The Tunnels

There was always a certain mystery about the tunnels beneath the high school my cousin and I both attended. Certain rumors were always handed down to the freshmen, and by now, it was a tradition. No one ever knew for sure what was legend and what was truth, and even still to this day, we do not know. But for Leigh and I that year, we were by far the closest two students there to finding out the truth.

It was Leigh's freshman year there and my junior year. The stories that floated around were always pretty much the same every year. Sometimes they would vary a little, but most folklore does with age. Leigh got pretty much the same as I did two years earlier; the tunnels beneath the school led to the closed down mental institution just across the street and all that jazz. Leigh laughed it off, the same as I, for we are from the same cynical family of "doubting Thomas'".

As the year progressed, the thoughts seemed to fade in our minds about the mystery of the tunnels. Until one day, when Leigh and I were looking for a safe place to skip class. Yes, you could say Leigh and I were your typical slackers for the most part. Still, it wasn't as if we did this incessantly; it was the end of the year, and we were bored. The bell was about to ring, so her and I definitely had to think fast. Leigh turned to me with a bright expression and suggested, "How about the tunnels? It's the perfect place, being that it's 'haunted' so no one will dare go down there!"

"I don't know about that," I replied timidly, yet trying to hide my fear by acting superior. (Leigh and I are like the sisters that we never had. Leigh is my little sister and I am her older sister, so of course, I usually act the part).

"Chicken!!" she taunted, and punched me in the arm playfully as she ran down the stairs toward the door to the tunnels.

"It's probably locked," I insisted, standing at the top of the stairs with my arms crossed, "There's really no use in wasting your..."--but it was too late. The door wasn't locked and Leigh was going to go in there alone if I wasn't coming. Reluctantly, I followed her in, fearful that maybe she'd get hurt in there by herself, or possibly even lost due to the myth of how large and intricate these tunnels were.

The door slammed shut behind me almost angrily at our intrusion. Leigh wasted no time in wandering around, exploring what people our age wouldn't dare to lay eyes on. I put my arms around myself, shivering slightly from being extremely creeped out by it all. Though it was brightly lit at first, I still remained uneasy.

We wandered deeper into the tunnel. There were cold storage rooms, full of old, broken desks, and chalkboards as well as books that I would've died to sit down and read. But Leigh was on the move, discontent with what she had found because it neither denied nor confirmed anything that she had been told that year. Out of sheer nervous reflexes, I pulled out my cigarettes from my pocket and continued walking at my steady, yet unsure pace. That was where all the weirdness began.

I lit the match and watched it flare up. The air down there was stale and calm, but all of a sudden out of absolutely nowhere, a cold wind tore through the tunnels, putting my match out before I could even light my cigarette. I trembled fiercely and stopped Leigh.
"Did you feel that?" I barely was able to whisper.
She raised an eyebrow, as if I was completely nuts and asked, "Feel what, Trish?"
"That wind," I shivered, "that cold wind that put my match out."
"Suck it up, we're not leaving. Not yet, at least, I'm not done looking," Leigh insisted.
The light grew dimmer as we walked further down the tunnels. Each time I would try to light a cigarette, that cold, fierce wind would blow my match out. Leigh told me that it most likely was underground drafts, but I was in complete disbelief in any scientifical explanation. I just wanted to get out of there before I started to go into anxiety attacks.

I finally stopped Leigh for a moment so I could attempt to possibly light my cigarette sufficiently. Striking my last match in the book, I wrapped my hands around the flame, praying it wouldn't go out this time. To my surprise, it didn't, and I rejoiced at this. Leigh sort of rolled her eyes, but in the dark, it was definitely hard to tell. So we continued walking, till there was very little light left, Leigh looking for new rooms or places, and I was just looking for the end... a possible way to get Leigh and myself out.

All of a sudden Leigh stops, as bootclomps echo off that cement walls and she turned to me suddenly and asks, "Trish, it's the summer and why are you still wearing those stupid combat boots?"
"I'm not," I choked out, hearing the bootclomps, softly at first but growing louder with every staggered breath I took.
"Y-y-you're not?" Leigh asked fearfully. I shook my head and swallowed hard as she nearly whined, "Then what is that?"
I sighed, trying to act brave so that at least one of us would keep our sanity, "It's nothing, nothing at all. The janitor behind us, I bet." Still, I was unsure. The bootclomps echoed off the walls in such a fashion that neither Leigh, nor I could tell which direction they were coming from. So we continued walking, because I insisted that bootclomps were the janitor and if we went back, we'd get caught.

Soon, we were very deep into the caverns under our school, maybe even under the main road by now. I couldn't tell and I wasn't even about to judge at the moment because the realization of the depths would frighten me too badly. I strained my ears to hear all of the sounds, the buzz of some of the lights back in the storage rooms, our breath in the corridors, and even seemingly our heartbeats that hammered like jackhammers in our chests. The bootclomps ceased, but whispering began to start.

"Did you say something?" I asked Leigh, not thinking anything of it, thinking that she was too scared as I was to say anything too loud. She wrinkled her forehead and shook her head, "No, I was about to ask you..."
That's when her and I heard it. The whispering grew louder, more persistent, as well as the bootclomps. We held each other, not knowing what else to do. Then, out of nowhere, it stopped. There was no sound whatsoever but her and I breathing heavily. But suddenly there was a bloodcurdling scream, and at that point, Leigh and I grabbed each others hands and ran for the door of the tunnels.

Never have we been back there since. Surely, I don't plan to investigate myself, and I'm sure Leigh feels the same. Although, we never solved the mystery, or even came close (though we came closer than anyone has ever come) we had something next year to scare the freshman with.

Submitted by PA, USA