Tag Archives: underground

Writing prompt: Driftless

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Driftless” (If anyone’s curious, the driftless region is in Southwest Wisconsin. It is indeed full of valley and caves and unwashed hippies. And Holsteins.)

They call this region the Driftless region, a region around which the glaciers split so they didn’t drift the soil. It’s rough and wild, unlike everything else around. As a kid, I always assumed driftless refered to the quality of the region. It didn’t drift. Nothing changed. You came to the region and didn’t leave, and the less washed you were, the more likely you were to arrive.

But the geological reason made sense, too. Still, I wondered, how do glaciers just go about splitting? It seems like you’d need some force to split glaciers. We don’t have high mountains or great volcanos.

We also have a ton of caves around here. I started to wonder, between massive glaciers splitting and rendings in the Earth, well, was there something below? So I read what I could on Wikipedia and packed for a journey under the Driftless region.

I’m stuck down here now. I’m writing down why I came here, as if I don’t make it, hopefully these records do. Small bipedal creatures are running up to me and stealing food from my bag. At least, I think that’s what’s happening. I have no light, and they glow, and either this is a hallucination or I’m onto something really exciting. Either way, I’m not sure about the odds of my survival.

Writing prompt: the spongy place in the yard

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The spongy place in the yard” (As a kid in the northeast, this happened in my backyard. I thought there was something under there, which made a perfect launching point for a prompt.)

Every spring, after the snow melts, the backyard gets spongy. I always knew why, and though I told mom, she laughed and smiled in that patronizing way. I knew there was something underground. The ground just sagged too much, the way the ceiling sagged and my grandmother’s abandoned childhood home. I could tell by the way it looked that it was a sagging ceiling too. I was just seeing it from above.

Then I noticed that the neighbor spends a lot of time in her shed. Hours. She must be about two hundred, hunched and always walking with a hand against the small of her back. Summer or winter, she walks with a throw wrapped tightly over her shoulders.

So last night, I went into her shed. Sure enough, under a sheet of plywood, I found a staircase downward. I turned on my flashlight, and I went down the winding stairs. There must have been fifty, I lost count. At the end of the staircase, I found myself in a huge earthen room, taller than any room in my house. And on the ceiling, they hung, dozens of little people like my neighbor. They were all wrapped up in throws like the woman. Then they noticed me, and I discovered they weren’t throws. They were wings. And they were flying after me.

I panicked, and I ran down a corridor into the darkness. I dropped my flashlight, but I kept running, because duh. I hear the rustle of their wings in the darkness, searching, like the sound of a sheet being snapped again and again.