The Tunnel – #writephoto

apparition

Photo by Sue Vincent

This is the first story of the “Towards the Light Series.  The Table Contents is here.

— — — —

“Dad!  Dad!”

Cate and Leo came running up to the back of the house, where I was doing chores.

“Whoa, calm down, what’s the rush?  Being chased by a hornet again?” I asked.

“Dwarves, Dad,” Leo said.  At eleven, he was Cate’s elder by two years and often the instigator in their little escapades.

“Dwarves?” I asked.

“Mmm-Hmm, Daddy,” Cate said.  “We saw them.  Four of ‘em.”

“Dwarves, like ‘Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho’ Snow White style, or dwarves like The Hobbit?”

“Snow White,” Cate yelled simultaneously with Leo yelling, “The Hobbit!”

“So, tell me a little about these dwarves that are part of cartoons and fantasy books.”

They looked at each other for a moment.  Cate nodded to Leo.  I hid my laugh.  They usually aren’t quite as transparent with their stories.

“We were hiding in the pines to see if there really was a pack of coyotes that drink by the stream when we heard voices.  Four little guys, about this tall came out of the woods on the other side.”  He used his hands to indicate just below his shoulders, which put them up to my belly button.  “They had long beards.  Cate screamed.”  He threw a dark look at his sister.  “They turned and ran back into the woods.  We tried to follow and think they went into a tunnel.  Come, we’ll show you.”

“Sure.  Hold on.  I have to put this stuff away.”  I was curious about what they had up their sleeves.

We lived pretty far out into the countryside and back in the woods.  Our property was surrounded by conservation land, so I never worried about them running free and encouraged their imagination.  They took to it like fish in water and thought of screen time as a rainy-day activity or some type of punishment when the weather was nice.  They knew every inch of land better than I did.

I followed them out to the stream and then across to the woods on the other side.  A short distance from the stream there was a small cliff.  My heart skipped a beat when I saw the kids climb up to a ledge about eight or nine feet up.   Following, I discovered that there were well-worn steps carved into the wall.  They were subtle, and hard to see, yet it made climbing to the ledge a snap.  The only problem was how closely spaced they were, made more for children than adults.

Impossible to see from the ground, I discovered that the ledge funneled back to the entrance to a cave.    Looking closer, I decided it wasn’t natural, but had been carved by hand.  Perhaps it was a mine.  I had heard that back in the late 19th century there was a little mining activity in the region, but they never did well enough for large scale operations to be opened up.   The tunnel was only about four feet in diameter, perhaps wider than tall, so I thought it was very small for a mine.  On the other hand, the few mines I had seen were very rough affairs.

The entrance was very tidy and there was no sign of any animals.  I gulped my fear back, got down on my hands and knees, and went a short distance in.

The tunnel was amazingly well made.  It was almost perfectly circular, maybe five foot in diameter, with the bottom cut straight to make a nice level area for walking, or, in my case, crawling.  The walls were very smooth, though obviously shaped by hand.  I continued down, for it was gently pitched back into the hill side, for a minute or two.   It was too dark.  I knew I’d have to come back with flashlights.

Being slightly claustrophobic, I turned around.  The light streaming through the entrance seemed overly bright, like looking directly at a spotlight.  I could make out shifting silhouettes that I knew were kids watching me from the entrance.

I heard a noise behind me.  Fearing a bear, or perhaps something worse, I swiveled around.  My brain barely had time to register that several very small people were rushing at me before something struck me.  All went dark.

So, here we come to a cliff hanger.  I will continue this at another time, perhaps next week’s “writephoto, perhaps sooner.  I hope you enjoyed it so far.

(Towards the Light – <–Previous — Table of Contents –  Next–>)

— —

This was written for Sue Vincent‘s weekly #writephoto challenge.

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65 thoughts on “The Tunnel – #writephoto

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks! And I posted the next installment earlier today. another cliff hanger, with some lines stolen from the old Batman TV shows to finish it out (Same blog time, same blog channel ;) )

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          It depends. I often start out seat of the pants, but if it gets too long, like The Old Mill story, at some point I have to plot it out to make sense. I am thinking this will be relatively short (maybe 4 or 5 chapters), but that’s what i thought about other serialized stories I’ve done…

          Liked by 1 person

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            1. trentpmcd Post author

              It is possible I’ll just do one more chapter – I’m not sure yet. I do not want to get involved in another serialized novel yet! But a handful of chapters, like I recently did with Embers, would work.

              Liked by 1 person

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      And almost a literal cliff-hanger for the kids… I’ve noticed that. In real life I’m a little too claustrophobic to spend too much time exploring caves, but they’re great for fiction.

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      1. Sue Vincent

        The kids will always be ready for adventures :) I guarantee you would not have been claustrophobic in at least one of the caves we explored recently… it will take me a while to get that far in the journey, but wait and see :)

        Liked by 1 person

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