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For a moment the only thing I know in the world is pain. My eyes flicker open, still burning slightly from the oil. Looking up through my eyes’ water medicine, I stare through the hole in the ceiling at the twenty to thirty stories above me. After a moment I realize that I just dropped from there. I give a dry hysterical chuckle that turns into a dry hysterical laugh. The crazy sound echoes through the building as I revel in my being alive. I stop immediately when I hear shattered glass shift as people enter the building. After several pain filled seconds, I stand, a plan already formed in my head. My body may be slow with pain, but my mind is still sharp.
I’m in to horrible condition to fight them off, even if I wasn’t covered in flammable liquid … but if I wasn’t covered in it then I wouldn’t have had to jump who cares how many stories. It’s a very dangerous and deadly plan but it will have to do. I put all my cloths, except for my underwear, on the floor where I landed, and also drop two knives that I usually have sheathed to my calves on top of the pile as well as the gun. I take valuables, like my phone, money, Misty tooth necklace and the knives sheathed to my ribs and put them into a small trash bag-like bag with a zip lock seal. Tearing off one of my pant legs, I use it to drag a trail from the sewer hatch to the cloths. Slowly and painfully, I open the hatch and take a few steps down the latter. Once my shoulders are even with the floor, I take a kerosene soaked match in my vainly-tried-to-clean hand and take a deep stabilizing breath. A quick scratch on the floor and it’s alight, and it quickly burns my fingers as I drop it onto the trail.
My cloths quickly catch fire as I pull the hatch over my head. Then dropping into the sewer sludge, I try not to puke at the retched scents infecting my nostrils. But it’s not the first time I’ve used a sewer escape … though it is the first time only in my underwear. Slogging through the muck, I crept toward the east side of town where the sewage water was drained into a cleansing facility. Even though I had just faked my death … again, I had to be careful because Kit would have had every possible route covered, and it would take a bit for the news of my tragedy to spread. Also I would be a shame to show that I’m alive before I’m dead. Stealthily I float through the crap swirling around my legs, since I’m moving with the current I don’t have to worry about anyone noticing a surge in a strange direction. But I on the other hand notice someone else’s surge against the current and am glad that I can feel myself healing.
I shake my head in frustration, I didn’t want to have to do this, and especially half-naked. But because there is no other way to stay dead, I slowly lower myself into the sewage. Not thinking about what’s touching my skin, I turn onto my back and submerge my head till only my nose is above the water. Taking my filth-covered hand, I camouflage my nose so it won’t be notice able and snort to clear the nostrils so I can breathe. Like that I just float, following the current and hoping I’m not noticed.
After what seems like miles, I stand and whip the crap off my face and try to get it out of my ears … once I’m out of here, I’m treating myself for worms at least. I know the outlet is only a few turns away, but I also know there will be at least a guard on the inside and the outside of the grated opening. A plan quickly forms in my head as I creep towards the opening and peek around the turn. I decide to lure the inside man away, and knock him unconscious. Then, mimicking the inside man’s voice I’ll scream for the other guy that something had him. When the outside man cuts a hole in the wire covering the opening and comes to help, I’ll knock him out also. But to keep them from thinking it was me even though I’m dead, I’ll strip them so they will think they were mugged. There are sewer gangs here, it’s just most of them are on the west side of town, where the sewer crap is less thick. I’m about to execute my plan when I tune into their conversation.
“-I just can’t believe the kid would jump? I mean really, the man got scared and accidentally sprayed him a bit, so he jumps. It’s crazy!” What the heck are they talking about! … Then I realize, these guys are regular humans, the one who attacked me in the building was Virused. Kit’s only using the Virused when he knows there will be combat! Now he’s spreading lies and keeping half his army out of the loop.
“The kid must really hate his dad if he’s willing to die instead of go home.” Involuntarily I flinch and growl at the same time. Kit wasn’t my dad, sure for a while he was like a fatherly figure, but he never once got the right to call me son. I’m fatherless, and he substituted when needed but that was a long time ago. … But deep down I wonder if I was right back in the alley about time changing me.
“What was that?” My growl had echoed down the tunnel a bit. The outside guy shrugged. “I’m going to check it out.”
My eyes narrow with anger as I lead him a few turns away, and quickly knock him out. It was so easy to avoid his flashlight beam. I prop him up against the side of the tunnel and start screaming. I hear the outside man freaking out and coming to help his comrade, coming to his failure. Once he’s at the end of the tunnel I stop. His flashlight finds his fallen friend and he doesn’t even bother to look for the attacker. With them both propped against the wall, I strip them of their cloths and weapons, and using a knife tip, I carve one of the sewer gang symbols above their heads.
I shove all their stuff into a hole in the wall a few yards down, and use the crap from the sewage as clay and cover the hole. Walking back to the opening I fix some last minute details to my tall tale that will get me into the water facility. Just as I suspected, half the wires covering the hole has been snipped and pried open. Slipping through the opening, I noticed that the storm had cleared and had completely left this side of town; I chuck my small bag into the far off trees, and walk toward the facility. Before I reach the door, a frail man in a lab coat and glasses comes running out to me, and I put on a look of defeat. The man holds his hands out wide, a look of shock and horror on his face as he looks me over, then I realize that the bruises from my fall helped my cover.
“What happened!?!” He exclaimed in a shrill voice, I give a painful cough.
“I was mugged in the sewer.” I keep my voice ragged and breathing wheezy. The look he gives me tells that he understands about the sewer gangs. “Do you have a shower and some clothes I could use?”
Raleigh, North Carolina
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'Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you'll die tomorrow.'
for my sister: 'when life gives me lemons ... i eat them'
'do not be afraid, be faithful'
'God is not safe, but He's good'