I decided that I would throw another short story up here today. I hope you all enjoy it:)
From Under The City
It’s been years since I could walk the city in peace. Once the trees decided to grow over Old District, it seems that the lights were turned to dim and the city just stopped welcoming strangers on those old cracked sidewalks. The trees… I remember being a kid and playing on these now decaying streets. I could always climb the trees to hide from a friend, or sit in their shade for that much needed cool on a hot day.
There are no more hot days. I’m not even sure there are cool ones for that matter. No sunsets underground. It’s damn impossible to keep a calendar without seeing the sky.
What amazes me the most is the smell. I haven’t tasted the open air for almost a decade, yet it still smells like the last day of autumn. It’s the smell of twenty thousand people putting the last log of the year into their fireplaces. It’s the smell of children playing with fake swords and dogs drinking from busted hydrants.
I truly believe that if I sat down and closed my eyes for one minute, even though I never would, I could convince my mind that I was still a child. I could lie; tell myself that I still lived in a safe world instead of the vacant corpse that now sits under a blind sun.
I have a job to do. Nostalgia never helped anyone so I’ve got to move forward and stop trying to conjure memories from old signs and busted fences. I convince myself the smell is in my head. It’s not.
In the dim light I can see The Last Chapel ahead. That’s where I need to be. It was a shelter, the last line of defense… a memory of that false feeling of safety that I can’t afford to dwell on. I need to focus on finding him.
When the outcasts started filtering above ground, we all knew it would only be a matter of time before the rumors started to catch on. There have always been rumors of peace and calm in the open air. I suppose it’d be easier for the young ones to forget how quiet and peaceful everything was before the war started.
I can see the address numbers still hanging by the door, 619. It’s funny how things that don’t matter can survive horrors that the things you care about never will.
I know why he came up. It’s the same reason I want to sit down and just breathe in this delicious air. Somehow, it’s also the same reason the church wars started. Hope. goddamn, never breaking, spirit devouring hope. No matter how many times our dreams are quashed, not matter how many of our loved ones disappear, hope still lingers. Hope is what gets our young soldiers killed when they just want a taste of the old world.
It’s funny, even though most of the walls were torn from this place; I still walked through the doorway. I’m sure the kid’s in here. If he’s not here… well there’s no point in my sticking around.
I hope he was smart enough to get to the cellar. I can’t say whether or not they ever found the cellar. It’s the only haven we’ve had up here since we went under. Every few months or so one of these kids has to come up, try his luck. They either turn up in the cellar or not at all.
Every creak I hear makes me reach for Susanna. I remember the day my old man gave her to me. He called me into his study, and set a long, thin box on the desk in front of him.
“Son, you’ve done well. Your mother, may she rest in peace, would be gushing with pride to see the man you’ve become. Stand up straight.” He was constantly telling me to stand up straight. I hated it. It’s strange that the behaviors I used to loathe in my parents have now become fond and even funny memories.
“I never wanted to see my son delve into magic, but now that I see how far you’ve come… Anyhow, I’ve got you a gift. To show you that even old men can learn to appreciate something new if it’s for one of their children.”
The horrible smells in this place are rich enough to bring tears to my eyes.
I call out, “KEVIN!”
Although I’m not surprised by the lack of response, the sound of my own voice in this dry silence sent chills down my spine. I cling to Susanna with my right hand; I can feel my knuckles turning white, though my skin is impossible to see. A slight glimmer hangs on her long cool blade and Susanna basks in the tension.
If I don’t find him soon, there’s no point in staying. No one has ever been found after forty-eight hours other than that girl. The state she was in… I just told her brother I hadn’t found her. I still see her when I close my eyes. Her face, so beautiful and her eyes closed serenely. Not a mark above her neck, but below… It still brings bile to the back of my throat. I’m not here for her now.
I can hear the wind changing outside. Even with no walls above, this cellar somehow blocks the elements. I suppose that’s why they all end up here. Dry, quiet, and almost warm…
I spin quickly and see the crate topple as Kevin runs at me. Tears soak his face and no sound comes from his mouth. That’s how it always is. They either can’t make a noise or they scream themselves hoarse and pass out. This way is better. I can’t carry him and Susanna at the same time.
He clings to me, his body shuddering and heaving, wracked with the sobs that just won’t come. I can feel his tears and spit already soaking through my shirt. Kevin… a twenty-two year old man… he’s got a fiancé and a job underground.
The scared misfit now hanging on me is a scared child. He’s a little boy whose parents were taken from him too young, and his legs can barely hold him.
Once I get him back, he won’t speak to me or even look at me anymore. They never do. I guess it’s an embarrassment to be scared or to cry on the shoulder of another grown man. That’s alright; at least his young lady will have someone to dance with at her wedding.