Sean Sam

The Tunnel

“You’ll die down there,” the man said.

“I know,” the boy answered.

The man crouched down to get a closer look at the tunnel. He stood again, the joints in his knees cracking.

“That’s no place to die,” the man said.

“I know,” the boy answered.

“Why don’t you come out then?”

“I don’t want to.”

The man looked up for a moment at the snap of distant gunfire. “I’m not coming in after you. It’s too dark in there. You still armed?”

“I don’t have anything,” the boy said. His voice did not carry far beyond the entrance to the tunnel. “Please, just pretend I’m not here.”

“Come out. I won’t waste a grenade on you.”


“If you come out now, I’ll give you a bullet instead of a blade. It will be less painful. You won’t cry. Who else are you hiding in there?”

“It’s me. That’s all.”

“Villagers? It’s no good to hide, kid. Dagestan belongs to us.”

The man took out a cigarette packet as he spoke. He opened it and realized it was empty. Cursing, he threw it in the grass. After a moment, he turned his attention back to the tunnel.

“We saw you coming in. Four Russians to defend an entire village. The universe must want you dead. Will you tell me how old you are?”

The boy had gone silent.

“Answer me,” the man said and kicked dirt into the tunnel’s entrance.

“Let me go,” the boy said. “Please, let me go, and I won’t be any trouble to you.”

Another solider approached from the south, holding an AK-47 in the crook of his arm.

“I’m controlling the area, sir,” the man said on seeing the solider.

“Good. Wait here for more orders. Hold position until then,” the new arrival said and disappeared.

A frog passed through, stopping by the tunnel’s entrance.

“Why didn’t you tell him I was here?” the boy asked. At the sound of his voice drifting up from the ground, the frog jumped away.

The man asked, “How did you get in there?”

“I ran out of ammo. Then I left the barn. I saw this hole here, so I jumped in,” the boy said.

“Why was it built, do you know?”


“To hide things? Maybe it was always there. I used to dig graves in Grozny,” the man said. He closed his eyes. “I was eighteen then.”

“I’m sorry about that, but will you please let me go?”

“Sometimes, after I’d finished, I would climb in myself,” the man said.


“I wanted to see what it was like,” the man said. “I wanted to get used to it. Tell me, what is it like?”

“I don’t want to come out.”

“I know.”



Sean Sam is a writer from Maryland. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University. He can found online at