Sifting Through The Past

Shining a light down the hole, Jake studied the narrow tunnel leading down into the earth, the break in the subway system making for a huge pain in the ass for the electric company. That was why he’d been called in, as their Geologist, to determine if there was a chance that the earth would move and the narrow cavern here would close up or, worse, open wider and cause the cables to tear out of the walls.

Jake wiped down his glasses as dust rained down from above, where a subway car rattled through. Behind him was the foreman of the construction team, a man that went by Jazz. He was skinny, with slate gray eyes and a tattoo on his bicep of some Celtic symbol. Jake, on the other hand, was a pudgy office worker that had been hired by the city to maintain their geological records and study sediment analysis when projects called for it. This was his first “field” assignment, and from the damp feel of the subway tunnels, he didn’t want to go another.

“So we have to squeeze through there and find out what’s on the other side?” Jazz asked, pointing his flashlight down the narrow tunnel. “Why?”

“Well,” Jake said for the third time. “If there’s a natural cavern with pools of water and growth, then we’ll need a biologist down here to determine if there are any endangered species to be found. If we find tunnels that seem to be rich in a certain mineral the city will want to know. And if the tunnel just winds up being a dead end we can always just come on back.”

“You’re acting like I’m coming with you or something,” Jazz said, pulling a heavy radio set from his belt and pressing it into Jake’s hand. “Here. I got the other one, and they work pretty well down here. I’ll stay back here, where I know for certain what is around me, and you can go sliding into new openings in the earth and discovering lost bugs and their gold.”

“You’re seriously going to make me go alone?” Jake asked somewhat surprised.

“You’re seriously surprised?” Jazz replied with a wide smile before clapping his hands. “Now get moving, I got stuff to do.”

Jake gave Jazz one last look of annoyance before he pressed himself in the crevice, sucking in his gut so he could shuffle along the opening and into the darkness. The crevice was tight, and hot, with little air and very little room to breathe. After perhaps thirty feet, it opened up into a wider tunnel similar to the subway tracks that Jake had been standing on some thirty seconds ago.

Shining his flashlight out and around the area, he saw wooden scaffolding that appeared to be very old, along with old wooden tools. Studying the layers of dust over the area, he shivered at the thought of what would have made workmen leave tools out like this? And how did they get in here?

Bringing the radio up to his face, Jake cracked it to life. “Hey, are there any records of work being done in some tunnels close by? I’m finding a lot of tools and scaffolding leading up a wall.”

The radio squawked back a moment later. “No, this area is all granite, we don’t dig down here, we used to blow it up. You saying you’re finding tools in there?”

“Yeah, old wooden ones with… stone heads and ends?” Jake said, lifting one and studying it carefully.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Jazz said, his voice going staticky for a moment. “The only thing that would carve into granite would be something harder than granite.”

Jake looked at the tools, shining the light on the gleaming edges. “Like what?”

“I dunno.” Jazz replied after a moment. “You’re the geologist, you should know that!”

“Hmmm…” Jake pocketed a chisel and hammer, before stepping away from the scaffolding and looking down the tunnels. One way seemed to widen out a bit more, allowing him to walk without brushing his arms against the walls. The ceiling seemed to rise higher while the slope of the path became more inclined, leading down into a chamber that gave Jake a moment’s pause.

Circular in nature, this room was maybe ten feet high, with a large pit in the middle that was carved from the same granite stone. Walking up to the edge, he shined the light down and gulped as he didn’t see a bottom to it. Looking around the room, he saw there were etchings on the walls, in some language he didn’t understand. Pulling out his smartphone, he took several photos of the etchings before he moved onward, into a path that split at a T intersection. The walls at the T intersection were built with jutting stone slots, many of which held ancient skulls. Feeling uneasy, Jake turned on his radio again.

“Jazz, I’m finding human remains down here. Old stuff, like American Indians or something like that…” Jake said, leaning close to look at the one of the skulls.

His light caught the movement at the last second as a centipede, perhaps two feet in length, crawled up the wall and through the mouth of a skull to face Jake. Instead of pincers and segmented eyes, this creature bore the face of a young child, with solid green eyes and long, dirty blond hair. The face was that of a child no older than two though the way it crunched up as it coughed a cloud of vapor over Jake made it appear far more sinister than its cherubic features would lead you to believe.

Jake coughed and spat, covering his face as his eyes watered and his skin burned. The vapor made him dizzy; Jazz was responding on the radio something about calling off the investigation, and Jake tried to bring the heavy radio to his now numb face. The toddler-faced centipede crawled onto Jake, spewing more vapor onto him as he climbed along Jake’s arm, one sleek little leg holding down the key for Jake to talk. In a voice eerily similar to Jake’s, it grunted.

“No need, need to look. More to see, more to see.” It said before depressing the button and turning on Jake’s hand, a broad smile stretching over its pale features.

Jake couldn’t do anything else as he fell to the ground, the vapor having done enough to him to knock him out.

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