“Damn it, stop that! Get that light out of my eyes, you’re not funny.”
“Would you two shut up! You’re not contributing.”
“What would you rather do? Because listening to the silence is about all there is.”
Nothing but our voices make a sound. Silence blinds us. Darkness deafens us.
“Hey! There’s a flashlight! Someone grab that for me!”
Not a chance.
A little closer, but still nothing.
“Shit! I missed it!”
You never even reached for it.
“I’m on it!”
You’re going to fail.
What do you think we’re doing?
Maybe I should try.
Well, that was embarrassing.
“Fuck! How could you miss that?”
“It was too far away. I can’t just stop and kneel down.”
“But you have the longest arms! All you had to do was squat. You can still move and squat, can’t you?”
“Not at the same time!”
The chain pulls forward. No one knows what’s pulling the chain or where it’s going. A time ago we sent a question up the line. We asked to have everyone pass it up until it got to the front of the line, and then pass it back. It hasn’t come back yet. I’m not expecting it to. Somewhere on the line it must have ended. Perhaps it reached someone with only empty slots in front of him, so he would have just stopped. Maybe it got to the front, but they all died. maybe they tripped. Only our feet can touch the ground without falling through. I mean, dead bodies can obviously touch the ground, but that’s because anything not alive isn’t affected. We have to keep moving as well, because if we stand too long, we sink like mud. In, but not out. Nothing living that sinks in can be pulled out. It's one way. So we just walk, the chain defining our movement.
“Can someone please spare a light. Please. My torch is almost done, and I can’t be stuck in the dark.”
“I’ve only got a flashlight.”
“I have a lightbulb and a battery.”
“I got a lantern.”
“With a flame?”
“Can I borrow it for a sec?”
“You’re too far away. I can’t risk it.”
“Come on man, I just need to relight this. I’ll be quick. You won’t even see a shadow.”
Shadows are things you don’t want. Not for a long time at least. That’s why everyone has a light. Keep shining it on the guy in front of you and keep the shadows mostly to the side and the top. That’s what the tunnel is. It’s the shadows that hide the monsters in the dark.
“Not gonna do it.”
“No. I’m not gonna risk it. Keep looking.”
“Look! It’s coming back!”
“Shh! Everyone quiet!”
“Alright. It’s gone.”
No one really likes to talk when they come close. It doesn’t really do anything, but it makes everyone feel safer, so we all go along with it. Their arrival more often than not forewarns a special death, and we’re all pretty sure we know who it is.
“Guys! Come on! give me a light! Please… Please!”
With a blur, something came from all sides simultaneously and filled the entire area. It lasted for much less than a second, too fast for anyone to actually see what it was beyond dark. But when it again became the dark tunnel we were down three men, left only with the empty slots where they once stood. No bodies. No lights. Nothing.