I couldn’t stand my house. Mom and Dad were constantly bickering back and forth.They thought I had no escape but to sit up in my room and read for a living. Secretly, I had plenty of other escapes and given that no one knew but me and maybe a couple friends of mine, they had no clue.
The night time was my time. Dad was always passed out drunk and mom was long gone asleep. Every night this was what I did, and I loved the feeling it gave me. I’d creep down the stairs, make sure my dad wasn’t still awake, and walk out the back door.
The air had a chill in it, and I didn’t prepare completely for what was going to happen.
I ran a couple blocks to my friend's house, climbed in his window, and we waited. Finally we could hear the loud, obnoxious snoring of his dad, and we headed out for the night. Every night was new. Nothing ever felt the same. Not that I minded, because in all honesty, it was great.
On that night, we decided to head down to the river. It was quite the walk, but the way it was during the night was worth it. Twenty minutes had passed before we reached the bridge. I heard the roughness of the water, although there was no wind. We trudged down the loose gravel trail that led down to the river bank itself.
Travis, my friend, pulled out his pack of cigarettes and offered me one. I denied. We walked beneath the bridge and turned on our flashlights. The graffiti was great. Most art intrigued me, but there was something different about graffiti. Dicks and satanic symbols covered some of the great art there was. A faint drip of water caught my attention.
I waved the smoke from Travis’ cigarette out of my face and squinted my eyes to see where the water was coming from. I creeped closer so I could hear the water continually. I jerked my flashlight to where I thought the sound was coming from.
It was a small eroded hole in the concrete of the bridge. I took my camera out and wedged my hand through the crevice. The flash blinded us temporarily, but we recovered. I squinted at the picture and tried my best to make out what it was composed of. The flash slightly helped, but the hole looked much deeper. Nothing was abnormal about it except not seeing the bottom. I clawed at the dirt and stone around the hole to try to get a better look. I made a hole just big enough to peer down into, and I did so. It was far darker than before, so I repeated to process. This time it was big enough to just peek the flashlight through and my head. This time the view was much more defined. There were iron bars bent and placed in the way of a ladder. Down at what appeared to be the bottom, there were two large puddles of very murky water. Water consistently dropped into these, hence the sound of an echoing dripping water.
I pulled my head back out of the now man-made decay and turned around. I told Travis what I had seen and what we should do.
I took my phone out of my pocket. The clock said it was 12:43 in the morning which gave us about eight or nine hours of whatever. I dug the hole larger and larger, making it big enough for a human body to fit through. I went first and hoped that the stability of the iron bars, that I was about to put all 204 pounds of weight on, still existed. I tapped it with the tip of my foot and felt an easing feeling come over me.
Travis held on to my hand until I was able to grab one of the twelve or thirteen bars. He tossed my bookbag down afterwards and started his solo trek. With him being lighter and undoubtedly more flexible, I wasn’t worried. We both made it down and spun in a couple circles, we were halfway in awe of it and halfway terrorized by it. I took my flashlight back out and illuminated one of the three tunnels branched off from this cylinder room.
We played our chances and walked down the the one that looked more appealing to us. Water dripped down from the top of the hallway and landed all over our bodies. The passage seemed to go on forever before anything changed. Finally after this time spent walking, we walked on top of a drain of some sort.
The thought baffled me. We knew we were already twenty feet below the ground and the thought that it went even deeper terrified us. We glanced at each other, and we knew what the other was thinking. We lifted up the heavy steel drain gate, and I turned on the flashlight once again. I poked it down and dared to look. There were more iron bars bent to a right angle and stuck in the wall. I pulled out my phone and it was 1:32. It seemed impossible that only forty-nine minutes had passed.
This time I was more stable to step down on the ladder steps. Travis followed close. The air was much cooler down here, which we estimated that it was another twenty feet down. There was only one tunnel leading off this small room. I heard a noise I hadn’t heard in awhile. A voice. It scared me beyond belief. I stopped in my tracks and considered turning around and calling it a night, but Travis pushed me forward. I snuck down the hall and found a doorway, where there was no door, and peeked in. A small flame illuminated the room and nothing appeared.
I walked through the doorway and something wrapped my face. I started to swat at whatever it was. Travis put his hands on my shoulders and walked me forward. He turned me around and took the cobweb off my face. I was too afraid to speak words, so I just nodded my head. He patted me on the back, and we searched the room for anything. There was nothing to be found anywhere. We walked out and continued farther down the passageway.
Room after room passed, some illuminated, some black as the blackest black. Suddenly we came upon the end of the hallway. There was no ladder this time, nor a drain gate. We knew we hadn’t come all this way for nothing. We searched for another doorway to anything, if it meant going down, then that’s what it meant. I pulled my phone out and it read 3:26. That seemed logical. We had been down there for about two and a half hours, and we had a max of four, give or take some.
We ran down the same hallway again, this time stopping at the lit up rooms and looking in. We had gone through ten different rooms before we finally came upon something interesting. In this room there was graffiti. Names, numbers, pictures, and they were wonderful. No vandalism of penises or satanic symbols. I walked up to the walls and ran my hand across the walls. The concrete was wet with seeping water. It smelled awful, but the artwork was just intriguing. I was in a trance. I walked around the room twenty maybe thirty times before Travis pushed me into a corner of the room and covered me up with one of his oversized hoodies he wore.
Heavy breathing passed down the hallway. That of a large (obese) human, but it walked much faster. I had to see what time it was, I checked. 4:10. That meant it was time to go. I whispered to Travis, and he wasn’t listening. He covered my mouth with his hand and listened for the breathing to go away. Finally it did. We jumped up, threw everything in our backpacks and ran. I could see the light that shone from where the drain gate was. I ran at what felt like an impossible speed. Room after room passed, at a light speed. Everything was blurred. Travis started coughing up a lung and and slowing down. We were within fifty feet of the ladder, with no heavy man in sight. A few seconds later and we were there. Well, I was. Travis had fallen behind by a little bit.
I squinted once again. A shadow had shown up. It was far in the distance but we had to hurry. Travis caught up quickly, and we climbed up the ladder. We got to the top, slid the drain gate over the hole as best we could and took off to the left, which was the way we came. We ran with no light for what seemed like an hour, but in my heart I knew it couldn't have been more than ten minutes.
Suddenly we heard what we never wanted to hear. The drain gate was thrown back open and there was a terrible screeching sound. Everything inside of me wanted to turn around to see what was behind us, but my brain was full of ‘what-if’s’. The light from the original cylinder room was up ahead. As the yelling and screeching got louder, it occurred to me that we’d have no time to climb another ladder. We were maybe thirty foot from the room, and the sound kept gaining on us. We were worn out. We hadn’t planned on that, and if we had, by God would I have changed my mind. Travis started wheezing again, and I knew that could be it. I heard him let out a gasp as he stumbled over.
Now I was alone. I was scared of the unknown and now that Travis had fallen, maybe I would have time to get up to the normal world once again. The screaming stopped, and I heard no more from either of them for a couple seconds. I started thinking, and luckily I did. I had dug the hole to get in, just barely big enough for us to get in, not us with our backpacks. I had two options: run another hallway for who knows how long, or ditch the backpack which had my flashlight, camera, and food in it. The only thing that made any sense was to ditch it all. I wanted to live not run forever into the unknown. I threw it down, second guessed myself, picked up my flashlight, and went up.
I squeezed my way through the tight fit and felt lucky to see natural light again. I fell to my knees and thought what I’d tell Travis’ family. I sobbed shortly, but knew I had to keep moving.
I dragged the largest rock I knew I could handle and put it in front of the hole. It left just a small gap, and I felt safe enough to jog back up the hill up to the bridge. I looked over the railing and took another look of the dick infested graffiti. It reminded me of something. It looked just like the paintings in the underground room. Questions flew through my mind. I wonder how they matched, why were they the same, and what it all meant. I stumbled back down the downhill trail and ran my hand over the graffiti. The concrete was wet from seeping water. I turned around to the miniature boulder, and it was moved. The manhole was gaping wide and I dared to walk over to it. Step by step my breathing grew heavier and heavier. Water logged my shoes, and I once again heard the dripping sound that once intrigued me. I kneeled down and dropped my head slowly, concentrating on the water that was dropping. It dropped, and dropped, and dropped. Second after slow second, the water created more and more of a stagnate water pool down at the floor of the cylinder room.
Suddenly I was grabbed from behind. I was lifted up, and my feet started kicking. I kept trying to scream, but nothing came out but a bunch of mumbled spit. I felt the sharpest pain I had ever felt before and suddenly there was blood all over the concrete support of the bridge. It was new art.