He expected to find some intriguing masonry, as well as antiquities or old documents.
However, as the flare lightened the space and he realized what was truly in there with him, his body stiffened and his heart pounded in his chest. He needed to flee… and he needed to do so immediately.
Kyle snapped another photo and then moved on to a new room. It might have been a house warming party for his friends, but he would still be their designated, professional photographer.
After all, he had loved the art form since he was a kid, and this house was too interesting to pass up.
You could tell the Ybor residence was seeped in history just by looking at the design.
He parted from the crowd and wandered into the basement. There was so much down there the previous owners had left behind. As he sifted through the piles, looking for interesting snapshots, he noticed a rusted door latch.
His curiosity spiked and he scrambled to see what was behind. Inside was moss-covered bricks that trailed off into the darkness.
The smell of mold and decay filled his nose. This was amazing. He loved adventure photography, and this place was like a dream. Little did he know, he wouldn’t make it very far.
Each step was slow and careful, but his heart was racing with excitement.
He pressed the shutter button and the bright flash filled the tunnel. A little further in, it seemed to open up. It called to him. As he crept into the new room, he let off another flash. This time, he saw eyes … many of them.
They were dull and lifeless. The faces were pale and covered in black spots.
A scream escaped his lips and his finger slipped – the camera flashed off countless photos. He spun around and sprinted for the tunnel, not daring to look behind him. People were living in there? By the time he reached the door, there were already people waiting for him.
Kyle ran into his friends. They had heard his screams and came to inspect. He pointed down the tunnel.
There were people in there! He handed his camera to his friend so he could find something to bar the door with. The rest huddled around the monitor to check the photos. One of them gasped.
“You saw this down there? You sure?” his friend asked.
Kyle explained what he had seen as he held his body against the door for extra safety. It only got worse when another pulled out the phone and called 911. What else was in those photos? How much danger were they really in?
“You can get away from the door,” his friend said. “It’s not what you think.”
Kyle shook his head adamantly and stood firm. But when they turned the monitor around to show him the truth of his pictures, he felt his face turn bright red.
They were indeed eyes and very lifeless … because they were portrait drawings. And it wasn’t just one or two. There were dozens.
And, under each picture were two letters. There was one photo in particular that made him understand why the cops were coming. It even made him want to stay far away.
One of the accidental photos showed the far end of the room was collapsed.
Since it was on their property and could still cave in the rest of the way, it wasn’t safe for anyone to venture in again. The next day, when the cops finally arrived, there was another surprise waiting.
The officers immediately sealed up, but it wasn’t just for the family’s safety.
Kyle listened in awe as they explained that the city was full of historic tunnels. Some of them were dangerous because of their age, but others lead to places civilians shouldn’t go. There were no answers, however, about what the portraits were.
It became an instant obsession for Kyle. The problem was, all he had to go on were some blurred photos and a few initials.
It took months of research, phone calls, and dead ends before he had enough to form an interesting theory he had to share with everyone.
There was an old brewery only a few streets away from where their friends had bought the house.
The idea was that the tunnels were there as safe ways to bring in supplies during prohibition. As for the sketches on the wall, he was still only left with guesses.
They could have been brewery smugglers, maybe even warnings of who to stay away from.
Since he wasn’t allowed to go back into the room, all he could do was press on. Had now had a new hobby, besides photography. Somehow, he was going to solve this mystery.