Thursday, January 30, 2014

Riddle Ogre: Second Installment

Wow! The poles are in, and the second choice has won by a landslide, no one wanted anything but that! Well, I can't keep you waiting, behold; the Second Installment!

With a sliding thump, Ander felt the narrow chute flare open as he impacted onto a hard surface. The darkness around him seemed to intensify and as he attempted to scrabble to his feet, he slammed into another surface, this one curving upwards in an arc.

          Turning to the wall, he felt around it until his hands flew forwards into an empty space, the tunnel he had entered from. Wrenching himself forward, he leapt into the slanted chute, but quickly slid backwards on   the smooth, earthy stone.

          He tried again, attempting in vain to brace himself against the invisible walls around him, but once gain he slid slowly back down. He collapsed onto the ground, laying his head against his knees, and then he heard it.

          A soft voice that drifted along the tunnel, and flashed through his head like a swirl of dark flames;

          “Four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening…”

          Reeling slightly in the intense darkness, Ander scrabbled at his pocket with one hand, found his phone and flicked it open. A burst of blinding light shore through the darkness surrounding him, revealing the narrow tunnel he stood in.

          Looking wilding in each direction, Ander squinted for movement in the gaping darkness receding along the tunnel. The quiet voice also had melted away, leaving its words imprinted on Ander’s mind.

          He knew this riddle, the man riddle that the Sphinx had challenged Oedipus with in Mythology. The man riddle…Something knew he was here.

          “Who’s there?” He called. His voice reverberating down the tunnel, growing louder and softer until it disappeared all together.

          A second later, to Ander’s intense surprise, a hissing whisper washed over him, seeming from all sides, voicing a second riddle.

          “A marble hall as white as milk, lined with skin as soft as silk…Within a fountain crystal-clear, a golden apple doth appear...No doors there are to this stronghold, yet thieves break in to steal its gold…”

            It was the same voice as before, Ander knew, but what did it mean? As fast as it had come, the voice had sunk back into the blackness enclosing around him. His phone screen dimmed, and he tapped the keys to keep it alive.

          The second riddle was familiar, he had heard it before, or a different version perhaps. But what could it mean, had it come as an answer to his question, or a taunt to confuse him.

          It had definitely done that, his mind was a crumbling mound of confusion and barely suppressed panic. He could not climb back up the shoot, he held up his phone, the service bar was empty; nor could he call for help.

          Gripping his hands very tightly, he realized he was holding something in his other hand: the riddle book, bent and sad looking from its journey down into the tunnel, but completely intact.

          If whatever thing was taunting and guiding him with riddles, this was his best bet for freedom.

          Encouraged by this, Ander stepped down the tunnel a few yards, nothing different, bare curving walls and a blank stone floor. Back tracking quickly, he attempted to mark where the tunnel leading above was by scratching an arrow in the stone. All that did was show him the futility of imagination. Finally, he tore out the acknowledgement page of 1000 Impressing Riddles and laid it firmly on the floor opposite the chute’s entrance.

          With a wash of humming noise, the voice appeared once again, forming words in a hiss of echoes.

          “Voiceless it cries, wingless flutter, toothless bites, mouthless mutters..”


Ander felt the answer swim into his conscious mind at the same moment a faint breeze pricked at his face. It smelled of earth and stone, but it was air.

          Without another thought, Ander clutched the riddle book to his side, brandished the lit phone in front, and quickly strode off down the tunnel, following the distant wind into the gaping blackness.

          Around the chute’s outlet, darkness curled, the stark white page of the riddle book dimmed with it until it seemed to fold in on itself, giving in to the darkness enveloping it.

          Without a sound, with no scuffle or scuttle of movement, a hand reached through the deep shadows and plucked the page from the ground, quenching its faint glow in a flash of reptilian movement.


Ander walked steadily, waving his phone like a gold prospector probing with a metal detector. Every new shadow that appeared seemed like the movement of a silent creature, every tiny outcropping appeared as a rearing head, ready to gnash his body in its stony fangs.

          In an attempt to douse his jittery nerves, Ander mulled over the riddles he had been given so far. High above somewhere, in the unassuming ‘cave’ that had started it all, the riddle for darkness that had lured him down here, then the riddle about man that had first been voiced in the tunnel, then the riddle that had answered his question with another question, and then finally the wind riddle that he still now followed.

          After some time, the muddled riddles began to make sense. Each one lead to its answer (except perhaps for the unsolved one), the first had lured him into the purest darkness he had ever experienced. The man riddle had culminated around him, the man, or at least he considered himself a man, technically he was still fourteen.

          Then came the unsolved riddle, which still baffled him at its weird familiarity. He was positive he had read it before somewhere, he had even skimmed through 100 Impressing Riddles for something on it, but it gave no answers save for how fast he could suffer a paper cut.

          As this riddle had been the only one that had come at his word, he felt as though the answer would be the most important.

          As for the last riddle, it had come to its fullness with the wind he still followed; at least…Ander stumbled to a halt. He could no longer feel the wind, it had sunk back to its source, its reassurance had disappeared like a fork of burning lightning.

          Unease wheedled back into his brain, scrubbing his thoughts raw with twinges of fear. Unconsciously, Ander sped up, his feet thudding jarringly on the hard stone floor, the phone’s light jumping wildly along the ceiling, the walls, and then it flashed across the tunnel ahead and Ander skidded slightly as he brought himself to a halt at a fork in the tunnel.

          Pushing his phone into the left fork, it barely cut through a meter of the solid darkness compacting through the entrance.

          A light other than his phone caught his eye, emanating from the second tunnel. Turning, he squinted through the opening. The light was faint, and slightly green, as though it were natural. Far off, he heard a powerful rushing noise, as if the wind he had felt had formed into an enormous body.

          Then something far nearer sounded from behind Ander, a scuffling set of footsteps swiftly coming closer, reverberating louder down the tunnel towards him, something small and fast; covering the distance between them with unnatural speed.

      Ander swung around wildly, his mind flicking from tunnel to tunnel, light and darkness blurred in his eyes as the need for a choice grew greater and greater as the steps echoed towards him, his phone screen went black, blackness swallowed him save for the faint glow from the right hand tunnel, and the noise of footsteps grew through the enveloping shadow.

What should Ander do next?!

1: Take the tunnel filled with deep shadow

2: Choose the tunnel with the distant noises and faint light

3: Stand his ground and take on the creature coming at him from his tunnel


  1. I'd say…2.

    But I wouldn't mind seeing 1, though.

  2. I'd say 2 as well. When in doubt, go to the light.

  3. #1. I think it would be interesting. :)

  4. Choices, choices...Yes, but bear in mind, each tunnel will reveal something surprising...