The clock's minute hand neared the five. Everyone rose from their seats and started packing. Ben was the first one to leave, his trench coat flowing behind him as he walked. Once outside, the studs on the elbows of his sleeves shined, reflecting the sun's rays.
Ben walked through the double doors to leave that godforsaken building behind. As he rounded the corner on Sixth Avenue, a black hole suddenly appeared underneath his feet—or so it seemed. He didn't scream or yell as he was falling, but felt butterflies in his stomach. When he looked down, he saw nothing, but as he looked up, he saw the sun getting farther away. Slowly, darkness consumed him.
The teenager reached to the sides, still falling, trying to find something to grab onto. Nothing. He looked down once more, but this time, he saw the smallest light glittering. Ben stared at it as he kept getting closer. His stomach twirled as he was beginning to feel almost comfortable in total darkness. Yet, before the light passed by him, he reached out, his fingertips just brushing the dull glow. Ben closed his fingers around the support bar, grunting when his fall came to a stop, for it felt like his arm popped out of its socket. The young teenager's free hand made its way to grasp, what he could now see, a lantern. His hand meandered around the lantern, trying to find a handle. When he found it, he pulled it to the right, but it didn't move. He tried wiggling it, shaking it... Nothing made it move. His hand slipped off the lantern's handle, and just like that, the lantern came off. It started falling. Ben flailed about trying to catch it, but failed. He could only watch it fall. Ben closed his eyes. Darkness was all he knew, and it was all he would ever know.
Smash! The glass surrounding the bulb shattered, but the bulb itself didn't go out. The lantern couldn't have fallen more than four feet once it passed Ben, who narrowed his eyes in annoyance. Just four more measly feet. His fingers slowly unraveled since his hand was getting sweaty from holding onto the bar for a while, yet he didn't let go. The little devilish voice inside him slyly said, "You can let go. There's land beneath you. The lantern proves that."
Another voice chimed in, arguing, "Don't let go. What if it's just an illusion? You'd keep falling into nothing."
Ben's grip on the bar was slipping, so while squeezing his eyes shut, he let go. When he fell those four damned feet, he felt the glass crack under his shoes. (Thankfully, he shunned all canvas shoes and only wore steel-toed boots.) Glancing down, he noticed the lantern resting peacefully next to his feet. It was as if the lantern was a puppy, waiting for its owner to take it on a walk. When reaching to pick the lantern up, Ben heard a noise. He quickly straightened, looking around for the source. It had sounded like a door opening with hinges so old, they screamed. It echoed, ringing in Ben's ears. He swiftly picked up the lantern and spun around in a circle, hoping the glow would help. Nothing. Choosing a random direction, he walked through the abyss.
Minutes later, footsteps sounded throughout the darkness, but it wasn't Ben's footsteps. Ben stopped short and listened. No good. The footsteps ceased when he stopped, yet he could sense a presence; his stomach was turning and had dozens of leaping crickets inside. He wasn't sure where it was, but he knew it was here. Ahead, right, left... Nothing. Suddenly, he felt something on the back of his neck. It could be a breeze, but would he dare look back?
Shaking his head, his short dreadlocks gently hit his face as he kept walking. But the footsteps started up again, sounding closer than before. Much closer. Heavy, pounding footsteps, slapping against the ground. Ben stopped again and swung around, holding the lantern in front of him. A short breath left his mouth as he stumbled back. In front of him was a bloated thing wearing a pair of overalls. Under the overalls was a white long sleeved shirt, only the shirt wasn't pure white; it was dirty with red splatters. The clothes were drenched in sweat and smelled like a skunk's perfume. The thing wearing the clothes was like a parade balloon, but only slightly smaller. As the light shined on its face, Ben could see its red hair shaped like the devil's horns. Surrounding its glowing red eyes were black circles, making it look raccoon-ish. Its nose was a red stress ball, and past its bright red lips, its teeth were sharp and moving like little drills, ready to take a bite.
Ben's usual calm expression changed to fear when he saw the oversized meat cleaver rising over his head. His eyes widened and his legs automatically turned him around and ran in the opposite direction.
After a few minutes of running, Ben came across a hall of mirrors causing him to halt as he reached a dead end. He took a glance over his shoulder. The clown was a ways behind him, but closing distance quickly. Ben looked at the mirror in front of him, hoping that there would be something—anything—that could save him. He took a step back, almost in defeat, when he saw his reflection wink at him. He didn't wink. At least, he thought he didn't. Then he realized that when he took a step back, the reflection didn't copy him.
The teen stared his reflection in wonder. It waved its right arm to the side and the mirror opened like a door. Ben took one last glance behind him and saw the clown monstrosity about twenty five feet away. His body thought for him as his head snapped toward the mirror and his legs sprinted through the door. Once he was through, the door slamming sounded throughout the empty corridor he entered.
Ben paused for one second, just to look back to see if that thing was gone; it was. He sighed and walked at a leisurely pace. It felt peaceful here as his anxiety quickly dispersed. This corridor, although still extremely dark, was a smidgen brighter than the previous void. Ben. The boy looked around, searching for the voice. His lantern dimmed when the voice called him.
"Who are you?" he asked as he turned around in circles, trying to pinpoint where the voice was coming from.
The voice was high pitched, but soft, and sounded like it was coming from a little girl. It echoed throughout the corridor, bouncing off the walls.
"How do you know my name?" Ben shouted.
Once again, the voice said, "Ben."
This time he knew it came from straight ahead. He walked faster, and as he did so, a light shone from far away. After being trapped in the dark for what seemed like begrudgingly long hours, Ben desperately wanted to see a different source of light than the failing lantern he held in his hand.
When Ben reached the source of the brightness, he was disappointed. It was only a door. The entire door was gleaming, but it wasn't the light he was hoping for. The sun: a warmth he so longed for. Then a new hope arose in him. What if this door was the way out? His hand touched the doorknob. At that same moment, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Thinking the clown had somehow gotten past the mirror, he hurriedly ran through the door.
Ben immediately shielded his eyes afterward, for when he went through, he was blinded by white light. Then everything went dark except for a single beam shining down on a rope ladder. It was long, but Ben would do anything to get out of this darkness. He ran up to the bottom of the ladder and started climbing it.
It was about midway up the ladder, Ben guessed, when he began to tire. His hands were blistering and his feet had missed rungs, causing him to almost fall back down several times. Although, something caught his eye while looking up. It appeared to be a faint outline of a palm tree. Hope sprung throughout his body as he started climbing as fast as he could, ignoring any pain he felt, praying that what he saw wasn't a mirage.
Suddenly, his hand touched something, and it wasn't the next rung on the ladder. It was hard and gritty. Ben pulled himself up onto the thing. Once he was fully out of the hole, he realized he was on concrete. As he looked up, he saw the sun, its warmth soft and comforting. When he looked right, he saw his school, the same brick building he attended for three years. He stood up and looked behind him, expecting to see the gaping circle of darkness, but it wasn't there and never appeared again.177Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡvQgfraOXl6ns18.104.22.168da2