Mysterious Echoes – Part 2 ~ Title, genre, premise by ediz12

Mysterious Echoes – Part 2 ~ Title, genre, premise by ediz12

The darkness of the tunnel seemed to swallow them.  Even the lantern and flashlights that so brightly lit the cavernous room just moments ago seemed dimmer now.  Ediz turned around and looked at his friends.  Aidan seemed relaxed and almost bored, but Johnathan seemed anxious.

“Ediz, did we bring enough supplies,” Johnathan asked.  His voice seemed overly loud in the small passageway.

“I am almost positive we did,” Ediz replied.

“I mean, I don’t even know how long we’ve been in here…”

“Johnathan,” Aidan interrupted.  “You really need to calm down.  We’re perfectly safe.”  His British accent made his words roll off of his tongue and his voice was soothing.

“Yeah.  Sure,” Johnathan replied weakly.

Behind them there was a strange sound that seemed to be coming from the large central room that they had just left a few minutes ago.  The three men looked at each other in silence, none of them moved.  Then in unison, as if a discussion had passed between them, they all set off again and a quicker pace than before.

The moments sped by as they crept through the long hallway as quickly and silently as they could.  Ediz’s lantern was thrust out before him as if it were more than just a light, but also a shield.  Johnathan’s penlight darted around the walls of the tunnel, scanning over the textured surface as if it would show them something the missed with the larger and brighter lantern.  Aidan’s large flashlight slid from behind them, to far ahead of them, looking for dangers approaching from either way.

Johnathan gasped as the penlight went out.  Grumbling, he began to pound it against the heel of his hand, then on his thigh.  With a sigh he held the penlight up and muttered something about ‘not working’ and kept walking.  Then, not twenty paces after the episode with the penlight, Ediz’s lantern blinks out.  The darkness that was once oppressive becomes even more so, and the men move closer together.

“I’ve got some spare batteries,” Ediz says while sliding his wrist through the loop of the handle.  He begins to dig through his bag with the aid of Aidan’s flashlight.  “I can look as we walk, let’s get back moving.”

The men pick their pace up, moving a little slowly, Aidan’s flashlight shining steadily forward now, not ever dancing to light where they had been.  Before Ediz could find the spare batteries, they heard a strange noise echo down the tunnel to their ears and their pace picked up.  Just a few dozen steps later, his light blinked from existence and they were plunged into darkness.  Ediz let out a small grunt as Johnathan walks into him.

“What now,” Ediz asked.  “Should we keep on moving or try and get one of the lights back up and…”

Ediz’s words were ripped from his mouth and whisked away by a loud wind that pushed through the tunnel.  The wind pushed their hair and clothes around and roared in their ears.

“Keep moving,” came Aidan’s voice, barely audible through the wind.  “I think I hear something coming.  I didn’t see any tunnels ahead, so let’s just get moving.”

Ediz took a few steps forward, the wind threatening to throw him off his feet, but then as suddenly as it came, it was gone.  He held the lantern disconsolately in his hand, and trudged forward.  After what seemed like ages trudging through oppressive silence and crushing darkness, the lantern in his left hand flared into light.  Dazzled by the sudden light, Ediz gasped and blinked in surprise.  With a triumphant smile, he turned around to look at his friends to discover that he was alone.  The wide smile melted from his face as he held the lamp as high as he could to illuminate as much of the tunnel as he could, hoping to see some sign of his friends.

“Aidan? Johnathan?  Where are you,” he called quietly down the tunnel.  He opened his mouth to call again when he was interrupted by the same silky voice that spoke to them from the passage that was marked with the number 8.

“Keep moving Ediz,” it purred quietly from up ahead in the tunnel.  “You must keep moving!”

Ediz jumped at the sound of the voice, but he began walking like it told him to.  As he walked his feet began to hurt, but it wasn’t a normal ache.  He tried to keep moving forward but his knees went out, throwing him to the floor.

“Hurry Ediz,” the voice urged him.  “If you don’t believe in the pain it will fade.  You must hurry!”

“How can I NOT believe in this pain,” Ediz spat through clenched teeth.  “It feels as if my feet are going to fall off!”

“It is a trap, something to slow you.  It is just an illusion,” the voice began, but before it could finish the thought there was a small sound.  Like an animal being choked.  A few moments later there was a cough.  Then the voice came back again.  “Ediz, you have to get up.  You have to HURRY!”

Ediz gritted his teeth and tried to pull himself to his feet.  The pain was shocking, so shocking he lost his breath.  ‘I will not let this beat me’, he told himself.  ‘It is not real and I can move past this.  I am stronger than this.’

He took a halting step forward, and with each word, the shooting pain began to retreat.  With a small smile he stepped forward and the pain receded almost completely.  When he was finally feeling victorious he noticed that the sound of the thing perusing him was closer than it had been before.  His triumphant smile melted off his face and he bolted down the tunnel, not daring to look back.

Johnathan heard Aidan urging him on through the roaring of the winds so he began to run, stumbling as the wind seemed to try and knock him off his feet.   He tripped over something, muttered an apology and pulled himself to his feet.  When he was standing the wind stopped roaring in his ears and the tunnel seemed unnaturally still.  It was as if the darkness was muffling the sound as well as removing his sight.  He held his small penlight out in front of him as if it were a small dagger and he trudged forward into the silent darkness.  After a half-dozen steps he called out to Ediz and Aidan but heard no reply.  With a sigh he took one more step but something hit his toe and he tumbled to the floor of the tunnel.  As he hit, his penlight flared to life and he blinked.  He looked around and noticed a gaping pit in the floor not a foot from his hand and he pulled back quickly.

“Aidan?!  Ediz?!  Are either of you there,” he called.  “Oh lord, tell me they didn’t fall down into that pit,” he moaned as he inched closer to the edge.  He heard a strange noise from behind him and he turned, to see the mark of his passage in the dirt, scuff marks and shoeprints obvious with the strange shadows his penlight left.  He turned then and looked at the ground in front of him at the lip of the pit and he saw no footprints or any other signs of passage and he sighed with some relief.

“Guys?  I’m near some strange pit or something, but be careful, there are rocks and ruts in the ground,” he called into the darkness behind him.  “Hurry up and get closer, I have light again.  It’s not much, but better than nothing.”

He stared into the shadows behind him, expecting to see his friends to appear, blinking in the dim light, heading for him.  After a few moments of waiting, he heard a moan from in the pit.  It didn’t sound like Ediz or Aidan, but instead like a woman.  His eyes opened up wide and he moved toward the edge of the pit, using his small light to try and find the source of the moan.  After a few heartbeats the moan echoed out toward him again, but this time it was louder.

“They’re hungry,” she moaned.

“What,” he called into the pit.  “Come into the light, I can’t see you.  I think I might have something to help you out of there.”

“They’re hungry, and you look like a good meal,” she moaned again.  A shape flickered in the shadows as if it was trying to climb the wall of the pit on his side.  Johnathan turned his light to where the shadow moved but there was nothing there but a slight discoloration in the dirt.  He rubbed his eyes and began looking in the pit again.  Behind him there was a snuffling sound, the same sound they heard before the lights went out.

Aidan felt the wind pushing at him and he realized that they had all stopped moving.  He called out for them to keep going and began to jog slowly.  The wind pushed at him and pulled at his clothes.  It felt as if there were hands pawing at his skin and hair but he kept up his slow but steady jog.  After what seemed like an eternity the wind stopped.  He slowed some but kept moving, catching his breath a little.  In the tunnel before him he saw a dim light glowing.  With a grin, he picked his pace back up and moved quickly toward the light.  After a few moments he noticed a curve in the tunnel and it seemed as if the light was just around the curve.  As he rounded the corner, he saw himself with the flashlight on.  The mirror Aidan was peering into the darkness, light beaming deeper into the tunnel, leaning forward as if it would help him see into the darkness better.  Aidan himself leaned forward to see what his double was staring at but he couldn’t see anything.  That’s when he realized that he wasn’t holding his flashlight anymore.  The doppelganger turned around then and smiled at him with a feral smile.  He waved his finger admonishingly before putting it to his lips in a shushing motion, and then it turned back to the darkness ahead.

Aidan moved closer to his double, but less than a pace from the back of his neck there was an invisible wall.  His fingers slid around the almost glass like feeling surface, searching for the way out, or some kind of crack.  As he searched quietly, the other Aidan turned around again, the same unnerving smile spread on his lips and beamed the flashlight’s bright light into his face, blinding him.  Aidan stumbled backward a few steps and covered his eyes, and when the pain from the sudden blinding eased up he reached forward, but met no resistance.  Grunting in surprise he stepped forward and kicked something hard with his toe, as the metal skittered over the slightly uneven ground the light turned on again and illumined a strange set of markings in the mostly blank wall.

Aidan picked up the flashlight and looked back down the tunnel, looking for the curve he noticed before, but there was none, and there was no sign of a barrier, or any other person in the area he was standing in.  For a moment, he was tempted to call out to his friends, but he remembered the warning from the him that wasn’t him and stood silently, looking both ways down the tunnel.

((End of installment 2, more to come.))

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