Himself – Chapter One

Well this is chapter one of our first attempt. I hope you enjoy it. The second chapter will be posted here next Friday so keep your diary free…

He dropped down the ledge. It was dark. He had to keep going. Down the ever shrinking tunnel he ran. The roots somehow managed to reach this low, spreading across the walls like streams of rain on a window. The floor was wet and he tripped thrusting his hands out to stop his fall. A snap. Pain. His wrist was broken. Or dislocated, he didn’t know which but either way it was hurting. Slowly he rose to his feet, wincing every time his wrist took on a new angle. The walls were getting closer, their damp smell mixing with his own stench. Weeks had passed since he last washed, the dirt sitting on him like a second skin and the clothes he wore no longer differed in colour from his body. A noise. It was ahead of him. Frozen in his place the walls seemed to get ever narrower. He could feel his desire to flee, a desire that was only halted by the fear of what he would be fleeing to. Using the roots and his good wrist he pulled himself forward. Forward towards the noise.

A warmth  began to fill the tunnel as he travelled deeper.  It weighed him down as though he was carrying the heat in a bag on his shoulders. The hotter it got, the heavier he felt. He moved ever slower, a combination of tiredness and trying not to take another fall. With one good arm there was still a chance. Every stumble was a glimpse into the fate that slowly followed behind him. Total darkness. The faint light that somehow permeated into the tunnel was gone. The roots became audible under the tension of light tremors beginning below him. At first they were unassuming, nothing more than the movement of earth under the surface but they grew. Unbalanced, he bounced between the walls of the tunnel, the rough bark chiselled away at his skin and the impact on his wrist felt like the roots had burrowed their way through it. Dirt, water and small pieces of rock began to rain down from above him. He moved faster. The idea, however foolish, that he could outrun this was the best he had. The floor beneath him started to slope downwards sending his desperate clamber into an uncontrolled sprint. He didn’t have the energy to stop himself. He careened downwards like a pinball in an arcade machine, crashing into everything in his path. Cuts covered more of his skin than not and his limbs were numb from protecting the more vital parts of his body from the collisions. His foot caught on a rock launching his body forward to the ground but there was no ground to hit. He kept falling, all noise fading. Then the ground appeared.

He woke up. Everything hurt. More than his wrist was broken. The noise had returned, he could barely hear it over the infernal ringing in his ears but it was there. It was only after struggling to his feet that he realised the ground was steady beneath him. The tremors had stopped. Water and dirt still fell down on him but at a much slower rate, an after effect of the events before. He looked up vaguely recalling the fall that brought him here. Comfortably out of reach, he could see the edge he’d fallen from where the tunnel had led to a drop. No way round and no way down without falling. His confusion was quickly overtaken by realisation. He could see. There was light. It was dim but strong enough that he could analyse the sanctum he had fallen into. Both in front of him and behind him the cavern twisted round a corner to where he couldn’t see. The noise came from in front of him and despite his desire to move away from it he found himself being drawn towards it. He moved forward, the noise growing with every step. As he approached the corner it became clear that this was where the light was coming from. The corner itself was more of a spiral, twisting round with the floor descending to create a sort of natural staircase. It was bright now, the walls of the path almost glowed orange under the light. In a slow limp he made his way all the way down the weaving slope until the pathway opened up into a chamber immense in size. Standing there, staring at what he saw, a fear rose in him that caused all others to pale into insignificance. A fear heightened by familiarity and a perverted recognition. He dropped to his knees, ignoring the pain, and whispered “Not again”.

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