In The Walls Part 2: Endless Darkness
Read Part 1 here.
He’s not moving- but he is. Matt is running on an endless track; there’s no stopping, no looking back because there’s nothing to see. All around him is darkness, and any chance of combating it died with the flashlight. When he tries to turn it out, the lightbulb within pops, giving him no relief from the consuming darkness. He thinks he should be tired, his legs should burn, and his lungs should gasp for breath.
But they’re not. And so he runs. He continues to run, even though he’d really like to stop.
The two gatekeepers stop at the back of the shed, in a space surrounded by tool chests and tables piled with more tools. There’s a single wool oriental rug lying on the dusty concrete floor. Matt’s been to the shed lots of times but never taken notice of it. Hiding behind one of the tool chests, he watches as the groundskeepers pull the rug aside and reveal a set of metal doors. Questions run through Matt’s mind as he grabs a flashlight from the table next to him. The keepers open the doors to reveal a set of stairs descending into darkness below. Seeing it makes Matt stop; something is drawing him towards that set of stairs. Should he really go down them? Shouldn’t he just walk away, forget this ever happened? What does he care that his father has a secret room? What does he care that his father keeps a library hidden beneath the tool shed?
When the keepers turn around to find flashlights of their own, Matt darts out from the tool chests.
Images appear around him as if a projector has turned on. They zoom by him, but Matt still catches them, viewing them as his legs continue to have a mind of their own.
There’s a cat, green and translucent, smiling like it just ate a canary. Then a jester, jingle bell hat and all, with a laugh that unnerves him. A fire lets out a childish giggle as it consumes the plastic siding, the windows, the roof of a two-story home. This image is bright red and translucent, just like the cat. Finally, there’s a princess made of a bright blue running from her castle; Matt reaches out to touch her, but she disappears in a puff of smoke.
Matt attempts to stop; he screams at the surrounding darkness; he pounds a fist on one of his legs. They continue to move as if they’re commanded by something other than his body. His cheeks moisten as his voice echoes, and he begs to stop. He can’t keep running forever. Where is he? Why can’t he stop? Where is he going? He feels for the watch on his wrist, hoping he can press the little button that will light up the display. But like the flashlight, it fails him.
Suddenly, Matt stops. He’s about to shout for help to get out of wherever he is when the feeling of being underwater comes over him. He still can’t see, but now he’s weightless, breathless, and where there were images before, there are voices now. They speak in a language Matt knows but is unfamiliar with how he knows. They say things that confuse him, but he doesn’t have time to question such things. He’s drowning, and he doesn’t know why.
“Who is this?”
“I don’t know, it’s not the groundskeepers.”
“It’s the son… but how?”
“We’ll worry about that later! Pull him out before the poor thing drowns!”
Light explodes before him as hands grab him under the armpits and yank. He takes a deep, haggard breath as the world slowly forms around him. He’s in a… bathroom? Matt stands in one of those old-fashioned, claw-footed bathtubs that sit in the middle of the tilted floor. He steps out with the help of one of the strangers dressed in robes. They stand around the bathtub as if waiting to see how the scene before them plays out. He opens his mouth with a million questions, but a wave of dizziness comes over him. Before another darkness can claim him, one of the robed figures steps forward and catches his fainting body.