Fantasy Fiction

Run! My hand wraps around a flashlight as my feet begin to move. The thought came from my own mind, but the voice was not my own. My hands tremble as I fight the urge to go faster. If my history teacher is correct, these tunnels go on for miles. Can’t risk running out of steam down here. Pounding. It may be my own heart or footsteps trying to keep up, but either way, I’ve got to keep running. 

My feet fumble over a rock and I start to take in the situation. This place was designed to disorient direction of a competent adult. What chance do I have of escaping it? The only people that know I’m here–my pace quickens in spite of my restraint. I imagine the headline that will appear in the paper a week from now: “Fourteen year old girl missing or run away, no one cared to find out which.” I take a turn. The catacombs were built by a group of eccentrics in the 1800’s who wanted to trap spirits that endangered the town. A rush of cool, moist air makes me loath my scraps of wet clothing. I look back. Darkness consumes the path behind me, but I wouldn’t dare turn the light. I reach my right hand towards the wall and drag it along the stone. It was something I’d heard as a child. If you never take your hand off one wall of a maze, you’ll eventually find the exit. 

I switch off the flashlight I’d snagged at my escape. Another benefit of dragging my hand. I notice the pounding has stopped and try to quiet my steps. I hold my breath. My ears search for a sign of them, but find nothing. I slow to a walk and feel my ears turning red. How could I have been so stupid? I replay the events of the day as the stone wall tickles my fingertips. 

“I’ve always thought you were different.” His brown eyes glowed above his boyish grin. My stomach turns. I should have slapped the look off his face and told him to bite me. I must have looked like an idiot agreeing to go with him. Just another stupid girl–

Not stupid. That voice again. The foreign familiar voice that has always kept me from being alone. 

I sigh. Maybe not stupid, but still cursed. 

Not cursed

No? There’s a whole group back there that would beg to differ. There is a scraping sound that brings me back to the present. I freeze. It doesn’t sound like a group of teenage boys, but it’s hard to know what to expect from them. I listen carefully to the silence. The air moves slightly and I can no longer stop myself from shivering. If they are waiting for me to make a move, I better do it before freezing to death. I switch on the light. 

Nothing. The tunnel goes straight ahead until darkness swallows the light. I point the torch behind me. I just took a turn, but as far as I can see the tunnel goes straight. Down. I follow the voice’s direction to black marks that stretch across the brick floor. The crescent shape lines lead directly to a crack in the stone wall. Great. I turn off the light and fold myself into a ball. The walls are changing. 

Emptiness fills my chest as I bury my face in my hands. The smell of kerosene burned my nose, but I ignored it. “I’ve heard of people like you before.” I remember the boy saying. “People who can see what others can’t. Lot’s of stories exist about them. Most people think they're made up, but there is a group of us that believes.” 

I wanted answers, but I was an idiot to think he would have them. I should have turned around when he led me this way. Everyone knows to avoid the catacombs. Even after you warned me–

There is hope.

Really? Where? Even if I find the way out, it doesn’t solve anything. I still don’t know why this all started. What made me this way? You will never tell me where you come from. Maybe they are right about what I am. 

A tear falls from my cheek as I remember what happened next. As soon as we were off the street, hands locked around my wrists. I struggled against them, but they overpowered me. No one could hear me scream once the door was shut. They dragged me to a room not far from the surface. There was a weird mark on the floor and candles lining the walls. A few of the boys had flashlights, but they didn’t need them. The dark figures from my nightmares circled overhead, occasionally swooping through one of the boys. I realized then, they all had dark eyes.  “Witch!” One of them spat in my face as another two forced me to the floor. Before I could stand, hands were everywhere–clawing and ripping at my clothes. I bit one of them and felt my nails hit flesh. Someone hollered. Cold liquid socked me as it splashed over my head. It burned my nose and eyes.

“It’s been years since we’ve caught one.” The one beside me spoke. 

“Yet, were it not for us and the work of our fathers, this place would be crawling with them.” I squinted to see the same boyish grin, but it had a sinister look this time. One of them grabbed a candle. I’m not sure how I got free, but I knew then I needed to run–well, not as much knew as I was told. 

Not a witch. 

Then what? Just an orphan with bad luck? Some horrible combination of a drug addicted mother and genetics? Some bizarre mental illness? There is another noise. I lift my head towards it. A small stream of light pours into the tunnel from the newly exposed turn.


What’s there? I cautiously move towards the light and peak around the corner. It’s another room. This one has nothing on the floor and only a single flickering light at the center. I scan the area, but there are no dark figures and no sign of who may have lit the candle. Is it safe? 

I hear feet shuffling in the corridor behind me. Voices confirm. “There!” I boy cries. My heart throws itself against the wall of my chest as my feet struggle to remember how to move. I slip into the room and place my back against the farthest wall. Cornered. I glance around, but there is nothing to do but wait. There is another creaking sound as the room begins to spin. The voices fade behind the thick stone wall as the only exit seals. 

I slump back to the floor, trapped as the designers of this place had intended. Maybe I am one of the “evil spirits” the forefathers of this town were so determined to capture. I glance around the circular room. I guess they got what they wanted. Sinister me will no longer pollute their precious town. My eyes fix themselves on the candle’s flame as my mind drifts back to when I realized I was different. It was the first time I heard the voice.

The dark ones had been around as long as I could remember, but they were especially active at night. Something about them inspired fear. I used to lie awake in the group home watching them lurk, hunt, feast...I was afraid they’d come for me one day. They’d give me the dark eyes that seemed to tell a person’s evil intent before they accomplished it. I tried to tell Lady Margaret about it, but she said I was just having nightmares. Four year old’s don’t always know how to tell when an adult doesn't know what they’re talking about. 

That night, I tried to ignore them like she said. I closed my eyes, but I could feel them watching me. They were getting close. They were relieved I was finally asleep. I could almost feel one of them brush my cheek when I heard the voice scream. No! He was so loud, I sat up expecting the whole room to be awake, but no one else seemed to notice. The voice came back to me every night after that.

I stand and study my prison with newfound anger. “What was the point of saving me?” My voice was just a whisper, but I can feel its growing in strength. “What for? So I could end up here? Evil? Forgotten? Might as well finish the job for them and light myself on fire! At least burning to death would be warm!”

There is hope.

“What hope? I’ve been alone in the world since before I met you. You might as well leave me to die that way.” I pound my fist against a brick and feel my knuckles open. My eyes follow the drip of blood to the floor and then glare at the stone that caused me pain. Something is different about it. I grab the flashlight and shine it at the wall. I begin dusting the dirt from the stone. There is something written. I whisper the words to myself. “May those who fight against darkness leave here unharmed.” 

The room begins to move. Not stupid. He tells me again as I stop myself from stumbling to the floor. Not cursed. Not a witch. 

Then what?

There is hope. Warm air spills into the room as a new opening appears. 

Hope for what?

An end to the war. 

I shield my eyes as the unmistakable rays of sunlight reach the stone floor. The room stops, but I hesitate to move. I stare at the ramp that is now in front of me. There is no way to know how far I’ve traveled underground or what could be waiting for me at the top. I glance at the stone walls I’d just accused of being a prison and now dread leaving them. I’d hoped tonight would give me answers. I never dreamed I’d be returning to the same life–always rejected, always alone–

Not alone.

I take a deep breath. Right. I may not know what makes me different from the rest of the world or why it hates me so much, but I’ll always choose freedom. As I walk up the ramp, I imagine the headlines I’d write if I could: “Group of teenage boys believed to be lost in the catacombs as a result of their own evil intentions.”

December 15, 2021 19:14

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10:16 Dec 23, 2021

A nice story! The title drew me in (something about the phrase 'true evil' is really compelling) and I enjoyed how you weaved that concept throughout and into the climax. I also liked the idea of the voice guiding and talking to her, almost like a guardian angel. I'm sure we all wish we had one sometimes!


Emily Snyder
13:05 Dec 23, 2021

I'm glad you liked the story! Thank you for taking the time to give some feedback. :)


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Jon Casper
23:44 Dec 15, 2021

"If you never take your hand off one wall of a maze, you’ll eventually find the exit." I'd never heard that before but it's so perfect in its simplicity. (That is, assuming there is an exit at all.) I enjoyed this story -- the little inner voice, always uplifting, never letting the character berate themselves, or doubt themselves. Great take on the premise that "evil" is very subjective. Nice work!


Emily Snyder
01:19 Dec 16, 2021

Thank you for the encouragement...and yes, that hand-on-wall trick has helped me out of many corn mazes!


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