Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sepulchre

(For our next story-based homework, we listened to the start of Tchaikovsky's 1st Movement of Symphony No. 6 and were then asked to write a story based on the music. I got feelings of dark and light, so my mind went quickly to the thought of being trapped underground and the relief of getting back to the sunlight. All I needed was our hero :-) )

The dim glow cast by the torch flickered and died, plunging the chamber into darkness. Devon banged the palm of his hand against the torch and the glow returned, fainter now, looming shadows springing up on the rock walls of the cave.

"This ain't happenin', man", he gasped, the panic rising within him. His posse of teenage yobs would hardly recognise him now as the same hoodie-wearing, young thug who lead them on routine rampages through the estate; here and now, alone and lost deep within the sprawling cave system, he had become a scared and lonely boy. If only he hadn't been fooling around, but then that's all he ever did. Messing around, trying to get into that girl's knickers, trying to impress her, then the next thing he knew, the group and their bright, reassuring, safe torchlight had gone and he was alone. He wandered around, looking for the tell-tale glow, but each chamber was as dark and empty as the next. He'd stumbled around for what seemed like hours, until finally snapping and throwing the torch at the nearest wall, screaming obscenities at the top of his voice at absolutely no one.

The torch flickered again, the faint glow temporarily fading from the bulb.

"Please, please stay on", Devon pleaded, fear seeping into his voice. The torch took full stock of his karma and, fittingly, gave up, leaving him standing in the pitch-black, unable to see his hand in front of his face. The fear quickly turned to panic, his mind fixating on the belief that he'd never get out of this place.

He stumbled onwards, cracking his shins on rock outcrops, tripping over the unseen floor, feeling his way with his hands on the cold, clammy rock walls. He stood no chance of detecting the slope and pitched forward, rolling downwards, his helmet banging on the cave floor, pain drilling into his skull with each knock. His tumbling finally ended in a bone-crunching halt, his lower left arm fracturing painfully. His scream of pain echoed around the chamber.

The tears flowed and he lay there, cradling his broken arm, rocking from side to side in despair. The self-pity coursed through him, quickly being replaced by anger, not at anyone or anything else, only at himself.

"Please, just let me get out of here, please", Devon begged, his voice quiet, pain-wracked and trembling. He closed his eyes tight. He'd never prayed before, but in his desperation, it was his last hope.

He opened his eyes and saw it. A pinprick of light, high up to his side. He sat up slowly, wondering if he was seeing things. Standing slowly, carefully, he worked his way over towards the light. He caught his foot on a pile of loose stone and stumbled, catching himself quickly, gasping at the stab of pain from his arm. He reached down with his good arm and felt a slope of loose scree under his hand. He took a step up and cried with relief that it held his weight.

He slowly began to climb, the task made all the more difficult by his injured arm. It was slow, arduous work, for every three steps forward, the loose, sliding rock took him back one. But he was inching his way up, slowly, determined to escape this underground sepulchre at all cost.

The pinprick of light was growing steadily larger as he neared it, though a nagging doubt in his head was telling him it wasn't growing nearly large enough. He ignored it, pressing onwards and upwards, scree tumbling past him and clattering down the slope. His mind was trying not to concentrate on just how long it was clattering for.

The slope evened out suddenly and the light was now straight ahead. He crawled slowly, not daring to stand, inching closer to the light. He began to feel earth under his hand, then roots, then pebbles. He pushed forward, squeezing into the narrowing gap as the rock closed in on all sides. He pushed with his feet, tearing his clothes and skin on the rough rock floor, now unable to stand, the ceiling brushing his helmet.

The light was blinding now, a large circle of daylight. Devon pushed on and suddenly felt a breeze across his face. Pushing harder, he felt brambles and branches scrape at his hand. A last push and he was out, starting to slide down the grassy slop on the outside. His legs slipped out of the hole as gravity took over and he cradled his broken arm tightly to his side as he began to roll.

It was a softer landing this time, ending in a thicket at the bottom of the hill. He lay there, exhausted, face down in the undergrowth, twigs poking at him, the cool breeze playing across his face, warm sunlight taking the chill of the cave from his body.

He lay there, lost in his thoughts. He didn't hear the voices or the shouting, he didn't feel the people at his side. The siren, the paramedics and the ride to hospital were all a blur. All he knew was that he had been given a gift, that this was a second chance for him and that he'd do whatever it took to repay whatever force had given him that gift. A gift of freedom, not just from the deep, dank cave, but also from the life that had put him down there.