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The Underland

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I live on a farm outside of a city that currently has a population of around 1700. It's a small town that was built along the railroad back in the late 1800s. Most of the original buildings are still standing along Main Street. Some of them are pretty cool, and over the years I have explored most of them. My favorite was a large building that was a flower store and phones/service. The flower store took up the entire first floor, while the phones and service used the entire basement. At the time I was around 10 years old, and my father was working with the phone guy over the winter.

After school, I would walk about a mile through the snow, and wait around in the flower shop for about 4 hours, till I could get a ride back to the farm with my dad. I would get extremely bored in there, so I would come up with shit to do. I would draw on my sketch pad, or hang out in my little mock office that I had constructed in the back rooms. One day, however, I found this door in the basement. I asked the guy my dad worked with what it led to. He unlocked it for me, and revealed a very old rope elevator. The kind that you stand on, and pull on the rope, and you go up or down.

He told me to get on it, so I did. He then proceeded to take us up to the upper level of the building. The upper door led to a hallway with a door at the end of it.

He showed me that the door has a tiny hatch at about adult eye level. I was then told that this place was used for drinking in the days of prohibition. People wanting to get in and drink would have to talk their way in through that little hatch. The room on the other side of the door was huge. It had a long, old style bar. There was obviously a dance floor, and other things. There were lots of cobwebs and dust from the years it hadn't been used. This place amazed me. The history of the upper level of a flower shop. That's what got me started on exploring.

Over the years I managed to get inside almost all the buildings that were located on Main Street. A couple had been converted to small apartments, so I couldn't look into those. The upper level of the furniture store was great. It also appeared to be used for drinking back in the days of prohibition.

There was one building that I kept wanting to get into, but never could. That building was the old movie theater. It was located on the end of Main Street.

The theater was used right when motion pictures came out, but caught fire and was burned pretty badly. Quite a few people died when this happened. They did fix it up and try to get the movies going again, but nobody wanted to go to the shows there. They would rather travel the 20 miles to a nearby city, so the theater was shut down for good. This was around the late 1930s, I believe. So this thing had sat with its door locked for the better part of 70 years. I wanted to get into this building badly. It took me quite a few years to gain access to it.

Many years later, I was able to get into it. I was older, and ready to give it a shot. The other buildings I had explored were still being used, so I would just ask for permission from the owners. This one was illegal to get into, however.

I had to wait 'till about 2 in the morning, when the town was dead. The street-lights go off at 2 am, so that is my chance to get in unnoticed. I used a crowbar to wrench the padlock setup they had on the door off. There was just a single door in the front, so I had to use that. The door opened up, revealing stairs going down into what I called "extreme" darkness. You know how you can stand in the dark and still kinda see after your eyes adjust? Well, in this dark, you couldn't see anything. It was like being in a cave because there was absolutely no light source down there.

Thankfully I had brought a mag light and a lantern, so it wasn't that big of a deal. I made my way down the steps, making sure to close the door on my way down. I didn't want anybody to know I was there, since it was trespassing. The stairs led down quite a ways. Soon the hot, humid summer air ended, and was replaced with cold, dank air. It was quite a relief, actually. The air was pretty stagnant, however. Anyway, the stairs leading down met up with a short sort of hallway, then stairs leading up. It didn't make any sense to me then, and still doesn't now. I walked up those stairs and come to another door. Thankfully there was no lock on it, nor the handle. I simply pushed it open and walked into the room. The room I entered was the lobby. A moderately large room, with a booth for tickets, and some old chairs fixed to the floor. The lobby didn't yield anything interesting, so I marched onward.

I walked down a narrow hallway, and came to the screen room. It wasn't very large at all. It was about the size of a 2 car garage. The screen was gone, but the seats were all still intact. There was no projector room that I could see, but a fixed metal stand was in the back of the room. I could only assume that the film projector must have sat on it. I looked around there for a while and found an old wheat-penny! Finally this exploration was paying off. I walked back to the lobby to check out a doorway that I had saw before.

The light from my lantern showed a padlock on this door. That must mean there is some good stuff behind it! I pry off the lock and open the door. Inside is a small room that used to be an office. There's an old rotting desk in it, a wooden chair, and newspapers lying all over the floor. I tried to look at the newspapers, but the years of humidity had gotten to their print. There was nothing of interest in the desk, and the only framed picture on the wall was a painting of a flower pot.

There was another door at the other end of the office though, so I moved onto it. I tried to open it, but it wouldn't budge. The door was warped pretty bad. I had to shoulder it a couple times to get it to pop open. When it did, I almost tumbled quite a ways. Behind the door was steps leading down. I figured it must be the basement.

I made my way down the creaky old stairs, and walk into a very large room. I compared it to a basketball court in my mind. Scattered through the room were old brick pillars that made up the support for the building. Some of them were in bad shape, but still appeared to be holding strong. As I'm checking out one of the pillars, I hear the pitter-patter of feet off in the darkness behind me. I whipped out the mag light and shone it around. I can't see anything, however. I chalked it up to my imagination, and continued my exploring.

I first checked out what would be the north end of the room and I see a bunch of stuff under sheets. I pulled them off to find chairs stacked up neatly. Nothing too interesting. Next to the chairs are some boxes with old movie reels in them. I really wanted to take one with me, but I didn't. I'm not a thief.

More pattering off in the distance alarmed me. I call out to determine if anyone is there, but am met with no answers. I had thought someone had followed me into the theater, or that there was an animal in here with me. The mag light didn't shine as far as it normally would. The light beam would cut out after about 8 feet, so I didn't have a good view of everything that was around me. I was on guard now, since I knew something was in here. I started walking towards the noise with the flashlight and lantern glowing. I reached a wall, and hadn't seen anything. I didn't know what to think at that point. It's an old building though, so it could just be random noises that old buildings make. I decided to walk towards the east wall and check out anything that might be over there.

I get there and find a ton of wooden boxes piled to the ceiling, which was about 7 foot high. I start grabbing them off the top and checking the contents. There is nothing inside the boxes. All of the ones I searched through are empty. I get down to about 4 feet and see something behind where I had just pulled the box from. It's the outline of a hole. This interested me greatly.

I quickly remove the other boxes that are along the wall, and am soon greeted with a large hole in the wall. It is about 4 feet tall, and 3 feet wide. It wasn't neatly cut out of the wall, either. It seemed that bricks were torn from the foundation to reveal this hole.

I shine my light into the hole, and can now see a tunnel of sorts. It is very crudely made. It looked like something you would see in a prison escape movie. Rough walls lined it, and it was kinda circular. The floor of it was flat though. It took me all but a half a second to decide to explore it. A tunnel under a town in Iowa. "How often do you find something like this?" I muttered to myself.

I hunched over and stepped into the tunnel. I heard that pattering noise behind me once again. I look over my shoulder and see nothing. I shrugged it off and started going into the tunnel.

After about 10 feet the tunnel started to shrink a bit. It is now about 3 and a half feet tall. For a 6 foot person at the time, that is quite a strain. I hunched over and started slowly moving onward. I was basically walking with my ass on my feet. About 20 feet in, the tunnel takes a sharp turn to the left. Then after another 20 feet it opened up into a small room. Well, not really a room, more like a bigger, wider opening. I notice 2 tunnels cut off from this one, and I decide to take the one on the right.

I stepped into the room and heard crunching coming from under my feet. I looked down and see skeletons of all sorts of stuff. I'm not a doctor or archaeologist or any of that, but they looked like cat/rat/rabbit skeletons. This spooked me a little bit. Off on the other side of the room near the right tunnel was a decaying cat. Good times, good times. I could only assume there was another way into this system of tunnels, if animals were getting in.

I walked over the skeletons, and went through the right tunnel. It's a winding bastard too. Every few feet, I would have to turn one way or the other. I walked a bit further, and felt breeze on my sweaty face. I must have found that opening I was thinking about. Sure enough, there was a chunk about the size of couple shoe boxes missing out of the ceiling. I shone my light upwards and saw rounded concrete. I must be under a culvert or something. I walked onward, and am soon met with a collapsed section. "Well that's encouraging." I remark to nobody in particular. I turned around and started to head back to the bone room, but I felt vibrations. I shone the light around and see some rocks tumbling from around the collapsed section. A roaring noise then echoes through the tunnel. I recognized that sound. It was a tractor. He must be driving on the road, near the culvert. I found it strange that this thing is so shallow where I am.

I hadn't even noticed that I was slowly moving upwards when I was going down the right tunnel. I walked back to the bone room at that point.

I looked down to make sure I didn't step on that decaying cat, but it was gone. Did I miss something? I shone the light around the little room, and it's nowhere to be seen. After that, I did the only logical thing. I stepped into the other tunnel branching off from the room. Now, this one was really small. I had to literally crawl through it on my hands and knees.

So, I left my lantern in the room and started crawling. This wasn't fun at all. There were all sorts of sharp little rocks that my hands and knees were going over, and I was wearing shorts.

I crawled about 30 feet in this tunnel, and stopped to take a breather. I was able to sit down, hunched over. A minute later, my ears picked up a sound. It was a crunching noise. I stop breathing so I can listen better. The sound is coming from the direction I was heading. I turn the flashlight on and shine it down the tunnel. A pair of orange eyes about 20 feet away greet me. This thing...it looks like a hairless, skeletal, monkey. I let out a hearty "What the fuck?" The beast whips up, sees the light, and disappears in a flash.

I had seen enough. I quickly shuffled around, and was met face to face with this... thing. It lets out this horrible... what I can only describe as a bark at me. I jumped up and slammed my head into the ceiling above me.

I writhed in pain, and felt blood pouring out a cut in my head. I must have hit a sharp rock. I started crawling as fast as I could towards the bone room. I get to the little room, and shone the light back into the darkness. About 10 feet away is that fucking thing. It's licking the ground where my blood had trailed. It keeps licking away, but eyeballs me and growls. Oh isn't this just dandy! This thing likes blood. I'm getting the fuck out of this place. I tried to run through the bone room, but tripped and scrambled to stand up in all these dead animals. I run to the tunnel and duck so I can head right into it. I didn't duck well enough. Pow, my forehead smacks into the wall. That knocks me on my ass. Now my head is in some serious pain. I can't tell if I'm bleeding from my forehead, because my face is already covered in blood from a minute earlier.

I ignored the pain as best as I could and made haste down the tunnel. I was breathing extremely hard. This was too much for me.

I burst out of the tunnel and into the basement of the theater. I started flinging wooden boxes in front of the tunnel, in a vain attempt to block whatever was in there. I get a bunch piled in front and start hustling for the stairs. It's never that easy though. I get there and the stairs are gone. Just a wall. What in the name of God is going on! As it turns out, I had just ran to the wrong wall.

A quick sprint to another wall revealed the staircase. I started to run up it, but hear boxes smashing behind me. I hauled ass up the stairs because right after the smashing boxes came the sound of loud pattering, like a dogs paws on concrete. I got into that office I was in and slammed the door. I kicked and kicked at it, 'till the warping did its natural locking effect.

Not even a second later the door started thumping as if something was banging into it. Then a clawing noise started happening. I ran over and shoved the desk in front of the door. I did all this while holding my poor mag light. If I had brought some plastic piece of shit, it would have been dark by the time I scrambled out of that tunnel. I stepped back and watched the door and desk shudder as something kept pounding at it. The pounding stopped as soon as it started. Then there was just silence.

The silence didn't last too long, however. I heard a clicking noise off in the distance. It sounded mechanical. I walked out into the lobby, and the noise grew. What the hell is that noise? It was coming from the screen room. My curiosity got the best of me, even after all of that. I walked to the hallway and saw the glow of light from the screen room. "Is someone in there?" I asked myself.

The second I enter the room I saw a huge light square where the movie screen would be. It's coming from a nonexistent projector. The light just started from midair, and cast itself onto the brick wall where the screen would be. I stood in amazement, watching this unbelievable thing.

Soon I could hear the sound of crying all around me. I snapped out of the hypnosis the light seemed to have over me, and glanced around. There was no one there, but the crying was still happening. It wasn't distant, or weird. It just sounded like people all around you were tearing up.

I started to walk backwards to the hall. As soon as I reached the door leading out of the screen room, I hear something different. The cries had quit, and erupted into screaming. The light from the nonexistent projector turned blood red, and coated the entire room. That was enough. I ran back into the lobby and towards the way out. I glanced over at the office as I ran past it, and see the door fly open, and desk go skidding across the room. Shit, that thing had gotten out at a bad time. I ran down the steps to the exit. Behind me I could hear a sound that was a mix between a snarl and a gurgle. The thing was chasing me. I soon was running up to the door leading outside. I sprinted up the steps and flew through the door into the outside world. I look back in time to see the thing leaping towards the door at me. It disappeared as soon as it hit the doorway.

I fell down to my hands and knees, trying to catch my breath. My kneeling turned into laying on the sidewalk. My head was pounding, and my face was sticky from blood. My hands and knees were covered in cuts and scrapes from my rapid exit out of the tunnel. I stood up and shut the door to the theater. Nothing was going to get me to go back in there. I walked back to my vehicle, and remembered that I had left my lantern in the bone room. Oh well, it was a 30 dollar Coleman, easily replaceable. I then drove home and nursed my wounds.

About a year later, the town council decided to demolish a building that was 2 down from the theater. After destroying the foundation, they found a branch to the system of tunnels I was in. It was quite the big discovery, and hit the newspaper soon after it was found. The newspapers said that the tunnels were not even known about by any current living resident of the town. They were old and decrepit. The part of the article that caught my eye though, was their speculation on why there was a modern day lantern in the tunnel. I just chuckled at that. The branch they discovered must have been the one I was heading down when I saw the creature.

The tunnels are still there. The town council decided to leave them be, since they presented no danger to the buildings around them. However, they are now watched over very well, since they don't want any meddling kids getting into them. That doesn't matter to me though. I'm not going back in them.

By Onic of SomethingAwful

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