It Came From the Mountain

a novel

Brian J. Jarrett

Copyright © 2016 Brian J. Jarrett

Elegy Publishing, LLC

All rights reserved by the author.  No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written consent of the author.

This book is a work of fiction.  Any names, people, locales, or events are purely a product of the author’s imagination.  Any resemblance to any person (either living or dead), to any event, or to any locale is coincidental or used fictitiously.


To my home state. While we might not have been perfect for each other, I’ll always carry a part of you around with me.




“There it is,” Tony Reynolds said to his friend, Robert Ward, as they stared into the dark mouth of the tunnel at the top of the mountain. “Just like on the map.”

“Are you sure?” Robert asked. “Could just be a cave.”

“See there?” Tony said, pointing. “Wooden support beams, near the entrance. Besides, who cares? A cave is fine too.”

Robert peered into the dark tunnel. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Of course not,” Tony said. “That’s why we’re going in. Think of the cool shit that could be in there.”

“You mean old pick axes and rotten boards?”

“Old pick axes are cool. It’s a piece of history.”

“If you say so,” Robert said.

“Don’t be such a baby.”

“I’m not a baby, I’m just saying that these old mines are dangerous, especially one that’s been closed since the Great Depression.”

“Don’t you think it’s just a little bit curious that it’s not on any of the maps?” Tony asked.

“Nobody cares anymore. It’s an oversight.”

“What if it’s not? What if it’s been purposely hidden because somebody wants to keep it a secret?”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Robert said.

“Okay, okay. But seriously, it’s worth checking out at least.”

“I don’t know.”

“We’ll be fine. We got the rope and the flashlight. I’ll tie off outside before I go in and you’ll be out here in case anything happens. Just pull me back in if something goes wrong.”

“What if the damn roof caves in?”

“It won’t.”

“You don’t know that.”

“What if a comet hits the Earth and kills us all? What if aliens land and blast us to smithereens? What if a virus escapes into the general population and kills everyone? You can’t live your life afraid of the what if, you know.”

“Fine,” Robert said. “But I’m pulling you out after twenty minutes, no matter what.”

“Deal,” Tony replied. He took a step toward the entrance. “Let’s get going.”

Tony descended down the sloped entrance of the mine shaft, flashlight and crowbar in hand with the rope tied around his waist. The flashlight took eight batteries and was big enough to hit a baseball out of the park. It provided a beam of light that cut through the inky darkness like a knife through butter. The crowbar he carried just in case he found something that needed further investigation, something that might need to be extracted.

Truth was, he didn’t hold out much hope that anything valuable would be left in the mine. Robert was probably right; most likely it had been excluded from any recent maps because it was simply old and no one even remembered it. But Tony had always been fascinated by history, including relatively recent history of the twentieth century. Besides, his great-grandfather had worked in a mine, so seeing the same thing as his grandpa might have seen was just plain cool.

The shaft began to bend more sharply down into the ground and for a moment, Tony thought that he might want to turn around and come back. But it leveled out again, piercing more deeply into the mountain. With the flashlight chasing away the shadows and the walking easy, he decided to continue.

After another ten minutes of walking the entrance to the mine shaft had become a small pinprick of light in the background. The dank air smelled musty and old here, and Tony became fascinated by the fact that he was likely the only person to step foot in the mine for more than eighty years. He wondered what it must have been like to come to work in a place like this. A whole lot harder than his stupid job at the DMV, that was for sure.

As he walked, he passed by the remnants of another time. He found several pick axes, along with discarded wooden beams, buckets and other tools he didn’t even recognize. Chunks of coal littered the ground, discarded or dropped off of carts pushed to the surface. Down this far he found old tracks from the coal cars.

After walking for fifteen minutes he found himself deep inside the mountain. He’d brought hundreds and hundreds of yards of rope, just in case, the light nylon kind that didn’t weigh much and could be stuffed into a backpack easily. After a few more steps he shined the light ahead and found that the tunnel abruptly ended. A wall of thick, wooden beams blocked off the tunnel, preventing any further access.

But more interesting, he found, was the door set within the beams, locked up tightly with two padlocks.

“What have we here?” Tony said out loud into the dark tunnel. His voice sounded small and insignificant in the depth and darkness, with an entire mountain on top of him.

He felt a tug on the rope. Robert, right on time. Tony yanked on the rope three times, paused and then yanked three times again, hoping his friend would get the message that he needed more time. He felt Robert pull on the rope three times as well and then it went motionless. Robert was a good friend and a smart guy. A good person to bring along when he did crazy things like this, which Tony seemed to do more often than not.

Tony stared at the door as he shined the light up and down it. Why would they lock it up? What could be behind it that would need protecting? Although he knew it to be an outlandish possibility, he couldn’t discount the notion that something might be hidden in there. Something valuable. Something that might have been hidden for a reason. Not buried treasure, necessarily, but something that might have historical significance.

Something worth checking out, at least.

Tony inspected the hinges on the door. They looked solid, like they’d been cast from thick iron before being bolted into the wood. The timbers he’d seen before; thick eight by eight railroad ties, covered in creosote and embedded into the rock walls of the cave. The kind of wood that would be strong and preserved for years to come. Two padlocks adorned the other side of the door, set in equally strong iron mounts. Placed horizontally across the door, four large boards had been nailed into place, further preventing the door from being opened.

This was no accident, Tony knew. No one took this kind of care to secure something that wasn’t valuable. Robert would tell him the door had been placed there to keep people like him from doing something stupid and killing themselves. Robert might be right, but if the mining company really wanted to simply prevent entry, wouldn’t they have just blasted the roof and collapsed the mine shaft? Why go through the trouble of putting a door on it unless someone planned on coming back through again.

Tony smiled in the darkness. His pulsed quickened as he considered what might be inside.

He placed the flashlight on the ground, propping it up and pointing the beam toward the door as he placed the crowbar’s tip beneath one of the horizontal boards and yanked hard.

It took him nearly a half hour, but eventually he removed all the boards from the door and the bottom lock. Now all that remained was the second lock, located near the top of the door. It would take a little work to pry it loose and his arms were pretty tired, but he figured he could do it if he put some ass into it.

Tony felt three tugs on the rope. He yanked three times on it again to let Robert know things were fine. They were more than fine, actually. He jammed the crowbar beneath the lock and began to pry, feeling his tired muscles stretch beyond their usual level. He wondered what it must have been like for his grandpa, working down in this depth for hours on end, using only muscle and tenacity to pry coal out of the earth. The thought made him appreciate his easy life just a little bit more than he had when he walked into the darkened tunnel.

Tony gave the lock plate one final push and it popped free of its anchoring, nearly flying back into his face. He jumped back at the last minute, narrowly avoiding impact. The heavy iron plate fell to the ground, kicking up a puff of dust that twisted and swirled in the bright light of the enormous flashlight.

Tony stepped back and looked at the unlocked door. “This is it,” he said. “The moment of truth.”

He reached for the door handle and stopped. A rustling sound came from behind the door.

He paused and listened.

Nothing. Probably his imagination.

He placed both hands on the door handle and pulled hard. The door didn’t budge. Probably stuck after sitting for so long, he thought. He placed the crowbar between the crevice where the edge of the door met the jamb and pried hard. The wood groaned as it slowly gave way, the door opening just an inch.

Tony wiped away the sweat forming on his forehead. “Almost there, you bastard,” he said to the door. “Just a little more.” He put the crowbar back into the crevice and gave the iron bar a hefty push. A low groaning sound followed, but it didn’t sound like old boards giving way.

Tony stepped back, puzzled. The sound…it seemed as if it had come from behind the door. But that was impossible. Nothing could be back there. Nothing could live underground like that, outside of spiders and bugs.


Suddenly Tony felt very small and exposed in the narrow tunnel. Trapped, almost. The air seemed thicker now, harder to breathe. Could there be gas in the air? Miners had died from that back in the old days. It was why they took canaries in the mines with them to detect the gasses before it killed them. Or so he remembered reading in a book somewhere.

You’re being stupid, he thought. A grown man afraid of the dark.

Of course it was stupid. Preposterous. Ridiculous. Too many scary movies and too active of an imagination. He jammed the crowbar against the edge of the door and with all the strength he could muster he pushed on the iron bar.

The wood gave out a grating moan as the door broke free and opened just a crack. Air rushed in from the other side of the door, bringing with it an odor he’d never before smelled. It smelled like wet dog and mildew.

Tony pushed the door completely open, revealing the dark maw of an empty cavern. He grabbed the light and shined it inside, but the light penetrated only a few dozen feet into the wide cavern. He could hear the sound of rushing water echoing throughout the large and open area as if an underground creek flowed somewhere in the mysterious darkness.

“What the hell…” he said, trailing off. Using the flashlight, he searched inside the tunnel behind him, finding a discarded chunk of coal lying near the tunnel wall. He picked it up and tossed it into the cavern, the sound of the rock striking the ground and rolling echoed several times before eventually going silent. Tony couldn’t tell exactly how big the cavern was, but it sounded huge.

They’d have to come back if he wanted to explore it. He needed more rope, more flashlights. More people. He’d gone far enough on his own for now. He turned to head back to the surface when he heard a sound come from the massive darkness before him. He shined the light, but could only see the rocky floor and walls of the tunnel. He listened hard, the babbling of the underground brook echoed lightly off the massive chamber walls.

Eventually, he realized he wasn’t breathing. He exhaled and took a step back when he heard it. A scream, almost human…but not. Tony’s heart jumped and his skin crawled at the sound. Panic tore through his system as he gripped the crowbar tightly.

Something was in the cave with him.

Something not human.

He ran. He clutched the flashlight tightly in his hand, the crowbar in the other. Opening the door had been a bad idea. A very, very bad idea. If he could make it to the surface he could get help. Get the cops to come. Or maybe someone from the DNR. They had guns.

The screaming erupted from behind him again, from within the darkened cavern behind the door he’d carelessly opened. He took another step and felt it catch as the rope tied to his waist tangled around his ankle. He tumbled forward, landing hard on his face. He let out a grunt as he struck the rocky floor. The flashlight flew out of his hands and rolled a few feet way, stopping when it hit the tunnel wall.

Tony pushed himself to his hands and knees and crawled quickly toward the flashlight. He gripped it as he heard a noise behind him. A rustling sound, followed by the sound of footsteps. This can’t be happening, he thought. This can’t be real.

He turned, shining the light toward the door.

A tall figure appeared in the doorway, hunched, its body as wide as the tunnel itself. It was black, so black that it seemed to absorb the light from the flashlight. The thing was massive, barely able to squeeze through the doorway. Tony realized he was crying, but could only perceive it from a distance. He felt as if he were watching someone else. Like watching a movie.

The tall, black figure forced its way out of the doorway and onto the other side. Then it widened, filling out and touching the tunnel walls. Tony realized with horror that the thing had wings; wings that had only partially unfurled. His hand shaking uncontrollably, he shone the beam on the creature’s face. He saw only two large, red eyes staring back at him.

Then its mouth opened, revealing two massive rows of razor-like teeth as it charged.

Tony dropped the flashlight and the bulb broke, sending the tunnel into complete darkness as the creature descended upon him.

Robert heard an inhuman shrieking come from deep inside the tunnel and his blood ran cold. He could see nothing but pitch black darkness more than a few feet beyond the tunnel’s entrance, but he knew something had gone horribly wrong. Tony had finally gotten himself into trouble, good and serious trouble this time.

Robert began to pull the rope back in, hand over hand, as quickly has he could. He pulled frantically, but more and more rope just kept coming. Tony had brought so much and he’d gone so deep into the tunnel. Much further than he should have. This whole thing had been a bad idea. A very, very bad idea.

The rope kept coming. Robert’s arms grew tired, the muscles burning as he reeled in foot after foot of the yellow nylon thread. He’d let out so much of the stuff. How long could it take to reel it in before it grew taught? Maybe Tony was near the entrance, already on his way out.

His arms on fire now, Robert continued reeling in the rope. A moment later the frayed and severed end of the rope appeared. Robert looked at it in the bright sunlight.

The nylon fibers had been shredded, separated completely before the knot.

And dark, red drops of blood speckled the severed threads.

Robert swallowed hard.

He heard a rustling from the blackness of the tunnel.

Then a black figure, darker than the darkest of all nights appeared. It burst forth, extending wings that stretched nearly ten feet across. It stood seven feet tall, with thick legs and arms. Sharp claws extended from long fingers.

It looked at Robert with massive red eyes. It opened its mouth, revealing razor-sharp blood-stained teeth.

It swooped in before Robert could move, wrapping its large, leathery wings around his body as it sank its teeth into flesh and began to feed.




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