GHOST CITY: THE BEGINNING OF AN ADVENTURE
It was sunny when I found the passage into the mountain. The sky was cloudless and blue, and I was hiking up. As I walked, I looked down and saw my village spread out below me. I had a faint line of sweat on my brow, but it was probably from the hot weather. I mostly walked in silence, except for the sounds of my shoes scuffing on gravel. My backpack was heavy, but I was able to hold it up with some effort. I looked up and saw birds chirping and twirling in the air. I was in a good mood, and I had no idea what was about to happen. I’d lived in the village by the mountain for my whole life, and even though I was young, I knew a lot more than normal people my age.
Anyway, as I trekked along the winding trail, everything seemed normal. The grass even seemed greener than usual. I heard the light crunching of gravel under my feet and focused on each step. Turning a corner, I saw I was entering a barren spot of land with no trees, just a rocky path heading steeply upwards. I was about halfway to the top. I didn’t expect to get all the way there, but I didn’t really have a goal, either.
Setting down my pack, I took a small break. I zipped open the top and pulled out a water bottle. It tasted cool and fresh in my mouth, and I felt full of energy. Putting it down, I stood up. That’s when I saw the tunnel. It was narrow, but tall enough for me to stand up in while barely brushing my head. It was completely made out of wood, so it wasn’t natural, and it was cut too squarely into the rock. It eerily continued into darkness, and I wasn’t sure where it led. As I peered into it, I became full of that feeling like you’re teetering on the unknown. I had never seen it before, and it was so old, there were cobwebs on the ceiling. Surrounding it were grasses and I got the sense it was purposefully hidden. I put on my pack and walked into the tunnel. The entrance seemed to flicker out, like it was an illusion, but I thought it was just a trick of the light.
The passage was a lot longer than I thought. It seemed I had been walking for an hour when it started to get cold. Not a chilly kind of cold, more of a deep-down-in-your-bones kind of cold. I kept throwing glances around me, as I could soon barely see anything. It became pitch black, and I reached into my pack for a flashlight. There was a rustling sound, and I grabbed it. It threw a beam of light into the tunnel ahead, illuminating the tunnel. I relaxed. I could see now, and the tunnel continued for a long while ahead of me. It was only five minutes later that I realized the passageway was slanting down into the mountain. I was scared. I didn’t know whether to keep going or turn back. If I kept going, I could tell it would be an adventure, but if I turned back, I would avoid any dangers it put in my way. After thinking through it, I decided to keep going. I had gone this far already, why turn back?
Then I heard a whoosh of air behind me. I spun around, but nothing was there. I was starting to freak out. I was almost positive I had heard that sound. My flashlight’s beam showed nothing. It was like something had sucked the air out of my chest. I started to walk faster into the mountain, trying to shake off the feeling something was watching me. Then I heard something that chilled me to the bone. It was the sound of whispering. Loud whispering. The things were coming my way. I flashed my flashlight in the direction of the whispering, and they stopped. Almost like… they couldn’t be seen. Like they were invisible. I kept walking, but quickened my pace and made sure my flashlight was always pointing around me, so the things couldn’t get close. I wondered how long the tunnel would go, as I was exhausted already. I thought I kept hearing the whoosh of misplaced air, but some of the time it had to have been my imagination. But I couldn’t suppress the feeling there was more than one of them. What were they, anyway? They could be anything.
As I walked down the tunnel, I soon came to a fork. One of the tunnels led to the right and one led to the left. The tunnel’s slight slant stopped at each one of the options, and the corridor continued forward. I set down my pack and propped up my flashlight to ward off the things. I looked in each of the tunnels, and thought. I eventually decided to take the right, because it looked newer. I turned around for my pack, but with a start, I realized it was gone. Then a hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed my flashlight. The hand was transparent, and milky white, and it made a fist, crunching the flashlight in half. The flashlight spilled open on the floor and the hand retreated back where it had come from. I was speechless. Then the light sputtered out. I sprinted into the right tunnel, not believing what I had seen. There seemed to be more and more of the things coming from behind me. They weren’t ghosts, ghosts weren’t real, but they had to be ghosts. What else would they be? I could barely see anything. In fact, I couldn’t see anything.
Then the tunnels became more confusing. There were branches, forks, crossroads, and I kept going straight. Right, left, left, right, right, left, left. I counted my steps as I ran and focused on each breath. My feet pattered against the unforgivingly cold stone. I kept seeing flashes of white right behind me, and I knew I was being chased. I was running so fast, I barely registered it when something grabbed my legs and sliced my ankle. I rolled over and kept going. Then I finally burst out onto a balcony. I gawked at the sight below me.
I had discovered a city in the mountain. There was a huge, silver city below me, filling an enormous cavern reaching up into the top of the mountain. I did some calculations and figured that this city was at least five times the size of my village. Leaning over, I noted the balcony went all around the middle of the cavern, surrounding the city. I was so preoccupied gazing at the city, I didn’t notice the hissing behind me. I turned around and saw a full body of the thing that was chasing me, and re-evaluated my choice of whether ghosts were real or not. They were definitely real. There was a white shadow facing me, and it had empty holes where its eyes would’ve been. It glided towards me slowly, like it was on wheels. I heard its voice in my mind.
‘Hello, my friend. Who do we have here?’ it asked. Its voice was loud, and sounded like paper rustling.
“I.. I’m a human from outside the mountain. I didn’t mean to disturb you, and if you’ll show me the way out, I’ll gladly leave.”
‘We know your ways. You aren’t the first of your kind.’
I shivered. My kind? What did that mean?
‘Alas, we cannot let you go free. We must imprison you. We need you alive, as you will be the first to start the war. You cannot escape. I am sorry.’
It started to float towards me, but I was prepared. If it needed me alive, then I knew what to do. I turned around and jumped off of the balcony, and towards the city below.
TO BE CONTINUED... BY YOU!
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