Ten Stories About People Walking In The Dark

Oya everyone!

You ever seen those stories where they have a picture, and they write something based on the picture? I did that one time, back in like early 2018.

I was extremely cringe in 2018, but this one . . .this one’s pretty good.

See, there’s this picture I saw on Pinterest, right, and it just SLAMMED me with ideas. I could tell who these people were immediately, and I knew what they were doing, and I knew I need to write it. Like immediately. Right then.

I was looking through my old notebooks and I remembered this story, and honestly I’m pretty proud of it so I think I’ll share it with you. It doesn’t have a name, and I don’t have a proper intro, so HERE WE GO.

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Jared held the lantern out farther into the darkness. Nothing more than cobwebs, dirt, roots, and more darkness. But he didn’t see any more pits or snakes, so he pressed on. Some of the teens behind him were whispering and muttering to one another, but the talk slowed as they trekked on.

He squinted, trying his hardest to see past the edge of the dim lantern’s light. A soft, cold hand found his. He glanced back to see Elizabeth’s wide brown eyes staring into his. He gave her a small smile as they walked.

“We’re fine, Liz. The tunnel can’t be that much longer.” She gave a weak smile in return, but her eyes stayed fixed ahead, into the blackness. Jared sighed, and he too turned his attention ahead. He regretted dragging them all down into the dank tunnel. But if I hadn’t, he thought, we might be in jail right now.

He ducked under a low-hanging tree root and guided Elizabeth out of its path. The eyes of those Automatons as they marched through the splintered doorway kept flitting to the forefront of his mind. They had been empty, glassy optics, concerned only with finding them, finding the illegal device the small group of rebels had hidden in their tiny meeting house. Jared didn’t know who had reported them, but he suspected his neighbor, Pierrot. He had been acting rather shifty lately…

He sighed again. Keep your mind on staying alive. he told himself. You’ve got nine other lives to protect now. Don’t get distracted. You need to lead them, Jared.

He pressed on into the dark.

{}{}{}

Elizabeth tried desperately to stop panicking. The dank tunnel walls seemed close and suffocating. She gripped Jared’s hand tighter, forcing herself to take deep breaths. “Calm down, Liz. You’ll be fine.” She whispered under her breath. Something small and fast scurried past her, swishing her long skirt. She put her free hand over her mouth to stifle a shriek.

She heard a scoff behind her. “It was just a mouse.” Dustin rolled his eyes.

“I know it was just a mouse! But it’s dark, and I didn’t know it was there!” She snapped back. She didn’t mean to be snappy, but this tunnel was wearing on her nerves. Dustin shook his head.

Elizabeth closed her eyes, blindly trudging forward. She didn’t have a watch, but she guessed it had been about two hours since they had fled down the tunnel entrance, Automatons hot in pursuit. If Asher hadn’t noticed the trapdoor only seconds before the robots broke down the second door . . .

It really was lucky that Marya had the sense to grab the device, as well. No, not luck. A rock caught Elizabeth’s boot, and only her deathgrip on Jared’s hand kept her from a face full of mud. Someone snickered behind her. She decided it was wiser and less humiliating to walk with her eyes open. Hey, look at that, you’re not panicking anymore.

She walked a little straighter, journeying into the darkness.

{}{}{}

Dustin stuffed his hands into his pockets. It smelled in this hole. He kicked at a pebble, and it scudded noisily over the dirt floor until it struck the wall. Behind him, his sister Soren jumped at the noise, but quickly recovered. Dustin huffed. Of course, he was grateful that they hadn’t been caught by the ‘Tons. But he didn’t think that fate all that much worse than marching through a dark tunnel filled with snakes and pits and stinky slime.

His boot set down on something squishy and oozing. “Ugh!” He tried to shake it off, but only succeeded in bumping into Elizabeth and holding up the whole line. As he scraped the goo off on the stone wall, nine pairs of eyes glared at him. He glowered back, shoved his hands into the pockets of his green trench coat, and stalked on.

“Whoever tipped off the ‘Tons is going to get a faceful of muck tomorrow!” Dustin muttered under his breath. His feet already hurt, and he was sick of only marching, marching, marching. He wished that he and Soren and Arden hadn’t come to the meeting. They could be safe at home, reading or telling stories or anything that didn’t involve darkness and walking and stench.

And why did Jared get to go first with the lantern? It’s not like he’s the leader. He thought sullenly. Even if he technically led them. Doesn’t mean he is. Dustin could find any number of things to complain about, as long as it kept him from being afraid. He hated being scared. And so he grumbled.

I never even got to see that “secret device”. I bet it’s something really dumb, like an accelerating apparatus or something. ‘Course it wouldn’t be something cool, like superchargers. He turned a stray button over and over in his pocket, fidgeting invisibly.

This tunnel is really long…

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Soren fixed her eyes on Dustin’s back, determined not to look at the dark, gaping holes that meant branches of this blasted tunnel. She imagined long arms reaching out of one of those passages and grabbing her. No. No. That’s not going to happen. Arden and Dustin will keep me safe. But she kept staring at the green coat in front of her.

“Y’okay, Sor?” Arden put his hand on her shoulder, making her jump. Don’t act like you’re scared. Be like Dustin. 

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just want to get out of this dumb tunnel.” She used her most bored, sarcastic voice when she said this, but they both knew she was faking. Maybe she should act more like Arden instead. He didn’t seem to care about the dark, or the snakes. He actually laughed when he had fallen in the shallow pit a few yards back. Was it yards? Or was it miles?

Soren jammed her fists deeper into her pockets. She didn’t know what to do. No one else seemed scared, except maybe Elizabeth. She longed to be back at home, with Mama. Instead she was running for her life with a bunch of strangers, with no idea where Mama was.

She almost started crying then, but distracted herself by counting her steps. One, two, three, four… Dustin sidestepped another of those gooey mushrooms. Soren copied him. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen… Arden started whistling, until Asher stared him down. “Must you?” Asher sighed.

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty…

{}{}{}

Arden considered his plan. It would involve a good bit of acting, but that wasn’t a problem. He’d been acting for the past several hours. He’d been acting when he fell in that pit, because even though he had been terrified, he still laughed when they pulled him out. He’d been acting when he said he wasn’t hurt, because he’d twisted his ankle and he felt like crying it hurt so bad. He’d been acting when he had joked about the snakes that kept dropping from the ceiling, because he hated snakes.

Compared to that, this would be nothing. He pulled the clockwork bug from his pocket. Back here, so far from Jared’s lantern, it would be fairly easy to set it loose without Asher noticing. He felt kind of guilty for trying to scare the poor guy when everyone was already on edge. But the silence of the dark tunnel was driving him nuts. He figured it would do everyone good to laugh a bit.

“Here you go, buddy.” Arden murmured, casually dropping the little bot. He held the remote control, completely hidden in his glove, and used it to steer his bug up Asher’s pant leg and into his satchel. He kept his eyes forward the entire time, working the remote without watching the clockwork insect. Any second now… Asher reached into his satchel to pull out another pencil. Now. Arden worked the controls, making the little bug’s legs wiggle.

The result was exactly what he expected. Asher jerked his hand out of his bag, yelling something incoherent about a spider. Soren shrieked, latching on to Dustin’s back. Elizabeth froze, letting out a low moan. Arden heard a chorus of shrieks from the three girls behind him. Ryan’s eyes widened, and he crossed his arms protectively over his chest. Whether all this was because of the “spider”, or whether they were just on edge, Arden didn’t know.

But as he pretended to leap frantically away from the bugbot, he decided maybe he was the only one enjoying the prank.

{}{}{}

Asher flipped to a blank page in his notebook. He could feel his ears turning red, and he hoped the darkness was enough to hide them. After the commotion had ceased, he had discovered that the “spider” was a clockwork bug, identical to the urchin’s toys. Jared had assured him that anyone who felt wiggling in his bag, especially in this tunnel, with everyone’s nerves being shot anyway, was expected to be a bit startled. But Asher had noticed Dustin and Ryan’s snickers, and even Mike had laughed at him

As he write down some more of his story, eyes straining in the dim light, he heard Ryan say from behind him, “Will. You. Just. STOP IT.” 

He swung his head around to see Mike tugging on the tall, dark-clothed boy’s sleeve, a plaintive expression on her face.

“Please, Ryan? Just answer the question.”

“NO.” Asher’s little sister had been trying to converse with Ryan the entire journey, to no avail.

He sighed, glaring at his almost blank notebook. His story was supposed to be about a boy on an adventure, in a world with magical creatures and a princess that the boy would rescue. But Asher couldn’t think of anything besides Automatons and spiders, and never ending dark tunnels. He ran a hand through his red hair, glad at least that Mike had come if anyone had. She could make any situation better simply by being alive.

He glanced at Arden. The kid had pulled pranks before, but his reaction had seemed pretty sincere. Still…It had to be a Darkwalker. Asher thought. Those three are always causing trouble. Even as he watched, Arden whispered something to Soren, who giggled and whispered to Dustin. The siblings shared a look, trying not to laugh.

Asher tightened his grip on his pencil. “The boy pulled out his sword to fight the giant beast…”

{}{}{}

“If you don’t stop talking right now, I’m going to take that sword and throw it into the next bottomless pit we find.” Ryan snarled, yanking his sleeve out of Mike’s grip. “Asher! Get your sister off me!”

Asher kept scribbling in his notebook, but murmured absently over his shoulder, “Mikayla, please.” With a huff, the tiny redhead folded her arms and fell silent.

“Thank you.” Ryan said, ducking under a protruding tree root hanging from the ceiling. How on earth can one person talk so much!? In the three or so hours they’d been in the tunnel, Mike had only stopped talking four times, and that was only because she’d been screaming at snakes or bats or whatever it was she thought was in her brother’s bag. Ryan had to smile at that thought. The bug had been a good idea. he only wished he’d thought of it first.

He looked behind him at the three girls trudging along. Mike was still silent, thank goodness, but Marya and Katherine were chatting quietly. So, Marya’s the one with the device. He thought. I’ll have to tell the Automatons when we get out. He turned forward again, only to instantly collide with a wall. While he wasn’t looking, the tunnel had changed direction for the first time. Titters ran through the line as he dusted himself off, scowling.

Okay, so it was basically his fault they were in this tunnel in the first place. He’d been the one that tipped off the patrols that there was a band of rebels hiding in the abandoned bakeshop, possibly in possession of an illegal device. If everything had gone to plan, the others would be in prison by now, and he would have a considerably heavier coin purse. But then they found this blasted tunnel. It doesn’t matter. He thought, getting back into his place in line. I’ll just call the nearest Auto when we get out.

“You never answered my question.” Mike chirped. Ryan only groaned.

{}{}{}

Mike fingered the hilt of her sword, biting her lip. She was tired. After three hours of walking in the dark, she was more than ready to be done. In fact, she had been more than ready after the first ten minutes. Now, her feet hurt, her head hurt, and she was so tired she was barely afraid anymore. Here, at the back of the line, so far from the lanternlight, she was afraid she would fall asleep while she walked. The reason she hadn’t yet was began she had kept talking, mostly to Ryan. But she was a little nervous about trying to strike up a conversation with the grumpy boy yet again.

“Hey, Jared?!” She yelled. It was an impulse. If she had let herself think about it first, she wouldn’t have said anything. The line halted, and the light came towards her. Eventually, Jared’s face came into view, Elizabeth still tightly clutching his hand. Murmurs rippled in the small tunnel.

“What is it, Mike?”

She gripped her sword, rethinking her impulsive decision. Too late now… “Can we, um, maybe take a break?”

Asher moaned, smacking his forehead. “Come on, Mikayla!” he muttered. She immediately regretted saying anything. Her cheeks flamed painfully.

But Jared only nodded. “That’s a good idea. I’m pretty tired too. You hear that, everyone?” He raised his voice. “We’re taking a break. Go ahead and sit down.” The teens gave a collective sigh of relief, and they immediately began finding places to rest. Some felt for dry places on the floor of the narrow tunnel, some simply slid down against the walls.

Mikayla sat down against the wall, drawing her sword as she did so. She didn’t know how to use it, and a sword wouldn’t do much against clankers anyway. But she felt braver when she held it. It had supposedly belonged to her grandfather. Mike had never known him. She wondered why he had wielded the sword, and what enemies he had used it against.

“So, Ryan.” She said with a smirk. “You still never answered my question.”

“I don’t even remember what your stupid question was.”

“Well then I’ll ask a new one. What’s the worst word you know?”

Asher looked up from his notebook. “Mikayla!”

Ryan gritted his teeth. “Child,” he hissed.

{}{}{}

Katherine giggled to herself, sidestepping a crack in the floor. Watching Ryan and Mike interact was fun. More fun than the tunnel. She didn’t mind the darkness all that much, really. It was actually quite pleasant to just walk, and think, without having to worry about paying attention to her surroundings. Sure, she’d screamed a bit at the bugbot scare. She’d yelped and kicked when an innocent little snake slid over her foot. But all in all, she was having a great time.

But it was too quiet. One could only think about things for so long. Under her breath, Katherine began singing.

It was just a simple little song, a song that everybody knew, about spring and love and flowers. Katherine’s older sister sang it to her all the time when she was small. She sang in time with the dull thud of her boots on dirt.

She almost stopped when another voice joined in. Marya, behind her, her low, sweet voice echoing the chorus.

Then Mike hummed along.

Soon they were all singing softly, their voices echoing off the close walls. Except for Ryan, who just listened. Katherine smiled. It felt like home, like when she was little and she and her friends would play together outside until it was cold and dark and their mothers called them in but they still didn’t want to stop playing. For a moment she forgot about the danger, and the awful smell, and the fact that once they got out they’d still be hunted and alone.

For now everything was just fine.

{}{}{}

Marya couldn’t stop glancing behind her. Ahead, there was light, and chatter, and Marya felt relatively safe. But behind . . . behind was yawning blackness, dark, hungry shadows. She felt vulnerable with her back facing it, but petrified staring into it. It felt like a deep pit she was a hair from falling into and–

She made herself stop thinking about it. Think of the device. The device. That’s the only thing that matters right now. Her hand slipped into her satchel and closed around it. She instantly relaxed. It’s still safe. You’re fine. Calm down. The first thing she’d thought when the Automatons broke in was to grab the device. If the clankers couldn’t find a reason to arrest them, they might make it back to their homes. Automatons don’t have the best facial recognition programs.

She resisted the urge to pull it out and examine it. Jared has warned her not to show it to anyone. They still didn’t know who had reported them, and Jared was afraid it might have been one of their group. Personally, she suspected Ryan, but she couldn’t know for sure.

Marya glanced behind again, thinking she heard a noise. A shiver skittered down her spine as rocks glinted in the faint lanternlight, creating images in her mind of eyes and teeth — Stop it!

She glanced ahead to make sure no one was watching, then stealthily pulled the device out of her satchel. It gave off a dim purple glow, both from the globe in the center and the etched characters on the gold surrounding the globe. The heart-shaped gadget fit perfectly in her palm. She gave a tiny gasp, in awe of the Old Tech.

Suddenly, Dustin yelled at the top of his lungs. “LIGHT! I see light up ahead!”

Soon all semblance of a line disappeared as the weary rebels crowded each other to get closer to the light.

“It’s the end!” Dustin screamed, jumping up the stone stairs and slamming his shoulder into a trap door, busting it open. “WE’RE OUT!!!”

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So how’d you like it? If you liked it, there’s a real easy way to let me know. Two, actually. You could leave a comment, or you could leave a like. Or both. Both is good as well.

Oh yeah, I actually got in a car crash the other day. That was . . . .fun. Nobody got seriously hurt, which is amazing because I had three of my little siblings with me, but my car is totaled so that’s not great. But like, it’s insane that everybody was okay. And now I know exactly what a major adrenaline rush feels like. So that’s a plus.

Anyhow see y’all next week!

~Ace

3 thoughts on “Ten Stories About People Walking In The Dark

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