How I was standing there, fifteen feet underground, holding a spoon-like shovel, was beyond me. I had clearly been digging for some time now—dirt caked my clothes and hands, there was a searing burn streaming throughout my arms and legs, and exhaustion saturated my eyes—but I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I was digging, or what I was digging for.
I saw a bucket dangling from a chain by my side. The bottom of it was dusted in dirt, so I figured that must be where all the earth I was scraping up was going…and that meant someone was at the top hauling it up, as there was no mechanism down here to lower or raise the bucket. I tugged on the chain, and the silhouettes of two heads appeared at the top of the hole.
“Excuse me, but why am I digging again?” I called up.
The heads glanced at each other, and then back down at me. It was hard to see what they looked like, with the light behind them, but I could tell by their movements they were nervous—as if they were stunned I had the audacity to even ask.
“Keep digging,” one of them said.
Something in me triggered an automaton mode, commanding me to return to my labor, but I forced myself to look up again. “Answer me first.”
One of the heads ducked back, as spindly fingers clutched the edge of the precipice. “Can she do that?”
The other one cocked its head, as if thinking. “You’re too far to stop now,” it called back. “Keep going. And don’t talk anymore.”
I could feel a monstrous pull—it was like a strong man grasping my shoulders and pushing me downwards—but instead I slammed the shovel in the dirt and grabbed the chain. I started to climb upwards, which sent both of the silhouettes above me into wild manic chattering. They started shaking the chain to throw me off, but I hung on and kept climbing. As I got closer to them, I could see the knobby hands, the barracuda teeth, the goat-like eyes, and yet for all their alien traits, they felt so familiar to me, as if I had encountered those demons time and time again…
And just as I broke the top of the hole…
I took a deep breath, sitting up on the couch. The wine bottle I had been drinking from lay on the carpet, a puddle of redness spilled out. The TV, which I had left on all night, was broadcasting some infomercial for a weight loss video. The pack of sleeping pills I had bought last night still lay next to me. It was broken open…but all the pills were in the package.
I stood up on shaky legs, and felt my pocket…my house keys were there. I picked up the packet of pills and chucked them into the garbage.
Seems like a good morning to take a walk.