The sound that came from the ragged hole in the concrete wall reminded her of a waterfall.

She had only visited a real one once, many years before, when she was still part of a family. A long hike through nature had culminated in a wonder, a crashing wall of water that toppled from a high cliff face and shattered on a pile of ancient boulders before feeding a small pool. There were even deer drinking there when arrived, and their sight provided an additional treat. Little Cameron, their son, had never seen a real live animal before. The creatures were every bit as majestic as she imagined, and then Cameron squealed and startled them, and they bounded off into the woods.

If she closed her eyes, she could still see the rainbow cast in the misty spray of that place. Then the smell coming from the hole struck her, and it brought her kicking and screaming back to the present. The creature in her arms looked up at her, the mute expression in its alien, saucer-like eyes asking if they were really going to go in there.

“I don’t think we have a choice, little one,” she said, and adjusted her grip on the child. They had a choice, of course, many of them. But that hole in the wall was the only one that did not end up with them dead and dissected. She crawled forward, one knee at a time on the rough concrete that lined the tunnel, the occasional sharp piece of broken stone stabbing her shins.

The sound of crashing water grew louder, and she could hear something else beneath it. Labored breathing? Like a winded horse, only larger. Amplified somehow and echoing. They crawled further into the green-tinted gloom. The child in her arms struggled. A few more labored, crawling steps forward and the roar of water was everything.

They were in a wide vertical shaft, and her mind boggled at the depth of it. They had to be a mile beneath the city streets, and yet a weak light was visible from a speck far, far above them, no more than a bright pixel in a dead black screen. The greenness of the air came from a phosphorescent mold that grew everywhere in mossy, glowing clumps. Directly in front of them a rusted guard rail ran around the four edges of the shaft, and there was a twisted breach torn through it by whatever had made the hole in the wall.

“Well, we know where it went,” she said, and the roaring cacophony of the place swallowed her words.

2015.03.19 – 2023.10.11

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