I am walking toward the darkness at the end of the long tunnel. The dry floor is illustrated with swirls of dirt where the last storms’ run off traced designs along the center channel of the concrete tube.
The walls to either side are white-knuckled pieces of preformed concrete, holding back the earth against all hope.
Hope. I have it, but what I sense ahead, what makes my skin prickle with the plea to turn and bead back. That is anything but hope.
A shadow looms in the distance, where the chains of wire-caged light fixtures have given up their fight against the darkness. The future, my future, in this tunnel, is a dark and present shape that hides, formless, in shadows just out of sight.
One foot moves. My boot sole scrapes. Something skitters near my feet. A pile of leaves shifts and a rat appears. It considers me for a moment, looks toward the shadow. I can feel the darkness expand as though what calls me has inhaled our scent.
The rat runs back the way I came, squeaking that I should do the same. But I cannot.
I pass through showers of sunlight as I move beneath storm grates leading to the world above. Cars honk, trucks rumble, and a hundred-thousand feet trample the pavement as my tunnel holds them back. A tide of ignorance.
What looms ahead is true knowledge.
It beckons me.
It knows me.
Author’s note: These snippets are unedited free-writing exercises that I use as a way to shift my brain into a creative state. I use Lynda Barry’s What It Is Youtube timed exercises (usually 9 minutes worth of writing) for these. They are handwritten in a composition notebook, and then typed up here. As I transcribe them, I do tiny grammar and spelling checks, but the overall “clarity” (if you can call it that) of the exercise is left as-is.