Short Story: “Into the White”

This is the short story I wrote for my last college semester’s Short Story literature course. It got an A for a grade, and I figured I should share it with more than just the Professor of that course. Leave a comment, and enjoy!

 

Into The White

For days they had been traveling through the dark tunnels. Miles and miles of cold, hard passageways covered in slime, grime, and a damp, pervasive odor. Hour after hour, minute after minute, the group of explorers had fought to get ahead. They were hardy, strong-willed, and had an iron-set goal that kept them moving. They must explore, must discover things of value and bring them back. The survival of their community depended on the sometimes-suicidal exploration by teams of brave scouts, units linked together by a mental connection.

After what felt like an eternity, one of the younger scouts turned back to the leader and spoke up eagerly. “Boss, I smell something! I think it’s fresh air!” Behind him, Boss and the rest of the group immediately started sniffing the air in front of them. Faintly, they could taste the currents of fresh scent making its way down the enormous vertical shaft they had been climbing for what felt like hours. It cut like a knife through the grimy musk of the tunnel and their hopes spiked.

Onward they trudged. The going was slow, but enthusiastic, and after a time light finally made its way into the tunnel. That dull, bluish light gave the exploring team the last boost of motivation they needed, and as if they had been set aflame they charged towards the exit of the network of cold, hard tunnels.

The tunnel widened out into an enormous white crater, with the opening stationed squarely in the center of it. Each of them in turn, hardy adventurers colored in complete contrast to the brilliant, glossy white of their new landscape, climbed up past the shining steel rim of the tunnel’s entrance and into the crater.

They looked around, taking in their surroundings. Far above them was the white sky, dark and bluish in the low light the area possessed. Directly above the tunnel’s opening was a steel-gray monolith, looking as if it was a creature with its neck stretched out over the crater like an animal about to drink from a puddle or a bowl.

“What do we do now Boss?” asked one of the group. The leader looked at his several companions and thought for a moment. “Well, now that we’re out, we need to see what’s beyond this crater, and if we can get any leads on food sources. Seeker, you climb up that way, and Sniffer, you head over there, to the right. The rest of us are going to spread out and start mapping this crater while you two scout ahead.”

Obediently, the two named scouts immediately departed, leaving the others to wander around the enormous white basin. Soon enough, Seeker was climbing vertically, the ends of his limbs letting him easily grip a wall which other creatures would struggle in vain to climb.

At the top of the crater, Seeker paused to gaze at the landscape. Flat, barren white ground stretched for a long distance in three directions, while in the fourth the precipice continued up to the sky. Nearby, the steel monolith rested, silent and unmoving. Seeker studied it, thinking to himself how closely it resembled a two-headed creature – or a mother with a baby on its back – both stretching their necks out and over the crater. When he was finished examining, he continued his trek forward and upward, gaining altitude with every passing moment.

Meanwhile, Sniffer had already crested the right side of the basin, and was looking down in awe of the sight before him. He was standing at the edge of an enormous cliff, with a sheer drop beneath him. Off in the distance, another huge gleaming white basin was discernible in the dull light, and in the basin was an enormous lake. Getting a whiff of the air, Sniffer started climbing down the brown cliff side, descending to the ground below.

In the crater, Boss and the remainder of his team continued to explore, dutifully mapping the location inch by inch, making sure that they covered everything and logged it in the invisible mental map they each possessed and mutually shared. Their task still wasn’t finished when suddenly, a booming sound cried out from seemingly everywhere, and up in the sky the sun appeared instantly, a giant squarish glowing shape of harsh yellow light. An enormous shape appeared in the sky above them. Terrified, Boss and his team watched as the shape moved over the white basin, blocking the sun and covering them with a shadow that their black bodies melted into seamlessly.

Far above the crater, Seeker watched as the enormous shape reached out for the steel-gray monolith. A soft clunk as the shape lifted the upper neck away from the lower one. A roaring hiss sounded, as water erupted from the lower neck of the monolith, falling down to the entrance to the tunnel, sweeping Tracker away into the current. The gargantuan shape moved under the rushing water, collecting a large amount within itself, and moved to each member of Boss’s team in turn as they attempted to flee, shrieking. A lake’s worth of water crashed on them each in turn and swept them back into the tunnels, to the dark abyss from whence they came, and to the darker depths of death beyond it.

Seeker screamed in anguish, watching his close companions fall one by one. Instinctively, he resumed climbing, attempting desperately to reach the set of three small suns above him. The heat would be intense, but they could provide some sort of safety or cover for him to hide until danger was gone.

At the last second, Seeker turned to look behind and beneath him. The behemoth had moved fast, impossibly fast, and what looked like a giant cloud raced towards him. It enveloped him, and Seeker learned that this was far more solid than a cloud as it crushed him against the surface he had been clinging to, and he went into the same tunnel that his team did, to the darkness of the beyond.

Far, far below the crater, Sniffer’s head whipped up violently as the mental cries of his companions reached him. With every silenced voice, he felt a void appear, and the hollowness that resulted left him sobbing in despair. A voice of reason cried out through the sadness, telling him he had to get to safety. Quickly he moved, finding his way past a gigantic black column adjacent to the lake basin, to where the cliff sides met.

Where the two vertical surfaces – one white, one brown – met together at the ground, there was a long tan seam, dirty with age. At one point resided a large crack in this seam, and Sniffer dove in, reason abandoned now in the drive to survive and to return back to the community, to report what had happened. If nothing else, everyone else had to know how deadly this place was, so that future scouting parties could be better prepared against the threats it contained. They had to know, because otherwise everything Sniffer, Boss, Seeker, and the rest had done would have been in vain. And to Sniffer, that was worse that death.

* * *

Tossing the wad of toilet paper into the toilet, the man muttered angrily as he resumed drying off his damp hands. “How the heck did ants get into the sink and that high up on the wall?”

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One Response

  1. I really enjoyed this! Totally called it, though 😛 Although at first I suspected it was a can, since I was drinking a Mountain Dew ^_^;

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