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Adventure Fantasy Thriller

‘What are you three up to today then?’

‘Nothing much mum. Aaron and I are going to play Call of Duty later, but that’s about it,’ Oscar said.

‘Whilst I love that you and your brother bond over video games, wouldn’t it be nice to get out of the house for a while? You could show Sierra around town while she’s here. She and Auntie Kate are going home tomorrow.’

‘And take her to see what?’ said Aaron. ‘The millions of charity shops and pubs we aren’t old enough to drink in?’

‘Just find something to do. I want to do some hoovering and you’ll only complain if you can’t hear the TV.’

‘Fine,’ Oscar said as their mother left the room. ‘What do you want to do Sierra?’

Sierra looked up from her phone. ‘What?’

‘Did you not hear any of that conversation? Mum said we have to get out for a bit,’ Oscar replied.

‘I was stalking Harry Styles on Instagram. He had my full and undivided attention.’

‘Harry Styles? Really? His music is shit,’ scoffed Aaron.

‘Just because you like screamo doesn’t mean everyone does. It’s barely even music in my opinion. Harry Styles on the other hand is a dream. His voice is soft and smooth, he’s got an amazing body and don’t even get me started on his hair.’

Aaron mimed throwing up. ‘I can’t believe you just described someone as ‘dreamy’.’ Sierra stared daggers at him.

‘Anyway, any suggestions on what we could do today?’ asked Oscar.

‘We could go to the Labyrinth,’ said Aaron.

‘We are not going there. That place is creepy as fuck,’ said Oscar.

‘I went with Jack a few weeks ago and it was fine.’

‘How far in did you go?’ asked Oscar.

‘To the end of the first tunnel. We saw a few rats and some needles, but that was about it.’

‘What’s the Labyrinth?’ asked Sierra.

Oscar sighed. ‘It’s a series of tunnels on the edge of town. They were supposedly built to smuggle things in the 18th century. They lead right down to the beach apparently, but no one has ever got that far in.’

‘Why’s that?’   

‘Strange things are said to happen in the Labyrinth,’ Aaron said. ‘People are said to have gone mad in there. A guy went in there once and came out a couple of hours later, babbling about monsters and demons. Then he saw his reflection in a window and wouldn’t stop screaming. Other people have gone in, only to come out moment later saying they’ve seen a ghost.’

‘Sounds fun. Let’s go explore,’ said Sierra.

‘Or we could go to the beach, or the funfair, or anywhere else,’ said Oscar.

‘We always go there when I visit you guys. Let’s go the Labyrinth, I’ve never been there before,’ replied Sierra.

Aaron got up and grabbed his coat, and Sierra followed suit.

‘Are you coming or are you going to be a wuss?’ asked Aaron.

Oscar stood up slowly and took his jacket off the peg. ‘Fine. But we’re not going too far in.’

‘Slow down you guys, I have shorter legs than you.’

Sierra trudged up the hill behind Oscar and Aaron, who was triumphantly leading the way.

‘How much longer?’ she asked. ‘If I’d have known it was this far away I wouldn’t have agreed to come.’

‘Not long,’ replied Aaron. ‘It’s just over the top of the hill.’

Sierra groaned. They were still only halfway up and her feet were hurting in her Nike Airs. She had only got them a couple of days ago and they were rubbing on her heels and her little toes. She wrinkled her nose as she realised she was also starting to sweat from the exertion.

When they finally reached the top, Sierra put her hands on her knees, breathing heavily. She could hear Oscar panting as well, but Aaron was fine. He stood there staring at the two of them, a look of disbelief on his face.

‘How unfit are you two?’

‘Not all of us play football four times a week,’ Oscar said.

‘Yeah, but it wouldn’t harm you to get your head out of a book for ten minutes and go for a run,’ Aaron replied. ‘Anyway, the entrance just there.’ Aaron pointed to a steep bank covered in trees. Sierra couldn’t see anything but grass and foliage at first, but after a few moments she made out a stone doorway with a faded ‘no entry’ sign on it. As they got closer, Sierra could see there were messages scratched into the stone. Some of them were the typical ‘James woz ere’ and ‘G loves H 4eva’. Others however, said things like ‘beware the monsters within’ and ‘turn back now if you want to live.’ Sierra gulped.

‘I’m really not sure about this,’ said Oscar. His wide eyes were scanning the graffiti too.

‘We’ve walked all the way here now. We’ve got to at least go in a little way,’ said Aaron.

‘Fine,’ Oscar said with a deep breath.

Aaron stepped up to the stone and pushed. ‘Give me a hand, Oscar.’

Oscar stepped to the side of Aaron and they both leant against the stone. It gradually slid to the side, revealing a pitch black passage behind. Sierra covered her face at the smell of stagnant, damp air which was now leaking from the tunnel. She took out her phone and switched on the torch, and the boys did the same.

‘Ready?’ Asked Aaron. Without waiting for an answer, he stepped into the darkness.

‘After you,’ said Oscar, gesturing for Sierra to follow Aaron. ‘I’ll stay close behind you.’

Sierra took a deep breath and stepped into the tunnel.

The smell was even worse inside the Labyrinth. It hit Sierra like a brick wall, filling her nostrils with the stench of mould. Before long, she could taste it. She tried not to gag. Water was dripping from somewhere, the droplets hitting the floor in a steady rhythm. Sierra couldn’t see anything outside of the circle of light created by the torch on her phone. Aaron and Oscar’s lights seemed strangely dim, and she could barely make them out in the darkness.

‘You good?’ asked Oscar, his voice little more than a whisper.

‘I think so,’ Sierra replied.

‘Come on you two,’ Aaron called. He was already a few metres ahead of them.

They had only walked a couple of steps when Oscar stopped again.

‘Did you hear that?’ He asked.

‘Hear what?’ said Sierra.

‘Someone whispered something…don’t worry about it,’ Oscar said.

‘Are you two coming or what?’ said Aaron.

They continued walking. Sierra was trying not to slip on the rocky, uneven floor. The water dripping was making it slippy, and a couple of times she had to reach out and catch herself on the wall, which was covered in damp moss. She wiped her fingers on her trousers and carried on.

‘Stop.’

Sierra stopped, causing Oscar to bump into her.

‘Sorry,’ he said.

‘Did you not hear Aaron telling us to stop?’ Sierra asked.

‘I didn’t say anything,’ said Aaron.

‘Yes you did. I heard it clear as day.’

‘I didn’t say anything, Sierra.’

‘I think we should go back now,’ said Oscar. ‘I don’t like this.’

‘We’re nearly at the end of the first tunnel. We’d already be there if you two hurried up,’ said Aaron. He carried on walking.

Before long, they reached a crossroads. The tunnel they’d just walked down was behind them, and there was another to either side and in front of them. There was a cold draft coming from the tunnel on the left. Sierra shivered.

‘This is where me and Jack got to the other day,’ said Aaron. ‘Which way shall we go?’

‘Back,’ Sierra and Oscar said together. Oscar checked his watch, which read 4:22pm.

‘That’s boring,’ said Aaron.

‘You said we’d only go to the end of the first tunnel, and I think mum will have finished her hoovering by now,’ said Oscar.

‘Yeah, I want to go back,’ agreed Sierra.

‘Okay,’ Aaron huffed, and they started walking back the way they came.

Sierra could feel something cold on the back of her neck. It was almost like someone was blowing on her, but Oscar insisted it wasn’t him.

‘I promise I’m not,’ he said when Sierra asked him about it. She trusted Oscar. He had always been kinder to her than Aaron. She remembered Aaron trying to force her to eat a worm when they were kids, and pushing her over in the mud when they were playing tag. Oscar was the complete opposite of his brother, and went to find her a change of clothes to wear that day.

‘We must be near the end now,’ said Sierra.

‘Guys,’ Aaron said, his voice wavering. ‘How has this happened?’

They were standing at the same crossroads they had left a few minutes before.

‘Is this a joke, Aaron?’ asked Oscar. ‘It’s not funny.’ He looked at his watch again, and it read 4.22pm. His heart started to race.

‘I didn’t do anything. We went back down the same tunnel, didn’t we? We should be at the door. I don’t understand.’

‘Please Aaron, let’s just go,’ Sierra said.

‘This isn’t me, I haven’t done anything.’

‘Just because you want to explore more doesn’t mean we want to,’ replied Sierra.

‘This isn’t me, I don’t know what’s going on.’ Fear had seeped into Aaron’s voice.

‘Guys shut up,’ Oscar said.

‘No, I’m bored of his bullshit Oscar. He has been doing this every time I’ve visited you guys since we were kids.’

‘I’m serious, Sierra. Shut up,’ said Oscar, grabbing her hand. ‘Do you hear that?’

There was a low, rumbling growl coming from their right. Sierra turned her head slowly, and saw a pair of glowing red eyes a little way down the tunnel.

‘Run.’

They turned and ran as fast as they could. Sierra could hear the creature behind them. Its heavy footfalls were getting closer with every step. It had started to snarl. Sierra ran towards the light of the entrance. Her legs were burning. Her heart was racing. She couldn’t catch her breath. The creature was right behind her now, its warm breath washing over her back. Sierra whimpered. Oscar turned and grabbed her hand. They ran together with renewed speed, Aaron just ahead of them. She heard its jaws snap shut as they burst through the stone door.

‘No.’

Instead of light, all they could see was darkness.

They were back at the crossroads.

The creature was gone, but they were trapped.

‘Why can’t we get out?’ cried Sierra. ‘We were right there.’

‘I don’t know,’ said Aaron, defeated. ‘This didn’t happen last time. We just came in, walked a bit, and then left. We saw a couple of strange things, but I didn’t think anything of them.’

‘What strange things?’ asked Oscar. ‘You said you only saw rats and needles.’

 ‘There was a man standing here,’ said Aaron, pointing to a spot at the entrance to the tunnel in front of them. ‘He was there one minute, but when we shone our torches back on that area, he was gone. He looked really strange though. He was very pale and had fully black eyes. Then there was the voices.’

‘The voices?’ asked Sierra.

‘We both kept hearing things. They were like whispers in the air, telling us to do things. I’ve heard them today too.’

Oscar was still holding Sierra’s hand. He gripped it tighter.

‘And you still thought it was a good idea to come back?’ He said through gritted teeth.

‘I thought it would be funny, give us all a bit of a scare. I didn’t know this would happen.’

‘What do we do?’ asked Sierra.

‘Maybe we got disorientated in the darkness. Maybe we went down the wrong tunnel?’ said Oscar.

‘We didn’t,’ said Aaron. ‘We did a one eighty and went back the way we came. The Labyrinth is playing tricks on us. We wandered willingly into it. Now it wants to keep us.’

Sierra let out a sob and slumped against the wall. Her whole body ached, and she could feel her energy draining away. Oscar checked his watch. 4:22pm.

They sat in silence for a while. Sierra checked her phone. She had nineteen percent battery left and no signal. Oscar’s had already died, and Aaron’s was on four percent.

‘We need to get out of here,’ Oscar said, putting his head in his hands.

‘I know,’ Aaron said. His phone light went out.  

Sierra’s light flickered.

‘No, don’t go out yet,’ she said. Her battery had gone down to ten percent.

‘Shall we try the tunnel again?’ Oscar said.

‘I don’t see another option. I don’t want to go further in,’ Sierra said.

They climbed to their feet and Sierra’s torch went out. She grabbed hold of Oscar’s hand, and Aaron held onto her shoulder. The speck of light coming from the entrance guided them. Hopefully this time would be the last time they had to walk this tunnel, Sierra thought. The light from the entrance was growing larger and brighter. Please, she prayed. Please let us out.

They reached the entrance, and Sierra looked at Oscar. Then she screamed.

His fingernails were blue, and his skin a translucent white, showing his veins spreading out like ivy over his body. His lips were red and cracked, and his eyes were fully black.

‘Sierra?’ he said, his voice sounding strangled. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘You…you’re-,’ Sierra stammered. She couldn’t find the words. It was like they had been stolen from her mind.

Aaron’s hand was still on her shoulder. His grip was getting tighter, like a boa constrictor squeezing its prey.

‘Aaron. Let go.’

Aaron didn’t move. Sierra looked over her shoulder.

His skin was the same pale tone as Oscar’s, and his eyes were like charcoal. He was glaring at Sierra.

‘We cannot leave.’

‘Yes, we can. Let go,’ Sierra said, and tried to push his arm off, but it was like lead.

‘We cannot leave.’ The voice coming from his mouth wasn’t his own. It was deeper, with a gravel-like tone.

‘We belong to the Labyrinth.’

Aaron started walking backwards, pulling Sierra with him.

‘No Aaron, no. Oscar, help me!’

Oscar was rooted to the spot.

‘It’s calling to me, Sierra. Can’t you hear it?’

‘No, Oscar, I can’t. Help me, please.’

‘If I move, I won’t be able to resist it. It’s been whispering to me the whole time we’ve been in here, same as Aaron.’

‘I’ll make sure it doesn’t get you. Just please get him off me.’

Oscar took a deep breath and ran toward Sierra. He managed to pull Aaron’s arm off of her and she cried out with relief. Oscar tried to turn back towards the entrance, but slowly moved further into the tunnel, following Aaron.

‘Oscar, no.’ Sierra grabbed his hand and tried to pull him in the other direction. ‘This way.’

‘I’m trying. Something is pulling me away. It’s like a hand on my shoulder.’

Sierra looked behind Oscar. Aaron was nowhere to be seen. She tugged harder on Oscar’s hand. He took another step backwards.

‘Let me go, Sierra. I can’t fight it any longer. Otherwise it will get you too,’ he said.

‘I can’t just leave you.’ Sierra felt the hot sting of tears filling her eyes. ‘I’ll go and get help.’

 ‘Okay. Now go before it gets you too.’

Sierra dropped Oscar’s hand. She moved back towards the door, and stood and watched as Oscar melted into the darkness.

She started into the black hole for a moment, willing Oscar and Aaron to appear, laughing and saying how they had been playing a trick on her all along. But all she heard was silence.

Sierra took a deep breath. She had to get out now. Oscar’s sacrifice couldn’t be in vain. She walked towards the door, but gasped as she caught sight of her own skin in the crack of grey light. It was as white as a ghost.

‘Come to me.’

Sierra felt a cold sensation wash over her body. It was coming from further up the tunnel. She wanted to go out the door, but there was something intriguing about the cold.

‘You can see them again.’

Sierra felt compelled to run into the void, but then she heard Oscar’s voice.

‘Go before it gets you too.’

She felt a cold hand grab her, but she jumped backwards and through the door, into the light. 

December 17, 2021 14:09

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