On an early Tuesday morning Johnny and his girlfriend Michelle were outside jogging. They had traveled down a new road neither of them had ever been to before. Serrano Road is a long country road just outside of their town called Ashland. Jogging is one of the activities they really like doing together. In fact every day they would always try to stick to the same routine. They would wake up in the early AM for a light jog, and then decide whether or not they could run for a longer amount of time, and most of the time they could. On this day they decided to go where they had never gone before, a road that they had only past and never explored. Johnny had found it on a map and he convinced Michelle to jog with him, and she agreed.
Turning left onto the road they stayed on the edge trying to avoid all of the traffic. There was nothing but open fields and mountains to look at in almost every direction. There was a huge lake that they past on the right. It was a very beautiful day which made their jog that much better.
“I don’t think you can keep up Johnny!” Michelle said with a smirk.
“I’m running slow for you because I don’t want to lose you in my dust!” Johnny replied.
A cool breeze made its way down the street. It cooled both of them off and seemed to give them more energy.
“Where were you taking me tonight? I forget, so you'll have to remind me,” Michelle asked.
“Over to Sean’s house, and then to that new movie,” He smiles at her.
“That movie is gross! I don’t know why you like it”
“Blood and guts have always been the best part!” And he gives a wink.
“Yeah right, next time we are gonna see a movie I like.”
“As long as it isn’t The Notebook again I’ll be happy.”
Rounding a curve lightning could be seen in the distance. Thunder soon followed. A major storm was on the way, but that would never stop them. They jogged in all weather, and even if it was hailing outside with a tornado roaring in the background they would still do it. There was no tornado or hail today though, lucky for them.
“How much longer is this road?” Michelle asked.
“I’m not sure, I just know it’s gonna take us back into town.”
“Where at in town?” She looked up at the dark clouds in the sky.
“Over by the old bar, you know the one that burnt down.”
“Oh okay, that place always creeps me out.”
“Well, look at it. It’s burnt and there is no other buildings around. It’s just strange looking.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll run past it fast.”
On the right side of the road was a small gas station. It was run down and had a sign that said, “Fill er up!”
“Let’s get a drink, Michelle. I’m thirsty.”
“Okay, I need one to.”
They ran up to the entrance and went inside. It was an old building; the floor was made of wood, a dull unfinished wood. It was obvious no one ever took care of it. The ceiling had a few water stains from leaks in the roof. There was a strong smell of mildew, and something they just couldn’t put their finger on. There was no attendant behind the register. The TV above the register was turned on so there had to be someone here. The cooler in the corner housed a lot of different drinks. Standing in front of it they were trying to decide what they wanted.
“What do you want, Johnny?”
“I want the regular soda pop right there," he points. "It looks so damn good!”
“You know we can’t have that, too much sugar.”
“Yeah I know, but you asked me what I wanted, so I told you.”
“Well, what don’t you want?”
“That tasteless bottle of water right there,” and he sadly points at the bottle of water.
“That’s exactly what I don’t want, so I guess we found a winner.”
Grabbing two bottles of water out of the cooler, they shut the door. Michelle saw a reflection in the glass of a weird looking guy. It was the attendant standing right behind them.
“Whoa! You scared me!” Michelle said to the strange individual. The attendant, whose name appeared on his jacket, was Judd. He was standing so close to Michelle that she could smell his breath. (He must have had tuna for lunch) “Um, hi. We just want to buy these.”
The guy just stood there and smiled at Michelle.
“Hey buddy, you wanna cash us out or what?” Johnny said while clicking his fingers in the guy’s face. With a smile Judd points to the register with his right hand, and walks over to it. Michelle looked back at Johnny giving him a grossed out look.
“What a weirdo,” she whispered. Judd stood behind the counter waiting for them, still staring at Michelle. They both walked up to the register handing him the water. While staring like a weirdo who only has perverted thoughts in his mind, he never took his eyes off of her as he said, “two dollars, please.”
Johnny sets the money on the counter and grabs the water bottles. He wraps his arm around Michelle.
“Let’s get out of here baby,” he gave her a kiss, and they made their way out of the store. Judd was staring at them with a very jealous look on his face.
“He don’t deserve her. Not one bit,” and he spits in the garbage can which sat next to him.
“Let’s never come back to this place, Johnny.”
“I don’t plan on it.”
They both finished their water bottles in no time. Johnny thought about screaming chug, chug, chug as Michelle drank the last of hers. He liked to drink beer at parties and was no stranger to chugging some down. Michelle never drank since she thought beer had way too many calories. It wasn’t worth it to her, not after all of the exercise she does during the day. She didn’t want to ruin it with booze.
“Okay, let’s go,” Johnny said. As they continued down the road Michelle couldn’t stop thinking about that weird gas station attendant. What if he follows us, she thought.
Judd had always been a strange individual, and most people around town knew him as the crazy gas station guy. There were stories made up about him, none of them where true though. At least the ones that people were talking about. Nobody really knew if he was a psychopath. He definitely looked like one though. That was the first time Michelle has ever met the guy, and it was guaranteed she would remember him as a psychopath now. It was also guaranteed she would remember that horrid tuna breath he had.
It starts to rain. The cool water hitting them on the top of their heads felt great. After a long jog it’s just what they needed.
“We’re almost done, and I can’t wait to get home,” Johnny said.
“Yeah, me to. I’m hungry.”
“Maybe we’ll stop at that old bar on the way back, huh?”
“Shut up!” she said with a smile.
“Okay, I guess we can skip the bar. Malone's is close so we’ll go there.”
“Yeah, I like that place. There is so much to choose from.”
“I’ve been eating healthy all week. I think I’m gonna go for the double cheeseburger!”
“Johnny, you pig!”
“Yeah, but I’m a hungry pig! Ha!”
Not too far ahead was some old abandoned train tracks. The last time they were used had to be fifty or so years ago. The town of Ashland used to use the tracks to transport goods to, and from the city. Later, the saw mill bought them, and used them to move wood from place to place. The company went bankrupt and lost everything. Ashland never had any more use for the tracks so they just sat there unused, and forgotten about. Weeds have since taken up residence on the tracks. In some areas you couldn’t even tell there were tracks there. All you could see was just weeds and more weeds. They both came to a stop next to the tracks.
“I never knew these tracks were here, Johnny.”
“Yeah, I didn’t either. Look it’s broken up there.”
The track had a broken rail. If a train where to travel on these tracks then it would surly derail. There was no worry of that, though, because trains were obsolete in this town.
“Well, I guess we should get going,” Johnny said.
“Wait, look at that.”
“What, where?” He was looking around everywhere.
“Over there,” she points. “It’s a tunnel.”
Indeed it was a tunnel; a dark and very ominous tunnel. It was the kind of tunnel that looked like it would kill you if you entered. The kind of tunnel that could be hiding anything. Maybe a street bum waiting for someone to wander in, and then BAM! He would gut you like a fish! The tunnel looked massive from where they were standing. It had huge walls on both sides of the opening. People had spray painted graffiti on them. There was one picture that displayed eyeballs. It looked as if they were staring at you, and right below them was written, “He’s watching you!”
“That’s really sick!” Michelle said.
“Yeah, I know. I’m disgusted by it, and I wonder who is watching us?”
“No, I mean sick, as in cool,” she was smiling at him.
“Uh… yeah. I knew that,” he gave an awkward smile back to her.
“No you didn’t. You’re dumb, tee-hee!”
“Look, let’s just go.”
“Yeah, you’re right. We’re almost done.” Michelle started crossing the tracks but Johnny grabbed her arm and pointed at the tunnel.
“Hey, you’re going the wrong way baby. Home is this way,” and they were both staring into the dark abyss.
“What? You must be crazy if you think I’m going in there!”
“Now you’re the one being dumb. It would be so much faster if we went through this tunnel. Plus I’d like to see what it looks like on the inside.”
“No, I’m not going in there!”
“Please, I promise everything will be okay.”
“I’ll let you choose the movie tonight.”
“What if I want to stay home and watch The Notebook again?”
“Fine… even if it’s that movie again.”
“Okay!” A great big smile was on her face.
Stepping onto the train tracks, they took a moment to look into their future. They were about to enter into a tunnel that looked like something out of a nightmare. It wasn’t even possible to look all of the way through because the tunnel curved to the left. Now what was beyond that curve, they didn’t know. Taking in deep breaths, they both started walking toward the tunnel. At that moment a loud truck pulled up onto the tracks behind them. It was a blue Ford pickup. Judd was behind the wheel.
“Hey! Where are you two going?” He shouted at them. He sounded like a hillbilly from one of those scary torture movies. Johnny looked back at him.
“We’re going home, and you should mind your own business.”
“Yer gonna take that purrty little thing into that there tunnel? You must be crazy!” Michelle just kept her head down trying to ignore the madman. She was more scared of him than the tunnel.
“Get lost pal,” Johnny gave him a pissed off look, and put his arm around Michelle. He told her to keep walking forward, and to ignore the crazy man in the truck.
“Yer CRAZY! That there tunnel is not...” They could no longer hear him because they were too far away. Coming closer was the tunnel, and yet maybe they should have listened to the nut. Here is what he said.
“Yer CRAZY! That there tunnel is not safe. People disappear in there!” Seeing as how they were no longer listening to him, he slams on his gas pedal sending his truck forward. The smell of burning rubber was left in the air.
The two joggers came to a stop near the entrance of the tunnel. The darkness inside was scary, but there was no turning back now.
“I can’t see anything, Johnny.”
“I can’t either. This tunnel really gives me the creeps.”
“How about we go the other way? Don’t you think that would be a good idea?”
“We’re already here, so why go back? Besides this tunnel can’t be that big.”
“Okay, but let’s be quick. Let’s run through.”
“Alright, let’s go.”
They began traversing the dark tunnel at a walking pace, so much for running.
At first it was hard to see anything at all, but soon after entering their eyes had adjusted to the darkness. Small rats could be heard stomping their tiny feet across the ground. Cracks in the walls of the tunnel were leaking water. There were branches and weeds sticking out in other areas. Some of the branches reminded Michelle of an arm reaching out to grab her. On the ground lay garbage; some empty bottles and food wrappers. Probably thrown there by the locals of Ashland. Who in their right mind would casually walk through this dank pit is unknown, but they sure liked to litter. Who in their right mind? Johnny and Michelle of course. Coming up to the bend, Michelle began to hear voices. They were so muffled she couldn’t make out what they were saying.
“Do you hear that Johnny?”
“Yes, I can’t understand what they are saying though. Where is it coming from?”
“I’m not sure, but it almost sounds like it’s coming from the walls,” and it was. Michelle got really close to the wall and put her ear against it. Making sure to wipe any dirt away that might have been there. Through the wall she could hear someone screaming, like they were being tortured. A plea of “No, please stop!” was heard.
“Someone’s being tortured behind this wall Johnny!”
“No, that can’t be what’s going on,” his eyes were wide, and he didn’t want to tell Michelle that he was getting a little nervous. It’s not everyday you hear torture sounds coming from behind an old abandoned tunnel wall.
“I know what I heard, listen for yourself,” and he did. He heard the voices as well. They were screaming for mercy only wanting the pain to stop. Johnny jumped back looking confused, and a bit startled. He knew he should have run out of there, but he didn’t.
“Johnny, we need to go and get help.”
“But it doesn’t make sense, on the other side of this wall is nothing!”
“What do you mean nothing?”
“The wall isn’t too thick, and on the other side of it is a steep hill that goes down pretty far. Those voices shouldn’t be there. They can’t be there,” but yet they were. There was no room for anyone to stand outside let alone torture someone. The screams they were hearing had to be coming from the wall itself. That cracked, wet, thin wall…
“Come on Johnny, let’s go,” she began to pull him along.
Moving very quickly around the bend they came to another straight away. The tunnel looked like it went on for miles. They couldn’t hear the voices anymore but drips of water, and a strange mushy sound filled the area.
“Hey, I thought you said it would be quicker to go this way?”
“I thought it was going to be, I swear. I looked on a map of this road before we left, and it showed a small bridge here. It shouldn’t be this long.”
“A small bridge? This is a tunnel not a bridge.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“We have to turn back Johnny, I don’t want to go up there,” she said while looking at the long dark disturbing tunnel.
“Okay, baby, let’s turn back,” and that’s what they did. That mushy sound was on Michelle’s mind to. What could it be? There was already rats and voices in this damn place, who knows what else. As they rounded the bend back to where they came they were in shock at what they saw. Another long dark tunnel!
“Oh my god! This doesn’t make any sense,” Michelle said, but they had just heard voices coming from a wall so nothing made much sense. They stood there staring off into the dark distance, confused, and not knowing where to go. Do they turn around and continue the way they were going? Or do they keep heading through the new section of the tunnel that just appeared…
Michelle was really starting to get scared. She was holding back some tears. Johnny was just mystified, and he couldn’t understand what was going on, but he knew they had to get out of there.
“Which way Johnny?”
“I don’t know…” and he really didn’t.
“This was all your idea! And now we’re lost,” and they were.
“Look, we should just turn around and keep going the way we were. There has to be an exit that way.”
“There was an exit this way to, but now it’s gone,” and it was.
“Listen baby, we are going to be fine. Let’s just keep going the way we were, okay?” The voices could be heard again. They were getting louder, but still muffled.
“Okay, let’s go,” Michelle said while staring off into the darkness. She was trying to see who or what those voices were coming from.
Making a U turn again, they made their way around the bend for the third time. This time they were going to keep going forward into the darkness, into the unknown. Was this tunnel going to lead them to an exit on the other side? The mushy sound got louder…
“Ewe, what the hell is that?”
“Don’t worry about it, just keep going.” They take a couple of steps, then a couple more, Squish!
“Ahhh! What is that?” Michelle screamed. Looking down she had stepped on a worm. Not just one worm but thousands. The floor was coated with worms, mostly maggots, and she couldn’t help herself any longer, she let out a very loud scream.
“AHHHHHH!” Johnny grabbed her by the arm pulling her his way. He began to run through the tunnel as fast as he could go, and Michelle kept up as best as she could. Squish… Squish… Squish… Squish… Slip… Michelle had slipped and fallen down. She lands on her butt with both of her arms touching the ground. Touching… the worms. Her hands were now coated with the little slimy critters. They began to crawl up her arms, and all over her body. She screams again with her eyes closed. Shaking her head back and forth, she leaps to her feet jumping up and down. Johnny was holding his ears. The sound of his shrieking girlfriend really hurt.
“Don’t just stand there, help me!” She said, and he helped her. They both brushed the worms off of her body as best as they could. She once again screams, and then they both take off running.
Squish… Squish… Squish, and then there were no more squishy sounds. No more worms below their feet, and that was a good thing. Michelle could still feel them crawling on her, though.
“They’re still on me! Ewe, Get em off! Please! Ewe!”
“Calm down baby, there is no more,” and there wasn’t. The worms had all fallen off.
Looking ahead into the darkness, they saw no light, no exit, but more darkness, and more tunnel…
“Why is this tunnel so long?” Michelle asked.
“I don’t know, but as far as we went we should have been in Ashland by now.”
“Well, we’re not,” she snapped.
“We should have listened to Judd…” Johnny admitted. “Let’s keep walking, baby. We’ll get to the end. We have to. I mean, it can’t go on forever…”
But maybe it does go on forever? Hours later, they are still walking, trying to find an exit that seems not to exist. Bend after bend, mile after mile, it just kept going. They were both tired from the jogging they had done, and it was starting to seem like they might never get out of this death trap. Maybe they should have gone the other way? After a few more steps, they stop for a while to rest. Johnny sat on a rock that was lying on the ground, and Michelle propped herself up against the wall.
“I can’t go on Johnny,” she was really tired.
“Yes, you can. We’re almost there. I can feel it!”
“You keep saying that, but we both know we’re screwed.”
“No, we’re not screwed. Everything will be okay, and we’ll both be out of here. You’ll see, baby.”
“Yes we are, Johnny. We’ve been walking for miles. There is no exit coming.”
“Don’t give up, we’ll get out of here. I guarantee you.”
“Look, let’s just rest. In a bit we can try again.”
They both fell asleep pretty quickly. Even with all of the noises around it wasn’t that difficult. The time flew by though, as it always does when you are sleeping. When they awoke there were more voices haunting them.
The voices were still just a bunch of mumbles. Screams could be heard every now and then. The voices had traveled to where they were. Michelle woke up first. She ran over to Johnny and shook him awake. The voices in the walls seemed to grow more violent, more intense than before. Like they were upset that the two joggers were here.
Scared of what they were hearing, both Johnny and Michelle ran as fast as they could. Down through the dark endless abyss. The voices were following them, and the faster the two ran the faster the voices followed. They soon came to another bend in the tunnel; it curved off to the right. Running and walking for hours has tired them out immensely. Not to mention the strange torturous voices stalking them. Making their way around the bend they were greeted with a cave in of rocks.
“Oh no! Where do we go now?” Behind them, the voices traveled to their location, and stopped. Looking back for something to jump out at them, nothing did. It was quiet, quiet and very dark.
“Damn it!” Johnny screamed. There was no way around the boulders. This way was a dead end. Michelle plopped down on the ground. Her head coming to a rest on one of the rocks.
“We’re gonna die, Johnny!” Michelle said while crying.
“No! No we’re not. Let’s go back the other way. We can make it.”
“It’s too far, how would we make it?”
“We’ll make it because we have to!”
“I don’t think I can make it, Johnny.”
“You can make it, just get up. I’ll carry you if I have to.” Johnny pulled her up off the ground. With heavy feet they began the long trip back. Ahead of them was the last bend they had gone around, and as soon as they made their way past it, they were horrified at the site in front of them. There was another cave in, and boulder’s were everywhere. They were trapped…
“Oh my god, why…” Michelle said. Johnny let out a loud scream followed by multiple profanities, he was very frustrated. Going back over to where the first cave in was, he struck his fists against the rocks. A loose rock came falling out. In its place was a small hole. He could see some light on the other side.
“Look! Look baby! It’s the way out!”
“Yes, look!” Peering through the hole she could see the light. She started jumping up and down with excitement. They were finally going to get out of this tunnel.
“Come on Johnny, let’s dig,” and they did. They dug for what seemed like an hour. Moving small rocks and huge boulders, they picked some of them up and rolled the heavier ones to the side. Dirty and sweaty they had dug a pathway through the stones. Holding hands they looked at one another and smiled. After traversing a horrible cursed tunnel, they were leaving.
Johnny and Michelle walked slowly through the pathway. The light was getting brighter, so bright that they had to close their eyes. The sun was hitting both of them all over. The cold dark tunnel was behind them, and the warmth of the sun felt so good. The red glow of… red glow?
Opening his eyes Johnny saw fire and brimstone all around him. There were little creatures jumping and shouting everywhere. Screams of torture could be heard plain as day. They were in the room where the voices were coming from. They were in…
“I guess you were right baby, we’re not getting out of here.”
“I love you, Johnny.”
“I love you to baby.”
They both held onto one another while the path they had cleared closes up behind them. In front of them the little creatures leap their way over to where the two joggers were standing. Judd was right, they should have never entered this tunnel in the first place.