Writing Prompt #3 — The Northern Breeze

Prompt: You tear down a wall in your basement to find a tunnel system connecting to all your neighbors houses.

When Tom stopped mowing his grass, John walked over to him and asked about the tunnel he found behind his basement wall.

Tom wiped the sweat from his forehead and said, “Oh those things? Yeah, the entire cul-de-sac has them. During the slavery period, the slaves used them to hide or escape. As far as I know, there’s no exit through them, they just kinda go to each of our houses.

Ours is blocked with concrete, Wilson’s bricked his up, and I don’t even think Smith remembers he has one. I wouldn’t worry too much about them. No one uses them, and only those who’ve lived here for quite a while knows they existence. But if you are worried, just use some drywall and block it off.”

John said he had to get back inside to help his wife, and Tom started his mower again, waving goodbye.

The rest of the day went on as normal as it typically did in John’s suburban home. The kids came home from school, played outside, then came in dirty. Susan, his wife, washed them up, then served a roast and corn on the cob for supper.

When evening began to settle in, the boys were sent up to bed and his wife went into their bedroom, where she read a romance novel and eventually drifted off to sleep. John went to the basement, to block up the hole. But as he stood in the stone archway, he felt a cold breeze coming from the tunnel. If all the other portals were bricked up or blocked in some way and there weren’t any exits, then how was there wind? He wondered.

After he found a lighter, he flicked it on and began to slowly make his way down the tunnel. The soft breeze continued, and the smell of the sea lingered into John’s nose. He cupped his left hand over the flame, though it still whipped about atop the silver metal. Around him the stone walls began to dampen, and glistened under the soft yellow light cast from the lighter. Lines of moss ran between the bricks, while water dripped overhead. The air grew colder and colder.

When he thought he could go no further, for the way seemed blocked by impenetrable darkness, he shuffled to go back to only find another passageway standing to his left. In his mind he thought of the layout of the other houses, and none were built in that direction. He felt curious, but fearful. . . God only knew what could be down in those catacombs after all those years. But he had come this far, so he may as well see it out to the end.

The floor of the newly discovered tunnel began to slowly slope downwards. When he looked up after a few minutes, the ceiling was lost in the gloom. The wind picked up and the smell of salt water became stronger, no longer tinging the gale but bathing it. The ground finally leveled out and although he could only see a few feet behind him, he believed he must’ve traveled nearly thirty yards underground.

His lighter went out and refused to reignite. He spat, tossing it into the darkness. John groped the damp stone walls, slipping on mold and moss as he continued forward. A dim ghostly blue light slowly filled the corridor, as if moonlight reflected off a pool of brilliant azure. John quickened his pace towards the light, desperate to no longer be in darkness.

An outline of an arcing passageway appeared out from the shadows and he stood at its threshold. A beach of obsidian laid before him, and an ocean beyond seemingly made from shards of lapis lazuli. The sky was crafted from a darkened sapphire, and the moon was forged from quartz. He walked out from the tunnel, flabbergasted, across the black sand and stood before the water.

In the distance he could see a faint scarlet light flashing, as if a lighthouse stood miles away, giving the signal for safe travel to passing ships. Under the moon’s light, he saw a bridge to the west that reached out to the red light. As quickly as he could, he ran to it.

After running miles across the bridge made from topaz and garnet, he came to a small island. Perched atop a lighthouse stood, stretching up into the thin vaporous clouds. He found the building’s front door, threw it open, and raced up the twisting stairwell. The sound of his feet hitting against the steel steps reverberated off the walls and echoed down the lighthouse’s cylindrical frame. The door to the scarlet light stood open and he passed through the doorway.

Knelt underneath the enormous burning ruby bulb was Tom. He stood up, his shadow flashing across the sea miles below, and walked over to John.

“You felt the breeze, huh?”

John said he did.

“That’s what get you, that damn breeze. There’s nothing left of this world. As far as the eye can see, it’s just that beautiful gemstone ocean and clear crystal skies. The breeze, damn it to Hell, comes all the way from the north.”

He stopped talking for a moment, looked out over the ocean, then turned to John and continued.

“I’m building a ship to follow it. Each night, when Tiffany goes to sleep, I bring down supplies: wood, hammers, nails, sheets, et cetera. Problem is the sea isn’t just water, it’s crystal, and I’ve been having trouble with that. I’ll need metal and some kind of sharpened plow. Really I don’t know. . .” he laughed, shaking his head. “I’ve never built a ship before.”

Tom fell into a silence, then asked after a few moments. “Would you want to come with me? To see where that breeze really comes from?”

John immediately agreed to go.

“Okay, good. We’ll start tomorrow.” Tom said. “Now let’s get back before our wives worry about us.”

They both had a chuckle and began their descent down the winding steel staircase.

Read my previous prompt, The Unfamiliar.


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