It’s cold in this tunnel. The air is rather stuffy. I only have a flashlight. Well, a flashlight and my wits. I’m not armed, like the guards. The only things in my work belt are a selection
of metal tools that I almost never have to use.
Except for tonight. Or I suppose this morning, seeing as it’s 1:30 A.M. I suppose I must appreciate the fact that I’m not a “fluffer” like my friend Paul—his job is to collect hair blown into
the tunnels from people waiting for their respective train. My job is to each night walk through the tunnels to the next station and make sure there are no problems. In addition, tonight I was told
a compressor between this station and the next needed to be repaired. So I grabbed my things and when the last stragglers had left and I got the OK from the end of the line, I walked to the
platform and lowered myself down into the tracks.
I had to take several deep breaths to calm my nerves. The trains have stopped for the day, but being down in these tracks does not feel natural. I took one final look at the fluorescent
lights illuminating the platform like one final breath before going down for a particularly deep dive, and plunged into the darkness.
Before I clicked my light on, the depth of the darkness hit me. It took a speeding train 10 minutes to get to the next station. How long would it take me on foot? I tried not to think about
that. So here I am. I’ve been walking for 30 minutes and I have no idea how far away the compressor is. When you can only see 20 feet ahead of you, it’s hard to note distance. That flashlight in my
trembling hand is the only thing letting me know what’s around. Otherwise the tunnel is wrapped in absolute pitch black darkness.
20 more minutes. How far have I traveled? I really can’t tell. I still haven’t found the compressor, so I begin the walls with light, trading distance of vision for range.
There’s a symbol on the wall. What the hell is it? I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s sending cold chills down my spine. Feeling braver than I should, I tap the symbol with my flashlight.
The echo startles me. The inside is hollow, or at least not as thick as the other walls.
What’s behind the wall? I pull out my hammer and start taking swings at the strange symbol.
It breaks, more easily than I thought it would. I shine my light through but suddenly I realize I don’t need it—this place is lit by glowing torches on the walls…red torches. It doesn’t seem
natural. I step through the now broken wall. This place looks like a temple—it’s probably a few hundred feet deep and narrow. These strange torches on the wall show there is nothing really between
here and the end—just a hard stone floor. But at the very end lies some sort of shrine, with strange offerings ranging from food to ancient weapons to…is that gold? And the…’thing’ that sits on a
throne on the shrine—it’s not human. I can’t say what it is. I step my way closer to it and on my way my foot strikes a small stone, knocking it along the floor loudly.
The thing opens it eyes. It looks at me. It knows I’m here. I can’t go back.
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