No one has ever come to any trouble here, they say. It’s fine, they say, as long as you bring a light. But they never say what happens to those who don’t heed the warnings, or who simply don’t know. I know it’s silly, I know it’ll be fine, but still. I’m fucking scared.
I must have been here for at least an hour now. Maybe two, it’s hard to keep track. It might just be fifteen minutes, and that’s the most terrifying thing; if something happens in here, no one will know for hours. No one will even care, the most human contact I’ve had since I left home has been the odd freebie here and then. They treat me like a beggar; a filthy fucking beggar. Do they think I can’t afford my own basic vittles? I may be young, I may be unemployed, but I’m damned if I’m going to take it lying down.
But this cave. Holy A, this mother fucking cave. It must be at least two hours now, bordering on three. I can’t tell which way I’m walking, I just know that I’m walking and whatever light remained is slowly and inexorably fading. There used to be light, coming from the mouth of the cave behind me; back then, I could have turned back, just turned my heels and walked right back out, into the blessed sunlight. But then I fell, right through the ground, and now the only hope I have of getting out is to just keep going. Because somewhere, no matter how far it is, there has got to be an end to this nightmare.
There are other people down here. I see them occasionally, but only ever from a distance; they stand, almost ethereal in their own light, and repel by their stony demeanour. I tried to talk to one, once, but it just stood there (there’s no way to tell gender in this light). I think they might be deaf; they certainly didn’t hear my call, just stood there, like some gargoyle watching over the path, but never moving.
But it gets worse, because it turns out that they don’t just stand; they can move – oh Hell they can move. Passing by, I happened to make eye contact; I can’t tell if I did it deliberately, half of me wants to ask for help and half just wants to stand as far the fuck away as I can. It went mental, utterly batshit insane; I don’t know what I did, but it screamed like I was the first moving thing it had seen in years; ran at me, shouting, told me I ‘can’t run’ or something. Needless to say, I ran.
And now I’m clear of it, I think. I kept running until I fell down a ledge in the rock, and by the time I was up it had left. So I keep walking, because I know that there’s not owt that I can do else.
There are other things here, skulking in the darkness. These things are not people, they can’t be – no one could live like this, alone in the dark; and yet, they’re not like anything else I’ve ever come across. I’ve never seen one, they don’t carry lights, but I hear them, hammering on rocks and fighting each other, all to a gross cacophony of apish grunts. But they’re not monkeys either, they’re like a reversion to Neanderthal man; I’ve found their footprints, and I’ve found their tools. They’re upright, and they’re clever.
I saw one, holy fucking A I saw one. It passed right by me, chasing some little rat with its shaped block of flint. This is definitely no fucking monkey I’ve ever seen, it came up to my waist and was completely bald. I swear it even looked at me, massive red eyes just glancing at me, sizing me up, and moving right on off. Wasn’t scared, wasn’t aggressive, just sized me up and buggered off on its little way. This place is like another fucking universe.
There is light! Sweet Bringers of Time and Space and all that is holy under His eye, there is light. I found a spot where a ledge on the upper level had collapsed, and climbed up those rocks as fast as I could manage without seeing a foot in front of me. And now I know I’m getting closer; there’s a glow which pervades this whole area, and for the first time in what feels like a day I can see beyond my own fucking fingernails. But now I can see the shadows, great long ones coming off every little rock. I’m not scared of them, not after walking through the rest of this forsaken pit, but it’s disorientated me like I can’t even tell how many dimensions there are any more. I can see where to go now, there’s a tunnel in front of me where it’s a bit lighter. I must be close now.
This place, O mother of A this place. It’s not even the dark that gets me any more, and it’s not the claustrophobia. It’s not even the terror that I might not get out, because I know that there is a way, and I know that I will find it as long as I just keep walking. No, it’s the fact that this place feels like it’s fucking haunted. There are things around me, knocking over rocks and bouncing off the walls, but it’s like they’re ghosts; I can see all around me now, although it’s still bloody gloomy, and not once have I seen anything to make a noise; no rats, none of those fucking weird little monkey things, nothing, but I know they’re there. I swear they’re following me; either that, or this place is fucking crawling with them; but still I’ve seen none, just rocks tumbling down and a scratching, like something’s running across right in front of me. But there’s nothing there, there can’t be.
It’s the rocks. The rocks are alive. These things, they’re not knocking the rocks; they are the rocks. I don’t know what the fuck this place is, I don’t know what kind of weird shit goes on here, but I’m not staying to find out. I’m speeding up now, the floor’s getting just about light enough that I don’t trip, and I swear it must be close now. It has to be.
Running. I’m running, I have to run. They’re after me, I can hear them. Rolling, roaring, racing, the rocks. The rocks. So many, crashing down, so close.
They’re closer, so near. So near, so near. I can hear them, their calls, their shrieks. But I see it, the light, the air. Running. Jumping. Falling.
And free. It’s over, I’m alive.
‘Rock Tunnel’, they call it. Bollocks to that, I say. Those were no rocks.