No Escape

No Escape 01“… for fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

~ Alexander Pope, ‘An Essay on Criticism’

*****

No Escape 02“Betcha won’t go into the crypt at night.”

It was just a dare that she and every other child in town had grown up hearing. A common childhood taunt. Some of the braver children claimed that they HAD gone into the crypt late at night, but when pressed for detail failed to elaborate on their adventures. The crypt remained undisturbed, then, and shrouded in nostalgia’s mystery.

No Escape 03It is both a gift and a folly that alcohol opens the door of reminiscence, and sometimes grants courage where it would otherwise be lacking. In any case, she drunkenly boasted one evening that she would go into the crypt. At night. Why, she’d even take photos to prove she was there!

No Escape 04She went in the presence of witnesses. She opened and closed the vault’s doors herself. The top level of the crypt had a light switch on the wall; she used it.

No Escape 05The lights were weak, yellowing, flickering in spots. They illuminated areas of damaged walls and dank black puddles of syrupy mold. The walls were close, and she was careful not to touch them. She walked carefully down the halls, always noting when she’d turned right or left. She intended to get what she came for–some measure of triumph over childhood fears–and leave.

No Escape 06The crypt was much bigger–and deeper–than it initially appeared. She soon found coffins in various states of disrepair. Some had crumbled apart, allowing their contents to lie moldering on the stones. She swallowed hard at the sight. The smell of decay was growing stronger, and she wondered if perhaps there were newer bodies nearby.

No Escape 07She found herself at a dead end that led into a chamber. She looked in and gasped.

No Escape 08The floor of this room was covered with tarnished coins. They had spilled from crates and barrels that had burst open from the damp. A silk curtain, long ruined by water, fungus, and time, framed a pair of rusted swords and lay limply against a rotten wooden throne that was undoubtedly magnificent when brand new. Seated on this throne was an embalmed, withered mummy. Part of the bandaging on its face had fallen apart to reveal bilious green skin.

No Escape 09She listened to the blood pounding in her ears.

She stared with wide eyes.

And finally she laughed.

No Escape 10A few years back the crypt had been opened to the public as a Halloween exhibit–heavily supervised, of course. This of course must just be the remains of the ‘haunted house.’

She snapped off a few shots and went her way.

No Escape 11It was as she passed back the way she came that she found she was NOT going the way that she came. She was going down a hallway that became a dead end and here was the open archway again, and–

–it’d moved.

That … wasn’t possible.

No Escape 12The animatronics must have been connected to the electricity. She breathed in deeply to calm herself and smelled the odor of rot more strongly than she had yet. And now …

… she heard it …

… a voice.

No Escape 13‘Come to me.’

No Escape 14A trick. Just a trick.

She looked around wildly for a wall-mounted audio system, a speaker, a microphone, a wire, SOMETHING to prove her senses wrong. When her gaze fell on the mummy again (she couldn’t help it, her eyes were drawn there, somehow) …

No Escape 15‘Come to me. You will be mine.’

No Escape 16Logic and reason no longer had any sway. She ran in blind panic.

She grazed the walls and splashed through the black puddles. The scent of death filled her nose.

No Escape 17Her vision swam. The lights barely illuminated the corridors. She stumbled. She took turn after turn and could not find her way.

No Escape 18She skidded to a halt on the edge of a chasm in the foundation. And this was no trick–she could both feel and smell the hot methane on her face. She reeled away, nauseated.

‘You will be mine. There is no escape.’

She heard the words in her mind as clearly as if they had been spoken to her face.

With determination born of terror, she jumped the gash and ran on.

No Escape 19This was not the way she had come, but she had no choice. Her chaotic course disturbed the stones and some fell. Then others. Then more and more until the corridor was full of choking dust. She bolted blindly as an entire wall failed and crumbled behind her.

No Escape 20When she stopped, her chest straining for cleaner air, she noticed that the passageway behind her was now blocked.

She felt for her camera and found that it was gone. She cursed its loss, but then she dared to chuckle darkly. Her clothes were utterly ruined and her shoes were completely discolored by the filth she’d run through. They would be proof enough.

No Escape 21And in the distance she saw stairs leading upwards. She sighed in relief. She had only gone down one level, so these stairs must lead out. Where ‘out’ might be, she didn’t know … but it didn’t matter.

She half-smiled. She was the first person to actually enter the crypt. And she was gonna tell everyone about it tomorrow!

No Escape 22She felt her true fatigue for the first time that night, along with a slight ringing in her head. It was the drunk wearing off, she was used to it. She yawned to make her ears pop. They did.

No Escape 23And as her head cleared that least little bit, the calm undercurrent that had been in her mind all along without her knowledge rose to the surface once more.

No Escape 24‘There …

‘… is …

‘… no …

‘… escape.’

No Escape 25Her scream echoed endlessly along the empty corridors.

~ fin

No Escape 26Credits:

Spider webs/tombs–Luna Sims
Skeleton–Murfeel
Bones–DGandy

… sleep well 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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