by: Sergei JW
In 2023 a worldwide event took place. Men and women of all ages were abducted. When they awoke they found themselves in the underground. The common denominator, some would say, is that the poor or lower class are stuck down here; These were mainly opposition parties whom claim to have known of this event, but opposed it. They also said that those who “escape the maze” were worthy to be back with the privileged class above ground where society was now more developed without the poor lives or poor minded getting in the way. No one is sure what year it is now. Some figure it to be 20-30 years since abduction point, other say it’s been at least 50. My brother Joshua and I grew up in the maze. Our parents drew us pictures on walls and told us stories of the outside world. Meat eaters got to them. For all of us, there was only one thing left to do- survive.
I was dreaming of sunshine on my face, imaging it to be a large ball of warmth in the sky. I could feel the warmth of its rays on my body, and a strong sense of happiness. I would give it all to see the sun rise and set. For a split second I was happy, but then it all came back when I shook my feet which were being nibbled on by mice. I awoke to the candle flame next to my face and wet floor beneath my body. I found Joshua already awake boiling some water. I am unsure if he had slept at all. It being dark constantly down here, it was still hard for the body to adjust without the sense of time. Suddenly there was a sound that echoed down the tunnel, a strange moaning and shuffling of water. I looked into the cold and dark tunnel, listening to the sound. I am unsure what it is, but the sound headed in the opposite direction. I’m sure it was the reason Joshua sat awake while I snoozed on my shift to watch. He poured some hot water in two cups and sprinkled in some flavoring. He gave me my cup and I sipped, tasting the strong flavor of seaweed. I began to apologize for sleeping, but he stopped me saying it was alright, though not to do it again. We didn’t talk as we sipped our tea, but listened to any noises within the tunnels.
Joshua and I continued traveling through the series of tunnels, caverns, maze like domes. On any regular day or night, we would walk for the sake of survival- to keep us moving. We found that people who stayed in one spot were the ones who were targeted the most. Targeted to get robbed, killed, eaten, or even tortured by cults. Joshua and I were heading to the Market. The Market moved in many different areas and set up on occasion. The word spread that the Market would be in a empty dome called Sprout City which was known to harvesters for collecting a type of bean sprout used for alcohol. The dangers of the Market mean that a lot of people will be in one place; A gathering of families, children, elders, murders, and meat eaters. There was a law made for the Market so that there was no violence to happen within the Market’s zone, but that doesn’t stop the others from following you back home. It was a risk, but one many would take. The Market had many things that everyone needed.
It took us an equivalent of a 2 ½ weeks of walking to get to Sprout City. We had arrived, but a day too soon. The market was still being set up and we were told that it would be open tomorrow. This was something Joshua and I wanted to avoid. The laws of the Market place weren’t active till the day the market was open. This would mean that we would spend the night near the Market area while other’s have already begun to camp. Joshua and I had set up inside a small crack in the wall that opened into a tiny cavern. It was big enough for he and I to camp in and safe enough that we can stand our ground if we were attacked. We were sure no one in this area would dare to sleep tonight when each one is fearing that the other will slit his throat. Sleeping was the last thing on my mind after seeing a ½ naked man with a scared emblem of his cult on his forehead. Each of us followed the “underground time”. According to that time, it was equivalent to 9:30pm. Joshua and I were up drinking tea and snacking on some dried rat meat.
“Good evening, gentlemen” a voice spoke.
I immediately looked up to see a man and a women at the entrance. Joshua nodded back and waited for them to continue.
“This is embarrassing, and I know it’s a lot to ask, but we were hoping to maybe trade some of your meat for these water pears” the man said. The women next to him was holding a baby. She didn’t make any eye contact to us.
The man continued, “We just wanted a little protein, none of us have had any for the last several weeks. It’s not much, but 3 pears for 1 ½ strips”.
I continued to eat the rat meat and looked from the family to Joshua.
“Why don’t you save any trading for the market tomorrow” replied Joshua. He knew that 3 water pears couldn’t even pay for 1 strip of rat meat.
The man took the hint and nodded in reply. He put his arm around the woman and they both began to turn around. I couldn’t help but feel bad for the family, and I was somewhat surprised by Joshua’s answer. We had plenty of rat meat, it was something we were going to use for trading.
“We’ll take it” I spoke out.
The family stopped and looked back. Joshua looked at me with an annoyed expression. He mumbled something to me, but I couldn’t make it out. I whispered back to him, trying to convince him to do it. He gave in and waved the family back.
“You can sit inside, but next to the entrance. We’ll COOK the raw meat for you.” Said Joshua. He knew that "meat eaters" had a hard time with cooked rat meat, it was a way to assure himself they weren’t one of them.
The family paused at the request to step inside the cavern. It was hard for anyone to trust each other in the underground, but after a moment they had agreed. They crawled inside and for a brief moment I had regretted my decision after having felt unsafe. I assured myself they weren’t a problem. We had cooked one strip for each of them which they first cautiously accepted but soon were very appreciative. The man, who was called Jonathan, gave us the 3 water pears. A water pear was a green pear shaped bubble that grew from a seaweed looking plants growing along the walls of water tunnels. Inside there was fresh water, and the flesh was crisp. After they ate their pieces, the man had told us they took a 4 month journey to get to the Market. Joshua interrupted them, saying they had finished eating and it was time to leave. The man and woman weren’t offended at the comment, but understood. It was hard for anyone to trust anyone in the Underground. During the night we heard yelling echoing in the darkness. It was that morning we found out that the family who ate with us the previous night were gone- a cult group had got to them. We were saddened, or at least I was, but it was something you get used to. This was life in the underground.
I found a man around my age and we talked about the Eastern Snake Tunnels while Joshua traded some of the rat meat for more bio-leaf fire starters. The man claims he has been through the snake tunnels. I found his story unlikely, although he showed me some of the snake venom he was trading. The snake tunnels, from what I have been told, were filled with thousands of venomous snakes. I had heard a story that there was a snake that was the size of 10 adult human beings. You get a lot of those kind of stories here. Although, it’s not so unlikely to believe. Our parents told Joshua and I that the creatures down here are unlike any above ground. These animals were mutants and monsters. Joshua and I ran into one creature we called the Dragon Toad. This creature was the size equivalent to a cow. It stood on two short back legs and 2 long front legs wearing a hard and spikey shell over its skin. It’s face was shallow to a point in the front like a toad. The toad used its tongue to tangle itself on anyone in the crawl spaces. The creature fed off the hundreds of rats in its area. Joshua and I had escaped. Lucky for us, but unlucky for the man we were with at the time.
I met with Joshua who had run into Uncle Shazunto, an actual relative of ours who lived in this area. We had met him once before mom and pop had died. Joshua looked at me while I walked up. I tossed him a small vial of dark yellow liquid- one of the bottles of snake venom I snatched from the man I was talking to. Very expensive stuff. Uncle Shazunto turned his head and gave me a wide grin. I walked up to him and he gave me a hug.
“My God, I am sorry about your parents. It’s a damn shame now is when I hear about it” he spoke.
“Contacting others is hard down here, so I don’t blame you” replied Joshua.
Uncle Shazunto scratched his head, still shocked about the news. He was surprised to see that we were alive and invited us for supper that night. He told us that he didn’t have enough to support all 3 of us, but if we chose to stay we had the option to. Joshua and I agreed to come to supper, but told him it will be just for the night. Staying in one place is always dangerous.
We had followed Uncle Shazunto to his home, carefully checking behind us for any followers. Our Uncle lived in a small hut made from algae on a small cliff. The algae lit as we walked into it, seemingly reacting to the pressure of our feet. I found it to be mesmerizing and I could see Joshua was admiring the light. We sat that night and ate some Rat Weasels, which were rabbit-size creatures that fed off the algae in the area. A man suddenly rushed into the home.
“Shazunto!” the man yelled, ignoring Joshua and I, “We’ve found it!”.
Uncle stood up and looked at us both in some great shock.
“What is it, Uncle? What did you find?” I asked.
Uncle Shazunto looked at the man, then back at us.
“The way out”
Noise suddenly erupted outside the home.
Uncle looked at both of us in alarm, already knowing what was going on.
Other people found out.
“Take them! Now!” uncle yelled at the stranger.
Uncle Shazunto grabbed me suddenly and put something in my hand, “Once your out, find a man named David in California- give him this.
It was a heart-shaped locked.
“Do NOT open it!” he yelled as we were dragged away.
Soon there was only silence in the house...