from the site:
All your life, you have wanted to explore underground caves. An odd activity, but not unheard of. Several of your buddies have gone cave diving and brought back photographs that turned you green with jealousy. But you have a bigger goal. You want to pack some gear and take a hike deep down below the surface to see what lies beneath. You want to take the path that others fear that you know will show you sights others only dream of. And, once you’ve reached your underground paradise, it still won’t be enough unless you spend one night there. The perfect weekend getaway, and now it’s actually going to happen.
You’ve got the time, and you’ve got the money. You purchase all the necessary supplies and hire a guide. You are warned that this is not a trek for the faint of heart –lots of twists and turns, overs and throughs, ups and more downs than most can handle, but you are ready, and down you, and your guide, go.
Prompt: Use the picture above as your inspiration. This is the view as you and your guide close your eyes for the night. When you wake up however, you’re alone. Your guide’s gear is there, but he is nowhere to be found. You hear a sound that sends a chill down your spine. Is there someone, or something, down there with you? What do you do now? And, what happened to your guide?
Genre: Horror. Word Count: 1,500.
Here's mine. Not one of my best, and a little short at 630 words, but I didn't want to skip a week, just for something silly like NaNoWriMo prep ;-)
Is Anyone There?
For a moment I thought I'd gone blind, then I remembered I was in a cave. Very deep, and of course very dark.
Yesterday had been hard work for us, following the passage as it twisted and turned, rappelling down a cliff, wading through icy streams. We'd quickly fallen asleep, in spite of the noises.
I called out as I fumbled for my flashlight, "Dan, wake up."
I shone the weak beam around our site. His sleeping bag was empty and neatly rolled up. The rest of our gear seemed to be here too, just no guide. He must gone ahead to scout out a start for the day's trip.
I called again, louder. "Dan?"
My voice echoed back from the roof, far above me. We'd seen enough last night to know we'd explored further than anyone else. Nobody had mentioned this vast cavern. The new mine shaft, angled in under the Reserve, had broken into this labyrinth just last week. I'd read old stories of a network of caves in this area, of the many who had explored, of the very few that had returned. The Elders seemed quite familiar with it, and had demanded that the entrance be sealed off again, talking about spirits and ancestors. The mine, eager for more minerals and at the least a free network of tunnels, wanted to continue exploring. While they'd all argued in the courts I'd found an experienced guide and slipped in. Dan had been reluctant at first, until I tripled his fee and offered to pay for all the equipment.
The far end of the cavern had been lit by a dim glow when we arrived and set up a base camp. We'd heard the distant noise of machinery too, banging and thumping - likely from the mine we thought. Now all was quiet and dark.
My flashlight flickered, then faded. I gave it a whack, and it recovered just long enough for me to find aglowstick before it died for good. I searched around our camp, discovering that my headlamp had disappeared, as had Dan's. His boots were still there, though, neatly arranged behind his sleeping bag. He couldn't have gone far.
There was a scraping sound overhead, like metal against the rock. Something glinted, just at the edge of the light, then disappeared.
I heard a scuttling along the far wall, like claws clicking on the rock. Then the same sound again, this time behind me. I wondered what kind of animal could survive under here, with little light or food. The far end of the cavern seemed to be glowing again, and I could hear some kind of machinery, faintly. Not faint enough to drown off the clicking behind me though. I pulled on my boots, grabbed my small pack, and moved away from whatever it was behind me. I headed toward the other end, thinking that Dan must have heard the noises too and headed off to investigate.
The light slowly increased, enabling me to see faint marks along the floor, as if something had been dragged along the path. I found Dan's headlamp, just as my glowstick faded, and flicked the switch. Nothing. I could feel the broken bits of the lens, likely broken as he dropped it.
“Damn!” I said. “Hello. Is anyone there?”
The cavern's light vanished, and the mechanical noises stopped. I realized they had been masking another sound, a faint whisper. “Please, no more, please, stop I beg you.”
There was a gasp, a gurgle, then a brief sigh, like air hissing out of a balloon. Silence.
I shuffled forward in the gloom, tripped, and fell. I got to my knees, felt around, and encountered a foot.
“Dan, are you OK?”
Hopefully he was still breathing. I ran my hand up the shin, past the knee, then nothing. Just a bloody stump, still warm and wet. As I pulled back in disgust, something scuttled toward me from my right, another to my left, several more behind - clicking, rattling.
I felt a touch to back of my neck.
Well written evocative piece of horror Mike.
Posted by: Lewis Peters | October 26, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Very well written. I felt like I was sharing the images the narrator was forced to imagine without being able to see anything. However, I think he was better off without sight because it was probably worse than he could ever imagine.
Posted by: Jed_Thomas | October 26, 2012 at 07:50 AM
Very Creepy. Good Show.
Posted by: Tom51n | October 27, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Suspenseful and evocative... a nice little slice of horror to give me the shivers! I'm with Jed... the man was lucky not to be able to see the encroaching horror!
Nicely done, Mike!
Posted by: VeronicaThePajamaThief | October 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Oh my, you scared the daylights out of me with this one. SO creepy. I could just feel something behind me as I was reading it. I agree with Jed. Sometimes it's probably best when you can't see whatever's coming. In this case, I KNOW it's better not to see. Superbly done, Mike. Horror and a half!
Posted by: Joyce Juzwik | November 01, 2012 at 02:06 PM