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I awoke with the sound of rushing water jetting from above, and the chilly swell lapping at my face.
It is pitch black. I groggily get to my feet.
I cry out in pain. The echoes of my voice reveal a confined space. I remember what happened.
The sinkhole is deep; it’s amazing I didn’t die in the fall. I know I’m bleeding all over, and I have broken ribs. I must be a ghastly sight!
It’s night up there and it’s still probably pouring. I’m numb from the cold, shaking from shock, and the acrid water is rising. It’s up to my ankles already.
I was running for my life. I thought they would never find me, especially in these wild hills… but they’re resourceful. The stormy winter night didn’t help me evade them, so I simply ran. I was drenched but didn’t care; my runners were soaked and heavy from the scrambling through rushing creeks and puddles. I never saw the sinkhole until it was too late.
The churning water is up to my thighs and I can’t feel my legs any more. The cold is oppressive. I am holding onto the rocky wall, trying to think. I need to figure out how to get up and out of this death trap.
Brian had it coming to him. He cost me a hundred thousand and the Johnson brothers will be after me now. They’re unforgiving. They’ll kill me if they find me. I dragged him into the freezing surf and when the waves lapped against my upper legs I let him go. A drowning. I was sure it’d work. I covered my tracks and headed for the mountains.
I’m scared. Terrified. I’m in the middle of nowhere; the only humans within miles want to torture and kill me, and I’m too injured to climb out of this prison. The water is high up my waist and I can barely stand. I have companions… several rats trying not to drown. I laugh. We have much in common.
I cast my mind back ten years. I was fifteen, already a year on my own – escaped my loveless, smacked-out parents. I joined the Johnsons – they taught me how to survive and make quick money. My first big job was to collect drug drop-offs – and all I had to do was wade waste deep into the estuary, locate the buoy, and retrieve…
It’s up to my neck now and rising faster than ever. I’m done for! I can’t even swim ‘cause my body is half dead already. I have no God to pray to, no parents to mourn me. I so wish I could do this all again, differently…
Things are fuzzy, slowing down. I am surrounded by a warm and comforting liquid, and it is dark. My heart beats but there is no breathing. I feel pressure and there is a dim light before me. I am born, and I am free…
2 thoughts on “Short Story: The SInkhole”
You took me on a roller coaster ride on this one. I loved the way you went back and forth from the sink hole, to the characters memories as his life flashed before him. This built to a crescendo of peak emotions, and then you let me off the hook briefly, then wham, here we go again. Intense! The ending was terrific. I came away from this one with several different meanings. Did this characters life flash all the way back to his birth before the sinkhole took his life, or was their a deeper meaning here. Was the characters death a symbol for the freedom one longs for from the chaos of life, only to find peace in death, thus, to be born anew. Hmmm Maybe even a Christ resurrection symbolism in here somewhere. Maybe the water is the blood of Christ, and through the baptism of the water, the characters sins were forgiven, thus, born again. Hmmm. Or maybe, I think to much. Brilliant!
Thanks Terry (yet again – my, you have been busy scouring my Blog site – for that alone, I am grateful). Your first theory is closest to the mark, although for pieces like this I use the tried and true technique of leaving questions unanswered in such a way to allow the reader to fill it in with anything they want – cheating really, and perhaps lazy – although in this case it was an effort at contributing to a flash fiction anthology on non-supernatural horror, where words were strictly limited to less than 500. They rejected me – but that was because they honestly stated they didn’t like time-jumping stories. The prime motivation for this story was to synch the depth of the fatal water line with episodes in this tragic figure’s life – trying to present the tragedy itself. It is obvious enough for you that the ending brings the metaphors and the point of the story together – and I suppose I wanted to have him die with at least a moment of relief and – possibly rapture. As I said, I left it open for you, the reader, to fill with your belief construct – which is, I think, goodness. Thanks again – you restored my faith in this short piece.