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He races through the old damp tunnels, lost and confused. Each turn brings him deeper into the belly of the beast that sits under the city of lights and romance. But there is no light here, except for that of a small camera he took with him on a whim. His flashlight batteries had long since died and he never thought to pack any extras.
He comes across the piles of bones, victims of a disease that ravaged a continent hundreds of years before, a mass grave. The sight spooks him and he starts to quicken his pace. All he can hear is the sound of his own heart thumping in his ears and his conscience d*mning him for being so stupid. But there was nothing he could do. No one could hear his pitiful screams and no one would rescue him from this dark damp h*ll. He would have to find a way out. Now.
Roger Gibson, an American film student, finally got what he wanted; a trip to Paris, France to make a documentary about the notorious catacombs that lay under the city. However, that was not his main objective, finding some French Mademoiselles to spend his time with was. Roger thought of the week he had in the city he could spend a maximum of two days slapping together a halfway decent project then the rest chasing some tail.
He hopped on to a metro and headed to the crumbling hostel that his school had booked for him. Staring out the windows he looked at the graffiti laden walls of the station before being pulled into the dark tunnel. Much like the tunnels of the catacombs that ran under the city, he mused.
The next day Roger went to the Catacombs of Paris Museum to film the excavated bones and the tunnels that were open to the public. It wasn’t like he would actually go into the d*mned passages that lay under the city, not if he could help it. As Roger filmed a particularly interesting skull and cross bones display he overheard a conversation between two youths. Though the conversation was in French he could still translate most of it in his head due to six years of forced French tutelage at the hands of a sadistic teacher.
“The tunnels are nothing like this!” bragged the first of the two, “I would know, I’ve been in them with my brother! But he doesn’t go down in them anymore, after what happened to Baron. Besides, it’s not that difficult to navigate them! I should think that I will know every tunnel and room down there by the time we graduate!”
The second responded, “I can’t wait for Friday! Isn’t it exciting that the older guys are going to get us to the tombs? Hey, it’s almost three, we should go meet them now. I don’t want them ditching us just because we weren’t punctual. ”
Turning around to the teenagers Roger enquired in French, “I don’t mean to be rude but I am making a film about the Catacombs, would it be possible to interview you guys about your experiences and possibly get you to film your trip down there? I would be able to provide a camera. This is an extremely important film. If it looks good my boss, Steven Spielberg, would definitely be interested in shooting a story about the catacombs. He would also be interested in finding some French teenagers to star in his film. But if you don’t want to help, you don’t have to.”
The two boys looked at each other with unconcealed glee as they agreed to take Roger to meet their older more experienced friends for interviews.
The trio arrived at the café in one of the more rundown parts of Paris. The two boys told Roger to wait outside for them to ask their buddies about being interviewed. They agreed and Roger was led into the dim café. A group of young college age men were sitting around smoking and laughing as maps of The Parisian Metro, the streets, and the catacombs below scattered almost all of the tables. The maps were all drawn on indicating cave-ins, entrances, heavily guarded areas, etc.
Roger removed his camera from its case and filmed the small smoke filled room then set the camera on the table in front of him and proceeded to interview the men.
For a few hours they discussed the technicalities of searching through the caves, the dangers of cave-ins, and stories of what they had seen. It was a relaxed setting until one of the guys pulled out a water beaten, old camera to show off.
“Well, if you truly want to experience what it’s like down there, watch this. We found it a couple months back. It depicts some inexperienced fool running around deeper in the catacombs than we care to go. But if you want footage of the bones still down there you can use this.” He said, placing the camera in front of Roger. “Use it as a warning for any of your idiot friends not to go down into the catacombs, they have enough bones down their without stupid Americans contributing.”
Roger took the camera and thanked the group for their time; he then gave them a small hand held device to take on their next trip down into the catacombs. He got their numbers and told them he would contact them if he needed any more questions answered.
That night Roger turned on the camera and began to watch. The video was not long, only a little more than forty minutes. The video started at what seemed to be mid journey, the unknown cameraman was adjusting the camera light to break through the darkness of the tunnel. The unknown camera man was walking through tunnels that were comparable to the metro tunnels, except for the size. The cameraman had to obviously bend over to walk through the tunnels and proceeded with caution. The camera was showing the cameraman’s point of view and Roger felt as if he were there, making his way through the dark. For thirty minutes the unknown man walked, meandered through the tunnels aimlessly. Roger could tell by the lack of graffiti that explorers would leave behind to indicate the path back to an exit, that the man was deep underground.
Suddenly, the tunnel gave way to what looked to be a much larger cavern with papers littering the floor. The ceiling stretched as high as a cathedral’s and seemed as ordinate as the camera light passed over the black sharp rocks decorating the high walls. There were holes cut into the lower walls, obviously meant to be used as doors. The cameraman stepped towards the first room on his right. His light shined on what was contained in the room and could see nothing until he panned his camera down and saw the bones. The entire floor was littered with bones; it would actually be more accurate to say that the floor was bones.
The cameraman sped from room and started to explore the others, only to find the same thing in all of them: separate mass graves. Walking as quickly as he could the camera man came to the end of the hallway and saw what looked to be a chalk drawing of Jesus. The features had long since faded but the general outline of a man with his arms outstretched and legs pulled together still remained. But the drawing was so pale and fine that it may have just been a trick of the rocks. Maybe the Catacombs had mercy on the dead that it had held for years and gave them a chalky Christ to keep them company and mark their graves.
The camera man swung a quick left and hastened his pace taking turns indiscriminately, until he broke out into a sprint. Suddenly the camera dropped onto the ground and Roger saw the camera man’s boots running in front of the camera until they too faded into the darkness.
Roger slammed the camera shut, knowing that the man would never return. Climbing into bed he couldn’t help tossing and turning. Questions floated through his mind of the motives of the camera man and his sanity.
As he boarded the metro to his next stop, an appointment with historian of the catacombs, Roger couldn’t help shudder at the thought of crawling into the tunnels that so reminded him of the ones he had experienced last night through the eyes of a lost explorer and his nightmares. He sat down and closed his eyes, but the darkness too reminded him of what he had witnessed. D*mning himself and the stupid camera he resolved to throw it away as soon as he got the chance. But what about the lost man in the caves? Didn’t he owe his fellow cameraman a definite ending? Shouldn’t he find out who he was and why he was down there in the first place?
Arriving at the residence of the Catacombs historian, Roger had already formulated his plan. He would convince as many people as he could to help him with his new project, to find out what had happened to his cameraman. His cameraman? When was this lost explorer Roger’s problem? ‘It’s a good story, that’s it’, Roger thought ringing the doorbell, ‘I’ll find out what happens for my project.’
The door opened and a paunchy, red man with a book in one hand and glasses in the other glared back at Roger.
“Hello, are you Dr. Adrien Martin? I’m Roger-“, started Roger.
“Yeah, I know who you are,” Said Dr. Martin in English, “Stop with that d*mned French, boy. You have the worst accent I’ve ever been forced to hear. And if I don’t have to hear it, I’m not much inclined to tolerate it.” Turning away the Dr. Martin walked back into his house. Roger took this as his invitation to come in however uninviting it may be.
“So, you’ll want to film this interview, correct? Well, don’t just stand there, idiot! Take out your camera and let’s get this over with,” said Dr. Martin gruffly sitting down on his lazy boy chair. Roger quickly set up his camera and proceeded to question the doctor, hoping to remove himself from the man’s presence as soon as possible.
“Sir, I just have some questions about the catacombs. Why were they built? What was their purpose? How long do they go on for?” spouted off Roger.
“D*mn son, you don’t do your research and then expect me to answer all of those questions at the same d*mn time! And they say Texas has morons. Shouldn’t I introduce myself to the camera? Wouldn’t your viewers like to know why a Texan is living in Paris?”
“Well, if you would like to-“
“Great! You see, my mother was French or at least some part of her family was, god knows what. But I became very connected to French history during college and studied abroad right here in Paris and well one thing leads to another and here I am! Now, the catacombs have an interesting history. They were originally an ossuary, I assume I don’t have to explain what an ossuary is, and stone mines. The original name of the Catacombs was l'Ossuaire Municipal, don’t try and pronounce that, and they were the mass graves of those who couldn’t pay to be buried in one of Paris’s Cemeteries during and after the plagues. People have hidden in them, used them in plays or stories, etc. There are seven known levels to them and an estimated 400 miles of tunnels. Some of the old quarry walls are actually lined with the bones of the 6 million people who were dumped in them.”
“Wow, that’s incredible. Do you know any stories of people getting lost in them?”
“D*mn boy! Is this a documentary or a mystery movie? Yeah, idiots go climbing into those things and some get lost, most get arrested for doing stupid s*** like having dances in the tunnels. But I’m sure people have gotten lost in those things. Some tunnels are marked with signs that correspond to the street above it, but with construction, I wouldn’t trust them to be correct.”
“Have you ever been in them?”
“Wow, you are as stupid as you look. I can’t make it to the d*mn end of my block without huffing and puffing, do you think I would last 10 minutes in those tunnels? H*ll no! When I was younger and stupid, I would have, but right now my knees ache and my books call to me. But I’ve heard stories about you kids going down there. None of you brats are brave enough to do some actual exploring. For instance, I would love to be the man to find l'église des mangeurs d'homme, the Church of the Man Eaters. Rumor has it that when bodies were being taken down into the tunnels during and after the plague, a cult type group traveled deep into the caves. Apparently, “God” told them too. Isn’t that always the case? They lived underground in a “church” but they would steal the bodies and eat them and god knows what else, probably some weird rituals. But the thing is they survived for YEARS under the city. They were only found when they started to develop a taste for live flesh. Miners would go down to the quarries and come up telling stories about strange creatures that they had seen. People being dragged away and the like. No one believed the miners. Who would? But when an entire crew of men went missing with no signs of cave-ins or anything, people started taking the stories seriously. Finally, a couple of explorers went down there and brought back a child that had apparently lived its whole life down there! Imagine that! Naturally others went down the tunnels and discovered the church with its members all together. All the members of the church were dragged back to Paris and executed. I don’t think they got all of them out though. Strangely, those who had entered the church to find the members went insane. Murdering and devouring family members or attacking people in the streets. People figured it was because of what they had seen. Others say that the place was cursed. No one has been able to find the church; no one left directions. But I’m sure it would be a sight to see. The man who finds it would be held in the same esteem as the archeologists who found Tut’s tomb and the first men to climb Everest.”
“Wait,” exclaimed Roger, “I’ve been there! I’ve seen it!”
“Again, you are as stupid as you look. I told you no one has been there. At least not for hundreds of years…”
“No”, said Roger giving the doctor a look, “I have a camera that has someone finding it. It washed up in the Seine a couple of months back. It has the place that you described! I’m sure of it!”
“Well! Do you have it? Go get it!”
“I will. On one condition.”
“If it’s to stop calling you stupid, I’ll do my best but I won’t make any promises.”
“No, I want you to help me find out what happened to the camera man of the film. Get some people to help us get to the Church and I’ll give you full credit for the discovery and the camera, afterword. You’d be famous!”
“That does sound nice, but son no one I know has ever gone down there, and I sure as h*ll never have. And frankly I don’t want to. The glory doesn’t outweigh the danger. Cave ins, getting lost?”
“Come on. You said it yourself that the person who discovered the church would be famous. If you actually go down there and record the journey. No one would be able to question the validity of your find. And it would be the adventure of a lifetime. I’ll bring the video here and you can watch it.”
“Fine. Bring the video and find us a guide for this trip and I’ll get some others who would be essential to confirming our find. Come back here tomorrow at five.”
With that Roger left the doctor and made his way back to the hostel to grab the camera. He wanted to watch the video again to confirm that the place that the camera man had been through was the church that Dr. Martin had been talking about. Opening the camera he could feel the bumps and grooves on its surface. Roger could imagine walking through the tunnel but he wasn’t an explorer. He was just a lanky American boy with a growing obsession.
Realizing this, Roger grabbed his cellphone and called up the man who originally given him the camera.
“Hey, I’ve changed my mind. I want to find out what happened to the camera man of the video you gave me. Do you know anyone who can guide me and a few others down and back?” inquired Roger.
“Don’t you recall what I told you? The catacombs don’t need any more bones. Besides no one goes down that deep into them. It’s not worth getting lost. Only person I know who had been that deep is the brother of that dweeb you met yesterday. But he doesn’t go exploring anymore after what happened to Baron, his best friend.”
“What happened to him?”
“He died. Well, actually, no one actually knows what happened to him. Vallis, the guy I was telling you about, and Baron said that they were going to map the less explored parts of the catacombs called the pits due to the holes in the tunnels in that area. For three days no one heard from them. We all assumed that they had died. But finally he crawls out of a manhole on the other side of Paris without Baron. Vallis doesn’t talk about it anymore. No one really knows what happened. Besides Baron’s family and the police. Actually, I’m not too sure they know either.”
“Are you sure that Vallis wouldn’t be willing to help us? Can I at least talk to him?” begged Roger. After fifteen minutes of begging and pleading for a number the man relented and told him where to find Vallis. He worked on a cruise boat on the Seine.
“If you hurry you can catch him before he leaves for his apartment. But don’t mention Baron at all. Vallis would probably get angry and not even talk to you,” he warned Roger.
Roger ran to the metro, hoping to catch Vallis before he left. As he entered the boating area he looked for the described man: tall, muscular with brown long curly hair and probably in a red and white shirt. Walking through tourists and avoiding slipping on the wet cement, Roger combed the area. After a few minutes of searching he saw Vallis. Trying to formulate what to say, Roger walked over and tapped the tall man on the shoulder.
“May I help you, sir?” Vallis said with a thick French accent that Roger knew made him the talk of American tourists. Just now a gaggle of older women were pointing and giggling at him.
“Yes, my name is Roger and I am making a documentary,” said Roger praying that Vallis would be as gullible as his brother.
“Oh, about the Seine? I would not be the person to ask. I just drive the boats. You should go to a library-“
“It’s about the Catacombs and your experience,” said Roger quickly in French to avoid being overheard by the tourists that were milling about.
Vallis’s face changed to stone.
“Who told you about me? And why do you want to know about the Catacombs?” retorted Vallis.
“I found a video of a man going into the tunnels and I want to know what happened to him. He was deep down and may not have gotten out. I just want to know who he was and maybe give his family some peace of mind. The not knowing what must have happened to their son would be the worst. It’s for a good cause isn’t it? Would you be willing to help me? I want to go and find this man and maybe his remains.
Vallis stared at him, “I don’t think so.”
Please help me. Do it for Baron. He wouldn’t want you to give up on exploring on his behalf. Just consider it. Here is the address of where we will meet, the rest of the crew and I, at 5 tomorrow.” said Roger, hoping that an appeal to what had happened to his friend would convince Vallis to join him. Unfortunately for Roger, Vallis’s eye narrowed and anger over took his handsome features as Roger placed Dr. Martin’s address in his hand.
“Get away from me.” Spit Vallis.
“Um, here is my number. If you change your mind.”
“Leave,” Whispered Vallis. Roger walked quickly away as to not further anger the man. ‘Well, that didn’t go according to plan’, thought Roger as he slowed down from his speed walk. He then noticed that he was now on the famous Champs-Élysées. Walking through the crowds of happy tourists he lost himself in the lights of Paris.
‘The Paris that the world knows’, thought Roger, ‘The bright lights, romance, not the tunnels that extend for miles underground. The death and decay.’ He tramped through the city he had been so excited to see without joy. Almost if by fate, Roger had walked into the Latin Quarter a section of Paris with small streets that held clubs, restaurants, and small tourist shops.
Though he should have been done with his haphazard project and enjoying the streets of Paris he couldn’t. He was in the greatest city in the world yet his mind was miles beneath it in the damp darkness. Roger got onto a metro and went back to his hostel. He tried to sleep but it was of no use. Pulling out the camera he started to watch the unknown man’s journey once more.
The next day Roger grabbed his equipment together and made his way back to the Dr. Martin’s house. As he rang the doorbell he felt the waterlogged camera hit his leg. He shivered, it felt like long nails softly tracing up his spine. Dr. Martin opened the door. He was attired in an ugly sweater that wouldn’t be out of place on Bill Cosby.
As Roger once again entered into the library and was shocked to see Vallis relaxing in one of the easy boy chairs conversing with a thin man in rapid French. Across from them sat a middle aged black man paging through an old thick book.
“Vallis? What are you doing here?” Asked Roger. He didn’t think he would ever see the dark haired French cataphile ever again. Especially after how furious he had become.
“I missed the adventure. And anything beats being eye stripped by a bunch of American women every day.”
“Roger obviously doesn’t have that problem” said Dr. Martin re-entering the library with drinks in hand, “Anyway, get your camera out boy. If you’re going to make a movie about our little adventure, it better be d*mn good. Now this is Bruce Cannon, pointed Martin to the thin man. “He’s an osteologist. And this is a Jack Fremont, my friend and psychiatrist” gesturing to the black man.
“Hello”said Roger as he set up his camera. After fiddling with the zoom as to avoid looking at everyone, he sat down.
“Well, do you have the video? Let’s see it.” Said dr. Martin, pointing to the TV across from the group of men. Roger put the tape in. They all watched in silence as the unknown man made his way down the catacombs and disappeared. Roger closed his eyes. He could picture what was happening without having to look at the screen. The video had been playing on loop in his mind’s eye since he had first seen it.
When the tape came to the end Roger got up and turned it off. Returning to his seat he searched the faces of everyone. All seemed deep in thought.
Finally Vallis spoke up, “I think I have some idea where the video starts. He may be a level or two underneath the pits though. The walls are black so he would have been somewhere near the old quarries.” He then proceeded to pull out maps similar to the ones Roger had seen when he had gone to the café two days ago. ‘Two days ago?’ thought Roger, ‘It seems like a lifetime.’
“From what I’ve read that certainly looks like the church,” Said Dr. Martin taking his glasses off and rubbing his watery eyes, “I would give a leg to go see it in real life. I mean imagine what papers or writings could be still down there? We would be famous if we could go down there and bring back definite proof of the existence of the church. Would everyone be willing to go on this adventure of a lifetime?” saying the same thing that Roger had to convince him to partake in this expedition.
The thin man looked around nervously, “This isn’t legal. Besides, what use would I be?”
“You could identify the bones and see if they are from the correct time period. 15th century most likely. Come on Bruce for once in your life do something exciting. You’re getting older and this is one of the few things you’ll be able to look back on and say. Wow, I wasn’t a boring Nancy boy.” Said Dr. Martin.
“Fine, I’ll go. But if we get arrested I’m saying you forced me Adrien.” Relented Bruce
“Good. What about you Jack are you in? The video could make a good psychological study of what people do when they panic. It could make for an interesting paper.” Said Dr. Martin turning to the black man who was hunched over staring at the palms of his hands.
“I know what the brain does when it panics. What it makes you see. Shadows become demons. The wind turns into ghosts. People do stupid things when they panic. Or when they obsess,” said Jack looking directly at Roger when he said the last bit. Roger held the psychiatrist’s gaze until Jack relented and looked back to his hands.
“Well, there won’t be any wind down there.” Joked Dr. Martin.
“We would be traveling farther than anyone has been before. Except for our mystery man. I know the stories of the Catacombs I’ve lived in Paris for years. I know that people get lost. I know we would be traveling to the supposed gates of h*ll. Where men have lost their minds. But I’ll join you. As moral support.” Again Jack looked directly at Roger when he said the last sentence and this time didn’t relent his gaze.
“Well then I know a good way to get into the tunnels. We’ll meet tonight at 9pm by the old abandoned metro station on Rue Fourier. It’s on the west part of town. Agreed?”
That night the five men met outside the old abandoned station.
“Alright, got your camera Roger? Good. There is an entrance down the tunnels here. I’ll tell you when it shows up. Be extremely careful and conserve your flashlight batteries. I have extras but still. We need to be careful. Let’s go.” Said Vallis leading the way down the broken stairs into the darkness. Roger was the last to go down the steps. On a whim he turned and looked up towards the sky. It was a blue-purple that only seemed to exist in most silent places on earth. Where life hustled and bustled so nearby but here one could not feel any of that. It was beautiful. Looking up Roger was consumed with a deep sadness. It tasted of rainy days in fall that made the whole world smell like rotting leaves. Turning away from the outside world Roger headed into the darkness.
The group walked for 15 minutes or so on the track until Vallis signaled for them to stop. Lifting up what appeared to be a manhole cover in the poor light he looked down into the black entrance of the catacombs. Vallis hoisted himself down the 5ft drop and then helped the others. The ground was wet and smelled stagnant. Roger panned around but there wasn’t much to look at except the old stone walls of a place long forgotten by the living but still was in the memories of the dead. The group continued on straight forward into the inky blackness. For what felt like hours the four men lead by Vallis walked and occasionally climbed down through holes that could be large enough for then men to stand upright and walk through side by side and others that were only a few feet wide and tall. Roger thought that if he ever made it out of this place he would have an awful case of claustrophobia.
Suddenly, Vallis stopped at a graffiti marking of what appeared to be a B sliced by a V. He stared at it for a few minutes then gruffly said, “This way. We will take a break soon.”
They stopped at a fork in the caves and sat down on the stone floors exhausted.
“How much longer boy?” Said Dr. Martin hunched over on the ground drinking from his water bottle. “We’ve been walking for hours.”
Vallis turned to the group after staring at the two different tunnels in turn. “We have about an hour and a half of walking before we make it to the pits. After that I’m not too sure. We need to get under them somehow and then from there we follow Roger’s video.”
“Okay let’s keep moving then. I want to make it out of here by the time I’m sixty.” Said Dr. Martin getting up. “Lead the way.”
Vallis obliged and continued into the left tunnel. After about 50 yards the tunnel became claustrophobically small again. Only instead of going straight forward it dipped into a steep angle, Similar to a slide rather than a tunnel. Vallis put his arms on each side of the wall and slowly scooted his way down the tunnel pushing against the sides of the small tunnel with his arms and legs to prevent himself from slipping down the sharp stones.
“Be extremely careful. We don’t want to create a cave in. These downward sloping tunnels have a lot of pressure on them go slowly and when you are at the bottom flash your flashlight up the tunnel to signal the next person to go.” Everyone else followed suit. Roger was the last to go. Hanging his camera around his neck he started his way down the tunnel.
Suddenly, Roger felt his hand slip and cut on the sharp stone. Quickly moving his hand away from the rock Roger lost his balance and started to slip down the tunnel. As he hit the opening on the outside he could hear rocks tumbling down behind him. Roger moved out of the way just as the tunnel collapsed leaving them miles underground in pitch blackness without a chance of escape.
“Idiot!” Roared Vallis, “We are now trapped!” Roger looked around at the others men’s faces and could see clearly their expressions of fear and horror.
“We are abandoning this mission. Our new objective is to find a way out.” Said Vallis trying to find the others in the darkness, “If anyone has a problem with that you can go find the d*mned ‘church of death’ or whatever yourself. I am getting out of here.”
“Vallis! You’ve been down here before. Just show us how you got out the last time with Baron!”
“I don’t know how I got out last time. I was half dead. I don’t want to remember how I got out last time,” said Vallis peering in vain into the darkness, “but we will get out of here.”
With that Vallis took a left and felt his way down a tunnel.
The thin man looked like he was going to have a panic attack. Dr. Martin was talking to him gently and guiding him down the tunnel after Vallis. Jack turned to who he thought was Roger. Strangely enough, the psychiatrist’s face looked completely calm.
“You didn’t do that on purpose did you?”
“Why the h*ll would I?” Said Roger looking at the psychiatrist as if he were insane.
“I don’t know. But a combination of obsession and physical/mental stress can make people do very strange things.” Said Jack. With that he continued down the tunnel following the others. Roger took his camera in his hand again turning on the light as it had shut off during his fall. ‘Of course I didn’t cause a cave in on purpose! Why the h*ll would I?’ thought roger. A small voice inside his head responded, ‘To make sure we couldn’t turn back. That we would find him.’
Shaking his head, Roger walked quickly to catch up with everyone. The tunnels down here weren’t the gross brown color that the upper tunnels had been. The walls of these tunnels were inky black and smelled like soot. Roger touched one of the walls and his hand came away black. The group continued on until the tunnel opened up into a sudden drop. Below the group was a large pit that seemed to have no bottom. The walls of the drop were smooth. Roger picked up a piece of rock and tossed it into the pit never hearing it hit the ground. Vallis looked around the edge of the pit and found what he was looking for. A very old looking rope.
“Miners used to go down into these pits a long time ago. Some of their stuff is still here.” Vallis grabbed a hold of it and started to quickly descend. The rest of the group followed. Dr. Martin looked at Roger and said, “I’ll be the last to go. I don’t want you to cause another cave in.”
Roger didn’t care. His mind was battling with either finding the missing man or seeing sunlight again. The order in which he went down into the pit didn’t fit with either of those goals. Roger quickly made his way down the pit. After 15 minutes his feet hit the ground. Roger walked away from the rope and stood by the others as they waited for Dr. Martin to make it down. Vallis went over to the rope to see if the Doctor was coming down.
“Are you alright?” called up Vallis Shining his light up the pit.
“Yes, I see your light-“ Suddenly there was an audible snap and a loud scream. Dr. Martin hit the ground hard.
“Oh God! Dr. Martin?” Said Vallis as he approached the man.
“My Leg! It’s broken! I swear to god it’s broken.”
The rest of the group sprinted over to Dr. Martin’s aid. His leg was bent the wrong way and his pant leg was quickly soaking up blood.
“God help me! I’m going to die.” Said Dr. Martin his usually smug face contorted with agonizing pain.
Roger inwardly thought that this declaration was true. He was injured to the point of where it would be nearly impossible to move him.
“We’ll carry him.” Said Jack. He looked at the man’s leg, “it’s definitely broken but when we get out of here you’ll be fine. Two of us will hold you and you can use your good leg to hop along. It’ll be fine.”
And so it was decided. The group slowly continued on hoping to find a tunnel that would take them outside. Hours went by and the group was exhausted. Every muscle ached in Roger’s body and his mind had shut almost completely down. Except for the small part of his brain that was looking for the start of the video. In his mind it still played on a loop over and over again. He would find him. Down here. No matter what.
Roger was holding up Dr. Martin with Jack when Bruce who was behind the rest of the group started screaming. It was the loudest shriek Roger had ever heard. The sound wasn’t absorbed by the stone but echoed off of it making it grow louder and louder until it seemed to fill up the whole cave. Vallis turned around and pushed past Roger and started toward the thin man who was making such an incredible racket when suddenly Bruce sprinted at Vallis and pushed past Roger and Jack. Bruce dropped his flashlight and ran ahead into the darkness still screaming. The others stood around in shock waiting for the sound of the man’s screams to die out.
“The stress has probably gotten to him. His mind has completely shut down. He wants to get out of here and will probably do anything to do so. He’s most likely dangerous now. When we catch up to him we can try to subdue him and bring him with us.” Said Jack.
Vallis stared down the tunnel where Bruce had just run off, “He’s gone. There is nothing we can do for him.” With that Vallis continued down the tunnel and the other three continued with him. They made it to a dead end.
Roger looked around for Bruce but he couldn’t find him.
“Where the h*ll is he? This is a dead end!” Said Roger incredulously.
“He probably climbed up”, said Vallis looking at the wall which indeed looked like it could easily be climbed, “It’s too high to pull him up.” Gesturing to Dr. Martin who had passed out from exhaustion and was curled up on the ground.
“You two climb up. And go find help. I’ll stay with Adrien.” Said Jack looking at Roger and Vallis. Vallis walked over to Jack and grabbed his shoulder.
Looking him in the eye Vallis said, “When he dies. Climb up. I’ll leave marks on the wall for you to find your way out. But I’ll call for help.” With that Vallis left his extra batteries and water with Jack and signaled for Roger to wait for him to go first.
As soon as Vallis was out of earshot, Jack looked at Roger and said, “Don’t let your obsession get to you. I know you want to find this explorer and not the church. I know you lied but please put that aside and just get out of here.”
Roger gave him a blank stare and then started to climb the wall. When he made it to the top Vallis grabbed him and pulled him up. Staring in front of Roger was another fork in the tunnels. The right one had already been marked with and crude arrow that had just been sprayed on by Vallis. Glancing at the left tunnel, Roger stopped and stared. It was the start of the video, he knew it.
“Come on! We have to keep moving before we get too weak to keep walking.”
“No”, whispered Roger as if in a trance. He then started towards the left his eyes glazed over.
“No! We need to go to the right! The left tunnel has water in it. It’s probably under the seine. If we keep to the right we’ll be under the main city and far more likely to find a way out!” explained Vallis as he pulled Roger to the right.
“NO!” With that Roger shoved Vallis off and started towards the left.
“Fine!” called out Vallis as Roger quickly made his way into the wet tunnel. Vallis turned and continued down the right tunnel into the darkness that would soon consume him.
Roger opened his bag and pulled out the old battered camera. Hitting play he continued to follow the same way that the camera man had. Roger had been correct he could see that the tunnel that he was in was the one on camera. Just as the camera man stumbled on to the Church so did Roger.
Roger heard a giggle and quickly paused the camera looking around for the source of the sound. He heard the giggle again only this time he heard the sound of bones being disturbed. Roger took his flashlight and went to the third room on the right where he thought the sound was coming from and looked inside.
Sitting on top of the pile of bones was Bruce. Roger sucked in a breath as he saw what Bruce was doing. In his hands there was a bone and he was gnawing on it like a dog, giggling and laughing to himself. The rounding of his mouth was covered in blood from where his teeth had broken from trying to chew through the bones.
“The dead are not living. But the living are not dead. Is this real or in my head? But why should we stay living when God is already dead? Eat the flesh, eat the bone and keep all of their souls. EAT THE FLESH AND EAT THE BONE!” screamed Bruce.
Suddenly, Bruce looked up and started growling at Roger. Getting up he started towards Roger. Roger quickly ran out of the room and past the chalk Christ and continued to run following the familiar steps of the lost camera man. Halting Roger looked around. ‘This must be where the camera was dropped thought’ Roger. He calmed his racing heart and continued on. Making the best guesses he could as to where the camera man may have gone. His brain had long since shut down and his body was battered and tired.
Roger realized that his feet were wet and that he was trudging through at least six inches of water which kept getting deeper and deeper. When the water was at his waist he looked up. There was a stretch of wall jutting out in front of him. Pulling himself out of the water Roger sat on the landing that looked like it used to be a bridge of some sort. Water flowed underneath this piece of wall but the way was blocked off by fallen rocks above it.
Sitting with its back against the wall was a skeleton. It wasn’t like the ones that Roger had seen in the rooms before. This skeleton was fresher, still keeping its form and clothes. The flesh had rotted off long ago but a little muscle and a few long tendons remained attached the body. Roger looked at the figure and knew with sickening relief and joy that he had found his friend. That this was his lost explorer he had devoted so much time into finding. Looking at the boots still on its decomposed feet, Roger recognized them from the film. He crawled his way to the skeleton and sat down with his back against the wall. He no longer felt exhausted. In fact, Roger never felt better in his life. There was a tingling sensation all over his body. With the last of his strength Roger threw the camera into the water. Curling up into a small ball, Roger sat with his head in his friend’s lap and waited for death to make its way down the tunnel to greet him with a cold embrace.
The waterproof camera made its way through the tunnels traveling quickly through the darkness until it was emptied into the Seine. Washing up on the garbage lined shores it rested there. Until two youths who were musing about going into the catacombs were walking and discussing their plans happened to stumble upon it.
“Hey! Look what I found! Now we can record our own adventure in the tunnels instead of having to hand over our footage to that American!” Declared the first looking at his prize, “This way I can record the tunnels and show my brother! Maybe that will convince him to come down there with us! Or hey, let’s go down earlier. Tomorrow. We can explore by ourselves before we go with the others. I know this old entrance that my brother told me about. ”
“Okay, that works. Let’s not show this camera to anyone though. They’d probably take it away from us. It’ll be our secret! But we should see what’s on it before we start recording! Maybe it has some footage of the Catacombs.”
“Like the one that was given to that American? I always wondered what was on it.”