The roar was overwhelming; a rumble that Charlie could feel through his bones and in his guts. And in seconds it was over. It left them coughing and sputtering in the near dark as they gagged on dust and bits of rock that had fallen from the ceiling.
No one asked if anyone else was alright. They were too focused on what had just happened. One by one, the few flashlights in the tunnel came to shine on the looming wall of rock that blocked their path.
“Oh god…” Beth sobbed out.
“No…no no no no no!” Andrew ran from the spot he had fallen and began pounding on the rock wall. It didn’t shudder. Instead, the entire tunnel began to tremble as little rocks and streams of dust fell from the ceiling.
Charlie was on him in a moment, pulling him away.
“NO! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!” Andrew screamed. His eye were wide with panic.
“You can’t, you idiot! You’re gonna collapse the entire tunnel!”
A moment after being dragged away, his jaw went slack and his arms fell at his side as he simply stared at the cave-in. He felt like a sack of potatoes in Charlie’s arms. With as much care as he could muster, he set his friend back against the wall.
Silence fell again as they each came to grips with what had just happened.
What were they to do? What could they do? The tunnel they were in was part of a small mine in a ghost town amusement park. It didn’t go anywhere and instead was just filled with some pictures of old miners and some crappy lamps. No food, no water, nothing but a curved stretch of tunnel that went on for maybe a hundred or so feet and ended in some stupid tribute to the mine’s founder.
Charlie suddenly regretted not eating lunch before they went in here.
Anna was the first to say what they all were thinking.
“How long do you think it will take for them to find us?”
“Finding us isn’t the issue.” Charlie answered. “It’s the question of how much rock is in that tunnel and how fast they can dig us out. Even worse, will they collapse the tunnel trying to get to us?”
Charlie’s glanced over to Andrew who, at the mention of the tunnel collapsing, buried his head in his lap and curled into a large, sobbing mess.
“Alright. Let’s take inventory.” Julia said in her normal snide tone. She started snapping her fingers as she said, “Everyone turn out your pockets! Let’s see what we’ve got.”
Two pocket knives. A Brochure. A half a packet of Starburst. Some receipts. Wallets. Keys. Cellphones with no reception.
“This is all the food we’ve got?” Julia asked with a grimace as she stared at the packet of Starburst.
“That’s it.” Beth said weakly.
“We’re gonna have to ration it.” Elena said.
Andrew couldn’t help but start laughing. He uncurled slightly to glare at her with tear soaked eyes.
“Are you fucking kidding?! It’s a half a packet of candy. It’s not exactly a box of MREs!”
“Then we’ll keep your share.” Julia snapped before putting the Starburst in her pocket.
After that, they sat around. None of them really talked. There wasn’t anything to say. Every now and then, one of them would wander down the tunnel. Perhaps it was to see if some magical new way had opened up or maybe it was just to use the bathroom.
Every now and again, Charlie listened for the sound of rescue: the clink of tools or maybe shouting. He heard nothing.
All too soon, Julia had distributed the last of the Starburst. Charlie was pretty sure she kept the extra piece for herself, but had no way to prove it. Not like it mattered. It could hardly be called a meal. It did nothing to quench his hunger.
“GODDAMNIT!” Julia screeched. “WHAT’S TAKING THEM SO LONG?!”
“Give it a fucking rest, Julia.” Charlie said. “Bitching isn’t gonna do anything and you’re getting on my nerves.”
“Oh YOUR nerves, huh?” She said, snapping her fingers in his face. “This was all YOUR idea! You’re the one who wanted to go in this fucking mine. We could have gone to the haunted house!”
“Get your fingers out of my face.” Charlie said with a growl.
“Or what? You’ll kill me?” Julia said with a sneer. “Great. You’ll just save me the joy of starving to death in this fucking tunnel.”
Something snapped in his mind and Charlie couldn’t control himself. He punched Julia square in the nose. Blood sprayed and she crumpled back against the far wall.
Her hands were covered in blood as she covered her now bleeding nose. Beth and Elena rushed to her side.
“I’m…I’m sorry…” Charlie said.
No one else said anything and Charlie quickly fled to the far end of the tunnel. He found Andrew there.
“What happened?” he asked quietly, not looking up from his lap.
“I think I might have just broken Julia’s nose.”
“Good.” He said softly. “The rotten bitch deserves it.”
Charlie felt like he should have said something to argue, but he had to agree. Julie had always been insufferable and now that they were trapped down here, her bitchiness had escalated to the point that even looking at her made Charlie dream of bashing her head in with a rock.
“You know she stole the extra Starburst, right?”
“Yea…I figured.” Charlie said with a sigh.
“What are we gonna do for food, man? There’s nothing in here and I don’t know how much longer we’ll last.”
“We could always eat Julia as punishment for the Starburst.” Charlie said with a chuckle. To Charlie’s surprise, Andrew didn’t laugh with him. Instead, he looked surprisingly pensive.
“Look, man. I was just joking. I know that’s your Ex.” Charlie finally said.
“No. You’re right.”
“What do you mean ‘right’? Right about what?”
“We’re gonna have to eat Julia.” Andrew said, his voice disturbingly calm.
“WHAT?! Are you insane?!”
“On the contrary. How much longer do you think we can last without something to eat? Personally, I can’t go on without something. Those Starburst were nothing and they were all we had. Not to mention it’s just been so long since we had anything…”
“But Andrew…” Charlie’s mind was reeling. He was trying to think but his mind just wouldn’t. It was too starved. “You’re talking about killing someone. We’re talking about cannibalism!”
“Ok, dude. You’re kind of scaring me. I’m gonna go check if I didn’t do any permanent damage to Julia’s beak. Just stay here, alright?”
Charlie tried to get up. It took all the strength he had. He was just too hungry. That, combined with the thought of fresh meat, as appalling as the idea was, his entire body clamored for anything it could get. He finally made his way back down the tunnel.
“You ok?” He asked as he walked back up to the girls.
“No, you fucking asshat! You punched me in the face!” Julia barked, her face covered in blood from her nose.
“I’m sorry. I really am. It’s just-“
“Just nothing!” Julia was on him a flash. She pushed him and shoved him and snapped her fingers in his face. “You think you’re hot shit and just because of who your daddy is you can push anyone around!”
She kept shoving him, slamming his back against the wall of the tunnel. Beth kept chiming in, trying to tell Julia to calm down, but she wasn’t having it.
“You think you can just break my fucking nose, say sorry, and it’ll all be ok? Well guess what, it’s not! When I get out of here I’m going get a lawyer and I’m going to fucking sue your-“
There was a sickening crunch and Julia crumpled to the ground. Beth started screaming. Elena just stared. Charlie didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t even seen Andrew come in and now, there he was, with a bloody rock in his hand and crimson soaking Julia’s black hair.
Lifting the rock high, Andrew repeatedly smashed in Julia’s head. Each time the crunching crack become wetter and squishier.
“Stop!” Charlie screamed, grabbing both of his arms. Luckily Andrew didn’t fight because Charlie was sobbing too uncontrollably to have done much else.
He couldn’t see Julia’s face anymore. Most of it was covered by her hair and the back of head which was a splintered and gory mess.
“Why would you…?” Beth tried to ask amongst sobs.
“We need to eat.” Andrew said coldly. “If you think I’m gonna starve to death in this tunnel than you’ve got another thing coming. And I definitely ain’t gonna do it when I’ve got this bag of bitch walking around wasting space.”
Nonchalantly, Andrew dragged her body a few feet away, pulled out his pocket knife, and began to examine the body. He seemed to be trying to figure out where to start cutting.
Charlie was still in shock. His back against the wall, he slid down to sitting. He found his gaze drifted back and forth from Andrew, trying to decide what to eat, Beth and Elena with Beth looking horrified and Elena fascinated, and then finally the bits of brain and skull that were scattered across the rocks next to him.
For a while, he just watched. Watched Andrew fillet Julia as easily as you might a fish. Watched him take chunk after chunk and eat it with elation. Watched Elena join him shortly after and dig in to Julia’s upper thigh.
Finally, it was too much. Charlie’s stomach growled and groaned. He was too weak. He was too hungry.
“Can I…Can I have a…?”
“Yes you can.”
Andrew carved off several slices of Julia’s back and passed it to him. Holding them, they felt cold and slimy. Charlie couldn’t help but wish they’d been able to cook them somehow. But, given basic amenities, they probably wouldn’t be eating Andrew’s Ex.
He took a bite.
And was surprised how much he liked it.
While he definitely wished again that he could roast it somehow, to his surprise it tasted and smelled vaguely like pork. He ate it bite by bite and soon every bit and piece was gone and he was licking the remains of Julia off his fingers.
Beth joined in soon after.
It was only after they had eaten every bit, every morsel, and every part of Julia and sat fat and happy in the darkness that the tunnel began to tremble again. Dust filtered from the ceiling above and little bits of rock rained down on the hollowed out remains of Julia.
They didn’t run. There wasn’t anything they could do. They sat quietly and accepted their fate. If they died in a cave in then it was only fitting for what they’d just done, Charlie thought.
A moment later, the rock wall burst forward as a man with a pickaxe and another man with a large sledgehammer made their way through. The group could see light behind them. They could hear people talking and chattering in the distance of the tunnel.
Charlie jumped up in joy, as did Beth, Elena, and Andrew.
The two men, their rescuers, recoiled in horror and held up the tools as if to defend themselves. From the group.
“Dear god!” The man with the pickaxe screamed as he surveyed the empty carcass of Julia and the blood soaked mouths of Charlie and his friends. “What happened…?”
Charlie hung his head as he tried to wipe the blood from his mouth. He only made the mess worse.
“We did what we had to in order to survive...” He said quietly. The others nodded their heads in agreement.
“What you had to?” The man asked in terror and shock. “YOU’VE ONLY BEEN IN HERE FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES!”
(Hey everyone. I figured we'd end Spookytober on a bit of a funnier note. I really hope you enjoyed. With that said, we will be returning to our regular schedule and, as such, feel free to join us for prompts and practice, 6 word and two sentence stories, along with much, much more! I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant Halloween! See you soon!)