Today we have a guest writer from England! Isn’t that the coolest? Growing up in Tennessee I never thought I’d work with someone from that far away, but here we are! So please enjoy this creepy tale from Mark Gilmore.
First a little about Mark:
My name is Mark Gilmore. I am from Liverpool, England, home of the best football team. I am 47 years young and love to read and write stories. I have been writing properly now for the last twelve months. I started writing back in 1994, with my first story, Pallida Mors. I wrote a few more before life stepped in and I was sporadic in writing. I joined a writers group in early 2000’s but still nothing arose from it. I did write a few more stories, non-horror ones as well. Again life stepped in and I didn’t write anything for years. Though it was there inside, a burning irritation that something was missing.
I decided to give it another go. I went beck to college and gained my English GCSE. I re-read then re-wrote my old stories hopefully improving them. My life then went off on a tangent for the better. I met someone new and through her encouragement I joined another writers group. These were instrumental in helping me over come my lack of confidence. With their help I wrote some more stories; which I put together and self-published a book. I am still learning the craft and will still be learning for the foreseeable future.
The sun rose into the cloudless azure heavens. Birds sang and danced gracefully across the sky. The day was beautiful, alluring, and enchanting. It was all you could ever wish for on a summer’s morning.
All he needed to top it off was a steaming cup of tea.
This was the first thought Craig had as he lay in bed. He was staring at the window which was a bright white square. He didn’t want to move but today is the day. Today he is going to turn a corner. Today he was going to get that spark back and do some work. He was going to finish his manuscript and get it sent to the editors.
So with renewed vitality, he climbed out of bed. He pulled on his dressing gown with a bit more vigor than required. Craig more-or-less strutted down the stairs. He swaggered into the kitchen, picked up the kettle, and went to fill it up.
Craig turned the tap on. A little dribble of water came out. Deep in the pipes, a gurgle could be heard traveling towards him making its way out. Once it reached the tap there was splutter and a spatter before brown sludge erupted from the faucet.
The disappointment was an understatement. Craig could feel the sunny disposition draining from his body like sugar dissolving in hot water. He looked at the horrible thick sludge sitting in the sink. It was a putrescent, filthy, pestilence slithering down the drain.
‘For fuck’s sake!’ He slammed the kettle down.
All work for the day was forgotten. He knew the manuscript was not getting handled today. He will get it out but it will sit on the table untouched. Every once in a while he will look at it. That is the only attention it will receive.
He managed to drag himself upstairs to get dressed. It was a meager attempt at fighting the dreaming melancholy. It helped a little, not enough to dispel the emotions. After pottering around the house for half the day he was fed up. The water still hadn’t come on and he needed a Cup of tea, milk was not quite doing it for him.
Craig decided to go out for a walk. There may be a café open or a shop.
The air is still, no breeze disturbed the heat that was stifling. Craig was walking down the lanes which were usually busy with cars especially on summer’s day like this one. Today people had other ideas. The roads were empty. Then he saw why.
Up ahead was roadworks. They had closed it down to one lane with traffic lights. He could see it was United Utilities were doing the work. That was not true. There were no workmen to be seen. A van was parked on the grass verge; it was dark and silent. Craig should have left there and then, and carried on with his walk. There was a nagging question burning in the back of his mind; where are the workmen?
There were plastic barriers around a hole in the riad. There was a little digger idling next to the hole looking abandoned. The whole site had the same feeling to it.
I should leave, he thought. This has nothing to do with me.
But that hole was so much bigger than it needed to be. Not that Craig had any idea how big the hole should be, or for that matter what they were working on. All he knew was that the water was off in the area and it was not a good day to have no cold water. These workers should be trying to get the water supply up and running as fast as they could. That was not the case here, these workers were non-existent.
People just don’t care enough these days. Probably buggered off for some dinner. Come back two hours later and pack up and go home. Fuckin’ twats.
He had turned to go home. He wasn’t in the mood for a walk now. The day was ruined. He needed to crawl back into bed and forget it had ever happened. He noticed on the tarmac oil had been spilled. He leaned over the barrier for a closer look.
Again he should have run home screaming. Instead, he squeezed through a gap in the barriers. This is how he saw the pool of blood dribbling down into the dark mouth of the hole.
Craig carefully hunched down and peered into the pit. As he pulled his mobile out of his pocket he noticed it was a sinkhole.
The road had collapsed and one of the workers had hurt themselves. They must have taken him to the hospital and that’s why no one was working here. I feel shitty now. I need to call the authorities.
Craig stood up intending to call the police, ambulance, and fire brigade, all three if they would come. The scream stopped him.
The scream echoed from deep in the bowels of the earth. It rolled out like distant thunder across the sky. Craig jumped, lost his balance. His foot slipped on the dry rubble. He flailed his arms to no avail. He was falling. Craig landed on his back in the middle of the pool of blood.
‘Ooomph.’ The air whooshed out of his lungs.
He could feel the warm blood seeping through his shirt. He told himself it was warm from the sun and not because it was fresh. Craig slid down into the bowels of darkness.
Craig’s yell echoed off the chamber as he slid deeper and deeper. Darkness swallowed him like the whale swallowing Jonah.
There was a break in the tarmac where it went to a vertical drop. Craig was scrambling to stop himself. The momentum had got hold of him there was no stopping now. Craig hit it. It ripped the skin from his back. His screech rang out as his blood flowed, seconds later he landed at the bottom in a heap of agony.
He unfurled from the fetal position with yelps of pain. Craig looked up into the bright blue sky, a few clouds had formed now as the day cooled into mid-afternoon.
The screams still echoed out from the tunnels. Someone shouting indistinctly, before more screams.
‘Is someone down here?’ Craig shouted.
It went deathly quiet. Then a groan drifted out of the darkness. Craig had taken a couple of steps from the wall and could see a high-vis vest on the floor. He started to make his way towards it.
‘No!’ he whispered stopping himself. ‘This is what got you down here in the first place. You know curiosity killed Craig.’ He thought he had stopped but when he looked down at his feet they were still moving. Too late he was at the vest.
It was darker than dark. His eyes were not adjusting as quickly as they should. He read somewhere that if you closed your eyes for 30 seconds they will adapt to the surroundings. Craig could not keep his closed for more than 5 seconds because of the noises drifting out to him. The screaming and groaning were scaring him.
He closed his eyes and managed 10 seconds; it helped a lot. He grabbed the man’s shoulder and turned him over. There was a squelch as the body flopped onto its back. Craig screamed; he could not stop screaming.
The man had no face, no features at all, just a mess of flesh and bone. His throat was torn out, as was his chest. The intestines were strewn across the ground. There were bits of lungs and liver and kidneys, the whole of the man’s insides was now on the outside.
Craig scrambled back to the opening. He had to get out of here. The ground was dry making footholds non-existent. The pain in his back made it harder. The groaning was getting louder.
Craig turned around. In the dark, he could see glittering orbs floating in the air. They were coming towards him. He needed his mobile. He patted his pockets knowing it was not in them. The mobile was sitting on the edge about twelve feet above his head. It was buzzing. He could see the name Alice on the screen.
‘Fuck! Alice? Alice?’ He shouted. ‘Shit! Am I fuckin Alice now falling down the fuckin rabbit hole?’
The groaning was practically on top of him.
He leaned back against the tarmac wall and hissed in pain. He had nowhere to go. He couldn’t climb out and he could venture into the tunnels. He had no idea where they went or a light.
Then he saw them. Five or six men shuffling out of the darkness. They were the missing workmen.
‘Am I glad to see you,’ he said. ‘Is there a way out down there?’
Craig could see the one in the lead was dragging his foot. Now that must hurt. My back stings like fuck but that must be a killer. The foot was pointing in towards his other foot. It looked like the ankle had snapped off at the bone. They were all covered in blood. Their clothes were drenched with the stuff. They were inches from Craig.
Craig had never punched anyone since he was in school. He was not sure he could even do it until it was done. His fist went slamming into the face of the man. He was surprised to see it not stop at the nose, the fist shattered the bones of the skull and kept going into the brains.
He pulled it out with a squelch. Craig couldn’t take his eyes off the blood and brains as they dripped off his hand. He was stunned. There was a thump as the body fell to the floor. He had forgotten all about the other men closing in around him.
It was too late; their fingers were clawing at his flesh. Craig screamed as the digits dug into his flesh and started to rip it from his bones. The five of them fell on top of Craig. With their hands and teeth, they began to tear him apart. His screams died as one of them sank its teeth into his throat and ripped it from his body.
Craig lay forgotten on the ground in pieces. The five of them turned to the wall and started to climb. Their fingers dug into the tarmac easily. Inch by inch they climbed closer and closer to the dying sunlight.