~ Alexander Pope, ‘An Essay on Criticism’
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.
It 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!
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
She stared with wide eyes.
And finally she laughed.
She snapped off a few shots and went her way.
That … wasn’t possible.
… she heard it …
… a voice.
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) …
She grazed the walls and splashed through the black puddles. The scent of death filled her nose.
‘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.
This 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.
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.
And 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!
‘… is …
‘… no …
Spider webs/tombs–Luna Sims
… sleep well 🙂