The second file ends in under two minutes. When the third file begins, the time stamp reveals that over three hours have passed. Theodore’s voice is hoarse and his breathing is erratic. The video cuts in and out more sporadically than the previous two files.
Theodore: I can’t. I can’t even—
A loud crash echoes in the distance followed by a deafening wail of anguish. Theodore can be heard running away from the sound. He runs for several minutes before slowing. The video cuts in here to reveal Theodore’s face, dripping with perspiration and with what might be tears running down his cheeks. The video cuts out again.
Theodore: It’s back. I don’t know… It’s back. I think it’s scared of my flashlight. But the battery is dying. I’m dying. It’s so hot. Almost out of water.
Another crash rings out followed by a terrible screech. Theodore runs again. This time it only lasts for 20 seconds before he stops with a loud thud. He lets out a painful groan.
Theodore: What the fuck? A wall. The tunnel. It’s… I’m at a dead end.
The video cuts in for only a few seconds. Even when paused, it’s impossible to make out what the camera is seeing. There are what appear to be eyes glowing in the blackness at the very end of the light’s range. Then a shadow moves right as the video cuts back out.
Theodore: What do you want from me? What are you—
The audio and video cut out here but the recording file continues for another 17 minutes. Despite the best efforts of all involved, the recovery team was unable to reclaim the audio or video of these lost 17 minutes. No known technical issue with the file has surfaced, leaving the team at a loss as to why these 17 minutes are blank. The prevailing theory is that the heat and or moisture of the tunnel somehow affected Theodore’s phone’s camera and microphone. Thus corrupting the physical act of recording but not the saved cloud file itself. But that doesn’t explain the video cutting in and out in the first file before he had entered the tunnel. Nor does it explain the following files.
The fourth file starts with the time stamp set 11 minutes after the third file had ended. The camera is on the ground and the stone wall and wet floor of the tunnel make up most of the frame. In the top left corner of the video, a small portion of the walkway is visible. During this portion, It’s impossible to tell if the audio is working as everything is silent. Three minutes pass like this and then the file ends.
The time stamp on the fifth file begins at 52 minutes after the ending of the previous one. There is no functioning video footage for this file.
Theodore: Him. *Incomprehensible whispering* always him.
Two sets of footsteps echo throughout the tunnel. The first set of footsteps clearly belongs to Theodore. The second set, heavier and more pronounced, trails close behind.
Theodore: You could leave if you wanted to. We all could.
A sudden gasp of air causes the microphone to hiss loudly for several seconds. It’s like there is a voice talking beneath the hissing.
A minute of silence passes.
The sixth file begins less than two minutes after file five ends. Most peculiarly, there is a grainy quality to this footage and the audio is distorted. Stranger still, Mr. Cheston appears to be fine and goes about documenting his exploration as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened previously.
Theodore: This tunnel has a very earthy smell to it. Not unpleasant or musky. More like fresh dirt. It’s a bit chilly, but that’s to be expected. What I wasn’t expecting is how smooth and—
The audio distorts heavily here and the video flickers in and out of color as the sound finally goes mute. Theodore continues walking down the tunnel, presumably narrating while doing so. Then the audio suddenly kicks back in.
Theodore: —is my best guess how they dug through. Just imagine digging something like this with the limited tools available at the time. Would have been a damn nightmare!
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot of bodies buried within these walls. Like all those bones I saw when I explored the Paris catacombs. If you haven’t checked that video out yet, you can hit the link above. Anyway, at least I had expected to see a bunch of dead people in the catacombs. That’s one of the reasons they’re so infamous.
This tunnel though. I don’t know, man. Something just feels different. Feels… off. I mean, I’ve only been in here for a few minutes but it seems like it’s been hours.
For the next 14 minutes, Theodore walks silently through the tunnel. His pace never changes and his breath remains steady. There are no discernible changes to the tunnel either. It’s as if he’s walking through the same stretch of the tunnel in an endless loop.
File six ends with Theodore still walking straight ahead but file seven begins in a startling fashion. It shows Theodore walking forward through the tunnel, but it’s being recorded from behind by an unseen person using his phone while following him. You can hear heavy breathing from the person recording but Theodore doesn’t acknowledge the person’s presence. He simply marches forward as if in a trance. File seven cuts to black in less than a minute.
Unfortunately, files eight and nine are corrupted and unable to open. Number eight doesn’t have a thumbnail but number nine does. Its thumbnail is a close-up image of Theordore’s face, which appears to be covered in either blood or dirt. The quality of the thumbnail is too poor to enlarge the image to determine the substance.
File ten starts with what seems to be a black screen and the sound of a man sobbing. When the video engineers adjusted the brightness on the video, a grainy outline of Theodore comes into focus. He’s rocking in the fetal position in a corner.
Theodore: I just want to go home. Please. I just want to go home.
He repeats the phrase over a dozen times while crying into his arms. Then a loud bang rings out and Theodore snaps his head to attention. The file cuts off there.
The video for file 11 doesn’t work but the audio is clear throughout. For around one minute, the heavily accented voice of a man speaks, presumably to Theodore. But Theodore’s voice is never heard in this file. The man speaks slowly and his voice is harsh.
Unknown Man: The stars above shine on Earth, but not in Hell. No stars shine here. And it not only wicked man in Hell. There be no wicked man down here. But if evil you looking for. Evil you find. No righteous man build this tunnel. The Devil. Be the work of the Devil. Skin white as snow. Soul black as tar. The Devil. He build this tunnel. We just die here. Over and over. Over and over. Over and over.
The video image is clear in file 12 but there is no audio. Theodore nor anyone else is shown on screen. Most of the frame is made up of a stone wall, but if you zoom in on the left side of the frame, there is what looks to be a sliver of light shining through an unseen crack or opening. Multiple times during the 14-minute clip you can make out tiny rocks and dust being blown to the right from where the light is coming from. The most accepted theory at the time of viewing was that the phone had been set right near the entrance of the tunnel at the bottom of the well.
The true horror of Theodore’s fate is made more evident in file 13. The video starts with him running through the tunnel. His heavy footfalls echo throughout and multiple voices call out from behind, the sounds of their steps are closing in on him as he runs away.
Unknown Man: You stay with us. Die with us. Over and over. Over and Over.
Unknown Man 2: Over and Over.
Unknown Man 3: Never free in Hell.
At this point, with his pursuers sounding as if they are directly behind him, Theodore runs into a dead end and falls to the ground. The phone spins as it falls and lands on its side, most likely propped up against the wall, and faces Theodore’s unconscious body. Only now, the man’s face is gaunt and he is sporting a ragged beard and scraggly long hair. Our best experts have no working theories on how this could be possible as Theodore wasn’t in the tunnel for more than a day and was clean-shaven with short, neat hair when he entered the well on the morning of August 13th, 2019.
Rescue crews attempted to find Theodore on August 14th, 2019 at the behest of his brother. But when they propelled down into the well, they found no entrance to a tunnel. The well was partially full of water which looked to not have been disturbed for a long time, as reported by the leader of the rescue team. After the cloud data was recovered, a salvage team was called in to inspect the well. They used a 3d-imaging sensor device that allowed them to see if there were any subterranean structures connected to the well. They came up empty.
During the following months, many different groups of scientists, archeologists, and salvage crews dug around the well site but all failed to report any significant findings. It was as if Theodore Cheston had simply vanished. If it weren’t for the audio and video recordings recovered, there would be no clues as to what had happened to him.
As of October 1st, 2020, the fate of Theodore “Teddy” Cheston is still a mystery.
If you liked this, check out some of these other short horror stories!
A horror just out of sight. The dreaded book of the dead. And a bazaar of otherworldly oddities. Some things aren’t meant for the eyes of man. Some worlds exist beyond our comprehension.
This is part one of DPW’s original serialized fiction series, The Bazaar of The Blind.
Bored with her bland life, Shana asks her coworker out on an innocent date. Only, there’s nothing innocent about the world we live in.
When Jim Bob visits his aunt and uncle in rural Arkansas for a few weeks, he finds something nefarious lurking in the woods.