The Pit – Revisited

I had originally written and posted this story a few days back but the feedback from readers made it clear that I wasn’t conveying the story’s secrets clearly enough, leaving a confusing, unsatisfying mess so I’ve gone back and redone the entire second half, making it a lot more obvious what the supernatural twist is and giving a more solid ending.

The Pit – Revisited

“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 it’ll cost us to fill it in or cover up properly. Going to be a nightmare.”

After some discussion, they both agreed that 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, securely fastening the rope around the torch’s handle and began lowering it. The torch’s beam created a halo effect as, swaying from side to 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 began drawing the rope back up. After five minutes or so of yanking, the knotted end reappeared from over the side.

“Wasn’t there…” started Brian. “Wasn’t there something tied to the end of that rope?”

“No, I don’t think so” Nick replied, after some deliberation. “No, you remember – we wanted to lower down a torch but we couldn’t find mine, so we just lowered down the rope to see if we could work out the length from that. That’s right isn’t it?”

It didn’t seem right to Brian but then all the facts were against them. He must just be tired – how long had been staring into that pit anyway?

“Hey I’ve got a great idea” said Nick. “You know how we used to go rock climbing when we were students? Well I’m sure I’ve still got all the gear, the harness and things.”


“Well we could lower one of us down there, its definitely wide enough!”

Brian didn’t like this idea at all. There was still something sitting out of place, something just in the corner of his mind, out of reach. Like waking from a dream and remembering that something had happened but not what.

“Bah you’re just a scaredy. I’ll go down – you can stay up here and secure the line. I’ll be the one that finds all the treasure hidden at the bottom!” laughed Nick.

It still didn’t seem like a good plan but Brian couldn’t formulate any real reason why they shouldn’t and so Nick dashed off, returning awhile later with more, sturdier rope, carabiners, a helmet and a harness. They tied the rope around one of the old oak trees, testing it several times. Once everything was in place and Nick was all geared up in the harness, he began stepping backwards over the edge of the pit in the way they’d both practiced so many times.

“Wish me luck!” he grinned as his head disappeared over the edge.

Brian tested the knot again to be sure it was safe then sat by the edge of the well, listening as Nick called back up to him.

“Woooohoooo! Echo, echo… echo… echo.”

“Do you see anything yet?” called down Brian.

“No, nothing yet – just these walls” came Nick’s reply then he broke into the X-Files theme.

Brian wondered just how far down the well really went – thinking of the men, long since gone, who had dug it out with no machinery or drills to help them. What must it have been like to live in those days? Where, instead of just turning a tap you had to dig a deep hole into the crust of the earth?

His chain of thought was broken by the sound of Shona’s car pulling into the drive. He turned and she waved at him.

“What on earth are you doing Brian?” she asked, walking over towards him.

“We were just – I mean I was just… um.”

She frowned at him.

“I was just trying to see if I could figure out how deep this well of yours is” he said, although that didn’t seem to fit.

“How did you know about the well? I’ve only told Sally and my mum” said Shona. “Never mind, I’ve got shopping that needs to go in the freezer, I’ll leave you to tidy up whatever it is you’re up to out here on your own.”

She disappeared again and so Brian started pulling the rope back up until the empty end of the rope slipped back up over the edge. He began looping the rope back up then stopped to ponder why he had bothered to tie it so securely around the tree. There was something he was missing, something he should remember – but what? Whatever it was, it couldn’t be that important.

Title image courtesy kash_if

Published in: on August 1, 2010 at 10:31 AM  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I read the first version, and this one is much clearer. 🙂 Are you going to write a sequel? I certainly want to know what’s down the well and why people forget about it.

    Welcome to Friday Flash!

    • Thanks Mari – was a learning experience this one! I am toying with the idea of sequel, perhaps someone figures out what the well can do and tries to take advantage of it (only for it to backfire of course).

  2. I like this. Good job.

  3. Hmm. This one is much clearer but, in retrospect, the other is creepier… Hmm, hmm, hmm.

    • I agree actually, but I think its the fact that things aren’t pointed out in the first one which makes it more unsettling – the fact that the narrator isn’t even aware of what’s going on. But of course that’s what caused the story to fall over in the first place – it’s a tricky balance!

      • Yes, it’s a very tricky balance.

  4. I haven’t read the first one, but now I must! That was creepy in the extreme, I’m glad I read it at mid-day instead of after dark.

    Great story!

    • I recently found something almost equally creepy to wells – light wells. Those columns of nothingness they have in the centre of buildings of hot countries – there’s all these rooms with windows looking onto but often no door at the bottom… what would happen if you down? What would happen?

  5. I had to think about this one. I think I liked the first one better. This was clearer, but the other one was more subtle?

    • The other one was definitely more subtle but I think it was _too_ subtle, from the comments you can see people either just weren’t getting it or were reaching the wrong conclusion. Maybe at some point I’ll revisit the idea again, possibly with a new plot.

  6. Creepy indeed. Made even more so by the fact that Shona doesn’t seem to remember having a husband.

    I like the reworking you did on this. There may not have been enough in the first version to get the idea across. You did a great job in both refining and expanding the story. Not an easy task.

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