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Hope Lavook - Into the Tunnel

Near the edge of our city, there is a big forest. It has been called “Suicide Forest” because there have been many reports of people entering the forest and never coming back. What happened to them remains a mystery, but a mystery to which we are trying to discover the answer. My friends Nikki, Destin, RJ and Ethan packed their bags and met me in the forest.  The weathered path ahead of us twisted ominously as if it was leading us to the cold, dark, depths of hell. The tree branches reached out like grasping hangs casting ghostly shadows.

Once we began our journey through the forest, we saw many faded, odd signs that had creepy drawings and words on them. None of us really paid attention to what the signs said, except me.  One of the signs caught my eye.  It looked like someone had carved “It’s down there” with a drawing that looked kind of like a hand reaching out to something. At first, I didn’t care much for the sign and figured it was probably a prank someone made to scare people. But then I saw another similar sign. This time, the drawing on the sign was of a person sitting with chains around their arms & legs as if they were being tortured. A gloomy silence filled the air. I knew something wasn’t right so I showed my friends.  They didn’t know what I was talking about at first, until I showed them the sign yet again.

We continued into the core of the forest until we couldn’t see any roads or houses. Shadows looked down on us like eyes, watching our every move. Ahead of us, we saw a narrow path going in a straight line and we decided it was the most desirable path to take. As we walked, we noticed that there was a surplus of leaves and sticks scattered along the path. Underneath the leaves and sticks there was hardened sand that had turned a brownish color from being there so long. Upon the hardened sand, there were arrows that looked like they were recently carved into the ground.

We decided to follow the arrows and see where they led. The arrows started getting smaller and less noticeable as we kept walking. We looked around and didn’t see or hear anything unusual other then a faint sound like water slowly dripping onto concrete.  It caused a small echo that sparked our curiosity.  We looked around to see if we could find anything made of concrete, but leaves and sticks had covered everything. I walked towards the sound of the echoing drips, until I saw what appeared to be a wall hidden by vines and dead branches.

I shouted to my friends that I found where the noise was coming from. They came over and helped me remove the vines and branches from the wall. As we began to clear an opening, a gust of cold air hit me like the feeling of a bitter breeze when you get out of water. As I cut a final vine, I was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming sensation of fear.  I saw what looked like a gateway to a hellish appearing place. There

began a cold, deathly quiet, dark void ahead of us. Speechless, I pointed to a mysterious tunnel. Our ideas and thoughts were flooded with questions about what could be within the tunnel’s depths. All we could do was to allow ourselves to be drawn in, to discover more.

We entered the ominous tunnel opening, with absolutely no light. We could see nothing except what seemed like two red eyes looking straight at us. We were not sure if this was a reflection, our imagination, or something real. We slowly backed up so we would not be noticed.  Everything was silent.  All we could hear was the sound of our own breath. Suddenly, there a blood-curdling “SCREECH!” Our bodies jerked back in fear as we heard the loud, ear-piercing sound. It seemed to be a sound so eerie it could disturb the spirits of the dead. We heard the sound of it sprinting deep into the tunnel as we also heard the sound of nails drag across the walls. Suddenly, the fleeing sound stopped. We all looked at each other in total fear. Then, panic began to set in and I felt a chill that raced down from the back of my neck to the ends of the hair on my hand. We knew that this could be our chance to solve the mystery and figure out what happened to the missing people.

We turned our flashlights on and headed into the tunnel. I decided to lead the way. Nikki & Ethan stayed behind me and Destin & RJ stayed in the back to make sure nothing was following us.  The tunnel walls felt like they were closing behind me and

turning into even deeper darkness. They were parts of a maze, leading us to nothing but more darkness and fear. Three hours had gone by, and we still hadn’t seen any signs of a creature, or whatever had made the sounds earlier.

As I stopped to rest, I moved the light of my flashlight around, I noticed slim, white marks scratched into the floor. I carefully moved towards the white marks and saw that there was a long trail of them. Each set of marks was about three feet apart. I remembered, with fear, the sounds of nails we had heard earlier.  I realized if we followed what seemed to be tracks, we could find out what ran off, and maybe it would lead us to all the missing people. I told my friends about the tracks and what I thought they could lead to.  They all agreed with the idea of following the tracks, so we got up and started walking.

I moved forward, leading us uncertainly into the darkness without promise or hope of any good outcome. Farther ahead, we noticed a cage in the middle of the tunnel. The cage was about six feet tall and four feet wide. On the side of the cage there was a big, rusted lock that looked like it had been smashed by something. On the bottom of the cage we saw what looked like dried up blood and rotten flesh. Suddenly we knew, this is where the missing people disappeared.

We decided it was a good idea to split up. Destin and I stayed together and told RJ, Nikki & Ethan to follow the white marks on the floor to hopefully get out of the

tunnel. As they were leaving, Destin and I found something that looked like a more primitive cave. When we went in, darkness filled the room and we couldn’t see anything, so we needed another flashlight.  Within the light, we saw the most horrifying thing we’ve ever witnessed. RJ, Nikki, and Ethan were all dead. They were hanging by old, gray wires on a rusted pipe sticking out of the ceiling. The blood of the dead bodies dripped onto the floor like rain hitting cement. We left the room fast and full of fear. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The overwhelming emotions that swelled inside of me were telling me I was the only person that understands how final death is.  The feelings of death were echoing from the ceiling above. The spirits of those who passed here seemed to be part of the walls and the pain of the recently departed called to us from the depths of the caves around us. The haunting tones drifted over us and the darkness seemed to continually close in and became more intense to each of us.

Every time we found a new room, we would desperately look in it to see if it led to a way out. After looking through a corridor of cold, lonely rooms, we finally reached the one at the dead end.  On the entrance was a symbol of a triangle with an eye inside of it marked on the door. Drawn in by the desires to know more, I ventured into the room. The darkness greets me like the last candle blown out. Destin trailed behind me making sure nothing was following us. Then, I started to feel something drip onto my arm. I looked down and saw it was a dark, sticky liquid.  I turned my flashlight down and shined

it at my arm.  It was a dark red color.  As the red liquid kept dripping onto me, I shined my flashlight at the ceiling and looked up. Collapsing to the floor, I start screaming in terror. Destin came running towards me, all I could do was scream. I couldn’t say anything or move a muscle in my body. Countless numbers of people were hanging from the ceiling, just like RJ, Nikki, and Ethan were. Destin took my flashlight and looked up. He saw exactly what I saw - the dead bodies hanging. He cried out with his hands squeezed into fists for as long as I could remember. Fear seemed to start creeping over him.  Within the uncertainty of what else would lie ahead, our lives began to flash through our minds.

We both managed to get up and start walking towards a doorway on the far side of the room. Suddenly, the door slammed shut so hard it shook the floor. My flashlight suddenly flew upwards out of my hands and stuck to the ceiling like a paperclip sticking to a magnet.  Destin and I stood back to back and didn’t move.  Everything was silent.

All we could hear was our hearts beating like a drum over and over again. We couldn’t see anything, only feel the complete darkness of the room. My heart ached like a heart attack was beginning to slowly cause my death. The feelings of anguish and mental pain were more than I could handle and I felt close to insanity.

Blood from the dangling bodies kept dripping onto me like raindrops falling from the sky.  Then, I started to hear rustling coming from the other side of the room. The

noise started getting louder and more rapid as if it was coming closer.  My focus suddenly changed. The feeling of panic made my senses become more acute. I heard the door open and close, then everything became silent. We were locked in! I turned around and Destin was gone. Panicked by the darkness, I started running around the room, anxiously looking for Destin and another way to get out. All at once, my flashlight went off and everything turned black as I fell with a jerk.

I woke up with the feeling of something again dripping onto my face. My eyes were blurry and I felt light headed. I wondered where I was. I tried to think about what had happened, but all I could remember was traveling through the woods with my friends. I looked down and noticed that my clothes were filthy and had a darkish liquid on them. The same liquid that was on my clothes dripped down my face and onto my lips. It didn’t have a smell to it, but it was runny and tasted like old pennies. I still could not remember how I got there.

After looking around the room, I started to smell something absolutely awful. Words can’t describe the repulsive, dreadful smell.  I covered my mouth as I started to gag repeatedly. The room was dark and unlit so I had to squint to see anything.  I noticed a body-like figure hanging from the ceiling and I started to walk closer until I realized what I was seeing.  I was seeing myself.   My body was hanging from the ceiling, dripping blood onto the stone floor where I woke up.  It was like my body, but it wasn’t

me. The shadow hovered over me like a brewing storm. My chest felt as if a vice was tightening on me, squeezing every bit of air out. How could that be me? Why am I down here if my body is up there? I ran towards the door screaming and crying from confusion, not caring who or what heard me. Confusion and fear came over me like a roaring fire burning through a dry forest. I started pounding on the door with more strength than I thought I had.  But there was no use, no one was coming.  I was alone.

I remembered I still had my knife. I tried to pry the door open but it was too strong. The wall was made out of wood, so I repeatedly stabbed my knife into the wall until I heard someone running. The steps were getting louder.  I stopped cutting the wall to listen. Then, within the silence, I heard a loud gasp. “H-hello?” I said. I no longer felt alone; someone was here, and right outside the door. I put my knife back into my pocket and looked through the window in the door. There he was.  Destin was standing motionless on the other side of the door, gazing into my eyes.

There was a long pause and then he started to say something. “We need to get you out of there, but whatever you do, don't draw attention to it!”   It, what could he mean by it? I didn’t ask him because first, I needed to get out of this room and into the tunnel. By cutting the wall with my knife, I finally made a small hole big enough for me to crawl through. Then I started to ask, “what did you mean by it?”  Destin’s eyes got big, “Something is here!”  I looked at Destin’s face.  His stare was as if he was gazing

into nothing. He says “somethein” as if I knew what it was. I knew I had forgotten a lot, but if I forgot about the horror, then why didn’t he? I had a lot of questions, but I knew that we first needed to get out of here. I turned around and saw the eye symbol marked above the door and my memory returned. Seeing that symbol brought me back to what had happened, where I was, and how I got here. I started to cry. “Destin, we’re dead, what is happening and why are we still here?” Destin gave me an uneasy look and said, “I’m not dead, what are you talking about?”

The word “dead” rang in my head hundreds of times. I started to feel nauseous. “Destin, I’m dead...I killed myself out of fear after you went missing. After it trapped us, you were gone.” Destin looked too frightened to say anything. He started to shiver, as if bolts of electricity were sparking through his veins.  “How can you be dead and still here? Why can I see you?” I think it wanted something, and not just from me. It wanted both of us.

I tried to be cautious about what I was saying because I didn’t want to terrify him more than he already was. “Destin, try to remember what happened after we were in the room together?” He didn’t say anything. He gave me the look you would get when you know your life has changed, and can’t be changed back. He started to step backwards as if he was scared of me. I went to grab his hand, “Destin, are you o…” He shoved my hand away from him and yelled over my voice.  “STOP! GET AWAY FROM ME, THIS

ISN’T HAPPENING!” He ran to the tunnel wall and dropped to his knees. His hands were in fists and he started to cry, “I need to think, this can’t be real.  You can’t be real.” I walked over to him and sat on the floor. “We can figure this out, but first, we need to get out of here before it comes.”  We got up and started to walk through the tunnel.

It has been about an hour of walking and Destin still hadn’t said anything. “Life after death!” Destin shouted. I looked at him with confusion, “Life after death?” “Yes, my priest used to talk about it. It’s supposed to be a calm place, somewhere above the clouds, above existence. No one knew for sure because after you die, you can’t come back.  Could this be what everyone talks about, could this be life after death?”

We got up and started making our way through the tunnel. Whispers seemed to follow us as we passed by every intersection. Destin suddenly stopped walking and tapped my shoulder, “I-it's here, I can hear it.” Everything was silent. “(SCREECH)!” Again, something made an ear-piercing cry. We could hear the sound of nails dragging on the stone of the tunnel floor as it came closer. Everything got quiet again until we started to hear shuffling from above us. It was too dark in the tunnel to see more than a few feet ahead of us. All of the sudden I had the sensation of something drip onto me again. It was like liquid rolling down my hair and flowing into my hands. I slowly turned around and Destin was looking around and at the ceiling with complete horror as he tried to figure out what I sensed was there.  All that time, he was trembling

continuously.  Something reeked of sewage and rotten flesh.  I’ve never sensed something so grotesque and intimidating in my entire life. All we could do is allow ourselves to be drawn in. It was there in front of me. I felt it and we looked into each other’s eyes. It gave me a look of fear, a look of innocence. It's almost as if we had the same mind. I could connect with it. Somehow I started to understand. Nothing was ever really there. It was my fear, my uncertainty, and my psychoses. It had come from inside of me.  It was me.