By: Chance Johannsen

My eyes flicker open. The damp, dark air fills my nostrils as I move my eyes trying to get a glimpse of something. I strain my eyes pleading to myself to find something..anything. My mind is racing - “where am I”..“what happened to me”...but my thoughts get drowned out by the throbbing in my head growing bigger and stronger. The pain.. where did it come from? I try to touch the blood I feel seeping down my face but my hands stop. My wrists burn from the coarseness of rope cutting deep into my veins.

Chapter 1

“How long was I out?” It had to have been more than 2 or 3 days judging from the sounds created from deep in my stomach. “I have to get out of here.. but how?” I think to myself. I fumble my wrists around to barely touch the rope. Drifting in and out of consciousness I finally manage to find the frayed end. "I have to get out...for my family, for my friends, for me." Untying the rope wasn't the hard part. Pulling the rope away from my skin was. My blood seeped into it and made it a part of me… a part of me that had to be torn away. Never once had I thought something like this would ever happen to me. Not me - the youngest son of the wealthy Sheppard family. Not me - a successful college student 1 semester from graduating Tech. Not me.

My mind went 100 miles an hour only to be slowed by vomit working it’s way from my throat to my mouth. The ringing in my ears combined with the damp smell and cold blood did the trick. A cold sweat covered my forehead as my body hunched over and heaved. The wretched pain from deep inside grew greater. My eyes finally adjusted and I could see a place where darkness wasn't. It was a door - maybe 50 yards away slightly cracked open letting light stream in.

Chapter 2

The idea of the warmness of light, the dream to feel it touch my skin gave me hope. Hope that soon I would -no, I will- get out of here.

Dead silence filled the room. The silence only interrupted by the occasional drip from a faucet echoing through the darkness. Hearing the dripping drove me mad. The taste from my mouth was unbearable. Dry lips...blood...vomit. I need water. I dropped the ropes to the ground and fumbled my way across the cold cement, around cold rusty barrels, around beams supporting whatever was overhead. I reached the spigot fumbling my hands to find the knob which wasn't there. I cupped my hands together managing to catch a few drops.

I lapped up the wetness from my fingers which gave me a fraction of relief. Now to find a way out. My lungs wheezed trying to take in air from under the weight on my chest. The musty dampness helped ease some of the pain. So many questions running through my mind and no glimmer of hope for an answer.

Chapter 3

The light seems so close but so far away. When you don't have any energy at all, 50 yards seems like, like 50 miles, heck 500 miles. My wet hand managed to find a ledge to pull my body off of the floor. I pushed from the ledge and used whatever energy I could muster up to stand. Wobbly standing, my knees shook. My feet are sore, one with my running shoe still on and the other cold and bare. I feel the cold damp cement and gravel under my heel. The pain from beneath my temples was still unbearable. The only thing could work it's way into my mind was that stupid song. That one from that old Santa Clause movie. The one that goes ‘Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you'll be walking ‘cross the floor’. That’s - ha - that’s what I did...barely managed one foot at a time. That’s what kept me going.

Each step was unbearable, only managing 4 or 5 at a time. The pain from my temples plus the aching from my insides was terrible. Quietly stepping through the maze of cold rusted junk was no easy task - all the while being as quiet as possible. Nothing anywhere in my mind helped me find any answers. “Who did this?” was my main questions until I heard a noise from the back corner where I once stood. “Who did this” changed to “where are they now?” I froze in my tracks. Whatever was making that sound - a quite indistinguishable rustling sound - was coming closer. My eyes strained to cut through the darkness. I caught a glimpse of the mouse tail as it ran behind a few barrels. I let out a sigh of relief.. now to get to that door. Climbing over barrels, tarps, and other pieces of rust I couldn't make out took ages. I get closer to the door but stay close to the wall. The dirt wall is damp with dew and pieces of roots jutting out and just hanging. Slowly I inch closer to the door to peek.

I move my head further towards the door just enough to peek. Looking past the wooden joist, I see stairs. So. Many. Stairs. Atop those stairs there's a light hanging from the wooden rafters. The light casts shadows to a greenish colored door sitting patiently for me to open it. “That’s where I need to get.” I search for any sign of anything before I climb up. I take one last look around the darkness - nothing. I climb the stairs. The first few creak under my toes with only the railing holding me up. I pick up speed putting ‘one foot in front of the other’ going as fast as I can manage. Heaving heavy breaths, I reach the top. “Great - now to see what’s outside”. My hand reaches for the shimmering knob landing a blood-tipped finger underneath it. I take a deep breath ready to face whatever is out there…. only to have the doorknob turn from the other side...

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