Monday, November 20, 2017
I SEE YOU
I SEE YOU
By Daniel Skye
Cold darkness…Strange darkness…Terrifying darkness.
Drake Wuertz desperately searched his pockets for his cigarette lighter. He found a pack of matches, which was good enough for him. In this situation, it was like finding the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel.
He tore a match from the pack and lit it, revealing only a small portion of his vast surroundings. Drake’s idyllic hiking trip had turned into an impromptu spelunking expedition, and a nightmare of one to boot.
Redfield National Park is home to some of the most beautiful, scenic hiking trails that Drake had ever wandered. It’s also the home of Owl Cave.
Drake had been walking the trails for hours with his iPod set on shuffle, lost in his own little world of music and tranquility. He should’ve been paying attention. He should’ve been watching his step.
Drake lost his footing and plunged into the abyss. The fall had tweaked his knee. He couldn’t put any pressure on it. The immense pain was a constant reassurance that this was no dream, no nightmare. This was horrifying reality.
The iPod was gone, smashed to pieces in the fall. Along with his cellular phone. The screen was cracked beyond repair and he couldn’t call for help.
The match burned down to his fingertips, causing him to wince and drop it. He ripped another match from the pack, lit it, and rolled up the leg of his pants to examine his knee. Nothing broken, as far as he could tell. But it was swelling up like a grapefruit and impossible to stand on. He had to find a way out, or freeze overnight.
He crawled along gently on his side, careful not to cause any further damage to his injured knee. He made it no more than a few feet before the smell stopped him dead in his tracks.
His nose wrinkled involuntarily, utterly repulsed by the odor.
“Oh, God,” he muttered. “I think I’m gonna be sick…”
The fetid stench of death permeated the air. It was either a dead animal, or Drake had some company down there with him. And the thought of the latter brought Drake no comfort; it only dimmed his hope of survival.
Drake flicked the dead match away and went for another. The flame guided his way as he continued to crawl, unknowingly moving toward the source of the smell. He inched forward and his hand fell upon a pool of viscous fluid, extinguishing the match.
Drake scrambled for the pack. He pulled a new, dry match from the pack and dragged its head across the striker. He gasped and just barely stopped the match from slipping through his trembling fingers.
There was blood.
More blood than Drake had ever seen or desired to see.
And there was a body. Maimed, mutilated, and half-devoured by some unknown creature. Drake was no coroner, but judging by the pungent stench of decay, he surmised this person had been down there at least a week, maybe longer. That didn’t bode well for Drake’s survival.
At first, he thought his mind had wandered off or was playing tricks on him. But he listened carefully and heard something slithering about in the dark. “Who’s there?” he asked. His voice failing to rise above a harsh whisper. “Show yourself,” he dared.
Little by little, it revealed itself.
A monstrous red eye ball floating on a bed of tendrils. No arms, no legs, no torso. Only dozens of writhing tentacles.
No iris, but a gigantic, segmented black pupil in the center of its red mass. The match was still burning in Drake’s hand. He wanted to blow out the flame, but he was afraid to make another sound. He bit his tongue so hard that he tasted blood.
This lidless, lash-less, unblinking alien eye drifted towards him, the tentacles walking along their suckers.
One tentacle rose up and whipped through the air, and Drake got a better look at its suction cups, that weren’t suction cups at all. They were mouths, with teeth. Spiky, serrated teeth.
The match blew out, and Drake, on the verge of losing consciousness, could feel his body succumbing to the darkness. Just as his world began to fade, something broke through. It was a voice, telling him to hang on. That everything was going to be all right.
Drake Wuertz woke to the steady, rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor beside his bed. He tried to move, but every muscle in his body felt sore.
“Don’t try and sit up,” the nurse told him. “You took a nasty fall. You’re lucky that someone found you and called for help. You blacked out. We’ll need to run some tests to make sure you’re okay but it doesn’t look like any bones are broken. Again, you’re very lucky. That Owl Cave is a killer.”
“What about the other person that was down there? There was a body down there, all chewed up, mutilated.”
“A body? I’m sorry, they didn’t find anyone else down there. Just you.”
Was it all a dream? He wondered. A nightmare? Did I imagine the whole thing?
The lights went out and Drake shot up in bed. “It’s okay,” the nurse said. “This never happens. Could be a blackout. The generator will kick on any minute.”
In his mind, he was back in Owl Cave. The cold, strange, terrifying darkness crept in. And in that darkness, he could hear it. The slithering tentacles. They were right outside his door.