Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten

  1. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part One
  2. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Two
  3. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Three
  4. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Four
  5. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Five
  6. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Six
  7. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Seven
  8. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eight
  9. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Nine
  10. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Ten
  11. Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale



Part Ten: The Horror Beneath The Veil


Both men tumbled into the void, sliding and rolling through the slimy tunnel of what felt like long, fibrous grass or moss of some kind. Jeffrey could see nothing when he landed at the bottom, pitch black surrounding them both. The floor was rocky but covered with a thick layer of the biomass. As he grasped at the walls for support, he noticed they too were blanketed. 

Jeffrey heard Alan stirring in the darkness near him and hurried over to find him. Feeling around for the gun, he found Alan’s flashlight instead. After clicking it on, he could see they were in a tunnel just tall enough for him to stand, with floor, walls, and ceiling coated in green and orange biomass. The passage extended beyond where they landed, winding deeper into the earth. The glint of the light on the gun barrel showed Jeffrey where to dig it out of the stringy mess on the floor. Alan had fully awoken and stared at Jeffrey with contempt. 

“What the fuck did you just do, kid?” 

“Doesn’t matter now, does it,” Jeffrey replied. “This is what you wanted, right?” 

“You smug piece of shit,” Alan growled, climbing to his feet but keeping his distance. 

“I guess we both-”

Jeffrey was cut off by a deep rumble that shook the rock around them, disturbing the biomass and stirring up that familiar, potent scent. The dizzying wave of toxins blurred his vision, and both men reached for the walls as their knees buckled. When he had recovered his balance, Jeffrey shook his head and cleared his vision to see that Alan was also rubbing his eyes. Keeping the gun aimed at Alan, Jeffrey shined the light down the passage and peered as far into the lengthy void as he could. 

A shriek suddenly echoed through the cave, as though coming from deeper within. Both men froze at the bloodcurdling cries emanating toward them. The shrill screams lasted only a few moments, and then ceased. Jeffrey took a step deeper into the tunnel, straining to peer through the darkness. 

“We’ve gotta help!” he suddenly exclaimed, surprising even himself. 

“W-what the hell are you talking about?” Alan grimaced with confusion. 

“Somebody’s down there, we have to help,” Jeffrey replied with an almost matter-of-fact attitude.

“Kid, there’s nobody there! It’s not real, it’s just trying to draw you in,” Alan explained.

“No, there’s somebody there, she needs our help,” Jeffrey’s eyes had dilated, and his voice was quivering with adrenaline. 

“Look, its fucking with you!” Alan became more agitated. “That’s not real, it’s just a-”

Alan was interrupted by another scream echoing from the darkness. This time, the shrieking sounded like a garbled cry for “help.” Jeffrey’s eyes quickly darted between Alan and the darkness. Waving the gun, Jeffrey motioned for Alan to proceed down the passageway. 

“You’re making a mistake, it’s not real,” Alan persisted as he slowly complied with Jeffrey’s zealous gestures. 

The two men started down the passageway, Jeffrey holding the light above his shoulder and keeping the gun aimed at Alan’s back. The tunnel wound back and forth, gradually descending farther into the earth. As they walked, the crying became louder and more clearly resembled words- those of a woman calling for help. The thick darkness seemed to oppress even the flashlight’s beam of brightness, and the cold, damp air filled their nostrils with that musty, increasingly fetid scent. 

Worming and winding, the cavern was filled with the shrieks, yet remained muffled by the mossy growth on that cold, ancient rock; but the wailing was no longer singular. Jeffrey now could make out what sounded like the whine of an infant. He prodded Alan along the passage even faster now, feverishly pursuing the haunting cries without ceasing. The tunnel felt as if it began to squeeze the men as they rushed along, constricting them in an ever-tightening embrace until, to Jeffrey’s surprise, the passage abruptly opened into large space. 

Waving the flashlight around, he could see that the room was tall, the ceiling looming at least twenty feet above, and the walls on either side made the space double that amount in width. The wall opposite the two newcomers was far enough away that it remained shrouded in darkness beyond the flashlight’s reach. Shrieks and cries filled the cavern, creating a horrific chamber of frightful and chaotic noise. 

“We shouldn’t be here, kid,” Alan warned with a grimace. 

“W-where is the-” Jeffrey stammered as he looked around for the source of the blood-curdling howls. 

It was when he took a step farther into the space that a new sound emanated from the darkness ahead and froze him in his tracks. The sound was no shriek or cry, but the movement of some lumbering behemoth hefting its weight around. Jeffrey strained to see into the blackness, forcing his feet to inch forward across the squelching cave floor. As if the dark void in front of him began to move, he could barely make out the silhouettes of massive, shifting parts. The beam of light slowly began to illuminate the entity festering in the shadowed depths of that eon-old chamber. Moving in all directions, expanding and contracting as part of it lurched between the walls of that opening in the rock, Jeffrey tried to fathom what oozed into the space before his very eyes. Nausea welled up from the pit of his stomach as he beheld that revolting, putrid abomination. His broken stream of thoughts flashed between bewilderment and his inner voice declaring that only the most debased and twisted of designers could have fabricated such a thing. 

Uncountable tendrils quivered and reached out from the various sections of whatever part of the body was visible in this section of the cavern, and gaps in the mucous-covered flesh revealed innards with functions and purposes no scientific inquiry could have explained. A heaviness accompanied all the eldritch thing’s movements as it shifted its mass around, slowly easing toward Alan and Jeffrey. The great fungal horror stirred and writhed about, filling the room with that potent, musty scent; vision blurred, and heads ached; heart beats sounded like thunder; the room seemed to peel away into expansive darkness in all directions, a bottomless pit of infinity leaving all feelings of gravity and anchorage behind. Jeffrey violently shook his head, trying to blot out the dread filling the very core of his being at the emptiness around him and the smallness of his own body.

Both men now recoiled in disgust, backing toward the mouth of chamber. Jeffrey surveyed the room with his flashlight once more, and, turning back toward the door, caught in his peripheral vision a slight movement above their escape. To their dismay, corpses in all states of decay suspended by long, fibrous tendrils were descending toward the door from the ceiling. Bodies of men and women and children hung as if on the gallows, and fungal coils served as nooses fused into the necks. As the corpses’ feet reached the floor the deteriorating bodies did not crumple or collapse, but instead stood crookedly, heads limply hanging to one side as the tendrils animated the bodies’ remaining muscular systems. Malformed shrieks and cries from decaying windpipes croaked from agape mouths. The bodies shuffled forward, arms reaching out with barely functioning hands and fingers to investigate the intrusion. 

Alan, noting Jeffrey’s preoccupation with this newfound horror, leapt and knocked the gun from his hand. The corpses immediately sensed the commotion and lurched toward the two men grappling on the ground. Jeffrey kicked Alan away and scrambled toward the exit. Alan, for his part, clambered after the gun while avoiding the grasp of a corpse nearby. Jeffrey pushed through the bodies as he launched himself back into the passageway, shutting off the flashlight just in time for Alan to turn toward him with the gun aimed through the horde. 

A shot rang out in the darkness, and Jeffrey heard a swarm of dragging feet behind him in the room as he crawled along passageway feeling the wall beside him. Then, a few more gunshots pierced the garbled cries, followed by Alan’s familiar voice shouting in terror and cursing Jeffrey with vitriol as the corpses engulfed him in the pitch black. Afraid to turn on the flashlight too early, Jeffrey continued to grope along the spongy floor as he made his way up the inclining tunnel filled for a few minutes by the echoes of Alan’s agonizing screams. 

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