Taking inspiration this week from the photo prompt of Miranda Kate’s MidWeekFlash.
Facing the Dark
“Hello Darkness, my old friend.” The opening line from “The Sound of Silence” did nothing to quell her fears.
Maddie hated the dark, and the way the shadows seeped into her soul. Shutting her eyes didn’t help. She trailed her fingers along the wall, hoping to find her way out of the caves. Her cell battery died an hour ago. No signal anyway. Thankfully, she had a pack of matches in her bag from last night’s campfire. Every few feet, she struck a match but with only a few left it was time to conserve.
It was supposed to be a low-risk excursion. Overhead lights illuminated the intricate tunnels for those wishing for a little adventure without too much roughing it. Until the tremor hit, and left her in dark darker than dark. She held her hand in front of her face, and saw nothing. Not even a pale outline.
A drip-drip-drip echoed through her head, and each step choreographed in unison. To hell with her friend Amy who stayed behind with a hangover. Maddie wanted to prove something, that she possessed the courage to go alone.
“Great proof if you’re dead!” The sound of her voice reverberated.
Shuffle-shuffle-shuffle. Her foot hit something solid. She picked it up and tried again. Crunch, and stuck. She tried to pull it, and her foot slipped inside the boot. Great. She shifted her weight to her back foot, and caught her balance. She’d have to waste another match to see what was impeding her.
But how to free her foot and hold the match at the same time? She’d figure it out when it came to that point. Her stomach churned before releasing a growl.
Flick. Nothing. Flick. Nothing. “Dammit. Come on.” She’d worn down the flint on the box. Flick.
The red-orange glow from the match created a halo of light that fought the darkness. Maddie let out a deep breath. “Everything’s going to be all right.”
She bent, bringing the light closer to her foot. Something shiny and white reflected, and she attempted to process the horror.
Skulls. Stacks and stacks of skulls. Like from fucking dead people. Stripped to the bone – hollowed eyes gaped at her, screaming for help.
Help that never came.
Her foot had sunk through a crevice between a few chins and she didn’t want to think what else. Panic flared and she yelled, the echoes ringing in her ears and she yanked with all her might. Nothing. She hadn’t passed the gruesome sculpture on the way in. Where was she?
The flame reached the end of the wood, singeing her fingertips. She dropped it. Now, she’d have to reach into the remains to free herself.
Maybe it was better not to see this part. She fumbled with the slick surfaces, doing her best to ignore every crack and creak.
Who had stacked these? Was that person or beast coming back?
A sharp edge sliced the tender pad of her index finger, and she kicked with her free boot and hollered, until something slid and she tumbled backward. Her elbow and palm scraped against the rock floor, and she scrambled away from the skulls until her shoulder hit a wall.
Chest heaving, she worked to control the increasing dread. Tears flowed over her cheeks and she wiped at them, feeling more wetness. Fuck! She pressed her bleeding finger against the side of her jeans.
A spark charged through the air, like static electricity and then light flooded to her left.
She pushed against the wall to a stand. Somehow, she’d worked her way into a small chamber off the main tunnel system. A chamber of the dead.
No reason to wait for answers! An unseen force pushed her.
Fresh air greeted her as she ran toward the front of the caverns. Waning sunlight greeted her. Enough bravery for a lifetime. Hopefully, enough to get through the night.
About 650 words
View the original photo inspiration on MidWeekFlash.