11 Apr The Screams From Below
“The Screams From Below”Written by Kyle Harrison Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 9 minutes
My brother Marcus was already dead before I came to Odessa. He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer just six months ago, making him a walking corpse.
When he got the news, it changed him. He started to do crazier and crazier things, just to get the thrill.
His latest idea of living on the edge was urban exploration, and that brought him all the way to the edge of the Eastern world.
The news of his whereabouts came to me via an email from a small business just outside the main downtown shopping area, Osuzhden Tours.
Written entirely in Russian, the short message told me only that I could come and retrieve his body if I so wished.
But when I met the owner, he told me that it wouldn’t be a simple matter.
“Your brother was a brave man; he wanted to walk the path of Hell itself,” he said, shaking his head sadly.
As I soon discovered, Marcus had chosen to go explore the underground tunnels of Odessa and did so without a guide.
“He insisted, claiming that he was trying to capture a glimpse of the chaos that this place offers,” the manager explained.
He felt so guilty that he insisted I should take the money Marcus had paid him.
“After the fourth day and he did not return, I felt the only choice would be to call his next of kin. It is not the first time this has happened…the labyrinth entices many foolhardy people into its maw. I often warn them that the place is not to be disturbed and insist that I accompany them. But they do not listen,” he admitted, shaking his head sadly.
I gave him an inscrutable smirk, thinking that this was part of the scam he ran. Offering an unsupervised tour into the heart of the Ukrainian city and he would turn a blind eye for just a few extra dollars. Had Marcus not been American or had wealthy contacts, I doubted he would have called me at all. How often, I wondered, did he simply send aspiring young men and women to their death all for the allure of uncovering hidden secrets beneath the earth?
“I’m not leaving until I collect his corpse,” I told him.
Then he gave me the same warning I was sure he could recite verbatim.
“The tunnels are expansive; some say there are over a thousand access points across the city. It is a city under the city! An entire network of caves, tunnels and complete darkness.”
“And how much of the place do you know?”
“The city laws allow me only to navigate the first level, perhaps only 5 percent of the tunnels that weave their way throughout Odessa,” he admitted.
I was sure that he expected I would simply take the money and leave. But Marcus deserved better. So instead, I asked him to take me to the point of no return.
It wasn’t long before there was little to see in front of us save for the dim lighting of the headgear he gave me.
“Why would anyone want to come here?” I whispered as we descended.
The caves were claustrophobic already and we were hardly a hundred feet below the surface, I thought as we turned a corner and the space became even more confined; with each step, the outside world forgotten, and a new nightmare born.
“There is a lot of history here. During the wars, some soldiers were here for six months. Can you even imagine being locked away with no light or sense of time for that long? The maze can play tricks on your mind,” the guide told me, his voice echoing as I saw some of the weird and disturbing graffiti on the walls. Pictures of devils and mutilated bodies hastily scrawled by pranksters, and other logs made by half-sane men that likely used what little tools they had to etch out a living day by day.
To go on down here in the midst of nothingness took a certain amount of bravery and stupidity, I knew.
“This is as far as I can go,” the guide told me as we reached another flight of stairs. I couldn’t even see the first step below my feet, the darkness was so incapacitating.
“Well, you’re going to have to break the rules today; I’m not going to wind up another corpse for you to scare your guests about,” I told him, grabbing his arm and pushing him down.
“Now, hold on just a minute, let’s be reasonable men about this. Weren’t you listening to a thing I just said? This place is impossible to search every nook and cranny. Some say that only eighty percent of the tunnels have even been registered; it would doom us both to go any further,” he said nervously.
I revealed the pistol from my coat and motioned him to start the descent.
“I will only use this if you try to run,” I told him.
Marcus deserved a better final resting place, I told myself as we went to the next level. Slowly we began to search the catacombs. Neither of us spoke as we surveyed the hollow tunnels. It was easy to see why anyone would believe this place was haunted. Not even rats were scurrying across the floor.
“This is a bad idea. We will soon lose track of which way we came,” the guide warned.
“Hold this,” I told him as I took my jacket off. I had come prepared for this with a few torches that were small enough to stash in my pockets, so I laid one down next to the last corner as we crouched down and entered what looked like a military bunker.
Scrawling digits covered the walls, a tapestry of sanity being broken as these men struggled to find a reason to keep going.
My headlight caught a glimpse of something in the far corner, and I found myself a bit disturbed by it. It looked like a full-sized model of one of the soldiers, dressed in protective gear for the long months in the hazardous tunnels; gas mask and all.
“I thought you said that you didn’t bring people down here,” I told the guide, showing him the doll. “How do you explain this?”
He mumbled an apology in Russian and said, “There are things about this place I can’t understand, sir. We truly should not be here. Your brother is dead. Please just accept that,” he told me.
But I wasn’t satisfied and had to keep going deeper. He was hiding something. The tunnels were holding back some vital truth. And it would just take another few levels for me to find it.
He became quiet as we reached the next level, the oxygen apparently thinner here as we carefully searched the corridors. I was down to my last torch already.
From here on out, only my senses would be able to guide me. I decided to keep my hand to the wall, mentally counting my steps as I kept the guide within an arm’s length, and my weapon raised in case he decided to give me the slip.
After a few minutes of walking in the pitch black, he tried again to convince me to turn back.
“We could be going in circles. There is no way to tell. May I recommend that we get an entire crew here first thing in the morning? Many men can make light work of this labyrinth,” he told me. His voice was cracking; he was terrified to go further.
I waved the gun for him to move on, convinced that meant the truth was close. But I dared not keep my eyes away from him as we rounded another corner. A torch that I had laid down was just about to go out, and I ran to it, trying desperately to keep the light going.
“There isn’t much air down here, so it shouldn’t surprise you. You’re in a hellscape. Just turn back, please. Clearly, we can’t expect to find your brother,” the guide pleaded. The torch was definitely an indication we were going in circles, but I didn’t want to be deterred because of a simple loss of direction. If the roles were reversed, I knew Marcus would do anything to find me.
“You sound so convinced that he is dead. But you don’t know my brother like I do. He might be lost, but I won’t accept he is gone until I see the corpse myself,” I said. It was a lie, but it was enough to get the guide to be quiet for now as we pushed through to the next corridor. I wanted to try to retrace my steps and find a different path.
But every one that we came across seemed to lead to a whole new set of winding tunnels.
It seemed pointless to talk now as we rounded corner after corner, lost in the dark that couldn’t be escaped.
Then we came to the bunker again, and I sat down on one of the cots, feeling dizzy and a bit light-headed. The guide was going completely pale, and at first I didn’t understand why.
Then I turned toward the corner where the life-sized model of the soldier with the gas mask had been sitting and realized it was missing.
“What the hell?” I whispered, shining a light toward the next corridor.
Then I saw something move in the dark. A silhouette on the edge of my vision.
It was the soldier, standing there in front of me, maybe only ten meters away; the reflective surface of his gas mask showing me that he was moving toward me at an alarming pace.
I froze, my brain trying to catch up with my body as I realized this was a living person coming toward me. Immediately I shouted to the guide to move, but it was too late. The soldier was on him in less than a few seconds, strangling him to the ground as I backed away.
My only thought was to run.
I didn’t know where I could go, but I stumbled amid the tunnels and tried to think quickly of which way was the path out of this darkness. Behind me, I kept hearing the guide scream. Then the tunnels went silent, and I realized I had hit a dead end. And it also meant that my guide was likely dead.
I still had the gun in hand, and I could hear the soldier moving about, trying to find me. But it was impossible to see a thing. I hugged the wall again, realizing that if I couldn’t see my attacker, that meant they also couldn’t see me. I stayed completely still, listening to the darkness.
Thinking I was waiting to die.
I could hear nothing at first.
And then breathing from within their mask. They were right in front of me. Could they sense me? I wasn’t sure. I kept still for a moment until I actually felt their body against me.
I reacted on instinct and pushed them down, running back the way I had come to the bunker.
The guide was dead on the ground, his eyes bulged out and his tongue cut off to stop the sound of his screaming. I grabbed his phone and used it as an extra source of light to find my way toward the next corridor.
It was another dead end. My mind was panicking. No wonder so many came down here to end it all; there wasn’t an exit.
Turning back, I saw the soldier standing at the end of the corridor, just gazing at me. Perhaps trying to decide if I was worth dealing with.
There seemed to be an air of familiarity to the way he stood.
And then it hit me.
“You came here not to die, but to hide,” I told him.
The soldier took a step forward.
“Well, then, you’ve got your wish. Let me go. Let me get out of here alive, and I won’t tell anyone,” I said.
Another step and they were showing their weapon of choice, a curved, serrated blade.
“No one has to know. As far as the world is concerned, you are dead. It can stay that way, and you can just keep doing whatever it is you are doing here. I can make up a story. Tell them that there was a cave-in or something,” I begged. “Or just that you got mugged. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
He was standing only a few meters away now. The blade probably inches from stabbing into my chest.
“I know you have nothing to lose…but please…I still have a family. I still want to keep going…” I sobbed.
The soldier held up a finger to his mask, then took a step aside and gestured for me to leave.
I hesitated for a second, trying to understand what might be going through his head. Why had he chosen any of this?
But I didn’t dare question the chance to escape.
I left him there in the darkness, stumbling to find an escape. It felt like hours before I could really even get a sense of location.
We only saw each other once more when I heard the sound of bones breaking and realized he was feasting on the guide’s carcass. His back turned to me as he hunched over the corpse like a wild animal.
I don’t even know if he recognized that I was watching.
Instead, I left those tunnels behind and spent the next ten hours trying to find a way out. My breathing ragged and heavy. My body sore and hardly able to move.
Eventually, I did make an exit, managing to crawl through a drainage pipe to a southern part of Odessa. I smelled rank and likely looked like I hadn’t slept for days. But at least I was free with my life.
I traveled back to the states the next day and did exactly what I told him I would do. The beneficiaries accepted my story and read Marcus’ will a week later.
Standing there, listening to them divide what money he had left like it was lots was sickening. And some part of me understood his need to escape society. To hide in the unknown and never been seen again.
I tell myself he is gone now, that no sane person could live that long in those conditions under the city.
But sometimes I have to go back there, walking the streets of Odessa, and I hear the screams.
And I know.
My brother is still below.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableKyle Harrison Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A