The Tunnel

By Docsov 


It was pitch black and hot, sweat ran down his face, leaving streaks in the grime, matting his once-blonde hair to his forehead.  He inched along on his forearms and knees, the earth and sharp stones digging into his skin and opening new cuts as he crawled along.  It was too dark to see the man in front of him, all he could hear was laboured breathing and the scrabbling of the worn boots ahead.  Occasionally a foot would slip and dirt would be kicked back into his face, making him cough and blink frantically to clear his eyes.  Not that he could see anything anyway…

It felt as if they had been underground for hours – the sensory deprivation was enough to make him scream, but he bit back the feeling and crawled on, pausing to try and catch his breath every few feet, but the air was foetid and getting more difficult to breathe as they continued.

Just when it seemed as if the claustrophobia would win, he felt a faint draft of cooler air and his heart quickened as he realised that they were near the end and he would soon be able to breathe freely again.  Ahead, a small patch of light was just visible, a lighter area of night sky contrasting with the inky black of the tunnel.  He could sense the others around him as he pulled himself out of the ground, dirty hands with bloodied, broken nails.  He realised that they would have to move quickly to make the shelter of the trees, but until they got their breath back, they could barely move.

He began crawling through the scrubby undergrowth, trying his best to make as little noise as possible, but the last hundred yards was open and he would have to make a run for it then – once he reached the cover of the trees, he might have a chance.

He scanned the night sky, it was overcast and only the occasional star could be seen between the scudding clouds.  The air smelled of rain and he was glad they had made it through the tunnel before any had fallen – the thought of being trapped underground with the rain running down into the earth made him shudder.  Would the tunnel have held or would it have collapsed when the earth turned to mud…

Pausing as he reached the edge of the scrub, he steeled himself for the final dash – as he stood, the night erupted into blinding light and deafening gunfire.  Blinded by the lights and stunned by the noise, the small group was an easy target.  Around him men were screaming and falling as they tried to run back the way they had come.  For a heart-stopping moment he thought he might escape but one bullet, then another, found its mark and he sprawled on the ground, pain tearing through him.  Digging his hands into the earth he tried to crawl to the imagined safety of the darkness, but knew he was beaten.  With his limited field of vision, he could see other bodies near him and he watched his own blood pool and soak into the dry earth.

‘What a waste’ he thought ‘To go through all this, for nothing…’

He coughed, spitting blood on to the ground, a groan escaped his lips as the pain increased with every breath.  His blue-grey eyes clouded and a tear trickled down his cheek, he hoped his grandfather would be told what became of him and wished he had had the chance to say goodbye.  He wondered if his father would ever find out what had happened and if he would even care if he did…

He was vaguely aware of people around him as his vision dimmed and just before he finally lost consciousness he heard a southern accented voice.

“Hey – this one’s still alive…”





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