Among the dead

*For the Halloween trick or treat competition*

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1. The Catacombs

The air is musty and thick with the dust of the dead.  It swirls upwards in spirals that are revealed by the girl’s torch as she steps down those half-crumbling, stone steps. Disturbed from their quiet rest.

   Curiosity had brought her down here. The excitement of adventure was too much to bother resisting, especially to the girl whose parents told her on many occasions she was not allowed in the catacombs. This only made her more curious and desperate to investigate.

   Now she wondered down the spiralling staircase where the light outside no longer entered and darkness consumed all. She put her hand on the rough stone wall to steady herself as she descended. 

   Down and…

   Down into the depths.

   Eventually the steps ended and there was a narrow corridor.  Lifting her torch, she shrieked in terror, the torch shook violently in her hand. She had squeezed her eyes tightly shut. Some force seemed to press against her back, stroking her hair, a light breath on her cheek. Her eyes flew open. She turned but was only greeted with the curve of the staircase and the deadly silent atmosphere.

   She turned her torch back to the corridor. It highlighted the scary angel those face had crumbled away to resembled a skull, giving the statue the appearance of a Grim reaper. Despite being unnerved by it, the girl shook her head at being so easily scared and went closer to inspect the strange statue. She went to touch its face.

    Scr-ratch, scr-ratch.

   Her head snapped to what was ahead; the torch piercing into the depths.

   Scr-ratch, scr-ratch.

   Her hand felt clammy with cold sweat and the girl clenched her teeth in determination to keep going. Nothing will scare her away now. She carried on walking, her footsteps echoing loudly.

   The corridor narrowed with the walls moving inwards and causing the girl to struggle to move forward. She sucked in the dry, still air through her mouth. The ceiling started to cave in and eventually she crawled through a short tunnel, dropping down into an underground cavern.

   The girl caught her breath, the air had grown considerably thinner, and she had only begun to realise that she could no longer hear the outside world nor could the outside world hear her.

   Scr-ratch, scr-ratch, scratch.

   It was louder this time.

   Closer.

   She turned and was faced with a shocking sight, it paralysed her heart for a few moments. The walls were skulls upon decaying skulls. Grinning half-toothlessly and with those black holes staring at the girl, following her movements as she walked along them.

   Scr-ratch, scratch, scratch. 

   The girl could not dismiss it, physically wincing at the sound similar to sharp nails clawing their way down a chalkboard.

   A distorted shadow streaks across the skulls. Reminding the girl horribly of monsters, of the deep-rooted fear of the unknown. 

   Scratch.

   The sound pained her eardrum and she almost felt the claws drawn across the dry bone. She scrambled away scattering the broken pieces of rock and bone on the floor.  Her eyes followed the frantic waving of her torch’s eye. The skulls seemed less horrible than whatever thing was here with her.

   Her foot stepped back into something cold and thick, sinking into it. She spun round and saw a dark puddle spreading across the ground. The disgusting substance was splattered all over her shoe. She began to back away as her eyes conceived an impossible event happening before her.

   The substance leaked from the skulls in front of her, leaking from their eyes like they were crying. This fed into the pool of the red, deep red blood. It started to rise and abnormally long claws surged out of the blood and slammed down onto the ground making the whole place shudder. Causing the girl to lose her balance and crash to the ground.

   It's claws marred the ground making the skulls shatter loudly and smash around the girl. Making her splutter as she inhaled the dead dust.

   Another arm split into claws shot out and landed near her feet.

   The monster’s head began to emerge.

   She ran to the gap and attempted to crawl through. Something like brittle branches caught hold of her ankle tightly. It twisted around her ankle tighter and tighter like a whip. Hot tears distorted her vision as she tried to pull away.

   It wrenched her ankle towards it. She howled in pain, dropping the torch to dig her nails into the stone. She tried to pull herself down the tunnel but it responded with unnatural strength and jerked her backwards.

   She screamed a gut-wrenching scream that only the dead would hear. Her nails snapped, her grip slipped.  

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