I was always an explorative kind of person. I always had an interest for the unknown and the myths and legends surrounding dark caves or abandoned places. The adrenaline rush of the paranoia you feel when you know you are alone but you feel like you are being watched was always enough to keep me going. This expedition has not gone as I intended.
It started as any of my normal trips go. I grabbed my backpack and some supplies like a flashlight and some first aid materials. I was heading to an abandoned mining town just outside the city limits and near the state line. It had been abandoned since a coal fire had started to burn under the earth presumably caused by a mining accident. I entered the town and just did what I would normally do. Searched through some of the buildings and took some pictures and basically got "lost" if you will, in a world of my own imagination as I walked through the town. It was starting to get dark and I thought i had seen enough and decided to make my way back to my car when I saw the opening to the mine.
Against my better judgement, I decided to venture forth into the mine. I remember smelling the coal fire at the entrance. That should've been enough to make me change my mind. I decided to keep exploring deeper. Oddly enough either the stench from the coal fire faded or my senses adjusted to it. "Further down the rabbit hole." I said to myself with a chuckle as I continued my journey. As I was walking I came across things you would normally expect to find in a mine, tools, helmets, even some really old and cool looking lanterns. I couldn't shake the feeling of being followed as I went further in.
I kept finding myself doing a double take of my surroundings every few seconds. I tried to calm myself down but that came to and end very soon. A loud bang soon broke the deafening silence of my surroundings. I soon found myself in a full sprint as panic took control of my body. This was no longer just an adrenaline rush, this was becoming real fear. After running for what felt like miles, I stopped to catch my breath and assess my situation. My heart was the only thing I could hear beating in this mine. I knew I was alone, yet I always found myself shouting out “hello?” in a half terrified tremble of a voice. I did not know what I expected to hear in response to my muffled cries.
I then started trying to find my way back to the entrance. I had had enough for the day. I couldn't wait to go home and take a shower and laugh about this later.
I shouldn't have run. I ran and now I am lost. Lost in an abandoned mine, in an abandoned town. All odds are against me it seems at this point. I must find a way out. I have to find my way out. My life depends on it.
Every turn I made would just lead to cave ins or dead ends. I would keep telling myself “it was right here” or “Its just around the next tunnel” even though I clearly had no idea where I was going. I looked at my watch, the time was 9:28PM. It was well past sundown. I decided that I would be better off trying to stop for a quick rest. I found what looked like an old worn down nurses station. Inside was a pad. After knocking away all the cobwebs that were on the original cobwebs, I decided I would only close my eyes for maybe two hours. Maybe that would calm my nerves.
“Dammit!” I shouted, jumping up. “I slept through my alarm I set on my watch.” I got to my feet, grabbed my bag and started to make my way back down the tunnels. I came to another dead end. Only this time it shouldn't have been here. This dead end was an opening the first time I passed it. I only knew this because it was going to be the first one I went down to search for a way out. I fell to my knees and thought “Maybe I should accept fate.” No; I decided to keep searching, there had to be a way. I came in an opening so there has to be a way to get back to that opening and the way out.
I saw something in the shadows. Not an animal, maybe a person. I started shouting “Hey!" frantically as I was looking for them. I heard it running. I know the sound of running feet distinctly since I have been doing nothing but for the past hours that I have been trying to gain freedom from this nightmare that I put on myself. I fell asleep at 10:20PM last night. It is now 7:45PM. I have been in this mine just short of a full 24 hour day. Then the other footsteps running stopped and I saw the shadow.
It was a person! I ran toward them, joy and fear and anger filled me overwhelming all my senses. Then I heard a cracking and popping sound. The support beams gave out in front of me. Now there stands a 7 foot thick wall of stone and dirt in between me and the only other shadow I have seen in this cave. I almost started to weep then I got a little boost of optimism. If he had gotten in here. There HAD to be a way out near by. I back tracked to the opening where I saw him. The tunnel that I had spotted the shadow in was now a dead end. This was only getting worse. I took a look around and saw something. It was another tunnel for sure but I saw something else that made me almost literally jump with joy. A light.
I saw a light. A light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. With great confidence that this was going to be over soon I walked toward it carefully, thinking now that the noise I was making running is what was causing the soft earth and cracked stone to fall in around me. I heard some dust and debris starting to fall. I stopped dead in my tracks. The tunnel wasn't collapsing though. With a little more curiosity I took a few more steps.
The ground came out from under me. I started falling. I fell for what seemed like an eternity before I hit the ground and heard a loud pop. I screamed in agony as my leg began to feel like it was on fire. I looked down to examine the wound. I had received a compound fracture in my leg for my efforts of escaping. After seeing this I could only lay there in pain and weep as I knew what happened next. I was going to die here. No effort I made was going to stop it.
Then I heard a noise I haven't heard in a long time. I heard someone. Another person. They were very close to me and they sounded like they were crying. I felt a violent shake in my chest like my heart was skipping a beat.
I don't remember much after that. I will tell you what I can recollect. There was a very bright light. I kept hearing rushing and panicking and hurrying all around me. Then I opened my eyes. I saw my family. The only people who knew where I was going to be that day. I sat up in a hurried panic and said “Where am I?” I looked at my mom who had a shocked and joyful look on her face.
“You are at the hospital.” She responded through her sobbing.
“Wait, I was lost exploring a mine.” I rebutted.
“Sweetie, you never went far enough into the mine to get lost. You lost consciousness after inhaling too much of the smoke from the coal fire. Could you have had a vision or something while you were out of it?” She responded with quickly.
“Yeah.. Yeah I must've.” I said while rubbing my head. It all felt so real. Every collapse, every cave in, all the dreaded feelings, it all felt extremely real. This felt more real though.
I was going to be fine. It was all going to be ok. I found my light at the end of this tunnel.