Something felt odd about it. Not the fact that she was wandering down a dark tunnel, deep underground, that was odd enough, but there was something… almost like a living presence that she felt in the air around her.
Almost as if, she thought, something was breathing the air in and out around her. If she didn’t feel so nervous, so frightened, she thought she would have laughed at that idea. If this was a story, someone was telling her, or if she was reading it in a book then she was sure she would have laughed.
Now, though, her left hand throbbed too much for her to laugh about anything much. She’d wrapped a bit of her sleeve - already torn from the fall - around it, but she didn’t think it had stopped the bleeding. Her leg too, seemed to be tightening up as though the fall had damaged that too.
When she’d recovered from the fall enough to stand again, she’d used the feeble light of her mobile’s torch app to look back up, to see if it was possible to get back up there. She could just make out the lip where the long slope had turned into the sheer drop about ten feet above her head, but the steep slope she’d initially tumbled down was lost to her view.
She’d spent a fruitless ten minutes or so trying to climb, jump, leap up to grab that lip, but it had been no use. It was just too far out of her reach and the sheer walls around her offered no way out.
She’d sat – 15 minutes according to her phone – slumped in despair, trying in vain for a signal and wondering if anyone would even know where to look for her, let alone attempt a rescue. Then she’d noticed the draught against the skin of her arm where her shirt sleeve had torn. Then she’d seen the small hole that lead in turn to this tunnel.
‘It must be the breeze,’ she muttered to herself. The breeze was giving her this illusion of something being there in the darkness with her, breathing slowly in and out, as it waited….
At least, she hoped it was an illusion.