Story Competition 2008, winner's story - Joseph Leeland
You are running and suddenly fall down a hole...
by Joseph Leeland
I never really found out how long I fell for. It felt like I was falling for years and that I would never stop. But when I think back, it was probably only a couple of seconds.
There isn't much I can tell you about the fall, but I'll do my best. It was horrid, even more so because I wasn't expecting it, not that anyone would be expecting to fall down a hole, it was a bit like when you go up some stairs in the dark and think that there is one too many steps, and as you put your foot down, just for a split second, you think that your falling, if this has ever happened too you you'll know what I mean. But it was different in one way, it wasn't a feeling. I didn't have the relief of realising that it had all been in my head, I didn't have the satisfaction of being able to just carry on walking. I had fallen and there was nothing I could do about it, just fall.
I was quiet surprised when I hit the bottom because of course, like anyone who is falling and suddenly stops would think I'm sure, I was expecting the ground to be a long way off. I hit the ground with a hard thud. For a while I just laid there, afraid that if I moved I would find myself in pain from a broken bone or something, but when I built up enough courage to move, to my relief, there was nothing too bad, a couple of bruises and a bit of a nasty cut on my leg, but nothing life threatening.
After I checked myself over again, I decided to have a look at my surroundings. Thankfully the hole I had fallen though provided a fair bit of light. It was dark. I couldn't see more then a couple of meters in any direction. The air was stale and hard, which made it difficult to breathe, but that wasn't all. There was a pungent putrid smell, like rotting flesh mixed with vomit, it crawled up your nose and clung to the back of your throat. It was the type of smell that you never quiet forget, no matter how hard you try, the type of smell that makes all others seem dull and weak, it was the type of smell that could make you think that rotting eggs was as sweet as air freshener. It took almost all my will power not to be violently sick.
Finally I started to notice the different sounds, which was a surprise because until that moment I was only aware of the sound of my own heavy breathing, but when I started to listen more carefully I could hear something. It was the sound of foot steps. I thought it was coming from directly in front of me, but at the time I couldn't be sure. As I listened I realised that whatever it was, was getting closer. No not just closer it was coming directly towards me.
I froze! The foot steps were getting closer and still I couldn't move. It was as if my feet where cemented to the ground, I tried to shout for help but couldn't, it was getting closer now, I could hear its breath. Deep slow breaths. I saw something on my right, a quick flicker of movement, but by the time I turned to look it was gone again. What ever it was it was smart, I could tell that much, it know that if it stayed in the dark that I couldn't see it. It knew that I couldn't move because otherwise it would of attacked, unless maybe, just maybe it was playing with me.
Suddenly a big blast of air came rushing at me, it smelled worse than the normal air and this time I was a bit sick. When I got control of myself again I looked up, and there it was, at the very edge of the light I saw a pair of big red eyes, low to the ground like a large cat or dogs would be if they were lying down, the minute I saw them my heart sank, these were not the eyes of a wild animal. They were the deepest shade of blood red I had ever seen and they gave you the impression that it knew everything, not just that but that it knew you to, that it could see right through you into your very soul. This was neither beast nor man, but something smarter than a man and at the same time something stronger and wilder, more savage and with an even bigger lust for blood than any beast in any fact or fiction.
Even then I would have never expected what happened next, not in my wildest dreams would I have thought it possible. But the strange thing was, I was not surprised. Not surprised at all when from right in front of me came a voice. But not quiet like any voice I had ever heard, it was more a growl really, deep and rough at the same time, the sort of voice you would expected from a wild animal, yet rich and knowing, the sort of voice you would expected from a well educated man.
"Hello" The voice said in a smooth oily way.
"I don't tend to get many visitors down here. Did you hurt yourself when you fell?"
I didn't know what to say. Here I was in a deep dark smelly hole and this strange creature starts talking to me. I didn't speak, too afraid that if I did something bad would happen, so I shake my head, making sure that my eyes never left its.
"What is it? Cat got your tongue." It said with a slight chuckle. It sighed.
"I do wish you would talk to me. It does get frightfully lonely down here; it's just me you see, so I don't get much of a chance to talk."
"Who are you?" I said in a voice that I hoped didn't reveal just how scared I was.
"I believe the correct word you are looking for is what am I. You should think about a question before you ask it."
"Ok then, what are you?"
I could here a strange sound just after I said that. It was deep and mocking, then I realised, it was laughing at me.
"A wolf." It was the way with which it said this that made me scared, for in that one moment it's voice change, for in that one moment it's voice lost it' smooth oily quality and became a horrid spine tingling growl.
But when he spoke again it was its normal smug self.
Now I really was afraid, how was I going to get away from a wolf? It was faster then me, so that ruled out running away, it was stronger then me so that ruled out trying to fight it and it was most definitely smarter than me, which made it seem unlikely that I would be able to outsmart it. One thing I did know was that I needed to keep it talking for as long as I could until I could come up with an escape plan.
"Why don't you come closer so I can see you better?" I said. Hoping that if I saw what sort of wolf I was dealing with, I would have a better idea of what I was going to do.
"I would rather not. I prefer the darkness to bright lights from above ground"
That was it! The reason why it hadn't attacked me was because I was still sanding in the light!
Finally some good news! As long as I stayed in the light I was safe, from the wolf anyway. I still had the slight problem of being stuck underground, but things were definitely looking up. Then it said "if you want to leave, then I now a way out. I can show you if you want."
I knew when it said this that it had realized its mistake. It was done playing and chatting with me it wanted to get me before I got away, or before it let anything else slip.
One thing I was sure of was that I wasn't going to step out of the light under any circumstance.
"I'm all right thanks. I think I'll stay put for now."
I heard that same laugh from earlier. That same low mocking laugh. It made me feel sick again, but I knew better then to show it.
"You are a clever boy, aren't you?" It didn't sound angry, in fact, it sounded amused. I need not tell you just how confusing this was, or for that matter how unsettling it was that my will to live was being mocked.
"I knew when you fell that you were smart, but I didn't think that you would last this long."
"I wouldn't call falling down a hole smart." I said, getting more and more confused.
"No, I guess you wouldn't." said the wolf in a light chuckle.
This was getting too weird, not that it wasn't already weird but you get my drift, what it meant when it said that it knew I was smart. Was it trying to get me to come out of the light?
Just as I stared to wonder how this new approach would get me to come out of the light, I started to hear anther sound. It was a lot like the first time; I just started to hear footsteps in the distance, which got closer and closer.
When I looked at the wolf again something was different. Its eyes seemed to go a couple of shades duller and I could hear a slight whining sound coming from its direction. But it didn't last long.
"There isn't anyway out. So you might as well give up. The sun will go down soon and there won't be a hope for you. You might as well give up and step out of the light."
There was something in its voice that made me suspicious, a slight urgency in it that made the words seem hollow. Still the foot steps got louder and closer.
I just stared at it, what could make this great beast so scared. What sort of terrible beast could be heading straight for me? For the first time since I fell I thought about stepping out of the light. To get it over with, no matter how desperate it was now it had a point. The sun would go down soon and I would be defenceless.
I started to walk forward, ready to get it over with. But then the thing that was coming got there before I took my first step, there was a bright flash of light and I fainted.
I came too more or less the same way as before. I Kept my eyes closed and stayed still. When I opened my eyes I was shocked.
I was on the surface, quite to my great relief, and the sun was still out. I must have only been out for a few minuets. Whatever it was that had come at the last second must have done this. No wonder that thing was so desperate.
I checked to see if the hole was still there, but it was gone. So I went home and told my parents. But of course they thought I was making the whole thing up, when will adults learn to listen. I try telling people about what happened but no one believes me. So I decided to write it down and see if it makes any sense. No wonder no one believed me. I wouldn't believe me. It sounds crazy. But I know the truth, I know what happened and I will never forget ever!