The jade door scrapes open, leaving new scratches on an already worn stone floor, which drops all too quickly into a vast crevasse, with dim lighting fading ominously into black below. The sheer walls of the cliff that Tes is standing on are far too steep to rappel, especially since the distance to the bottom is fully unknown.
Tes came into this personal hell by choice â€“ or perhaps it was on a dare â€“ and she joined three other friends on what seemed like an ordinary Halloween haunted house adventure. This was the fourth room sheâ€™d come to in this house of horrors, and she was alone.
â€œNever split the party, never split the party!â€ she mumbled under her breath in various incantations: first as though dumbstruck, then as a warning, and finally as a plea for help. The crevasse belched up a cloud of dust on a foul wind in response.
â€œHey. Guys?!â€ She queried over her shoulder. No response came from beyond the door, either. At least it was still open. She had little faith that anyone she knew nor anything she trusted was behind her. That only left forward, or downward.
Armed with a rope, two carabiners, and a box of matches, she did what any seasoned adventurer might do. She lit a match and threw it into the crevasse, where it went no more than fifteen feet before it disappeared or blew out. It being a match with the exact mass of a match, she heard nothing if it hit the bottom. Looking around the floor, Tes found the smooth stones to be finely carved, and freshly swept. Not even a pebble remained.
â€œGuess I could throw a carabiner down the hole and see if it makes a soundâ€¦â€ pulling a carabiner off her belt, Tes almost hurls it down into the pit, and stops suddenly when an odd light flickers off in the distance. â€œCould there be another side to reach?â€ she whispered to herself.
She quickly ties the carabiner to the end of her thirty-foot rope, suddenly wishing she had more, but also a bit self-satisfied that she brought rope to a haunted house in the first place. Deftly tossing the rope so that the carabiner should hit first and resound off of whatever it hit, she listened intently at absolutely nothing. The rope, for its part, flew for twenty feet before falling into the pit, and slapping off of the sheer wall below Tes. The carabiner made a resounding clink when it hit the stone below.
Defeated, Tes pulls the rope up the cliff face.
â€œHow is this even a possible room?â€ she asks herself.
â€œGhosts, goblins, zombies, scarecrows, guys with masksâ€¦ all that makes sense. But a room with a bottomless pit??â€ Puzzled by the illogical scene before her, she turns her attention back to the jade door that brought her here, walks back to the doorway, and sticks her head into the hall.
â€œGuys?â€ She hollers out. Nothing answers.
Something that sounds like a muffled scream is heard behind her, beyond the crevasse. She peers into that darkness and decides the only way out is through that.
As if this haunted hell agrees, the jade door begins to close. She jumps out of the way and finds herself sealed inside with the pit. On cue, the fog begins to rise out of the pit, and roll over the stone floor. It smells awful. Now her near-zero visibility is absolutely zero, and stinks to boot. Tes walks slowly forward, feeling out every step with her foot, and her left foot slips.
As the stone floor crumbles beneath her and gives way to air, Tes throws her weight backwards. She manages to keep from falling over the edge, but she hears more of the floor crumbling around her. From on her back, she reaches out with her arms to find crumbled stone on both sides of her. She turns onto her hands and knees and begins carefully crawling to what she thinks is safe ground, but the fog is disorienting, and sheâ€™s no longer sure what direction sheâ€™s going.
Above the crumbling of rock, the screams she heard earlier are getting louder. At first, she swore they were her friend, and felt a rush to try and save them, but now sheâ€™s not sure anymore. She doesnâ€™t even know if the source of the screams is in the pit room with her, or on the other side of a wall she canâ€™t see.
In perfect rhythm with horror movie tropes, Tes begins crying and blubbering at the darkness. She crawls on all fours, feeling her way around the floor, and turning every time she feels the floor disintegrating away into the pit. After several minutes, she focuses on the sounds of falling stones hitting bottom, like fat raindrops on dry dirt. “Maybe there is a bottom that I can reach without falling to it,” she ponders to herself, right before the sounds of crumbling ground begin again. The air, already thick with smelly fog, begins to thicken with dust, and Tes coughs violently on a breath of dirty air. She reaches for her water bottle, but there isnâ€™t one. â€œDid I even bring one in here?â€ she wonders, not remembering.
Crawling carefully again, she makes it mere feet before finding the floor crumbled away. Turning to follow the edge with her right hand, she realized sheâ€™s crawling around on a pillar thatâ€™s roughly seven feet across; everything else is gone. Counting the things that are missing: her friends, her water bottle, the stone floor she entered the room on, her rope and the carabiner that was attached to it.
â€œWhat theâ€¦? I guess it fell away with the floor. Fantasticâ€ she curses out loud.
The ground underneath her begins to shake and wobble, exactly as she imagines a pillar toppling would feel like for anyone sitting on top of the pillar.
â€œWhatâ€™s fantastic?â€ a familiar voice asks her.
â€œWhat? How? Where are you!!â€ she screams into the dusty, smelly, foggy air.
A hand lands on her shoulder and she shrieks in scream queen fashion. She tries to crawl away, kicking at where the hand might have been, and the hand reaches down, grabs her leg, and a disembodied voice starts laughing.
â€œCalm down, would you?â€
The flick of a Bic resonates in the darkness, and suddenly a small light appears. All her friends are staring down at her like sheâ€™s crazy. Confused, she looks around and finds the floor intact, no fog, no crevasse, no smelly or dusty air, just clear inky blackness surrounding the light from her friendâ€™s lighter.
â€œCome on, Tes, get up. Weâ€™ve got more exploring to do.â€