Chapter Three - The Tunnel to Nowhere and Everywhere

Story so far:

Hannah was bored of life so when an email offers her the chance of an adventure off she goes. The only instruction is to Follow Her Feet and so she does just that, ending up at the historic Time Tower. Correctly interpreting the incorrect time on the clock face as a code she gains entry to the pitch-black building only to find herself plunging down unexpectedly to the depths…

 *    *    *

Hannah was whizzing down into the depths of the earth. Down and down and endlessly down. She was in the roller coaster of all pipes and it twisted and turned and spun her around and around and around until she felt sick and blinded by dizziness and all the while it relentlessly hurried her downwards with it’s furious zeal. ‘Follow your feet, well, no-one can say I’m not doing that!’ she thought, as her feet dragged her through what felt like an enormous ’S’. The floor of the pipe was suddenly the ceiling and the ceiling the floor, and she fell hard onto the opposite surface, bumping her way onwards. ‘There had better be something soft at the bottom of this’. Sadly for Hannah she had no such luck, for as soon as the thought hit her, she shot right out of the pipe, skidded through a puddle and collided hard with bare rock.

“Ow”, she exclaimed loudly to no-one in particular. ‘Who puts a rock at the end of a pipe…?’ she thought, ‘unless it’s part of a test? Maybe this is their equivalent of an interview? Well, I’ve worked out the first part, I’m not letting a rock put me off’. She scrambled to her feet, ignoring the bruises and retrieved the stiletto which had ricocheted off when she’d landed. It wasn’t a great surface for stilettos, bare uneven rock, but she was a woman who could successfully negotiate cobbles in a state of wild inebriation. Compared to that, this was child’s play. 

Her eyes were beginning to adjust to the new light. As she negotiated the terrain, she could just about make out the shape of the tunnel enclosing her. Roughly carved rock walls and ceiling. It was a harsh landscape. Every inch of tunnel seemed scarred and haggard. There were unnatural circles of some different material, metallic possibly, high up on the walls and in the ceiling. ‘A dull metal’ she thought, ‘not shiny and new, more sort of rusty’. It caught the light slightly as she moved beneath it and she saw something protruding from it. Something three-dimensional, but she couldn't make it out. The light was another obscurity. When she first got to her feet she had been sure there had been a source just around the corner. A street lamp perhaps, not strong but beckoning. But that corner had come and gone, as had many corners after it and still she had found no light, just the continual promise of it. Something drawing her onwards. Behind her was only darkness. ‘A mirage?’ she wondered. She shivered slightly. She was quite wet through from the puddle and there was nothing she could dry herself on. Not a tree. Not even moss. Just rock. ‘What was this place?’ 

“Several of the harsh scars into the rock were quite deep. Deep enough to dig her toes into…” 
- Own photo - 

Follow Her Feet had been the instruction. Was she supposed to dig beneath her? She tried experimentally digging a heel into the ground. Nothing. She couldn't even get a millimetre. It was just rock. Without some sort of power tool she had no hope. Besides, how much further down could she get? She had fallen so far already. Without consciously deciding to, she raised her voice, “Where am I?” she called out. It resonated through the walls but there was no echo, more a strange singing warmth. As the residue of her voice began to fade she finally began to feel her isolation, but she was not alone. From the deepest depths of the rock beneath her feet a low, rumbling voice replied…

“The Tunnel”.

Hannah felt the exhilaration pumping through her body, the vibrations from the earth coursing up her legs. “Where does the tunnel lead?” she called back.
“Nowhere and Everywhere” the voice growled back.
If there was a better answer in the world, she did not know it. Frustratingly short of actual details it may be but there was no denying the adventure now. “Who are you?” she called.
“That is not your concern.” For the first time the voice sounded stern but she did not flinch. “Then tell me why I am here” she countered.
“Because you chose to be so” 
“But what am I here for? Where am I to go?” 
“Follow. Your. Feet.”
“But where?!”


“Great…” she muttered. She looked around her again, her eyes had adjusted more to the gloom. She could now make out the strange circler things above her. They looked a bit like man-holes but the wrong way round. Man-holes from below street level. The objects protruding from them seemed to be handles and it gave her a sudden idea. Feeling the wall nearest her she found that several of the harsh scars into the rock were quite deep. Deep enough to fit her toes into. Hitching her tight office skirt up her thighs and digging her fingers into the cracks above her, she began to climb. After scaling about eight feet of rock she could reach one of them. It was extremely rusted, but there were at least hinges fashioned to one side of it. Balancing her feet in a deep groove and hanging onto the handle of a higher manhole she began to heave. It was hard work but eventually, after a lot of wiggling, yanking and swearing she felt it starting to shift. With an almighty creak it shuddered open. Through the shower of dust and rust and goodness knows what else, she peered through to see what secrets this man-hole held.

Exotic steam poured forth from what looked like a cave. Feeling the heat hit her damp body she grinned. This was brilliant. It was like a different world. It had to be! The rock walls seemed quite similar to the tunnel she was already in, but the temperature, the smells, the complete feel of this new place, it was inescapably different. She hurled an arm through and steadied herself. When she felt she had enough grip, she pounced with her legs and pulled with her arms clawing her way through. “This is not as easy as it looks in the movies. God I need to work out more.” With a final grunting yell she gave one final heave and she was through. 

She had been right, it was a cave. It had tunnels shooting off it, cut from rock like the tunnel she had come from, but it felt different somehow. This place felt occupied, there was a human presence here that there hadn’t been in the last tunnel. Maybe someone would finally explain what was going on. Maybe this was HQ. There was a glowing on the walls, she guessed from a fire, and the heat was so intense it burned. Steam poured from every fissure and she could hear rushing water nearby. Desperate for a drink, she followed the sound and found a tall waterfall, arching superbly over the rock face, bathed in the flickering light. 

“Wow” she breathed. “This definitely beats finishing that report”. She lowered her face to drink but stopped, terrified, inches above the water. She could hear running. Something was racing towards her, pounding, dangerous. Heavy footsteps growing nearer and nearer and there was nowhere to hide. Frozen by the pool, she tensed for the blow as a monstrous form hurled itself around the corner. It looked right at her and a yell that turned to flames gushed from it’s throat. Screaming in fear she cowered, but there was nothing she could do, the monster was running. It was nearly upon her. The fire streaming from it’s mouth would consume her in a second. It was coming, it was coming. Everything turned to red in front of her eyes. She was going to burn…

For Chapter Four - Where am I and what on earth is going on? - click here

© Isla Robertson 2017