This story is a continuation/prequel to White Eyes, which you should probably read first. Or second. Whatever you wanna do. I’m not your mom.
“What…What the hell is this?” he asked to no one in particular. Except for the thousands of corpses that lined the walls, he was alone in the catacombs that twisted and turned underneath the city. But still he asked. He still spoke as if she were there, right next to him.
He held his flashlight up higher on the wall, looking from corner to corner of the painted altar, inspecting each aspect of the seemingly ancient piece of art. The plaster was chipped and peeling away form the brick behind it, but still enough of the image remained that he could make out what he needed – the woman sitting blankly in the doorway. Her black hair dangled over her shoulders. She stared lifelessly into the toward him, almost as if she were waiting for him to do something
He studied the painting, took a few pictures with his camera phone, then turned back to leave the way he came in. But as he swung around, his coat caught on something. As he tugged at it, hoping that it would release, he noticed it tugged back.
That’s when he spun around and saw the small, wizened hand that clasped the tail of his coat. It was attached to an arm, small, disproportioned, that was attached to a child’s body. The child’s cold, white, lifeless eyes stared back up at him as he swatted the aged arm away.
Another pierced through the darkness, grabbing at his leg, while another still grabbed at his arm. With each passing second, their wails and cries burned into his mind. Finally, after swatting and kicking at the arms of the undead, he was able to break free from their grips. He ran and ran through darkness, twisting and turning, only to arrive at a dead end.
“Fuck,” he hit his hand on the wall as he cursed and spit on the ground. He could still hear the crawling behind him. It grew closer with each passing second. He felt around in his pocket for his lighter, hoping that flames would be enough to scare them away when the light died out. A femur stuck out from the pedestal next to him, and plucking it from its home, he wrapped a bit of cloth that he tore from his shirt around it and lit it ablaze. “This’ll have to do,” he thought.
There he stood, waiting for the apparitions to appear, but after waiting for what felt like hours, he decided to backtrack down the tunnel. He turned right, then left, then right again, wandering aimlessly. Eventually he ended back up at the painting where he began to run. It was there he noticed the light drudging of the undead had grown quiet, faded off into nothing. He looked down at the ground and saw nothing but mud, and sighed a sigh of relief.
But the sigh continued long after he drew in another breath. It echoed in the chambers of the tunnels, and grew louder, not dimmer, as it went on. Finally, the sigh found its way back to him. He felt it surround him, envelop him, culminate in a crescendo right above his head. That’s when he looked up. Hundreds of hands reached down for him all at once. One grabbed his hair, another his shoulder. He thrust the still-lit torch upwards and the hands retreated back into the darkness..
Crouching low to the ground, he made his way back out the tunnel. Still the hands reached for him; still the sigh echoed around him, dissonance stabbing at his ears. His torch was out now, extinguished by the mud as he dragged it along the floor.
Finally, he saw a light in the distance and hastened his pace. As he reached the stairs, the the arms grew larger and longer. Their grasps became more violent. They knew that this was their final chance, the last time they might be able to pull him away from the trail of evil he had discovered. But their efforts were for not, and he crawled out of the tunnel on his hands an knees unscathed.
He fell and rolled onto his back. Wet, muddy, and disheveled, he called himself down and eventually regained his composure. It was a quiet night. The low din of Parisian traffic hummed in the distance. Clouds covered up the few stars that lit their way through the halo of lights that radiated from the city. After composing himself, he pulled his phone out of his pocket so he could analyze the pictures he’d taken.
The painting was divided into two halves. On the left, there was a dark red forest. Thousands of beady yellow eyes peeked through between the leaves. The ground was clearly wet, muddy, and footprints led through the forest into the other half of the painting – a house. The only thing he could see was a silhouette of a woman sitting in the doorway. Her long, black hair lay in front of her face.
Although the woman was unrecognizable, he felt…something…for her. He pinched the screen to zoom into the image. As he extended his fingers, the woman disappeared into the darkness, slamming the door behind her. Shocked, he let go and dropped his phone. She immediately returned to her original position in the doorway, but this time, the hair was removed from her face. She was staring at him, glaring with those cold, white, lifeless eyes, smiling. Blood dripped slowly from her mouth. He picked the phone up again and it began to zoom in on its own, but this time, she did not move. It’s almost as though she wanted him to see. Her face came more and more into focus with each passing second. And that’s when he noticed.
“Oh my god…”
It was her. He’d been searching for her for over a year without so much as a single clue to her whereabouts. But now he knew. He had to find the house. That had to be where they were keeping her.
“It has to be,” he assured himself. He pushed himself up off the ground and turned back toward his hotel, never once looking back at the catacombs that had almost taken his life.