The Tunnel

by G. Ough

I don’t know when the tunnel was built or who built it and I don’t care. All I know is it gives me somewhere to do the things I have to do. I found it when I was a kid roaming around the wild areas at the edge of town, looking for something to do. I’d already found some bottles to smash, the satisfying sound of the crash-tinkle boring me after the first few times. Fire mesmerised me but I’d used my last few matches on a cat the day before. It’s pleading howl had amused me for a few minutes but I wanted something more.

The tunnel gave it to me.

It had been cut into the side of a hill, black bricks ringed the demonic-looking mouth, barely contrasting against the darkness inside. There was a damp compost smell, mushroomy and thick puffing from inside the tunnel and a sound, almost like a voice, calling me in.

I followed the old railway line, the tracks long gone, inside and found it was all an illusion. I could see perfectly well in there. Trash had been dumped inside, papers and cans, bottles and packets along with other items. An old mattress, yellow stained and torn with the springs poking through. Butts and broken glass, cigarette packets and condoms. A bong. Some branches from a tree had been dragged inside and someone had had a fire in here at some point. Graffiti had been daubed over the walls, the soot stained bricks decorated with obscene words and names I couldn’t make out.

Then I’d seen the freezer.

Pristine white as if it was on display for sale in a shop window it had been left in the middle of the tunnel. I could feel it calling to me, hear its voice and I understood it’s hunger.

There had been a trembling in my stomach, a hollow feeling I knew from other times I’d had it. Like when I slammed that dog’s tail in the door and it screamed. Or when I’d been at the play park and shoved one of the other kids off the roundabout so hard his arm snapped on the floor.

It felt like fun.

My mind worked, wondering what it wanted, what would satisfy the hunger of something like this. How long it had been there I don’t know but it must have been starving by now. I’d approached the freezer and trailed my fingertips along its cool, smooth surface. Recognition flooded into me and I remember knowing this thing was like me, hollow and empty.

I’d slid my fingers into the handle and pulled the lid up. It had opened with a greedy sucking sound, a greedy mouth opening for the first time in years and I could feel its hunger.

“Feed me!" It whispered, the sound had been urgent and needy to my ears.

A puff of rotting breath had wafted from the freezer and I’d looked inside to see a few misshapen lumps, covered in dark green fur, all it had been fed for a long time.

“No wonder you’re hungry," I’d told it. “Let me get you something to eat."

I’d let the lid fall shut and listened to the satisfied grunt echo around the tunnel as I left my new friend to get some food.

*     *     *

Bernie and Janice Hodgkinson were at work. I knew that because I went to school with their daughter Janine and she used to boast about fucking different boys in their bed while they were at work. The little gaggle of sniggering teenage girls surrounding her had turned to stare at me while I looked at them through blank eyes.

“Eww, look at that!" One of them had said.

“Yeah, he’s disgusting," another girl said.

“Fuck off you perv!" Janine had spat at me.

She’d called me that ever since I showed her my erection three years earlier. I’d been following her home when she turned round to look and saw the bulge in my trousers. She’d grinned then and told me to show her it. She’d run off screaming when I did, running my hand along it while she watched.

I got to the back of Janine Hodgkinson’s house and whistled. The dog came running just as I expected it would. Bouncing along with its white fur flying and yapping at the sound like an idiot. It bounded over to the back fence and I waited for it to jump up, the stupid thing not able to understand it couldn’t jump high enough to get anywhere near me.

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