A broken bridge slows the brothers' journey and leaves them only a flooded tunnel as their way of crossing. But what lurks in that tunnel? And what awaits them on the other side?//
[Explicit content// This is a horror audio drama, intended to scare you and make you uncomfortable - Discretion advised//Content Warnings at the end of show notes]
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Transcript available through Buzzsprout //
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SPOILERS BELOW - Do not read these credits until you have finished the show if you wish to avoid spoilers. //
Written, directed and produced by Shaun Pellington //
With voice acting from:
Kieran Walsh as Professor Ryan
Shaun Pellington as Elliot
Lee Pellington as Roman//
Intro theme-"Phantasm", Outro theme - "Shadowlands 5 - Antechamber"
Kevin MacLeod [incompetech.com]
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0
Both pieces are reduced from their originals with fade out effects/Character voice-over/Radio static SFX. //
Sound FX: Soundsnap.com // Additional sound effects from https://www.zapsplat.com//
Morse Code SFX from: morsecode.world //
Cover Art: Original picture taken by Emily Fitzgerald @emily.fitz_photography with 'Wake Of Corrosion' title design by Matt Fair//
Full credits can be found at: https://wakeofcorrosion.carrd.co/ //
[Content Warnings: mild threat, confined spaces, implied death]
Thank you for listening and remember...don't wander in the dark.
[Intro music - 5 sec]
Narrator: Wake Of Corrosion Season 2 - Episode 3: Crawl//Space
[Muffled sounds can be heard as someone switches on a recording device and moves it into the correct position]
Prof Ryan: [spoken in a solemn voice] This is Professor Ryan of Bunker A:12. This is a public broadcast to any Survivors out there. Before I begin, please be aware that I advise listener discretion going forward, as some of the content of this broadcast can be unsettling or disturbing.
[SFX: Morse code]
Ryan: Greetings, Survivors. I’d like to start today’s broadcast on a positive note. Claire was able to get in touch for a live discussion over the radios earlier today. It appears as though she has safely made it through both nights following her encounter with the other…[hesitant] I don’t wish to call them survivors as the lengths they’re going to are abhorrent and beyond surviving.
She’s making good progress toward Ralford Observatory [a pause] I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about her arrival there, although I appreciate the dangers she’s facing along the way. I should hopefully hear from her again this evening and be able to share with you any other discoveries in the subsequent broadcast.
[Growing more solemn]
However, in our excitement in discovering more from Ralford, we cannot ignore the brother’s story. Survivors, I have been able to review the content of what I’m about to share in this broadcast and I’d like to take this opportunity to warn you of the difficulties the brothers face in their next saga. If you’re uncomfortable with small spaces, then you may want to be mindful of that as we go forward.
I shan’t say any more.
[SFX: Recording click]
Roman: I just want this on for a moment, for the record in case anything happens to us in there.
Elliot: I can’t believe we’re considering this.
Roman: We’ve already spoken about it so much though. What else is there to do? Nothing. If we want -
Elliot: -want to get to Bunker A:7 then we’ve gotta cross this river. I know, I know. I just want there to be another way.
Roman: Same here bro, same here. But there’s no boats or anything even visible. I don’t want to think how long we’d have to walk for before we found one, IF we found one.
Elliot: So, are you explaining ‘For the record’ or am I?
Roman: I’ll do it. [a pause] So me and Elliot are heading to Bunker A:7 and to get there, we’ve gotta cross the River Trent. We were hoping just to nip over the bridge that led into the next town and of course the bunker. But, well...How do I put this, it’s mostly collapsed into the river and the parts that aren’t collapsed into the river are...well they’re completely rusted. All the metal work and frame work on this side is just a big pile of coppery rust. And it’s deep rust as well, not just on the surface. We went to have a closer look and it was so rusted that some of it crumbled just at Elliot’s touch.
Elliot: It was unsettling to say the least.
Roman: So anyway, bridge out of the question we’ve only got one other option, other than finding a boat of course, and that option is the tunnel we’re standing at the entrance of at the moment. It’s about a 10 minute walk away from where the bridge is...was and it appears to be undamaged which is a good sign.
Elliot: [laughs] Yeah, apart from the fact-
Roman: Oi, I was getting to that part. Since when did you become Mr Vocal? - Anyway, there is a slight problem with the tunnel. Well, two slight problems to be precise. Problem one which isn’t too bad: It’s flooded a little and I know the tunnel actually dips down in the centre before it comes back up the other side so it’s definitely going to get worse before it gets better.
Elliot: Bit of a stupid design if you ask me. Why would you make it curve if it was going under a river? What if it breaks its banks or something?
Roman: You are aware that drainage is a thing, right Elliot? You don’t really think they’d build a tunnel without putting any drainage in do you?
Elliot: [says nothing]
Roman: Your silence says it all. And as far the drainage, that is most definitely blocked. Elliot, I want you to describe this next bit. This sort of thing is actually your area of expertise.
Elliot: Are you kidding me? How the fuck can this be my area of expertise? In fact Roman, I don’t believe this is anyone’s area of expertise unless there are some people who’ve been studying alien-as-fuck growths for a few years before all this happened. [sighs] Fine. Fine.
To me the tunnel looks like a gaping maw right now and I’m not just saying that to be metaphorical because it feels like we’re going to plunge ourselves willfully into the belly of some gargantuan creature but...well...that’s how it feels.
The entrance has stopped looking man made, it looks...biological...Now I don’t want to say natural because it most definitely absolutely isn’t. But living and growing? I’m sure of it. Roman, do you remember those few times when Dad would come home from work and he’d been asked to remove a wasps nest from somewhere? And the nest happened to be abandoned already, so he’d take it out and bring it home for us to look at. [laughs] I miss that.
Roman: What’s your point Elliot?
Elliot: Look at this stuff, ignore the glow underneath and the colour and just look at the texture.
Roman: Yeah okay, I see what you’re saying.
Elliot: It’s so similar. It has that papery look to it and it’s layered, just like a nest.
Elliot: But it’s huge instead, and from what I can tell it stretches fully into the tunnel, even-
Roman: You keep saying it’s like a wasps nest, biological, living, growing, whatever. If that’s what you think, then where’s what made this?
[a long pause]
Roman: Oh indeed.
Elliot: It could be abandoned, right? Like the ones Dad brought home. Just a husk.
Roman: How hopeful are you feeling about that?
Elliot: Incredibly. That’s pretty much all that’s been fuelling me since we left the woods Roman. Hope. Hope that this will end soon, hope that I’m not actually living the nightmare I think I am.
Roman: Hope that we’ll make it through this.
Elliot: That as well.
Roman: Shall we?
Elliot: If we’re ever going to make it to Bunker A:7, we’ve got to try I suppose. [a pause] I really don’t want to do this though.
Roman: Not my idea of a leisurely afternoon either bro. [SFX: Backpacks etc] Right. Time to end this delightfully morbid recording. Here’s to making out the other side. Under the river we go.
[SFX: Recording click]
Ryan: I’m going to move straight on to the next entry, from Elliot’s journal.
Elliot: I’ll start from when we went in...that’s, uh, yeah...that’s probably the best way to do this. I’m [laughs] I’m glad we’re not going anywhere for a bit, I… I don’t think I could.
So, Roman and I recorded a bit of a description and conversation about the tunnel before we headed in there. For the sake of how long I have to write this, I’m going to assume you heard it. If you haven’t though, just know that it was flooded and there’s some sort of wasp nest-like thing growing inside there. And to be honest, I don’t think I did it justice in my verbal description.
If you’ve ever seen a wasps-nest, imagine that. Papery and layered. Built but organic. Textured like sandpaper. But it’s not brown or beige like you’re imagining. It’s grey and black. And in the darkest parts, wherever the largest mass of the thing is, it glimmers faintly like stars blinking on a clear winter night. They don’t give any meaningful light where you are, but they’re there all the same. Deep in the organic growth of the husk, dull yellowy spots shimmer in and out of existence. Like a pulse, almost. - That’s what I missed out. That’s what I couldn’t put into words earlier.
When we headed in...fuck...Right, it was about 5 in the afternoon when we headed in. And it’s only just now coming to the end of August, so still plenty of light left. But of course, going into a tunnel when we’ve seen all of two other living people in nearly 3 weeks and the electricity grid is completely dead...yeah...not the best idea. Luckily though when we stopped off at that bloody supermarket, Roman managed to find some batteries for our head torches. Which, as you can imagine, was the only positive to heading into that tunnel.
It quickly became apparent that the water was only going to get deeper as we headed in, just like Roman said. He also said as we started making our way further in, that if we wanted to be able to carry on when we came out the other side and if we didn’t want to get blisters and our heels rubbed raw from wet socks and shoes then we should take them off and go barefoot. Hang the shoes from our bags. He said the floor was flat in there and said that last time he walked through it was pretty clean so hoped it’d be the same now. And to be honest, of all things, going barefoot doesn’t really bother me. I used to walk up Penglais hill from the beach in Aberystwyth to my Uni halls barefoot all the time. Not fussed. But when you can’t see your feet because the water is so blackened by the grime of life, that’s something else entirely.
The tunnel quickly became an echo chamber of water sloshing around our bare feet and legs. We weaved around the papery nest-like growth, crawled under parts, even had to climb over it at one point. For the most part we were luckily enough to be able to find a way through without disturbing it much. It wasn’t until we stopped for a moment to catch our breath after a particularly difficult section that we heard the sound. At first it was hard to pick out, one of those sounds you can’t quite hear until someone tells you it’s there.
I was the first to hear it and immediately I felt this knot ball in my throat, at first I couldn’t pin down the reason why, but then it came to me. It had a similar pitch as that thing in Roman’s house. It wasn’t the same sound, not at all. But the pitch it rose to, it was unmistakably the same. Once I was certain I wasn’t going mad and it was actually there, I told Roman to stop and listen. I fully expected him to tell me he couldn’t hear it and call me paranoid but the way he looked back at me in that yellow torch light of the tunnel. I knew that he not only heard it, but recognised it the same as I did. Once he’d listened for a moment or two he tilted his head and leant closer to the bulbous husk that masked the wall beside us. ‘I fucking knew it’ he said, with only a little hint of surprise. It was coming from the husk. As we waded on and the water slowly became deeper, our voices echoing more and more in the narrowing tunnel, we discussed the implications of the humming sound. Somehow it was easier to talk about what had happened back at Roman’s house whilst we were in that tunnel. Maybe it was the separation from everything we knew as normal, maybe it was just easier in the near darkness. Our words not convoluted by dozens of micro-facial expressions dictating how we phrased something before we’d even thought about saying it. It was easier there. Ironically, the air between us felt clearer. Despite it being filled with motes of dust that glimmered in the torchlight.
We came to the conclusion that the sound had the potential to be what we decided to call enthralling, in the fantasy story sense that it could enthral you to go toward it, to be enamoured with it or the thing it came from. Like what happened back at Roman’s. At this point whatever we decided next wasn’t going to stop the possibility that it could happen again. Either we turned around and walked back out the tunnel or we carried on to the end. Either way, we’d be surrounded by that ethereal humming whether we liked it or not. There was a kind of peace in that. Knowing that regardless of your decision, the end result was the same. It took the pressure away from the risk taking. When both options were a risk, it didn’t matter. You embrace your fate.
Shortly after accepting our fate the tunnel suddenly got much narrower. Between the nest-like husk and the gathering water that came up to our thighs now we had little choice other than to slow the pace down and wade through as carefully as we could without disturbing the growth. Ducking and squeezing ourselves through ever tightening spaces. It was around here that we had to ascend slightly. At first it was a blessing, I thought we’d finally made it through the bend in the tunnel and we were on our way out. It quickly became apparent that that wasn’t the case at all. I can still feel the way that papery mush felt on my feet even now. My bare feet pushed into that grey growth, feeling like it was grabbing at me with every wet footstep. Up and up we went and down and down our heads followed as we grew steadily closer to the ceiling and the growth that bulged out at random intervals. Soon we had no choice but to crawl through spaces completely made up of the it. We trod as carefully as we could, but with such heavy backpacks and soaking wet trousers, it was hard. There were parts where we had to just push our bags out in front of us or pass them through to each other as we squeezed through gaps barely big enough for our bodies. I’m not usually fussed about small spaces, but every moment I had to press my body up against that husk felt hideous and I could’ve sworn the humming grew louder by the second.
After some time we came to an opening. The tunnel floor was visible once more, a wave of relief sweeping over me that it wasn’t flooded on this side. However this had all happened, the water must’ve arrived after the growth. That or it was slowly absorbing the water as it made its way through the tunnel. In the gloom of that opening, Roman and I got to wiping our feet and putting our shoes back on, there’d be time to dry the rest of our clothes later. At least our feet were dry. It wasn’t until I’d sorted myself out that I even considered looking around. After so long of the same black and grey husk and motes floating in our torchlight, I’d stopped looking and focussed on myself. I was almost glad it took me that long to notice.
We sat with our backs to the visible wall of the tunnel. Heads down, eyes on our stuff. I sorted my shoes first and looked up, assessing the route ahead. And just a little further down the tunnel on the opposite wall, something caught my eye. It’s funny how your brain does that isn’t it? Somewhere deep down, there’s this survival instinct there, so when you see an outline, a shape, a suggestion of something it might consider threatening it throws a big red flag at you. It says ‘Woah, hold up. What’s that?’ And that’s it then, isn’t it? You have to know.
I leave my bag on the floor by Roman, he’s still sorting out his shoes and moving some stuff around in his bag. A few steps later and I’m greeted with what caught my eye. Fully aware of why.
Staring at me, exactly matching my eyeline is a skull. A human skull. I instinctively take a step back and look away. Roman hears my groan of disgust and rushes over. He almost exactly mimics my reaction, followed up by the obligatory ‘What the fuck is that?’
Of course, I couldn’t ignore this, I couldn’t continue knowing this was here and I didn’t at least let curiosity have its way. After a few deep breaths I turned my gaze back towards it. Immediately I locked eyes with those deep round sockets, as I’m sure you can imagine, it was unsettling to say the least. I took a step closer to see more clearly and by this time Roman had grabbed a hand torch out of his bag illuminating most of the tunnel around us. It was horrifying to have so much light pouring in on such a thing. The skull was half formed with the growth on the wall, the papery layers wrapping around the back half. It took me longer than I care to accept that the skull had no jaw bone. I’m...finding it hard to write this in the right order, so you understand the reason why I’m telling you this. This thing wasn’t just a skull in the wall, it was an entire body merged with the growth and the wall, but it was all warped and stretched out of shape. The torso was impossibly far below the skull, the legs twisted at unnatural angles, the arms splayed out to either side, one completely detached and about a metre away, but in a mirror position to its counterpart. And all around, all between each piece of the grotesque form was the growth. The nest. But it was so black here, so completely black it refused to reflect a single particle of our torch light. And within it, despite the all consuming darkness, those same star-like glimmers twinkled from beneath its surface. There were so many, but no light. Not a speck. I was almost mesmerised by it, so drawn in to the juxtaposition of it all. The stark contrast of all consuming darkness with light beneath its surface. Roman inadvertently broke me out of the trance by calling my name, followed by the foreboding ‘You need to see this’ his voice carrying traces of fear.
He was shining his torch directly at the skeletal arm that was distanced from the body. ‘What?’ I said, oblivious at first. ‘There’ he replied, gesturing with one extended finger, very specifically pointing to the hand of the poor soul. I took a step closer and saw what he was so transfixed on. Trailing across the wall, from each of the fingers were grey tendrils that twisted and curved and wound their way round one another before disappearing into the tumour that had consumed this dreaded place. My stomach dropped. My breathing became quick and shallow and the only word I could think to say did nothing to help.
‘We should go, like now.’ Roman said, the fear no longer just a trace.
Without a word we turned, shouldered our bags and marched through the tunnel. No longer impeded by rising water it wasn’t long before we started to see the first glimmers of light again signalling the exit. Although the journey wasn’t without it’s moments of panic as we still had the husk to contend with. Pushing through, more carefully than before, it was hard to balance wanting nothing more than to leave with taking care not to disturb the unknown. But with every step the light grew ever so slightly brighter, matching the hope in my heart. Even the husk itself abated as we marched our way towards the light.
Yet of course. That’s when we were stopped in our tracks. Suddenly, as if manifested from the light at the end of the tunnel a silhouetted figure appeared. In an eruption of movement it bolted toward us, screaming and moaning a mix of pain laced with anger. Immediately Roman took a step in front of me and pushed me to one side. His instinct to protect was comforting but did nothing to stem the fear and adrenaline now coursing through my body. I hefted my torch as though it was a passable weapon and Roman did the same, he didn’t bother fumbling for anything else. Within seconds the figure was upon us and as Roman side stepped to move out of their path and swiftly defend himself if needed, the figure carried on right past us then vanished. Roman and I stared at each other in complete shock and for a split second shared a knowing look. Seconds later the same thing happened again.
It was the same as the silhouette in the garden. As the shadow that endlessly repeated the action of watering the garden and running away. One we both saw. It was the same.
But there was something different about this person. Something we couldn’t quite make out and it seemed like our torch light did more to disrupt the shadow that it did to illuminate it. We decided if we were going to find out, we were going to do it properly. We paced up to where the shadow formed. When we were there it was clear the shadow itself seemed to form from the air, seemingly from nothing. On a hunch of the age-old ‘light vs shadow’, we switched our torches off for a brief a moment as we could muster in ourselves. And in the dim light reaching us from the tunnel exit, we were able to see what was different.
Spiralling out from this shadow’s fingers were tendrils. Only small to begin with, but with each pounding step it took into the tunnel they twisted and knotted and grew. It was clear why the person was screaming. It was clear who we saw earlier, so mutilated and warped.
Within moments the torches were back on and with a shared ‘Fuck this’ moment, we ran toward the exit of the tunnel. All the while, painfully aware that the high pitched humming sound was becoming no less subtle, was in fact becoming louder. The abating growth now visibly resonating with the sound of it all. Dust particles, stirred up by the commotion of our movement and the vibrations coming from the growth, affecting the walls and floor itself and an unnerving cold seeping into the air around us. Cold enough to see our breath within seconds. The sudden shock of it all jolted us into moving in such a rigid and clunky way.
Pushing through the last few tight gaps barely large enough to fit through, we burst out into the fading light of the afternoon and didn’t stop until we’d made it up the steps to the road that ran parallel to the river. The air felt so fresh it almost hurt to breathe. Our faces, legs, arms and hands smeared with grey ash-like dust.
I can still see it in the grooves of my skin as I’m writing this. I can see it under my fingernails. Under my fingernails. And it won’t come out.
We have to make it to Bunker A:7. I cannot stay out here any longer. I thought writing down what happened would help but it’s not doing that anymore. If anything, I’m only doing this so that when I inevitably end up like that person, merged with a concrete wall and a monstrous wasps-nest that someone might find this and know to run the fuck away from anything that you know shouldn’t be there. To just run. Don’t think you’re better than it, don’t think you can overcome it.
Whatever this is, it’s beyond us and it sees beyond us. We’re not above this. We’re not even equals. We’re not even thinking on the same god damn level. We’re ants to this. A sprawling panic of ants, gladly carrying the poison back to our nests.
What am I doing?
Ryan: There they are again, the indicators, the signs of something happening. The shadows that play out actions that seemed to have happened in the past. The sudden drop in temperature and now with the addition of this resonating humming as Elliot described it. And believe me survivors, it is indeed as Elliot says, the same as the one they heard at Roman’s house. In between the next recording at the previous, the one we listened to at the start of the broadcast, there was an incredibly short recording taken. I believe it was either an accident or some sort of disturbance, similar to what we’ve heard before. It truly wouldn’t surprise me if it was the latter. I’m not going to share the recording with you as it’s quite painful to listen to. It seems as though the recorder came on just as they encountered the screaming shadow that ran towards them. I could hear the humming Elliot spoke of though, quite clearly in fact. It seems that Elliot may have even downplayed the intensity of the noise. It, well it was disconcerting if nothing else.
It seems as though we have a solid list of effects caused by these disturbances. Whether the humming is linked at all I can’t yet say. Ah [a bit annoyed], the bane of a scientist's life, discovering effects with evidence and no sign of the original cause! Constantly working backwards. Damn it, I hope Claire can shed some light on this at the observatory.
[sighs, trying not to get worked up]
I think this would be an appropriate place to leave it. The next recording doesn’t take place until a little while after this encounter and I wish to conserve as much power as possible this evening. We’ve had a few late nights here at the Bunker. Keeping the power running for longer in the day than needed has drained our resources more than necessary.
I wish you all the best Survivors and until next time - Don’t wander in the dark.