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The Tunnel

When I first discovered there was a tunnel in the park I had my doubts. After all, who would dig a hole, let alone a tunnel in a public park? The post, written on an obscure travel blog, designed to help urban explorers discover oddities, was as obscure and vague as it could possibly be. No pictures, no real description, even clicking on the link had been an accident. I had been looking for something to do, to distract myself from the leaden stomach and crushing loneliness she had left inside me. I had lived here for years, but had I experienced it? My sudden interest was inorganic, exploring and adventure was not my cup of tea. But now, I needed a new cup, and a new drink to fill it if I were going to learn how to live again. So, with pressure from more successful and happy friends I had begun to explore the possibilities. The park was not far, and a tunnel sounded safe enough, though I suppose there could be drifters and dangerous drug addicts within. But what was the worst that could happen, I lose a few bucks to panhandlers? With this mentality, I packed a backpack and headed to the park.

The tunnel had been easy to find using the instruction from the blog. Hidden behind the corpses of trees that lined the dry creek, it yawned wide, welcoming anyone who dared to venture inside. Only a few meters in I could see it shrank to a smaller size, and became impenetrably dark. This represented something primal to me, as though the tunnel itself was the birth canal that I would reborn from. The ground around the entrance was springy and soft, giving gently with each step, welcoming me. Moving deeper into the tunnel the ground grew sterner, chiding me for second thoughts. I moved my flashlight over the walls, looking for graffiti or anything interesting. I felt the rock catching my foot, my toes hooked under the stone and sending me sprawling into the wall, and into oblivion.

When I came to, I was lying on my side, my ankle throbbing, each heartbeat sending a fresh wave of agony through my leg. My flashlight was just out of reach, but as I reached for it, the sound of scuffling made me freeze. I followed the beam of light with my eyes and saw my backpack laying there on the ground halfway lit. It was open, rifled through. The meager guts spilled out on the tunnel floor. Something fluttered down from above. I grabbed it, finding the picture of her and me in front of her house last Christmas. A figure leaned down and smiled at me, a dangerous insane smile, and I couldn’t stop myself from screaming. Screaming long after the figure had grabbed my backpack and flashlight and left. Screaming until my voice hoarse and torn gave out.

It had been my face there smiling down from the shadows.

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