Deep and Dark

The “Well to Hell” is a widespread internet urban legend: Hard-working men dig a very deep hole. Not satisfied, they lower a microphone down… and a chorus of screams emits from the speaker.

Eh, not bad.

Not great either though. “They drilled to HELL” feels more like a punch line than a conclusion. Plus, notably, cavernous voids tend to be more gripping when you don’t know what’s at the bottom.

Here’s four of my favorite weird/creepy stories on the deep and dark.

Got your own favorites? FEED ME. (Read: Comments are welcome.) Nothing like getting lost in the dark with no end in sight…

(1) Mel’s Hole

Mel Waters calls into Art Bell’s radio show. It’s the early 1990s.

Mel starts with a simple premise: He’s got a hole on his property. A really deep hole. Looks a bit like a well… but it’s not a well. He doesn’t know what it is. It’s been there as long as he’s owned the land.

Mel used to fish for sharks, he says. He’s used to deep, dark worlds. Yet Mel can’t figure out this hole.

To try and measure it, he sets up a reel of fishing line. He weights the line and adds a pack of Lifesavers. Then he starts dropping line into the hole. Imagine that roll of rainbow packaging suspended, spinning on a thin fishing line in the murky, claustrophobic darkness. The line just keeps sinking. Mel can’t reach the bottom. When he reels things up, the candies return dry as a bone: There’s no water down there.

Whether the recordings of Mel’s story are a lonely man’s ramblings or brilliantly crafted nonsense, they entertain. Each time Mel calls in again, it’s predictable that things have escalated. But it’s never predictable how.

(2) Ted the Caver

It’s an internet classic: Go re-read if it’s been a while.

Ted finds a cave. It’s a “virgin” cave, unexplored, so he and his two buddies set about drilling and hammering their way into it. Passages are narrow, even after days of chiseling. The log entries include breathtaking photos of full-grown men jammed into tunnels so tight that shimmying forward on their bellies is the only option.

This setting makes for agonizing escapes: several times, as Ted flees the cave’s innermost chamber, he grinds his elbows and back against the tight rock walls as he squirms back to the open air. Of course, he keeps returning to the chamber anyway.

The moment the world got internet, the world got internet urban legends. But Ted the Caver, so far as I know, marked among the first ventures into online, multimedia, journaling horror storytelling: a first-person perspective with “evidence” to back up the “truth.

(3) The Enigma of Amigara Fault

After an earthquake, a mountain splits. It exposes a cliff face perforated with hundreds of human-shaped holes. People begin to flock the cliff, drawn by some mysterious compulsion to find their hole.

Junji Ito is a Japanese manga artist who specializes in horror. His work is deliciously disturbing, often manifesting dark human psychology in the form of fantastical events.

The Enigma of Amigara Fault isn’t nearly his best or most shocking work. Notwithstanding, it’s a great example of how you can make fear concrete. In this case, what does the call of the void physically look like?

(4) The Cave in the Lake

A divorced man takes up scuba diving again. For years, he performed the role of dutiful husband, devoted father; but now, free of this burden, he starts exploring the lake behind his new home. There, he finds a cave.

Author Max Lobdell has real eldritch horror skill. His website, Unsettling Stories, is a joy to have free access to. But if you want a special experience, voice artist Kristin Holland performed this Lobdell story for the Nocturnal Transmissions podcast.

 

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