Darkness-cold - churning water - roaring, like a thousand lions - spinning around and around - bashing into rocks - arms wrapped around my face to protect it - tucking up my legs to make myself smaller, less of a target.

Wash up against a clump of roots - grab hold - slippery - the wet roots feel like dead fingers clutching at me - a space between the water and the roof of the tunnel - I draw quick gasps of breath - current takes hold again - try fighting it - roots break off in my hands - swept away.


Tumbling over and over - hit my head hard on a rock - see stars - almost black out - struggle to keep head up - spit water out of my mouth, but more gushes in - feels like I'm swallowing half the stream.

The current drags me against a wall - sharp rocks cut deeply into my thighs and hips - freezing-cold water numbs the pain - stops the flow of blood - a sudden drop - plummet into a deep pool - down, down, down - held under by force of the falling water - panicking - can't find my way up - drowning - if I don't break free soon, I'll...

My feet strike a wall and propel me forward - drift slowly up and away from the pool - flow is gentle here - lots of space between water and the top of the tunnel - able to bob along and breathe - air's cold, and it stings my lungs, but I gulp it down thankfully.

The stream opens out into what sounds like a large cave. Roars from the opposite end: the water must drop sharply again there. I let myself drift to one side before facing the drop. I need to rest and fill my lungs with air. As I tread water near the wall in the dark, something clutches at my bald head. It feels like twigs. I grab at them to steady myself, then realize they're not twigs - they're bones!

Too exhausted to be scared, I grasp the bones as though they were part of a life buoy. Taking long, deep breaths, I explore the bones with my fingers. They connect to a wrist, an arm, a body, and a head: a full skeleton. This stream was used to dispose of dead vampires in the past. This one must have washed up here and rotted away over the decades. I search blindly for other skeletons but find none. I wonder who the vampire was, when he lived, how long he's been here. It must be horrible, trapped in a cave like this, no proper burial, no final resting place.

I shake the skeleton, hoping to free it. The cave erupts with high-pitched screeches and flapping sounds. Wings! Dozens or hundreds of pairs of wings! Something crashes into my face and catches on my left ear. It scratches and bites. I yelp, tear it loose, and slap it away.

I can't see anything, but I sense a flurry of objects flying over and around me. Another collides with me. This time I hold on and feel around it - a bat! The cave's full of bats. They must nest here, in the roof. The sound of me shaking the skeleton disturbed them, and they've taken flight.

I don't panic. They won't attack me. They're just frightened and will settle down soon. I release the one I've caught and let it join the rush above me. The noise dies down after a few minutes, and the bats return to their perches. Silence.

I wonder how they get in and out of the cave. There must be a crack in the roof. For a few seconds I dream about finding it and climbing to safety, but my numb fingers and toes quickly put an end to thoughts like that. I couldn't climb, even if I could find the crack and it was big enough for me to fit through.

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I start thinking about the skeleton again. I don't want to leave it here. I tug at it, careful this time not to make too much noise. It doesn't budge at first - it's wedged firmly. I get a stronger grip and pull again. It comes loose, all at once, and falls on top of me, driving me under. Water gushes down my throat. Now I panic! The skeleton is heavy on top of me, weighing me down. I'm going to drown! I'm going to drown! I'm going to -

No! Stop panicking. Use my brain. I wrap my arms around the skeleton and slowly roll over. It works! Now the skeleton's underneath and I'm on top. The air tastes good. My heart stops pounding. A few of the bats are circling again, but most are still.

Releasing the skeleton, I guide it out toward the middle of the cave, using my feet. I feel the current take it, then it's gone. I hang on to the wall, treading water, giving the skeleton time to wash ahead of me. I begin thinking while I wait: was it a good idea to free the skeleton? A nice gesture, but if the bones catch on a rock further along and block my way...

Too late to worry now. Should have thought of that before.

My situation's as desperate as ever. Crazy to think I might get out of this alive. But I force myself to think positively: I've made it this far, and the stream must open up sooner or later. Who's to say I can't make it to the end? Believe, Darren, believe.

I'd like to hang here forever - easier to cling on and die of the cold - but I have to try for freedom. In the end, I force my fingers to unclench and let go of the bank. I drift out into the middle of the stream. The current bites at me and takes hold. Speeding up - the exit - roaring grows furiously - flowing fast - angling sharply downward - gone.

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