When I awoke, I was in what looked like a sewer. There walls looked grimy, it smelled like garbage, and I could hear running water. I tried to stand, but my legs were too wobbly. I started crawling around, looking for any sign of immediate danger. Nothing. At least one thing I today was going right. I was feeling along the walls, when I felt this bar. I grabbed it and used it to help me stand up.
Leaning on the bar, though I was still rather helpless, I could see a little more. It was definitely a sewer, and not one that I would find anywhere near my house. The ones out in the country, (when there were any,) were just muddy and smelled like rain water. No trash covering the bottom. It looked like the ones in our small town where Jason lives. I smiled. Maybe he was nearby and could help me- but I would have to get out of this place.
I saw a light up ahead, about one hundred feet from where I stood. My legs were still wobbly, but getting better. I held the railing as I walked toward the light. It got brighter as I slowly advanced.
By the time I had reached where the light was coming from, my legs had returned to almost normal. The light was coming through a hole in the ceiling, at least twenty feet up. My heart sank. There’s no way I could ever jump that high.
I looked around again. I saw a wooden crate. I stood on it and tried to reach the ceiling, but it was still almost a ten foot jump. There was a crowbar on the floor and I used it to open the crate. It in there were nails, a hammer, and about fifty packages of granola bars. I ripped open a package and took out a granola bar. It looked like it had only been there for about half a day, so I figured it would be okay to eat it. I was counting the packs of granola bars when I saw something shiny at the bottom of the box. I pulled it out. It was a mirror! I looked into, to find my clothes and face covered in grime and dirt, my hair looking like a rat’s nest, and holes in my clothes that looked like claw marks.
I set the mirror up against a wall about ten feet from the hole in the ceiling. It was there to make me lose hope, and give up, I could just feel it. I didn’t know what this was, I just knew that I couldn’t afford to lose. I took out the hammer and nails. I set them on the ground next to the box. Then, I dumped all the granola bars next to them.
I took apart the box used the wood to fashion a chair and table like thing. With the leftover wood, I made a smaller box. Suddenly, I was glad my mom had made me take that woodworking class. I had taken it a few years ago in 7th grade, but I practiced a little bit here and there. I stepped back to admire my work. It wasn’t my best, but it would do. I looked up at the hole in the ceiling. I couldn’t see the sun anymore, so I was judging time from the color of the sky. I estimated it was about 8:10 p.m.
I started to scout around where I had put all my stuff. There didn’t appear to be any danger, nor any sign of escape. I sat down in my pathetic excuse of a chair. I just sat there for at least an hour, thinking. I missed my family and Jason. I missed Cat, and all of my other friends. I rested my head on the table and soon fell asleep.
I woke up early in the morning. I could see light in the sky. It was dim, but definite. I found a granola bar and ate it. I looked it the mirror. I looked better now that I had gotten some sleep. I walked under the hole and stared at the sky. I pushed my table under the hole and lifted my chair on top of it. I put my small box on top of that. When I jumped as high as I could and could almost reach the ceiling.
I smiled. If I worked really hard, I could probably get out of the sewer. I took all of my stuff apart. I fashioned a ladder type thing with all of the wood from the table and chair. I left my box of granola bars intact. I set the ladder up. It barely was tall enough to reach the hole. I grabbed the box of granola bars and my mirror. I’m not sure why I had the mirror, but I felt like I would need it later.
As I climbed out of the hole, a blast of fresh air hit me in the face. It felt so good I almost dropped my things, but I snapped out of it just in time. I pulled up my things, looked around, and smiled. I recognized this place. I could reach Jason’s house in about ten minutes if I ran. I took off sprinting toward his house. I ran across streets and dirt roads, through alleyways and backyards.
I reach Jason’s house panting. I ran to the front door and rang the doorbell. No answer. That was strange. I pushed on the door and it swung right open. Unlocked? Even stranger. The house was completely deserted. There was no sign of anyone anywhere.
I was freaking out on a scale I didn’t even know was possible. I ran into Jason’s room. The only thing left was a picture of him and me. It was framed on sitting on the window sill. It was a picture of the night he had taken me out into the meadow, about a mile from his house. In the picture we were laughing, sitting in a tree. I remember that night well. He had picked me up at about 11:00 p.m. and dropped me off at home about 6:00 a.m., so that my parents wouldn’t know. That would have totally ruined everything. Anyway, we had set up a tent under the tree that was in the picture and stayed there that night. Thinking about that night made me smile- but only for a second until I remembered I didn’t know where Jason was- or if he was even alive. I grabbed the picture and pulled it close. There is no way I was losing my last connection to him.
I went down to the garage, to check and see if by any chance, Jason’s car was there. Of course, it wasn’t. All I had was the picture. I would never let it go. I left Jason’s house. I wasn’t going to gain anything by standing here, swamped in sad, old memories. Self-pity never got anyone anywhere. I started home, first at jog, then a run, and eventually and full on sprint.
I reached my house and rushed inside. There wasn’t anyone I sight. I went through all the rooms in the house. My house wasn’t empty, but all the pictures and people were gone. I went up to my room. At least my closet was full. I changed into fresh clothes and washed my face. I grabbed a sweatshirt as well. Who knows when I might need it. Then, wanting to leave the bad memories, left the house. I went to Jason and I’s meeting place. As I suspected, it too was empty. I sat down on the floor and pull the picture of Jason and me out of my bag. For a while, I just stared at it, and then I got up and walked out, glancing back at it over my shoulder.
I went back to my house, and looked around the yard. Nothing seemed different until I got around to the backyard. There was a pipe sticking out of the ground. It looked almost like an entrance to a sewer. Despite my bad experience with sewers, I crawled into what I thought was a sewer.
The pipe led down about fifty feet, then opened into a cavern with a path on the opposite side of the cavern from where I was standing. I went around the cavern, almost patrolling. There was nothing there, so I went to the path, and just stared at it. There was no light. I couldn’t see in it very far. There was light from the pipe in the cavern.
I walked around the cavern one last time, gathered my courage, and walked down the path. I walked for miles, not stopping. It was pitch black, then I remembered that I had a small flashlight on a keychain in my pocket. After what I estimated was four hours, I collapsed. I had probably walked at least ten miles. I caught my breath for a few minutes, then got up and sprinted deeper into the tunnel, where ever it led.
After about two or three hours, I stopped and sat down. I had been running the entire time. If you haven’t ever done that, you don’t know what true exhaustion is. In honesty, I don’t want you to. I leaned against a wall and thought about Jason, Cat, and my family. Silent tears streamed down my face. I closed my eyes, and fell asleep instantly.
Morning, or at least what I thought was morning, brought no change. I was hoping that this was all a dream, but of course, no luck. I started thinking about home again, and the tears reappeared in my eyes. I took off sprinting down the path, keeping going the direction I had been traveling the day before. I was running from my problems. When my legs burned and I was gasping for breath, I ran on. Running from my worries. Running from my problems. Running from my life.
Tears streamed down my face. I kept running for miles. Maybe I should join cross country… but right then I just wanted my life back. For one horrible moment I sat down in Jason’s shoes. His girlfriend happy and laughing on night, and gone without a trace the next day. I was disoriented for a moment, and I tripped over a rock. The last thing I saw was the ground, rushing up to meet me.
I woke up and turned on my flashlight. My vision was fuzzy and my legs were wobbly. Well, I thought, here I am again. I stood up and found my bag. I had been so focused on other things that I had completely forgotten to eat. I ate three granola bars, then stood up and grabbed my stuff. It was obvious that I couldn’t run, but I kept going. I walked for miles.
All the sudden, my flashlight flickered and went out. It was pitch black again. I felt like crying. I wanted to sit down and cry for hours, but I stood strong. Who knows what might be on the floor? There could be poisonous plants or snakes or something.
I put my right hand against the wall and kept going. It seemed like ages before I saw a light. Was it just my imagination? No, it was really there! I could see the wall. See my hands. My right hand was scratched up and bloody from rubbing against the wall for miles running over rocks. My shoes were worn and muddy. I ran toward the light, sprinted, faster and faster. Faster than I thought was possible. When I came to the source of light, despite how terrible my life was right now, I laughed. I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks. Oh, it felt so good to laugh. Nothing good had happened in so long. I was in a sewer. The light was coming through a hole in the ceiling, about twenty feet up. Oh joy. Here I am again.
Is this a cycle that goes in around and around, until I lose the will to live? No, I decided. I won’t allow it, if I could make it through the first cycle, I could do it for the rest of my life. I can’t just sit here and die. I will make it back to my family, and friends, and Jason. I looked up at the hole. How funny, it appeared to be about 8:10 p.m. Please tell me this is just a series of very odd coincidences.
I looked around, and sure enough, there was the crate. All the sudden I stopped dead. I sprinted to the crate and opened it. I pulled out the mirror and looked at my shirt. Claw marks. Face covered in grime and dirt. A horrible question raised in my mind. Did I do this to myself? Have I been in this cycles for months, or even years? Was my whole life a dream?
Calm down, I told myself. I’ll just try a different route again this time. I built a ladder again and climbed out of the sewer. I wanted to check the Jason’s house again, but I knew it would be empty, so I didn’t even bother to devastate myself again. I walked to the store and picked up a flashlight and some extra batteries, then I went back into the sewer. I looked into the crate again and took out the granola bars. I made a backpack sort of thing from wood, using strips of cloth from my torn sweatshirt that I had tied around my waist.
It wasn’t pretty, but it would work. I put all of the granola bars in the bag. I looked around and groaned. My picture of Jason and me was gone. I couldn’t go get it now. I would start the cycle all over again. Instead, I ran in the opposite direction I had come from the day before. It felt so good to run. Soon, it was dark again, and I couldn’t see anything, then I remembered the flashlight I had in my pocket. I took out the flashlight and batteries and put the batteries in my “backpack”. I turned on the flashlight and continued running. I had no need to run, or be in any rush at all, but for some reason, running was very comforting.
The circle of light from the flashlight guided me away from walls and rocks. All the sudden, it seemed to get lighter, so I shut of the flashlight to see if it was real, or my imagination. I looked at my hands. Yep, it was my imagination. I turned on my flashlight and started running again. I stopped. What was that ball of fur right in front of me? I walked a little closer. It was my kitten Jackie. I picked her up, and felt her breathing. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to pet her. She soon woke up and licked my face. I laughed. This was the first thing that had gone right since I got stuck in this cycle.
I kept going, walking now, and carrying Jackie. After a few more miles, I decided to stop. I set Jackie down and she rubbed my legs meowing loudly and purring. I scratched behind her ears and she purred even louder. Then, she ran off for a minute and came back carrying a mouse. I smiled, knowing that I wouldn’t have to worry about providing food for her. Seeing Jackie eat was making me really hungry. I reached into my backpack and pulled out a granola bar. I ate it, but I was getting a little tired of granola bars. When I get out of here, I decided, I will not eat granola bars for at least a year.
I made a leash sort of thing for Jackie, making a clasp sort of thing from scrap metal in the sewer. I used pieces of my sweatshirt for a collar and the cloth part of the leash. I tied the collar loosely around Jackie’s neck and attached the clasp which was tied to the leash. I held the leash and stood up. I started walking again and Jackie was right there next to me. I tied the end of the leash that I was holding to my wrist.
I started to jog, and Jackie ran out in front of me, so I ran too. Together, we ran. We ran for a long time, made short by being together. We ran fearlessly for miles, never knowing what the next step would bring. Whether would bring happiness and joy, or sadness and pain, but we didn’t care.
After a while, maybe 4 hours, we stopped, gasping for breath. I couldn’t breathe, but I couldn’t stop smiling. Jackie sat down and began grooming, hardly even looking winded. Since when was she in such good shape? Wait a second… Since when was I in such good shape?
After a quick stop, where I ate a granola bar and Jackie caught a mouse. I found a river like thing with cool clean water. I drank and crafted a clump of wood into a cup. I washed it in the river and made a lid for it. After checking that it would hold water without leaking much, Jackie and I were on our way again.
Eventually, the sewer split into two paths. Jackie pulled me toward the left, so I followed- as if I had a choice. I felt wind in my face and smelled the sweet scent of fresh air. The tunnel began to slope up and after a little while, it was so steep I couldn’t walk, I had to crawl to avoid falling over. Suddenly, I felt grass under my hands. I crawled a little farther and I was out of the sewer, and in a meadow, with nothing around but grass, flowers, and Jackie. I saw some trees way off in the distance and began walking toward them. No need to get in any hurry, I had nothing but time… quite literally.
The trees weren’t as far away as I thought, only about a mile. With how far I had been walking and running lately, it seemed like nothing. When I reached the trees, it was dark, so I decided to go to sleep. I let Jackie off her leash and fell asleep immediately.
In the morning I found Jackie sleeping on my face… I really needed her to break that habit, someday I’m going to choke on her fur. I looked up at the trees above me and saw apples! Yes! Now I could eat something other than granola bars! I stood up and took a step to my right. That’s when I realized there was a river there. My shoe was soaked and the water was freezing. I stepped out of the water and took off my socks and shoes. My shoe needed to dry and it felt weird walking around in one shoe.
Now barefoot, I climbed up the tree and began picking apples. I got about ten apples and climbed down. I gathered a bunch of sticks and started weaving a basket. In case you’re wondering, I learned at a summer camp the summer after fifth grade. I hadn’t practiced in a while and you would not believe how unstable and useless it was. I settled on making a mat sort of thing. I set all of my stuff down on it and went to look for a strait, sturdy branch, 3-4 feet long.
After a few hours of searching, I had found 5 that were okay. I went through and inspected each of them. The first one was rotten in the center, and would break easily. The second one wasn’t quite long enough. The third seemed fine, but had a few small branches sticking off of it. I would need to cut those off later. The fourth one was too thin and would snap quite easily. The last one looked great as well. I put the three branches I couldn’t use down on the grass, and the two that I could, on the mat.
I found Jackie, hunting in another tree. I looked up just in time to see her pounce on a squirrel. I kept walking, looking for a few rocks. I found two triangular shaped rocks and walked back to where I had all of my stuff. Jackie followed me. I glanced at the sky and noticed that it was starting to get dark again, and I wasn’t tired. I searched my bag for my flashlight. It wasn’t there. I must have dropped it in the sewer, and that’s where it would stay. I wasn’t going back in there for the rest of my life, if I had the choice.
Anyway, I took the two rocks that I had picked up and began hitting one of them on a rock. I was trying to sharpen it, but I knew that I would first have to bring it to a better shape. As I hit the two rocks together, I saw sparks fly. I had found flint and steel (unintentionally)! Talk about good luck! I found some dry grass and gathered it into a pile, with sticks nearby. I would start a fire in a little while. I took my other rock and began to sharpen it on a tree. It worked surprisingly well. For the next ten minutes I continued to sharpen it on whatever I could find. I used mostly other rocks and trees.
When I had my rock sharpened, I went to my mat and picked up the two good sticks. I got the one without branches, but it was now to dark to really do anything. I still wasn’t tired, so I just started a fire. I took a step back and positioned the grass so the sparks from the rocks would catch it on fire. I stepped back and threw my rock. As expected, sparks flew and landed in the dry grass, so I ran up and gently blew on it. The sparks glowed brighter and eventually, the dry grass caught fire.
I added a few sticks to it until I had a small fire. I took the shoelace from one of my shoes and used it to tie my sharpened rock to one of my sticks. I held it up. I had made a spear. I took a step to my right and jumped. I had stepped in the river again. I should really start watching where I was stepping… especially because I wasn’t wearing shoes… and was out in the wild with poisonous snakes and stuff.
I looked up at the stars, so clear and bright. I took a step forward… and tripped, falling face-first into the river.