I had a dream and wrote it down as best as I can remember it.
They say when you die, your entire life flashes before your eyes. That’s true, but it doesn’t always all happen in the moment before your death. Humans have a sixth sense that can see into the metaphysical realm. It can see around corners, across vast distances, and even into the future. The day you die, sometimes, you think about your entire life—mostly your biggest successes and greatest mistakes—until it reaches up to the present, and then you die. That’s what happened today. This is the story about the day I died.
It started out like any other day. I woke up, put on my school uniform, grabbed my books, bag, key, and train pass, and headed out the door. I always hated having breakfast at home, so I stopped by a local noodle shop.
It was a popular spot for students, being right next to the train station. Well, the old train station. The new one was a few blocks down; police had discovered a set of caves leading off one of the tracks, and the station owner decided it could be a tourist attraction. The station owner also happened to own the noodle I was sitting in, so there was a wide stairway down into the station.
I ordered a bowl of noodles and wandered down the stairs while I waited. It always took about 15 minutes, and my train wasn’t for another 20. Perhaps if we were closer to the city it would be faster. My feet wandered down the old path I used to take before the noodle shop opened, carrying me away from the tracks, and toward an un-tiled section of the wall, where you could reach out and touch the bare rock, if it weren’t fenced off. Behind the fenced off area was a large crack in the wall. Though perhaps crack is a loose word. You could easily walk through it, but it was pretty much what you might imagine when thinking of a mountain cave. Jagged, sloping sides coming to a point near the top, almost as though someone had cut it with a knife.
On the wall next to the crack, but behind the fence, was a metal plate titled “Hatawete Cavern”. IT talked about a girl named Suzumi Hatawete who had died in the caverns beyond this crack in the wall, by falling to her death. Her body was lost in the caverns, and is probably still down there somewhere. I don’t know if anything lives down that far. What it didn’t say, what I knew, and most people didn’t, was where she died.
As the next train pulled out of the station, I looked around. Very few people were waiting. Perhaps I could make it. I peered around the edge of the platform, and set off at a quick jog. It only took me a minute to make it the hundred meters or so down the tunnel, where I set down my bag, and hopped down onto the tracks. Ducking under the platform, I lifted a metal grate and slipped through into the darkness.
Before this became a tourist spot, my friends and I used to run through the train tunnel, and we’d discovered this small crack down here. We liked exploring, and it turned out you could crawl through to the caverns. You would think the train company would have sealed it up when they built the tracks. Maybe they just never bothered, or tried and it kept opening. It was too small for most people to fit anyway. I squeezed out into even deeper darkness, felt the deep, expanse of rock beneath me, and breathed.
The air was less stale than you would think, but tasted of calcium and iron. The distant rumble of trains echoed softly through the vast cavern, and faint glow reflected off the far wall, revealing just how large an opening this was. Somewhere far, far below me was a river,but for the sound it made, you might think there was a gentle brook just inches from your fingers. The stone beneath me was cool, damp, and rough.
But most importantly, I was alone, and all the buzz from the train station was just… gone. As my eyes began to adjust, I could see the ledge nearby, which was the reason no one was allowed in here. My toes were already over the edge, just leaning against the wall. I shifted my position, and crab-walked sideways onto the wider ledge. The train station grew louder as what used to be our main entrance got closer. I stopped about 30 meters away, and looked out across the abyss.
A wide chasm, probably 50 meters, stretched before me, broken only by a thin stretch of rock that tapered nearly to a foot width at the middle. This was where Suzumi Hatawete had died. The reason there was a plague on the wall talking about her death. The place only I knew had been her last foothold on this world.
On the other side of that bridge, the cavern opened up again, and a tunnel led to the surface, just a mile outside of my school. It was a 20 minute walk from here. Anyone who didn’t know about this shortcut would have to go over or around the mountain. Suzumi had been one of the few people brave enough to cross the bridge. But one day, she’d lost her balance near the middle, and the rock is always damp. Probably why they don’t let people in here anymore. I can still hear her screaming.
The PA calling through the crack in the wall jolted me back to reality. My train was about to leave. If I wasn’t on it. I’d be late to school. I nearly scrambled to my feet, but then slowed myself. The rock here was always damp, and damp rock could be slick. I shouldn’t have been in here. I wondered if my noodles were done. Realizing I wouldn’t be able to make my train, I stared across the cavern. I’d done it before. I’d done it dozens of times.
I breathed in, then let it out. Once more across the breach. Suzumi. I hope you’re watching. And I’m sorry.
My eyes looked down at the rock beneath my feet, and I stepped out over the abyss. I trained my gaze upward to the far edge, and held it there. One foot in front of the other. Just like always. Somehow, it’s not the same without her next to me. As I approached the narrowing of the bridge, a felt a soft rumble in the stone. My heartbeat skipped, and I froze. The rumbling grew, and became audible. I put my arms out wide, fighting back the nausea that filled my stomach. A crack directly under my foot startled me, and I sprung forward.
My right foot caught the edge of the rock and my heart leapt into my throat. I leaned hard to my left and ran, full speed, heading for the wider rock on the other side. My feet found rock each time, and I kept going, until finally the other side was within reach. The ground was visibly shaking now and I could hear rocks falling and crashing. Something in front of me shifted and then all light went out in the cavern.
Time seemed to slow then. I felt the floor come back under me. I felt the floor shaking, back, and forth, as my feet fell between every few oscillations. The sound of my feet hitting the bare rock echoed. And echoed. And coalesced, until they formed a ringing in my ear that drowned out everything else. I ran toward the tunnel entrance in complete darkness, relying on my memories of years past to guide me.
Just ahead the tunnel widened, and I could follow the footpath down, if there wasn’t a landslide waiting for me. The end of the tunnel seemed but a few meters away, and all the same a hundred miles. I felt more than heard a low grinding, scraping, then a deafening snap, and something crushed me.
maybe I could expand it. I'm not sure.
Have you written anything lately?