I was wandering through the forest looking for mushrooms when I heard the sound. It was a weird high-pitched whine, followed by a rumbling thump that made the trees overhead jostle and spill their leaves. I crept through the forest, wishing I had something in the pocket of my jeans that was a bit more threatening than a Swiss Army knife. I scrambled up a little hillock and the bitter, acrid tang of burning brush wafted in my nostrils. Smoke drifted between tall boughs and made me cough. Somewhere, part of the forest was burning. In the middle of winter. This was bad.
I reached the top of the hillock and over the other side, I saw the tops of scorched, blackened trees. Half of the forest canopy looked as though it had been sheared by a burning hot blade. I began to scramble down the hillock to investigate the destroyed forest when a blinding beam of light blasted up from the ruined, burnt trees. I flung my hands in front of my face and backed away from the stinging light. My foot slipped on a patch of leaf debris and I slid down the hillock.
When I stopped sliding, I looked back up the hill and saw the light burning straight up in the sky. A cold tingle ran down my spine as I realised the column of light was getting closer to the edge of the hillock. Within moments whatever was causing that beam of light would reach the top of the hillock… and would be able to see me.
I climbed to my feet and cast a look over my shoulder. The light was beginning to seep through the low-growing shrubs at the top of the hillock. I flung an arm over my eyes and peered into the light. Through my tears I could see a figure standing at the top of the hillock, bathed in that burning bright light. As soon as my gaze fell on the figure a screeching, wail tore through my head and I slapped my hands to my ears. I turned and ran.
I ran flat out through the forest, heedless of the swiping, slapping branches that clawed at my face and clothes. I ran in a straight line; away from the thing in the light. I peeked over my shoulder. It was moving. The thing in the light was coming for me.
I screamed and ran harder… then suddenly the world fell away beneath my feet. I was momentarily dazed; I’d hit my head when I fell down the tunnel. I sat up, gasping for breath, my heart hammering painfully in my chest. Compared to the burning bright light that had chased me through the woods, the tunnel was dark and cool. I touched my forehead and felt my sticky skin. I was bleeding. I drew in a lungful of damp, mossy air and tried to suppress a cough.
The tunnel seemed to be manmade; an abandoned mine entrance or something similar. I probably would have seen it if I hadn’t been looking over my shoulder, trying to see if that… thing… was still following me. What the hell was it? I’d never gotten a good look at it. But the sound that had ripped through my head was unlike any earthly sound I’d ever heard before.
The hairs on the back of my neck suddenly stood up on end. I sat up straight and shook my head. A whispering sound licked my mind.
I turned, slowly, painfully and looked up the length of the tunnel. White light – burning white light – filled the opening and crept a few feet down the tunnel. I scrambled backwards as I watched the strange elongated figure peer down the tunnel. It’s details were obscured by the brilliant light but I knew two facts as I looked up and my heart threatened to beat right out of my chest;
It was not human…
… and it had seen me.
Based on Sue Vincent’s #WritePhoto prompt – The Tunnel