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Mr. Sensabaugh's Tunnel

By Mike Acciarino All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Horror

Mr. Sensabaugh's Tunnel

Kingsport, Tennessee

November 2, 1951
Edward Sensabaugh lifted his glass of scotch and kept his focus on the watery ring it made. He gulped it down, every last drop, and slammed it on the wooden counter. Mr. Brown had been watching Ed all night, cleaning glasses with his black handkerchief and smoking a cigarette that hung from the far corner of his chopped lips. Brown was both worried and ecstatic. Worried for the well-being of Edward, as he had had nearly two dozen shots of alcohol, but ecstatic because of how much money he was making money of the alcoholic. You'd have to be insane to stop a heavy drinker like that, especially when they're a drinker like Ed, who never stops chugging the suckers down after ten. Brown had even thought about pushing closing time back an hour.
A terrible thought struck Brown. If Edward were to leave – whenever that may be – and get in some sort of accident when driving home, a collision perhaps, the injured driver would come back and sue Brown for everything he had. Meaning, all this dough he was racking up would be for nothing. And if it wasn't a car crash, it would be alcohol poisoning for sure. Brown could see it in the papers now: “Man Chokes On His Own Vomit When Over-Dosed At Cantina.” He might as well burn the money he'd earned while it's sitting in the cash register.
Edward's finger hovered over the counter in front of him and eventually he tapped it twice with his bruised finger, signaling for another round. Had his buddies been with him tonight like they usually were, he would've stopped back at five. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
“I-I think that's enough, Mr. Sensabaugh. Head on home, sir,” Mr. Brown instructed.
“What?” Edward slurred, his body swaying in his stool until he fell on the checkerboard tiles. Mr. Brown stuck his cigarette in a nearby ash tray. He got out from behind the bar counter and pulled Edward up off the floor by his arm.
“I think you've had enough to drink,” he said, sternly this time. Edward's head drowsily dropped and Brown was fully expecting him to vomit on his stainless white apron. Before the opportunity to belch was handed to him, however, Brown dragged him over to the exit, having to stabilize his legs twice in the five feet they walked.
“Go home, Mr. Sensabaugh,” Mr. Brown said, pushing the door open and watching him fall onto the sidewalk. “And don't be driving home, ya hear?” He stomped back inside, furious that he had to cut off such good business, and the door swung shut behind him.
Edward laid in the street and, just for a second, mistook it for his soft cotton mattress back at his house. He pushed his face off the cold ground and struggled to his feet, tasting vomit reach the back of his throat, only for him to swallow it again. Had he been sober, the taste on his tongue would've been enough to make him howl in pure disgust.
He couldn't quite remember where he parked his car, or if he had one for that matter, so he began walking in the direction of his home. He'd walked along this road plenty, and even his drunk mind could remember the route.
Edward's wife Margaret was changing their three-month-old baby's diaper when he arrived home, drunker than ever before. He'd tried entering his neighbor's home, and even knocked, but left after realizing his mistake. Margaret heard the door open and clutched her half-naked baby named Ruth against her chest.
“Edward?” she called out upon entering the living room. “Edward, what's the matter with you? You said you'd be home by ten!”
His head bobbed and he had trouble standing still in one spot. It was like he was performing some sort of tap dance. Margaret hated to admit, though she was worried, she found it to be quite humorous.
Edward unexpectedly threw up the vomit he'd been holding in since the cantina. It layered the rug in coffee-colored chunks and flashed in the light of the fireplace.
“Who are you?” he asked dizzily, continuing his jig with spit dribbling from his chin. It was like a musical – without the singing of course.
“What do you mean? It's me, Margaret – your wife!” Margaret screamed, a little offended he'd forgotten, even if he was severely intoxicated.
Edward reached into his jacket, revealing a pistol. Ironically, Margaret was the one who suggested he purchase a firearm, seeing as he enjoyed long walks at night near the cantina.
Ruth began to cry, sensing tension. “You're scaring the boy, Ed! Put the gun away, right this instant!”
Ed raised the pistol, only slightly upright. “Please, don't hurt me,” Margaret wept, pressing Ruth harder against her. Edward squeezed the trigger and his arm jerked from the kick. The bullet made contact, he was certain, but it was hard to tell who it hit. Ruth? Margaret? Both of them? He watched both of them fall to the floor, just avoiding the vomit that began to soak into the floor. His vision cleared and he could see now that the bullet had pierced both Ruth and Margaret. Edward dropped to the floor, his head smashing into his own throw up.
To say Mr. Sensabaugh woke up hungover the next morning would be an understatement. This was the mother of all hangovers, the hangover some know as the “Sensabaugh.”
Edward's head hurt, to say the least. When he awoke, he could've sworn he was having a heart attack. Rushing pains ran up and down his entire body, and it was unclear when they would cease. He stood up, his back to the chaos that had taken place the night before, and stared into the flames under the chimney. His head hurt with every pump and he felt oddly tense. He put his fingers to his lips, rubbing off a mysterious, dried up glob. His hair felt cold and wet, too, like a pale of water had been dumped on him and he hadn't noticed.
What on earth happened last night? he thought, turning around towards the front door.
Edward was not sure where to look first, holding back tears. The gun on the floor, or the vomit? His pale, dead wife, or his dead newborn baby? It was like all hell had broke loose – behind his back, no less. If that was the case, Edward was the devil and he had wrecked havoc without meaning to. What was he to do? If anybody were to see this, they'd surely think this of him.
He looked at the clock: 6:12. It was still early. He'd be able to move the bodies or possibly even stage a suicide.
The tunnel down the block – of course! He thought. It was heartbreaking to think this “family man” had his head full of thoughts such as, “where to hide the bodies?” and not “I miss my family.” Well, after all, it was Edward who caused this horror.
He picked his pistol off the ground and stuffed it in his pocket. That was odd. The killer used his pistol. He did not want to connect the puzzle pieces – not yet, anyway. He placed Ruth in his stroller lined with bunny rabbits and threw Margaret over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The heavy-lifting he did on the farm sure paid off in instances like this. That's not to say it's everyday you carry your dead family down the street.
He opened the front door with his one free hand and slowly shut it behind him. No one on the block was up this early, but if someone had seen Edward, they'd probably mistake him for a loving father and husband who's just taking his wife and child for a stroll, gleefully carrying his wife on his broad shoulder. As filled with happiness as that scenario is, it was far from the case.
Edward's head still hurt, but it wasn't enough to stop his mind from racing. He could remember going to the cantina, and that was about it, but any grade schooler could connect the dots and come up with an accurate explanation as to what happened.
He reached the tunnel and, when inside, set Margaret down on the pavement. There was just enough light from one side of the tunnel – the side he entered from – to see clearly. He looked down at his wife and baby, beginning to sob. He was starting to miss them. Well, there's a start, Mr. Sensabaugh.
Edward's moment of memorial soon ended when he grabbed Margaret by her stockings and dragged her into the stream that ran through the tunnel. He picked Ruth up out of his seat and set him down on Margaret's chest. He angrily watched them floating there. He was angry at himself, mostly, which was profound as he tended to blame others for his problems. Especially Margaret. This was different, though; he and he alone did this, and he wasn't even sober to hear his wife's last words.
Remembering his pistol, he pulled it of his jacket and pointed it at his head, trembling. Edward fired the gun, ending his life.

Kingsport, Tennessee
March 6, 2013

Sensabaugh Tunnel, greatly known for its intense paranormal activity. Dwight Krude, a senior in high school, couldn't stop thinking about it for the better half of of his life. An urban legend that had been twisted and turned too many times to count, Dwight was prepared to put the rumors to rest.
“Hi, I'm Dwight Krude,” he said to his portable video camera. “I'm going to be heading into Sensabaugh Tunnel at any minute, a paranormal location that's said to be haunted by Sensabaugh himself. Sorry for the lighting. I thought I'd have better luck at night. Let's hope so, huh?”
He drove up to the tunnel's entrance and pointed the camera at it, showing off the colorful graffiti sprayed onto the tunnel itself and all around the opening. He kept his left hand on the wheel and the camera was held in his right hand as he drove in. Darkness quickly engulfed his car and it was difficult to see the tunnel's end, even with his car's headlights. He high beamed a path but that didn't seem to work either. He let it go and focused on his task.
“I'm gonna cut the ignition and see what I hear,” Dwight said to the camera lens. He entered complete silence and didn't move a muscle, hoping to hear something.
Holding his breath, he could hear something faint, and he was certain this wasn't either his ears playing tricks on him or the water from the creek of the tunnel splashing against the concrete. It took him a moment to put his finger on what he was hearing, but when he did, it was, very clearly too, the sound of a baby crying.
“Do you hear that?” Dwight whispered. He set the camera down and tried to start the engine back up to drive further in, but it wouldn't run. He could hear the echo of footsteps bouncing off the tunnel walls while he did so. In his peripheral vision, something moved in his rear view mirror. He forgot about the engine for a second and could see a man approaching his vehicle. Dwight desperately tried to start the engine and drive away, but with no luck, he stepped out of his car – without his camera – and started to run into the darkness that was Sensabaugh Tunnel.
The tunnel seemed endless. Dwight felt like he'd been running forever when he stopped to catch his breath. He bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. Something tugged at the back of his right pant leg, making him jump. He turned to find nothing.
“Please, don't hurt me,” a woman cried from behind him, sending a chill down Dwight's spine.
It was when something – or someone – lightly brushed the back of Dwight's neck that he sprinted towards the tunnel's exit, unsure if there even was one.

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