Oh look a Sci-Fi story. Haven’t seen one of those in a while. Also this is on the longer side (about 15300) compared to others I’ve posted recently. Can’t really say much else about the story as it’ll give too much away. Have fun reading, In The Hole.
A red haired man hair wakes with a start. His heavy eyelids resist at first, but after a few moments they manage to recede to reveal his light blue coloured eyes.
The man doesn’t know where he is and remembers nothing of the last time he was awake. He feels that such a gap in his memory should worry him, but for some reason it doesn’t give him the level of anxiety that, had he been asked about such a thing happening, he would have believed he would feel.
Suddenly, he attempts to move in the murky low lit space around him only to find that his joints and muscles are stiff and resistant to his urges, which soon become orders. That is why instead, the red haired man waits.
A haze of confusion is clouding his mind and it feels to him as though there is a dense fog sitting in his head. It isn’t shifting or thinning and that concerns him as he finally attempts to cast his aching eyes around him to view his surroundings.
His surroundings are not what he would have expected to be upon waking, as it seems that he is in a dark space illuminated only by a single small yellow light that sits high above his head and slightly behind him. He knows he should crane his neck to take a look, but that too resists his demands, leaving him only able to gaze upon the limited view he has before him. It’s a view that gives him little information in regards to his whereabouts. This is why he again attempts to move his joints after a short pause.
With this attempt they partially comply with his demands, though as he moves his joints he feels them move in a jagged and lethargic manner. The man doesn’t understand why but pushes the myriad of fears and concerns that have suddenly welled to the surface aside allowing him to focus solely on the here and now. And to the man what matters most right now is achieving movement, proper continuous movement. Not the jagged stop start kind that his body is only just about providing him right now.
It takes him a decent time before his stiff pivots and turns become fluid, but once they do it allows the man to see the state of the place which he has awoken in, and he has to admit that it is disgusting. Though, that is of slightly less concern to the red haired man compared to the state he finds himself in, because he is caked in filth.
With his aching joints now functioning enough, the man attempts to brush some of the dirt away in the hopes of making himself something close to presentable. But as he brushes at the dirt he finds that all he really succeeds in achieving is spreading the grime further across the tatty boiler suit that covers his wiry framed body. Not that the man pays notice to the form or shape of his body as he continues to focus on brushing at the almost black muck that has formed almost a second layer over larger sections of his clothing.
Before long the man spots the rounded edges of an oval that is woven into an area over his left breast. He’s thankful to find that this section of his overalls are far less smeared with dirt, which is why he quickly goes to work at holding the section of his overalls with one hand while brushing at the area with his other. To his relief the man finds that the dirt here offers less resistance to his attempts at cleaning it off and so before long he finds that within the oval are letters. At first the red haired man struggles to read the letters due to them being upside-down and in a flowing font. But after a bit of perseverance he concludes that the letters spell out Ace.
The fog in his head is still dense, but has lifted just enough for him to assume that Ace must be his name. It doesn’t ring a bell, but nor does he have such a reaction to it that he can say that it cannot be his name either. He takes that as a win; though for what reason he cannot quite say. However, he isn’t willing to argue with himself and so settles that his name must be Ace. It seems as good of a name as any. Not that Ace can think of any other name right now, even though he knows that are a great many thousands that exist.
So with his name revealed to him, at least in his mind, and his joints functioning, if not rudimentary, Ace concludes that he needs to leave this dead-end square prism of a space filled with shadows and piles of dirt, dust, muck, filth, detritus and corruption. Feeling compelled to act, and not continue to stay sat on his backside, Ace attempts to stand.
His first attempt fails as soon as it begins, because Ace doesn’t even manage to rise from off his backside and onto his feet. Instead, as soon as he’d tried to put weight on his feet, as well as his arms to help him manoeuvre, they had given out. As a result Ace had come crashing back down, painfully to the solid dirt stained concrete floor of the square prism.
Ace exhales sharply to release the frustration he feels at having failed. He also shakes his head for good measure and then ponders what different approach he can take that might actually see him succeed in returning to his feet.
His pondering takes a lot longer than he feels it should, but he puts that down to the continued feeling of the fog in his head. It’s a mass that feels less like a thick mist as it instead rumbles angrily, similar to how a storm cloud would just before it dumps its moisture down on the unsuspecting world below. Except Ace’s brain fog doesn’t seem willing to dump its moisture and move on, much to his irritation.
Then, having fathomed that he could attempt manoeuvring out of his current position and onto his knees before then trying to see if he can stand, decides that he is unlikely to come up with a better course of action. So that is exactly what Ace tries and before long manages to fold one of his legs underneath his body. However, he quickly realises that whatever action he has performed is unnatural and gets massive surges of nail biting pain tear up his leg with such severity that he feels the need to scream aloud. He doesn’t, and manages to suppress the screams of pain and instead shift his body just enough to release the pressure he had put upon his own leg. The problem is in doing so Ace has now undone everything he had achieved, putting him right back at square one.
Ace exhales sharply for a second time. He feels so hindered by his brain fog that he resorts to viciously shaking his head side-to-side in hopes of dislodging or, at the very least, moving the fog to somewhere other than the forefront of his mind. He thinks that if he can just achieve that then perhaps he will be able to think straight and actually achieve something other than causing himself pain.
The shaking of his head partially works and seems to force the fog toward the back of his head. Ace can’t say if that is what has actually happened, but that is how it feels in the moments prior to Ace trying and this time succeeding in shifting his position to one that elicits no painful response from his body. A quick flash of a smile tears across Ace’s face in response to the small victory. He quickly suppresses it however and then returns his focus to the task at hand. He can’t afford to get complacent or cocky.
Following the small victory Ace manages to reposition his other leg and then to his relief finds that he is on his knees. He looks around and almost immediately concludes he must shimmy to the nearest wall, which he does with little issue. His plan is to use the wall of the square prism as a brace and support as he transitions from being on his knees to the soles of his booted feet.
Ace hadn’t realised before now that his feet are covered in thick rubber soled boots. Now that he has however, he is thankful for their presence.
For some reason Ace had feared that his feet would be bare. In turn those thought had been causing his skin to crawl as he imagined the filth around him as it pressed between his toes and into the pores of his skin. But with the discovery of him wearing boots he no longer feels his skin crawling and disgust welling up from deep inside him.
All of a sudden Ace realises he is on his feet. Yet, he doesn’t quite rejoice at the achievement, which occurred during his thoughts about him discovering his feet are wrapped with boots and the disgust the thoughts of not having them had brought him prior to the realisation. The problem for Ace is that the wall is still serving as a brace to keep him balanced. The red haired man can’t be sure his balance will be sufficient without it, but knows that before long he will have to test it regardless. If he doesn’t he’ll be stuck here in this dimly lit space covered in dirt for the rest of his natural life. Ace has no idea how long that might be, like he doesn’t know how long he’s been down here, how he got here or even where here is, but they are all questions for another time. Right now he has to test his balance and so he takes the risk and pushes himself off from the wall.
His fingers, which had been sunk into the thick sludge that coats the walls around him, are now free. Though, Ace continues to grimace because of the sticky wet sludge he can feel smeared across his fingers. He doesn’t dare look at his fingers. He is sure if he does he might heave. Then to make matters worse he starts to consider what state his back must be in as a result of having slid it up against that same sludge covered wall. But he ignores the sudden thoughts which bring him disgust as he pushes them aside to instead focus on the fact that he is stood on his own two feet now. It’s a miracle; Ace dares to say to himself while a wide smile is cut across his slender pale face.
Unfortunately, while looking down to fully grasp his success he catches sight on the filth that is covering his legs. He sneers at the sight of the thick, almost gag inducing muck before his eyes, thankful only because it seems to be odourless.
Ace isn’t sure why he feels the need to gag at the sight of it, but represses the urge nonetheless and then decides he needs to attempt to at least get some of the filth off of him. So he does just that and begins to wipe at the thick muck, scooping it up in his hands and then flinging it toward the darkened concrete beneath his feet. He ignores the slow oozing sensation he can feel on his fingers as he does this, but can’t stop the shudders caused by the raising of the hairs on his back.
By the time Ace decides he’s removed about as much of the muck as is humanly possible, five minutes have passed. It also appears to coincide with the moment when the shudders tearing up and down his spine reach a near unbearable level.
Still, Ace decides he needs to risk looking at the state of his legs following the filth removal. He didn’t dare look while he was doing it, at least not properly. Instead he’d made sure he was faced away from the light, so now has to manoeuvre back toward the dim yellow bulb near the ceiling of the square prisms dead-end. As soon as does so and catches sight of the state of his hands he immediately regrets his decisions and has to suppress a dry heave that sees him turn his head and then vigorously rub his hands together. The rubbing of his hands has the desired effect as Ace feels clumps of the dirt form into larger masses that quickly depart the appendages. With each passing second Ace feels the dirt on his hands lessen until finally the red haired man dares to look at them once more. They hadn’t been the focus of his glances before but the sight of them had revolted him to such a pitch that he needed to turn away fast.
This time Ace doesn’t gag or heave. Instead he simply lets out a low grumble while he turns his hands over examining them. They are still a state, blackened by the dirt, but at least there is no longer any thick sludge between his fingers.
That’s why Ace soon drops his hands to his sides and then gazes around properly at the space he is in. The dead-end is singular, which gives the red haired man more than a healthy dose of relief to learn. If it hadn’t been then he doesn’t know what he would have done, as that would have meant he would be trapped down here. Ace can’t think of many things worse than being trapped beneath the surface never able to see the overworld again. Not that he remembers the overworld. Perhaps that should strike him as strange, but it doesn’t.
However, seeing as he is in a square prism with a single end, that means he has only one avenue to take. So with enough time wasted, Ace dares to take a step. He doesn’t think at first about how his legs might resist him and how that could result in him tumbling back to the floor of this space. By the time such a thought actually enters his head he’s taken three steps and not a single one has seen his legs refuse or resist his subconscious orders.
Ace concludes that this means that the refusal of his legs to comply and be argumentative has passed. He’s happy to know that as he urges himself to continue onward.