Warning: this is not what you think! A little bit gruesome and food for thought.
Abel cut through the harness and instantly he felt free; falling towards the unending darkness of the chasm. Given the chance, Abel would have chosen life over death, but today had been filled with extraordinary circumstances; the kind of events one would wish to experience only once in a lifetime, or preferably never.
As he fell words came to mind; spoken in the soft caring tones that all good mothers reserve for their children. Delia, his mother, had reminded Abel not to go prodding around in places where he wasn’t welcome; pretty much anywhere like the pitch black confines of the tunnels he’d insisted on exploring.
If there was one thing Abel wished he could do now it was to be able to go back in time – not far; just a few hours – and urge himself past self to take heed of his mother’s words.
Too late, far too late. Now he was falling, plummeting towards almost certain death. Soon after his body was dashed against the rocks, the creatures would find him and begin their feast, even if his last breath was still lingering in his lungs. Even though he was falling at what felt like light speed, the thought made Abel shudder.
He started to count.
Abel could vaguely remember playing a game back in his youth and tried to recall the name, but time seemed to have crowded in around him, obscuring all but his imminent death. At first, the certainty of his approaching demise was alarming, but now, every moment in free fall was tinged with a growing sense of terror.
Will anyone ever find my body or will those things eat every last scrap? What will they tell my mother? No, what if they never find my remains and she is left is some kind of horrible limbo, hoping and praying that, one day, I will walk through the door.
Abel really wished he had listened to his mother.
The air was filled with a strange whooping sound; a din that reminded Abel of the large military helicopters he’d seen on the television. What are they called? Chinooks – that’s it. The US military stole the name from one of the Native American tribes in pretty much the same way they stole their land.
It was a silly thought, but it was all Abel could think of right now.
Still he fell and still the whooping noise echoed down the chasm as if racing him to the bottom.
The he heard that sound; the harsh clatter of something being dragged over rock. Not metal and not organic, but something in between – something terrible and vicious. Claws that would tear open his body, hook out the still warm, tender morsels before dropping them into that vast mouth with its serrated teeth.
Now Abel started to panic as he realised the whooping sound was probably the creatures signalling their excitement at the prospect of an easy meal. The first time he had seen the crouched, pale, hairless bodies they had been almost silent apart from the almost agonising noise their claws pulled from the ancient stone. They flitted from place to place with an ease that came from a lifetime of living in this dark, confined place; their bodies seemingly flowing through the very earth itself.
The noise stopped: no more whooping and definitely no more grating of claw against rock.
Abel held his breath, certain the creatures were within touching distance; all they had to do was reach out and pluck at his flesh. Still there was no sound, bar the whistle of air as he continued to fall. How long had he been falling? Too long. Far too long.
A weird thought came to mind: Will the impact hurt more the further I fall? If so, this is going to really painful.
Silly! The first strike would probably stun him, but not kill him outright; it was the bounce that would finish the job.
A terrible cry rushed down the shaft, caught up with Abel, then overtook him and continued to echo into the distance. Something – or possibly someone- had managed to aggravate the creatures that pursued him. This was good news to Abel: any irritant, no how big or small, placed in the path of the beasts was a welcome distraction.
From somewhere above came the a familiar sound. It was the noise of something falling. Abel bristled at the thought of one of the creatures had taken a leap of faith in order to gain ground on its meal. He braced for impact.
Something brushed by, its cold, scaly skin coming briefly into contact with his hand before rushing into the darkness with a soft shiff.
Abel looked at his hand and saw blood, but not his own. The thick red fluid seemed to glitter as if were threaded with seams of gold.
Now more creatures were falling, only this time they were still alive: the first had been a sacrifice.
Another of the monsters seemed to drift by almost lazily, but still close enough for its jagged, broken teeth to come within a few millimetres of ripping a chunk of flesh out of Abel’s leg. Now more came and the young man knew that, soon, one of them would find its mark and the journey would be over.
Abel twisted in the air, rolling his body over until he was facing back up the way he had fallen, his back towards the journey’s end. A moment after he had rolled into position he wished he hadn’t.
What looked like an army of monsters was chasing him down into the darkness, their vicious claws and snapping teeth coming closer with every passing second. A silent prayer slipped from his lips. It had been a very long time since he’d attended church, but now seemed like a very good time to reach out to God.
The end came a moment later. God was indeed merciful; Abel’s life was extinguished before the creatures fell upon him and he never heard the terrible sounds of their teeth and claws hacking and flesh and crunching through bone.
Delia sat in the rocking chair on her porch, the last rays of evening sunlight glistening on the loose strands of her auburn hair and casting a long shadow that reached all the way to the front door of the house. As she rocked back and forth she hummed a tune, the same soothing sounds that had clung to Abel’s mind in the moments before his death.
She felt the loss of every child; the moment of each death like a knife in her heart. It had always been this way, but Delia wasn’t sure if she could keep on enduring the pain; one day her her heart was sure to give out. But that was a consideration for another time. Right now she had to keep her children fed, just as she had been doing for the past one hundred and fifty years. Tomorrow she would seek out another human child to raise as her own, ready for the day it would be fed to her sons and daughters who stalked the caves.