The Pit

There is now a revised version of this story which should make things a lot clearer and more satisfying – you can read it here.

The Pit

“You’re never going to believe this” said Nick and from the tone of his voice Brian believed him. “Come over straight away.”

Nick’s old farm cottage was in as much disarray as it been for the six, seven months since he and his wife Shona had bought the old place. Most of the upstairs had been gutted and refitted now and although plans for an extension seemed to have become lost in bureaucratic limbo, they had decided to crack on clearing the back garden for it anyway. It was during this slow process that the builders’ had made an unexpected discovery, just a few feet from the back doorstep.

It took both Nick and Brian several minutes, using a spade and large stick to lever aside the large paving tile the builders had put in place before they had left for the day. Once it was moved the two men stood in silence, staring at the dark hole that loomed before them.

“Jeez” whispered Brian after awhile.

“Probably been there since the house was originally built in the 17th century they reckon” said Nick. “I guess in those days you needed to have your own well out here in the country – wasn’t exactly a national grid or anything.”

“Just think how many times you’ve stepped over that, not knowing it was there. All that emptiness just hiding beneath your feet.”

Gingerly Nick flicked a little pebble over the side and they both waited for the gentle patter of it landing somewhere below. The sound never reached them.

“How deep is it?” Brian asked.

“They don’t know” said Nick. “They’re going to measure it properly tomorrow and price up much its going to cost us to fill in or cover up properly. Going to be a nightmare.”

After some discussion, they both agreed neither could wait that long to find out how deep the well was. With some thought they found a length of rope and tied Nick’s heavy duty 100 candle torch to the end and began lowering it. The torch’s beam created a halo effect as, swaying from it side it illuminated the ancient stones, bordered by crumbling mortar. Down in the dark, bugs scuttled in and of the cracks formed by roots and time.

Brian gave a shudder despite the balmy summer evening air. No matter what the purpose for a well, there was something unnatural about having a hole in the ground like that. It was somehow unsettling and made the ridges of his teeth feel gritty and exposed. The sound of the nearby road seemed to have died away leaving only the whistling of the breeze through foliage and the strained sounds of the rope pulling against the rough edge of the pit as Nick slowed its descent. Staring down into the column of nothingness Brian felt cold and hollow, just a fragile shell.

And then the light, now a tiny ring, stopped shrinking. They had reached the end of the rope without hitting the bottom. Nick shrugged with disappointment and started drawing the rope back up. After five minutes or so of yanking, the knotted end reappeared from over the side.

“So how long was that?” asked Brian.

“At least eight feet” sighed Nick. “It’s a shame we don’t have a torch of something we could lower down. There could be anything down there.”

“Tell you what” said Brian. “How about I dig out my old climbing gear and tomorrow we’ll lower one of us down there?”

Nick agreed to this but only on the condition Brian would go down first. Wimp.

“It was funny” thought Brian as he drove off. “Nick probably still had all of his own climbing ropes and harness kicking around somewhere from when they were students. Surely he would have tried abseiling down already? Then again you really needed two people for that and Nick did live all alone in that big empty house.”

Title image courtesy kash_if

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 7:31 AM  Comments (15)  
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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh no, this isn’t going to end well is it? Very entertaining story, nicely done.

    • Glad you enjoyed Alison – the story’s inspired my friend who has actually just found an old well hidden in his back garden.

  2. Why did he say Nick lived alone? What happened to his wife? Or is that the point? Sorry, slow today. Endless dark holes creep me out.

    • You’re almost there – the torch that was on the end of the rope and then wasn’t, the wife that was there and then wasn’t. These aren’t mistakes.

  3. Those missing things confused me too. I had to go back and re-read it. Now I see what you have done. Clever!

    • Hmmm, I maybe made it a bit too subtle. Might look at revising this then.

  4. …Yeah… somehow I missed that as well. Is this another serial? It doesn’t seem to really “end”. So, will there be a part 2?

    • There is no Part 2, I’m going to rewrite it though, make things clearer.

  5. Hmm, intriguing. What I took away was that they offed the wife – she’s now down at the bottom of the hole. But I’m not sure about the, if only we had a torch, bit.

    Is the eight feet a typo, meaning eighty?

    • Yeah I’ve tried to be too clever and also too vague with this one. This is not a normal well, things that go down the well are erased, including any memory they ever existed. Hence one when the rope goes down there is a torch tied on the end but when it comes back up there is just a knot in the end and they’ve both forgotten that there had been one. The implication at the end is that Nick and his wife have already tried lowering one of them down – her – and both she and the memory of her have been consumed by the well.

      I still think it’s an interesting idea but in hindsight if neither of the characters are aware of what’s happening then its harder to convey that to the audience. They did something similar in the last series of Dr Who but of course the Doctor is unaffected so can see, and convey, what is happening.

  6. So I think it’s become obvious that this story was a bit of a misfire (in terms of delivery). While that’s obviously a bit of let down it’s also a great example of why the web is great, I’ve had instant feedback from a range of readers identifying the main points that need improvement and as such have been able to go back and fix things making it a truly constructive learning experience.

    I’ve rewritten the story (mostly the second half) to make things a lot clearer and more satisfying:

    • I think that’s a pretty brave thing to do, frankly – to rewrite the story for all the world to see. Kudos. I’ll check it out when I get a chance.

      • I don’t know about that – I think if it had been something that was widely appreciated already then changing it would be bold (didn’t Stephen King do that with something?) but with the current state of affairs I just wasn’t satisfied. It had to be improved.

  7. I missed the disappearance of the wife, but understood what was happening with the forgetfulness and the rope going into the hole. Clever story, I like we took a whole ground. Welcome to Friday flash.

  8. […] from people that have appreciated (this can also be a wonderfully constructive process as I discovered recently). Then there’s the competitions and people who invest their own time to collating and […]

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