There's a bubbling sound. I don't know where it's coming from. It's dark in here and the ground is rough. I can't see anything but I can feel a breeze on my skin and I know I'm naked. The sound is coming from somewhere ahead of me. I reach out to either side of myself and my right hand touches a wall, rougher than the floor. Feels like stone. Granite maybe. Impossible to tell in the dark. The dark. It was oppressive.
The last thing I remember for sure is lying in bed. I had kissed The Wife goodnight as I went to lay down and she headed off for work. The light in the closet was on because even at this age, the darkness worries me. More so in the last few months than in the last twenty years combined. I see things in the half light, shapes in the corners. Like a child, my mind makes monsters of the mundane.
I slide my feet slowly along the rough floor. A sweeping forward step, my feet never truly leaving the ground, to ensure I step on nothing sharp or trip over something in my path. I do not rush, though the blood in my veins is doing so. Pounding in ears. I'm terrified of this dark, of not knowing, of finding out. I don't really want to move forward, but I see little good in standing here, alone in the black. So forward I move, towards the bubbling sound and further into the unknown.
The ground slopes downward slightly. That much I can tell. It occurs to me that I ought to be moving up instead of down. Up usually denotes out when you are underground, which I think I am. Still, there's that sound and afraid or not, it's the only real landmark I have in this place. If you can call it that.
A hundred feet further on (I think though it's hard to say) my feet reach liquid. Cool, and lapping gently at my toes as I stand stock still. Water in the dark. Another small terror. Black inky water full of who knows what ready to swim up and take interest in me. Underground, in the dark, at the water's edge. This place seems tailor made for me to be afraid of. I'm paralyzed here. Unable to move forward. Back the way I came and up is my only option. I turn and begin to shuffle back carefully.
There's a whisper in the dark up ahead. I'm not even sure I heard it at first over the bubbling sound coming behind me, but the second time it happens I'm sure. It's a papery sound. Cloth sliding against itself. I stop. This sound is somehow worse than the water. It's an insectile sound and if there is one thing that makes me shake more than water in the dark, it's the idea of being set upon by... doesn't bear thinking about. The sound is individual, a single thing. Certainly not the horrible swarm of crunchy brown bodies my mind wants to conjure up.
When the hands close around my shoulders I scream. I can't help it. It is so sudden, so quiet. I never knew there was someone else in here with me. When a second set of hands close on my thighs I realize that the word someone may not actually apply here. They're strong. So strong. I struggle and scream but they just lift me up. I'm in the air shaking, writhing, screaming to get away when suddenly the arms holding me heave me back, then forward again. I sail through the air, the strength behind those arms throwing my weight easily a hundred feet through the air where I splash bodily into the blackness behind me. The water is deep where I land. Too deep to reach the bottom and I am swallowed up by it. Disoriented. Flailing. I don't know which way is up and I suddenly realize that I may be swimming deeper instead up towards the surface. My air is running out. I force myself to stop and let the air in my lungs do what it does naturally. Rise.
But there isn't enough in me. I'm not going up and what I have isn't enough to sustain me down here in the dark. I'm not rising, not falling. Neutral buoyancy. My body is screaming at me to breathe, my mind is screaming at me to move...
And I am screaming in my bed. The wetness on my body is not water, but sweat. I am not drowning, not suffocating. I am... fine. I rise shaking and stumbling and make my way to the bathroom where I vomit in the tub because it is the first thing I reach before I can hold back my rising gorge no longer. I stand there, heaving. When the urge passes I wipe my mouth and stumble to the mirror. My hair is askew, my eyes are bloodshot. Honestly no news there. I turn on the faucet and cup my hands, drinking the water to rinse away the taste of bile. It's then that I really notice them. The marks on my arms. They're on my legs as well. I step back to see them better. Finger marks as though something grabbed me, squeezed as tight as it could. What ought to be bruises, but aren't exactly. They aren't black or blue or even that greenish yellow that you get after they've begun to heal a bit. No.
They're livid white.