Tap, tap. Tap, tap. Tap, tap.
The small boy, clad in green, listened to the echo of his own footsteps intently, wishing with all his heart that it was the only noise he was hearing. He had been on many perilous quests, and fought his way through countless ruins and temples; but he had never faced something like this before. This was dark. This was a desecration of life and death. This was, put quite simply, terrifying. All around him were sounds of wet, writhing things; things that should have been dead long ago. They slunk deviously through the darkness, waiting for something so young, so full of life, such as the boy, that they could steal away with them, down deeper into the very bowels of the earth, to a place where his screams would be heard only by the rotting, festering corpses of those like him, who had tried, foolishly, to find the treasure that the dead kept.
Clenching his small fists tighter, he attempted to block out those horrid sounds that evoked such nightmarish images in his head. The macabre scenery did nothing to alleviate the constant dread that weighted down our young hero. Blood mixed with a strange, slimy substance, oozed revoltingly from the crumbling stone walls, dripping into the shallow water that covered the floor. He didn’t dare take even the smallest drink from that water that had sat at the bottom of this well for centuries, at least, though his mouth had long ago gone dry with fear. The walls were lined with hideous statues of faces, and haunting murals of strange creatures, all of them smirking devilishly at him. Through it all, however, he just wished that the constant bangs and moans would cease, so that he could think straight. It would only be too easy to get lost down here forever if he lost his head.
Turning another corner, he spotted a large, rectangular drop in the floor. Slowly approaching it, he leaned over to look down inside. Despite the fact that our hero could hardly see more than a few yards in front himself, he could see the bottom of the drop. It wasn’t so deep, but what was it? It was distinctly manmade, but why had it been made. Stooping down, and feeling with his hands the perimeter of the rectangle, he found that the wall of it was particularly moist, and a thick layer of vegetation had grown on the length of it. It was perfect to climb down, almost like it was meant to be. This thought, though it meant possibly being closer to his goal, an eye that would allow him to see the truth, somehow discomforted him. An unshakable feeling of something ahead, waiting for him, became immensely powerful, and if he didn’t desperately need to find the treasure, he may have turned back at that moment. However, it was of vital importance that he pressed on, so he gingerly slid the lower half of his body into the hole, turned around, and began to climb down.
The climb did take just a moment longer than he had expected, instilling a moment of panic into his heart, just before his feet hit the ground, but once he was at the bottom, it became abundantly clear to him just where he had to go. There were no doors, or chests down here, as he had initially expected, but to his immediate left, there was a passage; a small opening in the wall where it met the floor, just big enough for a child to squeeze through if he crawled. The very sight of it sent chills down the boy’s spine. It would not be the first time he was forced to traverse a small space similar to the one that he gaped at now, and yet he almost couldn’t bring himself to do it right away; not in this place where there could be anything on the other side. But wasn’t that always a possibility? Couldn’t he meet the same fate in any dungeon that he had previously conquered? So what was different about this place? An answer came immediately. The boy was afraid; no, frightened out of his wits of this place.
You believe me, right?
Suddenly, memories of the princess inundated his thoughts. He couldn’t simply quit because he was afraid. There was someone important to him, and he couldn’t let her down.
Taking a deep breath, and forcing himself to move toward the small tunnel, he dropped to his knees, lied on his stomach, and pressed himself as flat as he could, as he began to crawl. He worked his way across the floor, smearing dirt and residue of a substance that he did not wish to know the name of on his hands, forearms, and tunic. As he pressed on, the air began to reek even more of the scent of what was unmistakably death. He took that as a grim sign that he was getting closer. Finally, the boy began to see what could not even pass for a faint light, but a darkness that was somehow less dark than that which was currently surrounding him. It was the end of the tunnel. Inch by inch, he pulled himself out of the cramped space, and out into the larger room that opened up around it.
When he was finally out, he quickly jumped to his feet, and assessed the immediate area for any present dangers. His eyes had adjusted somewhat to the inky black, but he could not see any threat nearby. He hoped that this was because there was nothing there. This hope was eradicated, however, with a slight rustling sound from above him. The sound instantly caused his adrenaline to flow; he knew that sound. In one fluid motion, he jumped backwards, fell to one knee, and pulled out his slingshot from its holster on his belt, loading two deku seeds, and readying his aim. The second he had jumped backwards, a large, ghastly skulltula dropped from the ceiling onto the exact spot the boy had previously been standing. The boy fearlessly stared the enormous spider-like creature in the eye of its skull shaped armor. It soon began to quiver slightly before swinging around on its thread, exposing its soft underbelly. Seizing the opportunity, the boy released the elastic of his slingshot, and hit the beast with two consecutive shots. The incredibly hard seeds pierced the soft layer of skin that covered the skulltula’s organs, and the ugly thing fell from its thread and writhed in pain on the floor before falling dead.
The boy solemnly stood up, and restored his slingshot to its holster, but he hardly spent time celebrating his victory. Behind the skulltula’s body was a door. It caught the boy’s eye, and caused him to feel suddenly sick, and excited at the same time. The door looked heavy, and was probably made of iron. On it was the shape of a diamond, a pattern that hadn’t been on any other doors beneath the well. He approached it, and placed a hand on it. It felt cold; not pleasantly cool, but bitter, and icy, like death. This had to be it. The eye he had been searching for was right behind this door; that, and whatever may be its final defense. There would be no way of preparing for what that was until he was through the door. With this in mind, he slowly opened it, stepped into the next room, and shut it behind him. Then, with a mortifyingly frank sound of metal sliding against metal, several steel bars fell in front of the door, sealing the boy inside of the room. He was trapped.
He held his breath. It was not the fact that he was trapped in a room that caused him the extreme nausea he felt at that moment; he had been in the same situation countless times. What caused it was the sight that he then beheld. Upon getting a good look at the room in its entirety, the boy’s head became fuzzy, and he felt a sensation as if he was floating. He felt numb all over, and the only thing he could think of that come close to explaining how he could be experiencing what he was seeing and feeling, was that he must be having some surreal nightmare.
In a circle around the center of the room were several long, impossibly skinny arms jutting out of the dirt floor, the hands on the ends of them open, and their fingers stretching as if feeling for something. Their nails were long, jagged enough to appear as if they could easily rip apart flesh, and stained a yellowish-brown color due to age and decay. They simply stood there, reaching out into the air, and swaying slightly, as if trying to hypnotize whoever may lay their gaze on them.
In a dreamlike trance, the boy slowly approached the center of their circle, without really knowing why he was doing it. As he grew nearer, he could see that their flesh was bleached a grotesque white, covered in dirt and blood. It looked leathery, and saggy, as if it just barely sat upon their bones. The boy noticed these things, and yet he did not at the same time; his mind was now under their control. They just stood tall, and swayed; back and forth, back and forth. He was close to the perimeter of the circle now, and he hardly saw them gradually lean closer to him, moving so slightly as if they were trying to appear as if they weren’t moving at all. Step, step, step. He would pass through their perimeter in just one…more... step--
Suddenly, moving at a dizzying speed, the two arms nearest to the boy lashed out, and seized him, one wrapping around his wrist with a grip tight enough to break it if it jerked it the right way, and the other grasping his face, its fingers digging painfully into his temples, scalp, and upper eye socket. The boy was brought instantly back to his senses, and he quickly began to struggle, but the hands only tightened their grip, causing him to gasp in shock and pain. This, he realized, was not the worst of his problems, however, when the ground suddenly seemed to explode, shooting dirt, and bone fragments embedded in it all around him. When the dust cleared, the boy’s eyes widened, and fear so intense, that it almost caused him to vomit, overflowed in him. A few yards in front of him was a disgusting creature, bloated, and bleached the same color white as the hands. It was also caked in blood and dirt, and by its sides were two twisted stumps where there should be arms. The boy knew in that instant that the arms that stood in a circle in the room were that thing’s arms. He didn’t know how it was possible, but he knew they were. The monster was hideously deformed with no legs. It slithered toward him, and reminded him of a slug as it moved. Its neck was disproportionately long, and its head was awkwardly shaped. Brutally sharp teeth protruded from its open, drooling mouth at different angles.
Inch by inch, the dead thing propelled itself toward the boy, terror inducing rasping noises gurgling out of its throat the whole time. The boy suddenly felt much younger than he already was. Memories of nights where he had woken up screaming from night terrors as a small child flashed through his mind all at once. This thing was everything that he had ever feared all in one nightmarish entity. He wanted to scream. He wanted to run into the safety of his parents’ arms; but his parents were dead, and would certainly be miles from where he was even if they weren’t. He thrashed, and turned every which way in an attempt to break free from his captor, but its grip just tightened, and tightened, cutting into his skin. His arm and head screamed in pain, but it was nothing compared to the panic that was erupting inside of him. He shot his gaze back at the monster to see how much progress it had made. It was close now. He reached up with his free arm, and tried to pry the hands from himself, but they wouldn’t budge. The thing was right beside him. He tried to back away from it, as it slowly lowered its head, but he couldn’t move. He stared directly into its eyes. They were black and infinitely deep, and he could almost see the countless souls that this thing had captured in those eyes, all of them screaming in agony, begging to be released. The boy was going to join them. The thing’s face was right next to his now, and its jaw popped, and cracked as it unhinged so it could rip a huge chunk from his body. The scent of rotten meat was heavy in its warm, moist breath. It moaned softly at first, but then increased its volume until it was a deafening squeal like a pig, and a horse at the same time. This thing was the boy’s fear incarnate. It would clamp down on him with its teeth at any second, crunching apart his bones, and tearing apart his insides.
It’s going to eat me, it’s going to eat me, IT’S GOING TO EAT ME!
“NO!” he screamed at the top of his lungs, barely hearing himself, he was so overcome with fear, and rage.
With a gigantic burst of adrenaline, the boy tore out of the grip of the hands, their nails carving deep lines into his flesh, and ripping out chunks of his hair. He quickly pulled out his knife, and lunged at the creature.
“NO!” He drove the blade into the thing’s saclike stomach, withdrew it, and stabbed again. “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!”
With each repetition of the word, he shoved the knife into the beast’s torso, neck, face, anywhere he could reach. The thing screeched, and screamed, and moaned; and their noises of anguish and determination reverberated off of the walls of the room. It all happened so fast, he wasn’t even sure it was real. One moment, the boy was standing there, the thing a bloody heap at his feet, his hand soaked in viscous, red liquid, and the hands around them falling to the floor, and the next moment, he was in the corner of the room, sitting with his knees tucked up at his chin, screaming and sobbing so hard that his entire body shook violently as he rocked back and forth, alone, trying to comfort himself. He was alive. He repeated this over and over again as if he had to prove it to himself. He didn’t know how long he sat there; he just knew that it was a long time before he had finally regained his sanity.
That was when he looked up and saw it. In the middle of all the hands was a treasure chest. Had that always been there? Perplexed, he began to crawl over to it, not being able to find enough strength in his legs to walk just yet. When he had made his way to it, he used it to support himself as he stood up. Running his hand along the wood, and its metal frame, he began to feel anticipation. At great cost, he had found what he was searching for. He placed his hands on either side of the top part of the chest, and gingerly pulled it open. There it was, sitting on the bottom of the chest; the eye of truth… It wasn’t exactly what he had expected. He reached in, and picked it up. It was a magnifying glass, purple, and decorated with red spikes. In the center of the glass was the shape of a diamond, vaguely resembling the pupil of an eye. Turning it over in his hand, he realized that one side of the glass was red, and the other side was blue. Not fully understanding what he held in his hands, he carefully placed the lens against his left eye, closing his right. He quickly pulled it away, however. Looking through it, everything appeared purple, yet he seemed to have been able to see through the darkness. What he had seen though had not made sense. He looked again. The corpse of the creature, and the several hands that had just been lying on the floor were gone; yet when he looked with his naked eye, there they were. He didn’t understand; this object was supposed to show you the truth. He moved to look once more, but something caught his eye. It looked normal, but that’s what bothered him. There were no cuts where the hands had ripped his flesh. He looked through the glass at the door he had come through. There were no metal bars over it. Lowering his arms to his sides, he approached the door which did have bars over it now. He found that he was able to open the door, and pass through the doorway… as if the bars were never actually there… as if none of it had actually happened…
© Copyright 2016 Ignotum. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Horror
Short Story / Other
Short Story / Fan Fiction
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