Short Story Life Underground

Life Underground

Here is a short story I was originally going to shop around to small presses but I figured I would get a better response releasing it here, directly to people that follow me.  Hope you enjoy it.

He had been lost underground for days.  The darkness was uncomfortable at first but he had grown accustomed to it.  It was the sound that was driving him closer and closer to the cliff.  Darkness was absence, sound meant something was coming for him.

That hum.  Distant, always distant but he could swear it was getting closer.  Maybe his ears were becoming more sensitive, making up for the lack of light, but he was sure the noise was getting closer.  Like a thousands voices whispering at once it drifted through the tunnels.

Relief could be found at the end of the gun he carried.  There was always an escape, always a way out.  Comforting in a way that terrified him.  His whole life had been spent escaping death and now death had become an escape.  Things were confusing, everything jumbled in his head.

It had been a normal night.  Coming home from work getting on the subway.  It was late, he had been held up at work, but not late enough to explain why the subway car was empty.  It took a few stops for him to realize he was alone, it was the silence that made him look up from the book.  The lack of the subtle noises people make by just being alive.

The train kept powering through the tunnels, like a giant worm tearing through the earth.  It felt like it was speeding up.  It seemed like it hadn’t stopped in a while.  He went back to reading, unnerved but not concerned.

After twenty minutes with no stop he knew something was wrong.  He had tried pulling the emergency brake, had pressed the emergency strip, had tried prying open the doors of the speeding train, nothing had worked.  Pacing up and down the car, he tried to makes sense of it.  The sudden stop flung him into the front of the train, everything went dark.

When he woke he was no longer on the subway. He was lying on cold bedrock.  There was panic for a few minutes, he could see nothing, he was blind.  The cell phone in his pocket, a lifeline remembered when he had calmed enough to think.  It was at half battery but by the light from the screen he could see a few meters around him.

Everywhere there was rock, smooth rock.  A cylinder bored perfectly, wider than a subway tunnel but not by much.  At his feet lay a gun.  There was no logic to any of it, this must be a nightmare.  He still picked up the gun, it felt real, everything felt so real.

He knew enough about handguns to operate his newly acquired weapon.  He had been a hobby shooter in what was already feeling like a past life. The magazine held one round and there was another round in the chamber.

That first day he had walked.  There was no way to tell time once his phone died.  He cursed himself for using the light so much when he had first awoken.  He had been scared and tried running by the light of his phone.  The tunnel kept going though.

He managed to walk without the light, one hand on the wall to make sure he kept going in the same direction.  His feet were blistered and sore from the dress shoes he wore. He had dressed for work not for days of walking.  Still the tunnel went on and on.

First there had been fear.  Then there had been acceptance.  He skipped over everything else.  He was still convinced it was all a dream but that was fading with each step.  His life had become walking.

There was water down here.  After a few days he had started drinking it, thirst overpowering his fear of contamination.  The small trickles leaked in through the rock.  It was warm, body temperature, but it was fresh and tasted oddly of copper.

Hunger faded slowly.  Food was a memory.  As time went on.  As each step moulded into a long montage of pain, hunger began to mix in with the general discomfort of what his life had become down here.

The noise was still there.  It still followed.  Getting closer each day, each step, forcing him to speed his pace.  Against his will he moved faster and faster.

The light was blinding. The creature ran at him.  Without knowing what he was doing he lifted the gun.  The report took his hearing.  The light had taken his sight.  Eyes not ready for a world that was no longer dark.

Blinking. Deaf and blind.  Trying desperately to see again, to come back to the light.  Fighting the pain, rubbing the water from his eyes.  He wanted to be sure he had killed what was coming for him, wanted to be sure there was nothing else.

Minutes passed and sight returned.  Blurry but clear enough to see that he was on the subway platform.  The ringing in his ears was gone, replaced by distant screaming.  The monster lay at his feet, dead.  Blinking again, harder this time.

It changed, it became human, became a woman.  Blood spread from her back, like wings on the gray floor.  Confusion, loss, wanting to blink again, wanting to wake up.  He only stood staring at the body he had made. Staring at the life he had taken.

More screaming, this time it’s close, loud, commanding.  He looks up and faces the drawn weapons of too many police to count.  He knows there are more circling in from behind.  He wants to say something, wants to explain, but it all rushes back.  He knows they won’t understand, won’t believe him, will send him to jail.  He can’t live with this.

There were two bullets in the gun.  One for her and one for him.

 

 

Thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed it and want to help support the author please consider buying a pdf copy here

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