Hell and Hades

Shacklady: excerpt from chapter 2

The darkness seemed to get thicker, almost like a dark fog closing in on him. His torch seemed to illuminate less and less of the shaft, he could barely see his own boots now. Suddenly, he sensed something moving in the shadows, down by his feet. Quickly, he turned his torch towards it. A shrivelled, withered, dark hand reached out for his right leg. He let out a terrified shriek and whatever it was, withdrew into the dark. He gasped and grabbed his leg, trying to pull it away. ‘What the fuck was that?!’ He waved the torch around into the gloom, his heart thumping loudly, breath held. ‘Nothing…. Christ, now you’re seeing shit…’ He exhaled….. Then with loud bravura,

“Get a grip man!” were the next four words out of his mouth but it was already too late.

Before the last echo of ‘man’ had finished reverberating down the passageway, two dark, skeletal extremities, grabbed for his damaged legs. With the lunge of the first boney hand, the disabled Gerry desperately grabbed at his shin, pulling at his immobile leg, trying to remove it from the reach of the grasping claw, only too late, it had locked onto his ankle. His movement only served to push his other leg towards the second grasping hand, which too locked tightly round his ankle. Together, they began pulling him into the suffocating darkness. Gerry flailed around with the torch trying to damage or at least see what had hold of him, as it drew him deeper into the mirk.

Panic rose in his heart, he could see nothing, yet every second more his physical being slipped further into blackness. He flailed and screamed frantically but nothing loosened the creatures grip. In desperation he threw his torch into the void, to no avail. He grasped wildly at the caverns rough floor, fingers scraping, slipping, flesh tearing. Both of his legs were now encased within the unforgiving blackness and the perception of an all encompassing malice, was beginning to overwhelm him. Gerry fell silent as the dread of what awaited him beyond the dark event horizon took hold.

Faintly at first but growing ever louder, the strange scraping noise was heard again. This time from deeper within the cavern with darker reverberations. He strained to hear, ‘that sounds like strange voices, all talking at once,’ he thought, ‘oh god, there’s more of them…’ as the unseen hands dragged him further into the mountain. Now, more pairs of strong, skeletal hands, grabbed hold of both of his damaged legs and propelled him on, ever more quickly, into the void. The bizarre voices in the darkness, were growing louder and clearer the further he descended into the chasm.

He sensed the merest loosening of their hold on his ankles and he kicked out, a last desperate attempt to get away. The grip only tightened and his descent simply accelerated. His body banged and scraped along the rough hewn floor leaving streaks of torn clothing and flesh. It was all he could do to hold his head up and his neck was aching like crazy from the strain. He was having bizarre random thoughts of destinations known only to the wild imaginings of men.

‘Hell and Hades,’ sprang to mind easily….

Then, one voice seemed to rise above the cacophony of others, increasingly overwhelming them with it’s haunting timbre, engulfing all other utterances.

Suddenly, he felt himself cast into the void and he was falling, feet first. He reached out wildly, trying to grab onto anything to break his plunge but there was nothing. Seconds later, his feet crashed into the ground with sickening force, his already damaged knees crumpled, folding themselves under his collapsing body. He screamed, the rush of agony rippled through his body, exploded in his brain and blackness overwhelmed him.

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