ATTENTION, A QUICK NOTE: This is purely fictional. Nothing of this has ever happened to me or anybody I know. I felt like actually posting one of my private fictional stories here because I somehow felt it makes sense in the context of this blog. It’s not really spell- and grammar-checked, so please forgive me some weird expressions. It’s kind of long, so if you don’t care for it, you won’t really miss out on anything!
I’m not much of a runner. I’m not a sports person at all to begin with. But a few months ago my doctor told me I needed to do something. Some sort of sports would be good, he said. Well, I can’t do much. I’m not good at team play. I’m not very patient, or anything that would make me a good sport really. I figured I could at least put one foot in front of the other. Step, step, step. Yes, that I can do. So why not run?
I was very exhausted at first. I didn’t manage more than a quarter-mile without getting real close to death through a lack of oxygen. But I got better. By now, I can easily run three miles without major signs of exhaustion. Five if I’m really pushing it. But I always go more. I read somewhere that if you always stop at what you think is your limit, you will never actually get past of what you already can do. So I push it as hard as I can. Step, step, step.
I don’t like running through the city. I look like a terrible mess within the first five minutes. Hair messy, sweat dripping down, clothes disparaged. No, it’s not a pretty sight. I usually get into my car and drive into the woods, not too far from here. There’s a small house with some parking spots right in front of it. My car isn’t the only one there. Lots of people go there to walk their dogs or run like me. But the woods are big and I’m not too worried somebody will see me all messy. It’s a very nice place to run.
That one day, I tried to warm up before running, but I already told you, I’m not very patient. So I took off without bothering too much. First I ran along the path that leads away from the small house towards the woods. It zigzags through fields of wheat and I don’t know what other grain. Wheat on the left, other grain on my right. The woods are maybe a quarter-mile away. From here, I can overlook the area because it’s on a small hill. It falls down on both sides, revealing fields of wheat, more fields, patches of trees here and there, and then, finally, the forest stretching out for I don’t know how long, infinite, maybe. Surrounding me like a soft warm hug. It was a sunny day, I recall, the warmth burning my exposed shoulders, the dried up path feeling hot and dusty under my shoes. As I entered the woods I instantly felt reborn. The fresh, cool air breezed through the lush greens of the trees and noise, noise everywhere. Birds sang, pecked, rustled through the bushes. It was such a wonderful day, I felt as if I could go on forever. Maybe if I did, I would get to the ends of the woods. I suspected there would be a cliff, and nothingness. If I jumped, I’d fall off and stop existing. Or maybe only time would. I’d be caught there forever, watching the eras pass.
The crowns of the trees formed a roof over my head and I followed the path. Here and the sunlight broke through the leafs, spotting the soft, damp ground yellow and white. It smelled of freshness and greenery. Step, step, step. And then, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful patch of white flowers just a few feet off the path. The wonderful smell ran over me like a wave and I stopped, completely in awe. A huge patch of may lilies, their sweet, lovely scent covering every inch of me. I left the path to pick a bunch. The ground felt so different there, softer, covered in year old needles and leaves of the trees around me. The perfume was incredible. I don’t think there is a better smell in this world than fully blooming may lilies of fresh forest earth. I took deep gulps of the air there and suddenly felt whole. I followed the patch of flowers, bigger than I first thought it was, followed it into the unknown depths of the forest. With fresh may lilies in my hair, I took up running again, enjoying the bouncy feel of untouched ground. I closed my eyes and the woods lit of with an explosion of the loveliest sounds I know. Birds, birds, more birds. I took a deep breath and –
I lost the ground. It was gone, suddenly. For just a second I though I had actually reached that cliff, and fell off, and cursed myself for making it real. With a loud thump I hit the ground, my bones moaning at the power of the impact. I immediately felt it, the cold, the awful cold, and when I opened my eyes, I saw the darkness all around me. I didn’t move at first, waiting for the pain to shoot up one of my limps or maybe even my spine, but it didn’t come. After a few minutes, my vision focused on the world above me. Dark all around, but there, a hole in the roof, and through the hole, the woods and the pale sunlight. I got up, sighing from the numb throbbing in my entire body, rubbed my back and tried to look around. I couldn’t place it at first, or rather, I refused to place it, until the words came out as a whisper. „A cave.“ I looked up again. I couldn’t really see the tunnel I came through or how deep I was, but I suppose it was something like fifteen feet. I felt to see if I could find a wall, and as my hands reached stone, another stone, neatly aligned and sealed, I knew this was man-made. The floor was soft, covered in leaves and needles, but under it, concrete.
I don’t know how long I stood there, yelling for help, trying to climb the walls to no avail. And even if I could climb them, how could I reach the tiny tunnel in the middle of the roof? It was pointless, and the muddy forest probably swallowed my voice.
Time passed and it got darker and darker. The sun was setting. I was shivering from the cold, from the fear, from the anger. The less light was coming in from above the better I could see the cave around me. And once darkness had completely fallen, I noticed something. In the distance, to my right side, I saw the weak shine of green light. Green light, in the distance? Here, underground? I went through my options, there weren’t many. I slowly started to feel my way towards the light and realized that there was another tunnel, leading into the deeper undergrounds. Hypnotized by the possibility to find light, I followed the small doorway into the tunnel. It wasn’t a high tunnel, but I could walk upright. The tunnel formed an U-shape over my head and again I could feel the signs of man-made construction running my fingers along the walls. After 25 feet the tunnel ended into a sort of hallway, continuing to my left and my right. The hallway went on for a long distance, I could not see the end of it. And every ten feet, a green emergency light. Even with the lighting, it seemed endless. I called out „Hello? Is there anybody?“. No answer – no sound except the muted whizzing of the power through the cables. In the hallway to my left I could see something on the ground, pieces of wood or furniture, or something like that. I decided to follow that hallway. My steps bounced off every wall, creating echoes, sounding like an army marching. Long before I had reached the rubble on the ground I saw that there were doors every few feet. In the low light I could see they had writings on them. „Amunition Storage 4-A5“ and „Power Supply Hallway 1-A“ and „Dorm 23-A36“. I called out again. No answer. I kept following the hallway until I reached the pile of garbage. A broken down wooden door. Dusty. Destroyed. The door belonged to a room that was now open and lit only by more emergency lighting. I stepped into the room. „Hello?“. Silence. It wasn’t very big. Some closets on the walls, a desk and a chair, all covered in dust. But under the dust, right there on the desk, I saw some papers. I took a quick look at them, nothing that I understood, weird texts of aunts with green tea and babies bitten by lions and the uncle having left for Hawaii. Then I spotted a more familiar sight, a newspaper. The yellow paper and the paled ink looked unfamiliar, and the headline read like a foreign world: „We will not surrender!“ and under that, a pictures of happy soldiers on a tank. I scanned the first page and found the date: April 25th, 1945. I stared at the date for a long time, trying to make sense of it. I looked around again, the newspaper still in my hand. There, through the slightly open closet door I could see a piece of clothing. With a squeaking sound I opened it. A grey uniform and on the collar two white letters, „SS“, on black ground. I turned away, put the newspaper back on the desk and went back to the hallway. I screamed. I called for help. I screamed again. Nothing. Just the hallway stretching out to both sides, silent, staring at me, wondering what I was doing there. Just before my eyes could fill up with tears and blind me, I took off running again. Ran along the hallway, passing doors with more writings on it, reaching more hallways, a maze of hallways, stretching out for I don’t know how many miles, green light everywhere. I must have ran at least five miles, I could feel it. And still no way out, no door saying „Exit“ on it. I stopped, slumped together in the middle of one of the endless hallways, right under a green lamp, and cried. I cried for minute, for hours, for days. And as I looked up, I recognized the writing on the door right before me: „Nutrition“. My thirst suddenly seemed endless. I steadied myself, stood up and turned the handle on the door. It sprung open with no effort. The room was dark. In a sort of reflex, I felt for a switch next to the door. As I found it, and pushed it, single lamps started to flicker up, enlightening the large storage room I was in. Shelfs over shelfs, going on and on and on, filled with water bottles, with cans of food, untouched. I walked along the first row of shelves and grabbed a water bottle. It was full. Thirstily, I drank what felt half of it. I tried to memorize the location of that room and followed the hallway, this time calm and slow. I was incredibly tired. After a little while I reached a room marked „Dorm 75-C63“. Again, I could easily open the door. It opened up into a small hallway. As I turned on the light, I could see the signs on the walls. „Bathrooms“ and a little arrow pointing, „Community Room“ and another arrow, and finally „Bunk Room 1“. As I entered Bunk Room 1, I realized that at least 50 people must have slept in there. I followed through the bunk beds, all neatly made, untouched. I walked all the way to the back wall and climbed a bunk bed. I could oversee the entire room from there. I decided to settle there for some sleep. I left my bottle on the bed and took a look at the bathroom. It was dusty, a bit dirty maybe, but in a good condition. I turned the water on, and after a few minutes of noise and sputtering, dirty red-brown water started to flow steadily. After another few minutes, the water had taken on a sickly pale yellow color, which I deemed clean enough to use. I let the cold water run over my arms, my legs, and sprayed some into my face and onto my neck. I grabbed on of the towels, hung on hook on the wall, and dried myself up. I went back to the bunk room and settle for the night’s sleep.
I don’t know how long I slept. I didn’t feel much better afterwards. But I got ready anyway, putting my shoes back on, to find a way out. I wandered through the complex, not finding anything interesting, close to giving up, when I saw the sign on the wall. „Exit“. Arrow pointing. I suddenly had new energy, started to run towards it. Down the hallway. Another sign. Exit. Arrow pointing. Step, step, step. And finally, the bunker door. Sturdy, possibly made of tons and tons of heavy metal. A huge wheel to open it. I grabbed it, and turned. Nothing, Turned, harder this time, still nothing. For hours I tried turning it – nothing. I collapsed crying. I screamed, I called for help. Nobody.
I tried to open it with all sorts of things I could find. Never anything. I tried to find other exits. All locked too hard for me to open. I slept in my bunk bed, night after night after night. I rummaged the Store rooms, ate canned meat and beans and all that. Never anything. Never anyone. None of the doors had ever opened for me. I tend to forget how long I have been here for. No clock that works. No time. I finally seized to exist, I guess. I suppose I did fall off this cliff.