Tagged: Jacob Calloway

Serial Saturday: The Cavern’s Memory by Jacob Calloway, Part Eleven – Finale

  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 Eleven: Dread Knows No Escape


After what felt like hours, Jeffrey finally mustered the courage to turn the flashlight back on once he could hear only the faint shrieks from below in that cursed chamber. Reaching the final ascent, he scrambled up out of the pit by bracing himself against those sickeningly slimy walls. It was only once he reached the hallway after sprinting along the rocky passage that he felt his stomach churning once again and vomited onto the floor, collapsing from exhaustion after a few moments. The man-made walls around him contrasted with the rocky tunnel just a few feet away, yet he felt no sense of relief- no sense of escape from the pit. The straight lines of the hallway and the pristine, neat door at the end appeared as a façade, masking the crushing weight of the universe’s savagery all around. The cheap veneer of control and order- human might and intelligence- was corroded all around him by knowing the brutal reality of was to come. All he could see were the fleeting, distracting pleasures given to a pig being fattened for slaughter, but he knew they would never taste sweet to him again- not after this night; not after seeing the rotted substance beneath a ravishing face. 

Jeffrey pushed the door open and stumbled into the main corridor, tracking ugly mildew and slime behind him. The early hours of the morning had brought the first employees in for the day, and he was soon whisked away by guards. His limp body slumped into a chair at the table in the holding room after a dazed walk through the building as he was escorted past bewildered workers looking from their laboratories. 

“Where’s Mr. Survant?” a security officer curtly asked. 

“W-who?” Jeffrey asked.

“Alan Survant, the other custodian on your shift,” the officer clarified.

“In the- in the cavern…” Jeffrey answered after a long pause, trailing off as the shrieks filled his memory again; he realized he’d never heard Alan’s last name until now. 

“You mean the bore hole behind door 4135 in corridor S-2 where we found you?” 

“I-I guess that’s it. The hole at the end of the tunnel… that’s where we were.” Jeffrey rolled the guard’s words around in his head, reflecting on the pit’s man-made nature that had not occurred to him. The story about the abandoned mining operation returned to his mind now. 

“Why were you back there? And how did you get access?”

“I don’t know- I woke up there. Alan had brought me there I think,” Jeffrey recalled. 

“Are you saying he assaulted you?” 

“He had a gun… he said I had to go into the pit,” Jeffrey’s recollection blurred as he tried to recount the night. “We were down there- we saw all of it.” 

“You saw the tunnel, you mean?” 

“Well, it was the- the…” he struggled to find the words. “It was moving, there were bodies.” 

“Sit tight for me, I’ll be back in a minute,” the officer abruptly announced as he exited the holding room, leaving Jeffrey alone to process the images in his mind- the images which could hardly be distinguished from those in his dreams over the past months. 

“Jeffrey, right? My name is Dr. Rechian.” A woman quickly entered the room and sat across from him, setting her notepad on the table and preparing to write. “You say saw something after you entered the-”

“I fell into it,” Jeffrey corrected, feeling as though he needed to communicate that he would have never entered of his own volition. 

“Right, you say that you saw something. Movement or bodies of some sort?” 

“Like I told the guard, ma’am, I saw the- the thing down there. It-I-it was, at least I thought- yes it was moving. It was there,” Jeffrey stumbled over his words, noticing the increasing difficulty he had in remembering the horrific entity in the cavern. 

“And these bodies- How many were there?”

“They were people… they were bodies of people,” he explained. “You know all of this, right? You know about what’s in the pit, or the bore hole, right?”

“Just answer the question, please,” Dr. Rechian instructed. “How many bodies? 

“At least ten or eleven, I would say… I-I can’t remember, it was hard to tell when they were around us.” 

“Around you? What do you mean?” she sharply asked, clearly taken aback by his answer.

“Well- they moved- they walked… or moved somehow… they came right toward us. I left, I left and I had to push through, I…” 

“And this creature, where did you see it? Was it with the bodies?” Dr. Rechian continued after visibly processing his answer in her own mind for a moment. 

“They were all in the same place. The thing… I don’t understand how it was… I can’t see why it would be like that… it filled all the room in front of us.” 

“Okay, take a minute to breath,” she advised, seeing the terror of recalled memories creep across his face and fill his eyes as he spoke. “Can you tell me what it looked like? What do you remember?” 

“I-I don’t know… I don’t know. It was so much- there were so many- I don’t know why it was like that,” he continued to repeat, sinking in his chair as the crushing recognition of helplessness once again closed in around him. 

“Okay, Mr. Wright, thank you for your time.” Dr. Rechian stood from her chair and began to leave the room. “Wait here and a paramedic will be in shortly to check you out.” 

“Wait, please, I-I don’t know what to do!” Jeffrey had become visibly frightened, gripping the table with white knuckles. “Please, tell me what-I just want to know what- I need…” he trailed off in defeat.

“Mr. Wright, I don’t have answers for you. I’m sorry,” she had turned back toward him, softening her stance.

“Please, I don’t know how… I don’t know why it’s like this,” he strained for words to describe the dread inside of him.

“Look, I wish I could help you,” she said as she attempted reassurance, calculating how she should manage his pleas.

“Those bodies… why did they- why did they move?” Jeffrey again contemplated. “Those bodies-”

“Those bodies have been there for decades, Mr. Wright,” Dr. Rechian cut him off with a sigh, apparently resigned to the fact that giving him information would do little damage at this point. “Those corpses have been motionless in that cavern since before this facility was constructed to study them. They’ve somehow been preserved among the growth along the cavern’s walls since a mining operation sealed off the opening after the miners refused to keep working. The fact of the matter is that we don’t understand any more than you do, which is why you’re in here and not in the back of a patrol car right now.” 

“Then… because they’re moving now, are you going to do something? What do you plan to do with them?” 

“As of this morning, they’ve all disappeared- and we didn’t find Alan Survant’s body down there either,” she replied with an informative coldness, though her voice betrayed the unsettled and disturbed fear that had fallen over the entire facility. “A new branch of the cavern system seems to have opened, though. We’ll start our search there once we’ve secured the area we know about already. This thing can’t hide forever.” 

“Hide?” Jeffrey asked in bewilderment, recognizing the assumption that it was hiding to be entirely absurd. “You can’t stop it,” he muttered, the eon-old and foreboding revelations in the book and on the blade swimming through his thoughts. 

“We’ll do what we need to do,” Dr. Rechian insisted with a renewed confidence. “We’ll find it.” 

“You can’t stop it…”  

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. 

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

  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 Nine: The Vanity of Mankind


The strands of colorful biomass lightly clung to Jeffrey’s face as he lifted his head from the rocky floor. His vision gradually focused enough for him to realize he was in the cave where Alan had caught him. A dim lantern cast orange rays on the cold stone, and the pit beside him seemed to swallow the light into a bottomless void. He could hear Alan shuffling about behind him, but Jeffrey was too late to feign unconsciousness before Alan realized he’d awoken. 

“Ah, how do you feel, son?” Alan rolled Jeffrey over onto his back with the heel of his boot. 

“W-What the hell is this?” Jeffrey asked, still suffering the fog of two strikes to the head. 

“You know, I’m not sure if I’m getting careless, or if it’s just your sheer fucking tenacity, but I haven’t had to do this before.” Alan leaned against the cave wall in exasperation, looking down at Jeffrey. “Most people leave well enough alone.” 

“What is this place? Why-” Jeffrey was cut off by Alan’s interjection.

“See, kid, any questions you have are honestly pointless. You know why you’re here.” 

“Let me leave, and we can forget about all of this.” Jeffrey became agitated now as he regained his mental clarity. 

“What did you expect would happen, eh? Did you think you were going to sleuth out the case? Figure out what I was up to?” Alan paced the room now, muttering as much to himself as he was to Jeffrey. “Did you really think I didn’t notice what you were doing?” 

“What do you want?” Jeffrey pleaded with a grimace.

“Nothing you can give me, I’m afraid. You see, as much as you think you’ve learned, you’re still just as blind as you were to begin with.” Alan stopped and made eye contact with Jeffrey from across the pit. “Did you expect some book to open up the secrets of the universe?” Alan sarcastically mocked. 

“I found the knife, too,” Jeffrey defiantly rebutted. 

“Oh, I know you did.” 

“And it’s already being translated. They’ll be here soon.” 

“There’s probably nobody on their way. People don’t see because they choose not to.” Alan began pacing again. “And I don’t blame them. This isn’t what life should be,” Alan declared, gesturing to himself and Jeffrey. “Better to die ignorant than live with a scenic view of ten thousand terrors beyond your wildest imagination.” 

“Once they’ve translated the knife, they’ll know what’s going on,” Jeffrey vainly protested. 

“They might. But they won’t translate that knife any time soon.” Alan pulled the ancient blade from his jacket, caked with dried blood. “It’s a shame you had to drag others into this mess. Did you really think I would let those idiots fumble around with something like this?”

“What did you do?” Jeffrey cried in horror. 

“I retrieved what you stole. Action, consequence. That’s just about the only thing in this world that stays true no matter how much you know about this god-forsaken place.” 

“I-I can’t-” Jeffrey stammered in disbelief. 

“It’s funny, really. What’s written on this knife makes the book a bit… misleading,” Alan explained as he turned the knife over in his hands. “See, the fellah who wrote that text so long ago thought we could appease somebody- that we could survive if only we had the right help from ‘above’ or something. Complete nonsense!” 

“Then what is this?” Jeffrey asked again, despair creeping into his voice.

“The knife tells a more accurate tale,” Alan continued. “Mankind is so self-absorbed we can’t imagine a world without us at the very center of it. What a strange story we’ve concocted. This planet, Jeffrey- it’s not our home.” Alan stood beside the dark void and looked down. “It’s theirs.” 

“What are they, then?” Jeffrey pressed. 

“No idea!” Alan answered with a whimsical tone. “How’s a person even supposed to comprehend something like this? Kid, we weren’t made to know what these things are. These words, here,” he said as he pointed to the knife, “they tell the first part of the story. Whatever these things are, they’ve been here since the beginning- at least since the early days of this planet. This place was built for them, not us. We spend ten thousand years here and think this place belongs to us? Ha!” Alan scoffed. “We don’t belong here. We were placed here, son. Those ‘great ones’ you read about in the book- they put us here, and they aren’t merciful or kind. They’re cunning, cruel masters, and we’re just fucking rats to them.” 

“Then why did you kill that woman in the cave? The one I found a few months ago?” 

“Pal, I didn’t kill her. The people that killed her have a copy of the book and think they’ve figured the whole thing out,” Alan explained with a sneer. “They don’t understand there’s no stopping this. We can’t appease anybody- we were put here for one reason.” 

“And what’s that,” Jeffrey asked, slightly shifting away from the pit.

“This planet isn’t some paradise of biological flourishing, Jeffrey. It’s a feeding ground. They put us here to die,” Alan sighed as he shuffled back around the pit and knelt next to Jeffrey. “It’s not our home, it’s our grave.” 

“H-how do we stop it?” Jeffrey asked, still straining to rationalize a solution of some kind. “Why are we still here if…” 

“Don’t know, kid!” Alan interjected again. “You can’t figure this one out. There’s no mysterious formula. They’ll wake up when they wake up, and that’ll be it. They’re already stirring- have been for the past couple decades. Who knows how long we have? If I’m being honest, my theory is that they’re being held off until humanity is… juicy enough,” he said with a sly grin. “From what I can tell, we’re in some gladiator match to see which species fills up the planet fastest. Almost eight billion and counting, that’s pretty impressive. I think these things weren’t supposed to wake up the first time. Humans were too few back then. Whatever these ‘great ones’ are must have had to come and put the brakes on the feeding frenzy until dinner was ready, if you know what I mean,” he concluded with a chuckle. 

“Then why are you doing this? If it doesn’t matter what we do, why are you trying to hide it?” 

“Can you imagine what people would do? Mass panic. It would be chaos. It’s all I can do keep idiots like you from blundering into this. The government hasn’t figured it out yet,” motioning down the passage to the rest of the facility. They know it’s something bad, so they keep it a secret for now. Fortunately, they don’t understand yet that all their efforts are ultimately in vain. They can’t stop what’s coming.” 

“I swear I won’t tell anybody- I understand now,” Jeffrey pleaded, feeling he needed to negotiate his way out of this situation. “I promise I won’t-”

“Look, kid, I have no idea whether you’ll keep your mouth shut. This is me sealing the deal,” Alan motioned to the pit. “Now, go ahead and climb in.” 

“W-what? You can’t be serious,” Jeffrey exclaimed.

“Oh, just get down there already,” Alan waved a gun he had pulled from his jacket. 

“Okay! Okay!” Jeffrey held his hands up in surrender, edging closer to the pit. “Please, you don’t have to do this!” Sweat broke out across his forehead, and his arms shook as he looked into the darkness. 

“Go on now, no need to drag this out. You won’t even know what’s happening once it starts, I promise,” Alan described in an almost reassuring voice. 

Jeffrey looked over the edge, his hands pressing into the soft biomass underneath him. The darkness seemed to reach out of the pit and embrace him, unknown terrors awaiting him at the bottom. The daze of his confusion over the past weeks cleared away, and his will to survive mounted. Images from his dreams danced in the darkness below him, taking on a thousand shapes in his imagination. Hearing Alan fiddle with the gun behind him snapped Jeffrey into action- with a sweeping turn he latched onto Alan’s leg as he dropped into the pit. 

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

  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 Eight: The Text of Terror


Having arrived home from the tavern on a night off work, Jeffrey collapsed into bed and fell asleep, drifting into his now-typical nightmares haunted by the ever-nearing shadow in his peripheral vision. To his relief, however, he was soon interrupted by Clara climbing into bed next to him. Contrary to what he expected, she reached over to him with a warm touch and pulled herself next to him. Surprised by her affection, Jeffrey turned toward her and returned the gesture by pulling her into his arms. The passion of her intimacy that followed further bewildered him, but almost immediately confusion gave way to desire, and the frightening forms of reality melted away. Jeffrey’s sleep for the rest of the night featured few of the terrorizing dreams, and he slept clinging to Clara’s hand as an anchor. 

As sunlight entered the room the next morning, Jeffrey lifted his head from the pillow and looked around the room. She lay next to him, buried in the blankets with her arm still extended toward him and clasping his hand. Sitting up in bed, he heard the apartment door open and close as somebody entered. The crushing anxiety of the past few months immediately rushed back into his thoughts, with images of a shadowy figure gliding through the apartment toward the door. Fright quickly turned to confusion in a matter of seconds when he recognized the figure who appeared at the bedroom door was Clara. 

“Who the fuck is that?” Clara cried out in complete shock.

“I….” Jeffrey could hardly form words in his state of equal astonishment. 

“What are you doing?” she exclaimed. 

“I thought… where-” Jeffrey gave up on his disoriented response as Lila sat up in bed beside him. She looked with confusion at Clara and then at Jeffrey as she pulled the blankets around her.

“We’re done, you piece of shit,” were Clara’s final words to him before she stormed out of the apartment. 

“Who was that?” Lila asked after Clara had slammed the door behind her. 

“That- that’s Clara… I thought that…” Jeffrey still struggled to piece together what was happening. 

“Shit, you aren’t married or something, are you?” Lila said with a hint of suspicion. 

“No, she’s my girlfriend. Or…” he corrected himself, “she was.” 

“Why the hell would you call me if you lived with your girlfriend?” Lila scolded with a casual attitude as she slid out of bed and began to dress herself. 

“I called you?” Jeffrey asked, entirely bereft of any explanation. 

“Yeah, you called me like an hour after I left,” she explained, grabbing her purse and phone from the nightstand. “You picked me up and we came back here. Were you really that out of it?”

“I didn’t drink at all last night,” he replied, probing his memory for any trace of what Lila was describing. 

“Well, then I guess you’ve got a strange sense of humor, because this definitely wasn’t funny to her,” Lila said with a slight smirk.

“I- I just don’t remember what happened.”

“Okay, buddy. You’ve got my number.” Lila had put on her shoes and begun to leave the bedroom. “Maybe figure this out before you call me again,” she advised as she waved her hand in a circular motion.

Jeffrey sat in silence for a bit after Lila had departed, trying to understand how he had lost so much memory of the previous night. Though he knew his hallucinations must be worsening, he was loathe to acknowledge that his perception was deteriorating more precipitously every day. After pulling himself from the stupor of confusion, he made his way into the kitchen and pulled the manuscript from his backpack. Finding his spot once again, he continued to probe the ancient words. 

Their many slender branches of bright and beautiful color crept across the ground, winding through the doors of our very homes and embracing us in our sleep. Life could not return to those wrapped in them, and their flesh soon disappeared from their bones. The insatiable behemoths drank of our flesh from afar with their ever-growing reach.

The text continued for many pages in which the ancient author recorded the names of those having perished, describing each household and how it came to its end. Every account began the same way: a member of the family began acting strangely, worsening to the point of madness. The madness would consume the home, finally driving husbands and wives and brothers and sisters to a crescendo of violence in which most or all members lie dead or maimed. Even before the rest of the community found them, the colorful tendrils had infested the home and engulfed the bodies.

Beasts we found, too, were overcome by the ravenous feasting arms which traveled far from their bodies, and no tool could break their almighty grasp. The madness spread among the people, driving us to ever greater bloodshed as the land became a cistern of unfathomable sights in which we were drowning. 

So few of us were left when the great ones arrived, and our souls were broken. Oh, how gracious are they that restored the veil to our eyes. Violent bolts of light struck the earth from dark clouds above, setting fires even among the rocks. Incomprehensible speech like thunder filled the earth from above, plunging our ears into numbness. The terrors beneath the rock returned to their depths and their branches of death soon withdrew. When the dark clouds had cleared, the stars returned once more to the peaceful lights we knew them once to be, and as they remain to this day. 

The veil now covers our eyes once more, and this frightful world is hidden from us again. Most now can remember the terrors only as a dream. Some even venture to claim it never was. But upon these pages I save the memory of those times for a future generation should our appeasement of the great ones cease. Yet shall these pages remain hidden from the many until then, for knowledge of this terrible truth is a burden too heavy for the soul to carry. A person cannot think rightly knowing these things. I write this now as even I forget. We must forget. We must forget.

Jeffrey sat back in his chair, gaze fixed upon the final words in the manuscript before him. The crushing weight described by the author fell upon him with a finality he had yet to experience. He felt he knew now what was in store for him; his hands trembled at the prospect that his fundamental picture of the world was but a veil. His resolve became all the more potent as his curiosity mounted into an obsessive, consuming desire: he wanted to see behind the veil

As evening approached, Jeffrey packed his things for work, stuffing the manuscript into his backpack. The building in the gorge had already fallen under the mountains’ twilight shadows. The break room was empty when he arrived, and it looked as though Alan hadn’t arrived either. Finding it a little strange, he asked the departing crew if they’d seen Alan at all yet. He was surprised to hear Alan had called out sick, as this would be the first time Jeffrey had ever noticed him take a day off. 

Alan’s absence didn’t linger long in Jeffrey’s thoughts as he grabbed a cart and began his cleaning route. Slowly progressing from one room to the next, his mind raced back and forth between obsession and fright. Down long corridors and through dimly lit labs he muttered to himself, recalling the haunting words in the final pages of the text. A suffocating anxiety broke over him in periodic waves between bouts of manic curiosity. Jeffrey wound himself up into a frenzy trying to imagine what lay behind the veil. The shadow that had stalked his dreams for months seemed to follow him down the halls as he cleaned. Each time he could feel the shiver run through his body he would spin around to try and catch a glimpse of what he knew was there but still evaded his searching eyes. 

Corner after corner he wheeled the cart, entirely losing track of time as he went about his routine. His hands shook and his eyes darted about. The sound of shuffling footsteps suddenly drew his paranoid attention, but he was too late to avoid the dizzying blow to the side of his head. Jeffrey’s knees buckled beneath him, and he braced himself on the wall with one arm to keep from falling, only to have a second strike to his head send him reeling onto the floor. The room shrank into darkness as he saw through blurred vision that Alan was standing over him.

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

  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 Seven: Grasping at the Veil


Praise be to those above. Praise be to those above who have lashed and tethered the great ones beneath the rock. Mighty are their works and vast is their reach across the stars. When we awoke in the beginning, we knew not their presence or their ways. Our foolishness soon was brought to light. They rescued us from the terrors of the deep. Our ways have been set by the great ones, and we will call on them forever as the deliverers of our survival. May they see the works of our hands and smell the aroma of our sacrifices.  

Jeffrey pulled his eyes away from the page for a moment, reflecting for a moment on the text’s strangeness. The following pages detailed the sacrifices and practices these early people desperately clung to in hopes of securing their existence. Human sacrifices, spilling of blood into holes in the earth, and song and dance to “appease” the great ones in the stars. He came then to the recounting of the event which spurred this praise and specter of worship. 

Under our feet the earth moved, shaking and churning as the behemoths turned about in their uneasy slumber. Their long sleep came to an end, awoken by the great stones falling from the sky. The smell of fire in the air came from the stones, too hot to draw near. The trees and the fields withered, death overtaking both the plants and the beasts. A season passed, death and decay consuming the very land around us. Then opened the great voids in the land, rock splitting and revealing the dark caverns far below our feet. From the time we awoke in the gardens of the land we had not known of those beneath the earth. The great cosmos had awakened the sleeping ones in the deep.

The aroma of the watery depths poured forth from gashes in the rock, and we freely breathed the poison that would become stifle us. Before our very eyes we saw the frightful world around us. The veil was pulled away and we could see the stars now as steppingstones for the great ones. Madness ignited among the people. Our very souls were broken upon the rocks, and the frenzy spilt blood into the caverns. The terrors below now moved toward our world above, heaving their great mass to the openings in the ground. And we could then see those too abominable to fathom.

Jeffrey had dozed off as he read, desperately tired from his many sleepless days. His dreams were of the usual ilk, full of frightening images and the growing shadow behind him, lurking just out of sight. It was only when a hand nudged his shoulder that he pulled his head from the table and started up in surprise. The manuscript still lay before him, but across the table sat a girl about his age looking inquisitively at his odd demeanor.

“You okay, buddy?” she asked with a sly grin on her face. 

“Uh- yeah,” Jeffrey stammered as he collected the papers in front of him to avoid the curious eyes of his new table mate. 

“I thought you might want a heads up before you started drawing too much attention. You were making a racket,” she continued with a smile.

“Sorry about that, guess I fell asleep.” 

They batted around small talk for a bit. Jeffrey had nearly forgotten the manuscript and the cave and Alan for a few minutes while he spoke with Lila- having learned her name after an awkward pause. His hands rested ever on the papers, however, as an odd sense of possessive compulsion had attached him to the manuscript. 

“So, what’ve you got there?” Lila pointed at the pile of papers under his hands. 

“Oh, uh- just an old text I had one of the professors translate for me,” Jeffrey replied, trying to hide his blatant reluctance to discuss it. 

“An old text, about what? How old?” Lila sat forward, clearly intrigued. 

“Well, about as old as they can be, I think,” Jeffrey freely disclosed, surprising himself with his own willingness to share. 

“Woah! Maybe there’s some fame waiting for you,” she joked.

“Not so sure about that, but who knows.” 

“So, what’s it about?” Lila returned to her line of questions. 

“Earth, I guess? I haven’t made it far yet.” 

“Big thoughts floating around here, eh?” she teased.

“Maybe… I think maybe-” his thoughts trailed off with his sentence.

“Go on, pal.” 

“I think there’s more to this planet than we’re aware of…” Jeffrey answered in a moment of clarity that shocked even himself. 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lila could tell his demeanor had shifted, and his sudden realization had piqued her interest.

“I’m not entirely sure, to be honest with you. I just think that- I just feel like what we see around us isn’t quite all that there is.” Jeffrey struggled to find the words as his thoughts were finally piecing together the past few months’ puzzle. 

“Well, of course,” Lila retorted with confidence that took him aback. “I know there’s more to this world than what we can see.” 

“How so?” 

“I mean, the spiritual can’t be seen,” Lila explained as she sat back in her seat. “Anybody who denies the spiritual is just living with a blindfold on, right?” 

“I don’t think it’s spiritual,” Jeffrey replied. “I think it’s hiding all around us. I think it’s something we aren’t ready to see.” 

“You know, it’s times like these that I realize how disconnected we are from the spiritual realities around us,” Lila continued in her own thought. “You’re so certain it has to be right here in this world. Being in the middle of all these people…” Lila leaned in toward Jeffrey after gesturing around the room, “it really makes me think about how many people are out there seeking fulfillment.” Her words were slow and deliberate. “When I look at the world, I sometimes feel as though my own efforts are fruitless to awaken even myself, much less others, to the fact that there is so much more to life than the material.” 

“I think there’s plenty in the material world we still need to see before we should worry about the spiritual, to be quite honest,” Jeffrey responded with skepticism as his vision now began to grasp his true position in the universe. 

“But that spiritual fulfillment- it won’t come from you finding something in this world. That happiness will come from the spiritual world,” Lila fired back, pushing away his skepticism. “What really matters is how you feel each day. That’s what creates your reality.” 

“Sounds like a placebo if you ask me,” he argued. “Glossing over reality to jump into some spiritual world without even trying to understand the ground under our feet?” 

“That’s the thing, though… isn’t all of life just a placebo effect?” Lila rhetorically asked. “Everything we work for- the comforts, the things, the stuff, the labels- it’s all just a placebo to make us think we’re happy.” 

“I’m not so sure I know what reality is supposed to seem like anymore…” Jeffrey had now come to the point where his confusion drifted into dread. He no longer was unsure- he was certain that what he thought he knew was far from reality laid bare. 

“Reality doesn’t have to be anything,” Lila reassured him. “It can be whatever you make it. The simple truth is that our experience is what makes our reality.” 

“Then reality isn’t real? I think there’s probably only one reality, Lila,” Jeffrey answered his own question. “I just don’t think we can see it. And I don’t think our blindness is an accident.”

“Sounds like a conspiracy, then?” Lila teased him with a sly grin. “Who’s blinding us? Who’s got the bag over our head?”

“I don’t….” Jeffrey paused for a moment, contemplating for the first time the question she posed jokingly. “I think we’ve evolved not to see it.” In a moment of what felt like revelation, he looked across the table at Lila with a nearly dumbfounded expression. 

“Like, natural selection or something?” 

“We know life adapts to its environment, with species altering the very characteristics of their physical forms to survive…” Jeffrey pondered and searched for his words. “If we can change our anatomy to survive, couldn’t our perceptions also evolve to help us survive?” 

“Welcome to freshman psychology,” Lila retorted with mocking tone. “We’ve been doing that for millennia.” 

“But what if our brains have evolved to hide something from us… to keep us from knowing something that would otherwise jeopardize our survival.” 

“You mean keep us from being literally scared to death?” Lila’s tone sobered slightly as she tried to help coax Jeffrey to coherently share his thoughts. 

“If there was a truth so terrifying that it would drive you to madness, would you still want to learn the truth?” Jeffrey looked down at the text on the table in front of him suddenly feeling lightheaded, then back at Lila not expecting her to answer as she did.

“Nope. I’m happy. Why give that up for a bit of truth?” The smiled had reappeared on her face. “If you ever want to chat about more existential crises, give me a call,” she said with a wink, writing her phone number down in the upper margin of the translated text. “Time to study.” 

With that, Lila stood from the table and departed the tavern with a wave. Jeffrey sat for a moment without taking his eyes off the door, his hands still resting on the manuscript. After trying to begin reading again, he gave up when the dizziness returned, and his strained eyes blurred the words on the page. Stuffing the manuscript into his backpack, he left the tavern and made the perilous drive home with head spinning and thoughts swirling in a disillusioned fog. 

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

  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 Six: A Dagger Sharpened Over Eons


One night, as the early frigidness of winter rolled in, Jeffrey lounged in the breakroom waiting for Alan to make his common appearance shortly before the end of their shift. His gaze meandered around the room as he could no longer fall asleep at work. Whether he deemed it good fortune or unlucky happenstance, he caught sight of a strangely textured object poking out of Alan’s coat pocket. Without even a second thought, he hurried across the room and pulled what he discovered was a blade from the pocket. Delaying inspection until later, he stowed it into his backpack and decided to leave a few minutes early to avoid an interrogation from Alan. 

Brushing past Clara as he entered the apartment, he set his backpack down and began to take off his coat in the kitchen. He had left the backpack near the door, and as Clara watched him shuffle around in the kitchen without speaking a word, she edged nearer to the bag. A suspicion and doubt had been growing in her heart for weeks; she knew he had changed but couldn’t understand why. Having tried all she could think of to bring him back, she decided there was little left to lose.

“How was your night?” she asked, the tone of uneasiness obvious in her voice. 

“Fine. You sleep well?” Jeffrey responded without making eye contact. 

“I guess so,” Clara muttered back as she gathered up the courage to test him. “Might be time to wash this backpack. I’ll do that for you,” she grabbed the bag from the floor and began unzip it.

“Put the fucking backpack down!” Jeffrey fired off in a burst of rage that surprised even himself. He had rushed over to her and yanked it from her hands, shoving her away in the process like an overly protective animal guarding its hard-earned meal. 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Clara sputtered, shocked by his explosive reaction. 

“I-I… I don’t want you to touch the bag,” Jeffrey stammered, trailing off into a strange fog after so quickly descending from the furious peak. 

“I don’t know why you’re being like this, but you’ve got to come back to reality,” Clara pleaded as her eyes filled with tears of heartbreak and fear. “I can’t argue with you anymore. When I get home from work, I want a decision.”

“W-what do you mean?” he asked, entirely oblivious to the implication. His bloodshot eyes and mouth agape amply displayed the unwinding fibers of his reasoning. 

“Decide whether you want to snap out of whatever god-forsaken crisis you’re going though. I can’t keep this up,” she concluded as she grabbed her keys and stormed out. 

Jeffrey stood motionless for a few moments processing what had occurred, but soon returned his attention to the backpack without dwelling long on Clara’s ultimatum. Sitting down at the table, he reached into his bag and pulled from it the blade for closer inspection. The dagger was about ten inches long, and it appeared to be a single carved piece of stone that made up both the blade and handle. On the blade were symbols matching those in the book. The stone was rough, yet its edges seemed sharp enough to pierce the skin. He could tell it was old and had seen much use; the etched lettering was caked with dried blood, but at this point it didn’t disturb him nearly as much as he expected it to. Jeffrey turned the unhallowed object over in his hands, dragging his fingers across the handle and sharpened blade. Its weight felt almost absurdly heavy for its size, and he couldn’t tell what kind of rock had been used in its crafting.

After he’d had his fill of inspecting the dagger, he decided to bring it before the professor, which would also give him the opportunity to inquire about progress on the book’s translation. Arriving on campus, Jeffrey pushed through the crowds of students in the halls, seeing nothing more than faceless bodies brushed aside in his wake. His deteriorating mind had become singularly focused, unable to grasp more than one aim at a time; the professor’s office was near, and not even an effort for politeness could be spared from Jeffrey’s sleep-starved state. He appeared to the students as a haggard and gaunt reflection of a man gliding down the hall without even so much as brief eye contact with any in his path. They would have been shocked to learn he was only a few years older than themselves. 

“Come in!” the professor called after Jeffrey’s knock on the door. 

“Professor, I have something else to show you,” Jeffrey blurted as soon as he had closed the door, entirely doing away with small talk. “Look at what I’ve found,” he stammered as he held the dagger out with a jittery grasp. 

“Woah there, hold on a second,” the professor warned as he recoiled a bit from Jeffrey’s volatile approach. “Slow down, kid.” 

“Sorry to show up without calling first, I just thought you should see this as soon as I found it,” he explained as he sat down on the other side of the desk. He gently placed the dagger before the professor and pulled his hands away as if he had handled some sort of sacred object deserving reverence.

“Fascinating,” the professor mumbled after he had retrieved the dagger with a shifty glance toward Jeffrey. “Where did you find this?”

“I was out on one of the trails past route 23, pretty far down the gorge when I saw it in the brush.” Jeffrey was surprised how effortlessly the lie had slid from his mouth, unsure of when he had fabricated it.

“Lucky find,” the professor acknowledged as he inspected the blade and its markings. “These definitely match the book you brought me- which, by the way, I’ve got here.” He pulled the book from one of his desk drawers, as well as a typed manuscript.

“Is that the translation, then?” Jeffrey gestured at the manuscript. 

“Indeed, it is,” answered the professor. “The book is mostly translated, all except for the last couple of pages, it seems. The reason is a bit of a tragedy, I’m afraid. My colleague translating the piece died quite suddenly of a stroke. A real shame, she wasn’t much older than me. One of her teaching assistants sent it back to me while going through her materials.” 

“Sorry to hear that,” Jeffrey curtly expressed his condolence. “Have you read any of it yet?” 

“I have,” he replied with a sense of reservation. “This is dark material. It’s hard to determine how old it actually is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been used in occult activity over its lifetime. Read at your own discretion.” The professor handed the manuscript to Jeffrey across the desk, eying him for his reaction. 

“And the dagger? What about that?” Jeffrey pressed, after flipping through the first few pages. 

“I suspect it’s connected in some way, as the script aligns with the title of the book. I can keep it here and we’ll look into it a bit more, if you don’t mind,” he said as he turned it over in his hands again. 

“Uh- sure,” Jeffrey replied uneasily. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt an anxiety sweep over him at the thought of parting ways with the dagger. “Just keep it safe, I guess,” was his final plea before he dismissed himself from the office. 

Jeffrey tried to shake off a strange feeling as he exited the building, still unsure of his own attachment to the knife. The cold breeze blew through his hair as he tugged his coat tighter around his body. It was now early afternoon, and his exhaustion had extended beyond the desire for sleep. His jittery fretting made the thought of sitting alone in an apartment rather unappealing. Across the lawn on the edge of campus he could see a tavern on the other side of the street with students milling about. The warm, bustling pub offered a sort of relief from the icy loneliness of recent months. After shuffling over to table in a dim corner, he sat with his back to the wall and spent time simply gazing at the energetic space in front of him. With a coffee in his hand and heat radiating from a nearby fireplace, he pulled the translated manuscript from his coat and placed it on the table. Turning back the cover, his eyes fell upon the title now more accurately translated on the first page: Beneath the rock, uneasily it sleeps. The next page began the narrative.


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

  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 Five: The Mine’s Mystery


Jeffrey hurried back up the rocky path he had descended after finding the open door, preparing his response for the inevitable line of questioning. As he approached the brightly lit hallway, he could see Alan’s hobbling figure stop when he noticed Jeffrey emerge from the darkness.

“What the fuck are you doing back there?” Alan growled as Jeffrey came closer. 

“The door was open! I was checking to make sure nobody was back here before I closed it up,” he responded as casually as he could, attempting to ignore the Alan’s irritation. 

“Does that badge give you access back here, huh?” Alan sarcastically gestured at Jeffrey’s badge. “You been told you can go behind these doors?” 

“No, but I-” Jeffrey stammered. 

“Right, of course you haven’t!” Alan had stepped close to Jeffrey, waving a scolding finger. “You don’t go behind these doors unless I drag your ass back here to beat the living shit out of you!” 

“Okay, damn,” Jeffrey mumbled as he stepped back, shocked by the rage that seemed to consume Alan over such a minor issue.

“Don’t you ever step foot back here again!” Alan’s final warning came as he pushed past Jeffrey toward the dark, cavernous path. “And get the hell out of here!” 

With that, Jeffrey slowly began his exit, lingering only a moment to watch Alan disappear into the darkness at the end of the corridor. The break room brought a familiar dimly lit aesthetic, cluttered and quiet as usual. Jeffrey uneasily sank into his chair as he tried to process what had occurred. The odor he noticed near the pit clung to his clothes, and his nostrils seemed unable to pick up any other smell but that one. With an unexpected flare of panic, Jeffrey hurried into the bathroom and ran his face and head under cold water in the sink. Using his hands, he fruitlessly tried to wash the scent from his face and hair. In the mirror he watched his bloodshot eyes stare back at him, his pupils noticeably dilated and his mouth hanging open in a trance-like stupor. After shaking himself out of his own gaze, Jeffrey returned the break room still intoxicated with the odor but managing to hold himself together until the end of his shift. 

A hot shower brought a small amount of escape from the night’s worries when Jeffrey returned home that morning. The water seemed to moderately dilute, or at least mask, the scent. He decided to throw out his clothes entirely instead of risk permanently infecting his apartment with the pervasive odor. His fitful sleep was punctuated with the frightful visions that had become common by now, and Clara’s return in the afternoon brought little relief. She noted his exhaustion with concern, but his irritation at her inquiry repelled any sympathy she might have mustered after weeks of incrementally increasing friction between the two. 

Clara had repeatedly probed to try to understand why Jeffrey had become so distant, having begun to believe something else was going on unrelated to the discovery of the body in the cave. He regularly lost his temper, cutting deep with his biting retorts. More conversations ended in heated argument, and he soon noticed Clara reciprocating the cold demeanor he exuded from his very pores. Persistently he lay awake for hours as his imagination spun together fractured images of the abhorrent fiends in his dreams. Clara’s presence next to him on weekend nights brought no comfort anymore, for in the dark the silhouette of her body in bed simply became fodder for his brain to conjure up horrifying images of otherworldly terrors lurking in his room. 

He felt the musty odor from the cavern continued to linger in his nostrils, though he was certain it had to have long dispersed. As sleep evaded him day after day, he began with just a brief internet search on the land surrounding the facility. It occurred to him how little he knew about the history of the area and purpose of the facility where he worked. Only snippets of archived news articles and old photographs revealed a largely uneventful couple of centuries. From the time of its founding around 110 years prior, little of note had occurred. A slowly growing population had led the area through the typical patterns of development. Jeffrey discovered the town had been founded after a mining operation took root in the hills nearby, unsurprisingly. 

What did surprise him, however, was that the mining operation shut down after only nine years. A local historian’s blog mentioned the strange story in passing. The mine’s almost decade of operation produced a fruitful stream of income for the locals, and the population sprang up quickly as people were attracted to the local lakes. The mining operation had only a paragraph’s worth of information, though, and Jeffrey was disappointed to find almost no details about its closure other than the operators and management deemed it “untenable to continue digging.” According to the record, the mine shafts were sealed off and the site abandoned entirely within a few months. 

As Jeffrey looked at the antique map detailing the mine’s approximate location among the mountainous foothills, he noticed that, in relation to the town, it actually appeared near the facility where he worked. With interest piqued, he skimmed forward in the historian’s recounting to find where he discussed the facility’s beginnings. The land had remained untouched for nearly thirty years before construction began on the large complex seated in the gorge. As he suspected, the facility was built precisely on the location where the mining operation had sealed off its entrances. The only other information about the facility he could glean was that it was established to research “the unique geography of the local mountain range.” He scoffed at the intentionally vague description. By now he assumed the facility constituted more than a simple geology lab, and his imagination built all sorts of possibilities around the void deep in the rock underneath the mountain. 

For all his reading, little more than intensified curiosity resulted. Questions abounded and few answers were to be found underneath the rocks he kicked about. Days stretched on as he mulled over these oddities, entirely unaware of his own behavior’s increasing strangeness. Clara could see all too clearly his dissociation from the daily life they used to share, growing more anxious as he regularly lost track of conversations or simply broke off his sentences entirely in confusion. Jeffrey had ceased attending any of their typical social gatherings, and friends soon became acquaintances. Most attributed his decline to his discovery of the bodies, writing off his newly developed oddness as some sort of trauma response. Her resolve to remain sympathetic, however, had worn thin. 

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

  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 Four: A Path to the Depths


Jeffrey’s desire to learn more of the book now captured his entire imagination. Fascination with the runic text and unnerving illustrations drove the obsession all night long after his conversation with Alan, prompting him to stop by his backpack periodically and peak at the ancient pages, running his fingertips over their rough and wrinkled surface. When morning came, he brushed past Alan and raced home. Briskly sending Clara off to work for the day, Jeffrey grabbed his laptop and soon found the contact information for a professor at the local university who specialized in ancient texts. Only a few days later he found himself in the scholar’s office presenting the book as an accidental acquisition at a yard sale. 

“This is quite the find, Mr. Wright,” the professor commented as he flipped gently through the pages. “Did the seller know anything of its origin? 

“Nope, just wanted to get rid of it. Didn’t really mention much about it at all,” Jeffrey lied. 

“Well, in my judgment it looks like the text resembles Sumerian, though I would assume this was transcribed at some point from original tablets. I’m not your guy for translating this, unfortunately. I have a colleague at another school, though, who could handle this volume better. Do you mind if I send this to her? You’d get it back, of course.”

“Oh, sure,” Jeffrey assented, feigning casual interest in the whole endeavor. “Just give me a heads up when she’s finished, I guess.”

“Certainly,” the professor replied as he placed the book aside and walked Jeffrey to the door. “By the way, a rough translation of the title on the front is something along the lines of ‘underneath the ground, sleeping.’ My colleague should do much better, though. Hopefully she can shed some light on it.” 

Jeffrey left the campus that morning full of intrigue, drawn further into this strange artifact’s mystery. Before delivering the book to the scholars, however, he had taken pictures of its various illustrations. As the days drifted on, he found himself looking over the pictures regularly, almost compulsively, whenever he got a free moment. But curiosity soon turned to suspicion and unease. He would walk the corridors at night with the ancient images flashing through his mind, his imagination bringing them to life. The pictures now took on a life of their own, growing and moving and writhing about as if animated by some force in his consciousness. Alan no longer spoke to him casually, only barking instructions or criticizing his work. 

What had been such an exotic and alluring mystery now became an object of angst as the shadows in the corridors and remote parts of the building seemed to hold ominous images themselves. The frightening depictions had consumed so much of Jeffrey’s thoughts that blank shadow became a canvas on which his mind painted the disturbing figures. A corner of Jeffrey’s thoughts also began to wonder about the strange smell Alan carried with him from time to time, normally in the early morning hours. He still couldn’t place the musty smell, but noticed it sometimes provoked a migraine that didn’t subside for hours. The dizzying effects of such acute migraines distorted the already misshapen images from the decrepit text. Sometimes he forced himself to look at the pictures once more just to remind himself of their static nature- that they weren’t actually taking the forms his mind had concocted. As his daytime sleep became riddled with nightmares to the point of exhaustion, his shifts at the facility brought no relief. Poisoned was his view of the building now, uncertainty lurking around every corner. Though his surroundings hadn’t changed in the slightest, Jeffrey now saw with new eyes a shadow not in one place or spot, but transient and leering. The ominous presence in the periphery of his dreams invaded his waking life, and the unnerving aspects were worsened by how fast this condition emerged. Only two weeks prior he had been in reasonably high spirits, discovering the book and poring over its pages with eager delight. 

This particular night had followed a day of little sleep as Jeffrey tossed and turned. Wandering the halls as he normally did after midnight, he staggered about and dragged his tired feet. He had lost his appetite for sleeping in the breakroom with Alan’s hostility and his own overall disquiet about the place. Turning the corner roused him from his daze, however, as he noted a door had been left ajar- highly unusual in the facility. After pausing for a few moments, Jeffrey approached the door with trepidation. The heavy door swung open with a solid push and a brightly lit hallway revealed itself to his tired eyes. White lights lined the walls as the smaller corridor extended straight ahead for what appeared to be about fifty yards. 

Jeffrey stood motionless as the internal debate raged in his soul over whether to simply close the door or plunge onward. In the final moments of the dilemma, his fiery curiosity was whet once again as it was when he discovered the book. His hunger for the unknown pushed him over the edge of the door’s threshold. Sterile white walls and black flooring were the only sight in his immediate path. With decisiveness returned to his steps he picked up his pace and soon saw that the brightly lit portion was coming to an end. The lights became dimmer, but intriguing Jeffrey more was that the floor had become rough before he even realized it. He now noticed that both the walls and floor were bare rock. Re-orienting his sense of direction, Jeffrey concluded that the corridor must have led directly into the mountain behind the facility.

Strings of work lights hung from the ceiling, just barely illuminating the passage. The path began to wind, gradually turning to the left and gently descending. Jeffrey had turned on his flashlight at this point, allowing him to watch the increasingly treacherous floor of the cave. With his eyes glued to the rocky terrain, he failed to notice that the passage had shrunk around him. He began to stoop unconsciously, still focused on the stretch of path lit by his flashlight when he unexpectedly careened directly into a low-hanging corner. The splitting pain in his head drove him to the floor in agony, and the flashlight fell from his hand. 

It was only upon stumbling forward and retrieving the light that he noticed the passage had opened into a large space. The ceiling rose about twenty feet from the stony floor, and the room was about as circular as you could achieve in a cave. The far wall bounded the space about fifteen or sixteen feet away from where he stood at the doorway. This second cavernous tour began to weigh on Jeffrey as he remembered his previous discovery underground. Before him was an entirely empty space with no obvious horrors to behold. The traveling beam of his flashlight soon revealed that the ground gave way to a dark hole in the middle of the room. As he inched forward, Jeffrey noticed the opening in the rocks dove far deeper into the earth. The shrouded pit before him was no more than three or four feet in diameter, but his estimation was only a guess because some sort of dense growth obscured the edges of the rock. 

What appeared at first to be moss or vegetation Jeffrey soon noticed was certainly not a plant this far below the surface. The strings of biomass seemed to extend out of the pit from somewhere much deeper. As he approached the edge of the dark void, a draft of cool air slid across his face. What should have surprised him only confirmed something he had wondered about since he found the door unlocked back in the corridor: the cool air carried a peculiar, and now familiar, scent past his nose. A musty sort of stale odor emanated from the pit- the same smell which on so many occasions had clung to Alan as he entered the break room. Jeffrey’s pondering on the scent was abruptly interrupted by the echoing sound of a door swinging open.