Light

19 4 0
                                                  

     I want to thank that person however many years ago that thought to install a drainage pipe into that wall. Suppose it would be a bit much to ask for a heater. Maybe some light. Because hell, it is dark and cold as the Arctic in here.

     You know, I just thought, you can't outrun the rain, but I just outwitted it. Outwitting rain. Who'd have thought? Oh. Right. Me. Maybe my mind is just playing one big game of Ring-Around-The-Rosy. But then, that circle felt a lot like I imagine the thoughts of the older.

     The metal of this thing is deathly cold. And I can't see. But I've already said that, haven't I? What else is there to think about, though? I find myself laughing now, at how literal this situation is. The stories that my mum would tell me. About the light, at the end of the tunnel. Dad went to the light. At least, that's what mum said.

     But there's no light, right now, at the end of this tunnel. For me. So I'll tell you what. I'm going to make a light. It's going to be the light of the real world, though. Not of heaven. Once, a long time ago when I was younger, my brothers and I had a joke. It was stupid. Whenever mum said that something couldn't be done, or that it was certainly impossible, my brothers would say, "It is if you believe." And then everyone but David would laugh, because we knew, or thought we knew, that believing got you no where fast.

     David taught me things. Showed me where my brothers were wrong. He believed, and he taught me to. Which is probably why he and I are still alive, and the others are long gone. Where there's a will, there's a way. David said my dad used to say that. I never knew him.

     So that's what I'm going to do while I slog through the muck here on all fours. I've had much worse. You know I have. And I know that I can make that light appear, if I believe.

     I'm going to start with the bad things. List them, even. Mum always used lists, and so did David.

     1) It's cold, and I might get hypothermia. Who in heaven's name is going to help me then?

     2) It's dark, and I can't see. Meaning several things. There could be any number of horrendous things lurking in here, and I'll never know. I don't know how long the pipe is, either. With no light, I won't be able to see until I'm less than fifteen feet away from the end.

     3)I don't have much else to think about. Not when I try, anyway. I always find myself thinking about the interesting things when I don't mean to. when I should be worried about other things. Like running from lightning.

     Now, I've got to think about the good. I've got to believe in the good. I'm alive. My hair isn't wet, and that's always nice. I need to find a way to cut my hair. Maybe even dye it, or something. Orange hair stands out. I need to keep low.

     I haven't been electrocuted. Definitely a plus. The drunks are gone. For now. I'm pretty sure this drainage pipe leads to a parking lot of the resort. That's good. There's never anyone in lots. Too open. but that means I'll have to get away, to somewhere secluded, as fast as I can. Contemplating trying the resort rooms, but others are bound to have had the idea first. Too dangerous.

     But there could be a group of Innos up there. They'd need help, and I bet they'd take me in. I know how to be a parent. A good one. The ones that are gone. But what if there's not? I figure I've got a 70-30 chance. Today, that's not good enough.

     Mum warned me once about hallucinations. If this is one, then I'm thankful. Because it's giving me hope. I see light. Somewhere far away, but I think it's there. Then again, I haven't had anything to drink in over a day, and I'm famished. We'll see.

     I hope there aren't leeches in here.

     The tunnel is sloping. Steeper, all of a sudden. Thank god for the ridges, or I'd be sliding back down the way I came. The sludge is lessening too. Now I can only feel it in the crevices, where I have to dig my fingers and toes in to get a grip. If this keeps up, it'll be like climbing a ladder soon.

     It's brighter. The light. It looks like sunlight would. But that means I'd have to be somewhere past the storm. I guess it's possible. They come and go quickly, now.

     And there it is. I was right. The grate.

     I guess in this case it's a good thing that other people had the same idea, because the grate is loose. Someone must have unscrewed it ages ago, to get in. Or maybe something broke it. To get out.

      I push on it again, and flinch as the metal clangs back into place. I hope no one heard. It may be loose, but it certainly isn't light. I'm going to have to heave and run. Well. After I get out of this hell-hole.

     I'm going to count to three, for the second time today. And then I'm going to start running again, running to you.

     One.

     Two.

     Three.

     Jesus Christ, I really need to cut my hair. That hurts something awful. There's a streak of orange stuck between my hand and the metal that I'm trying to shove up and out. You can imagine.

     Effort number two. Hair unstuck. Let's go.

     One. Two. Three. Oh Jesus. Heave.

     There's noise everywhere. Oh God. It's everywhere. I've got to get out. The ridges are slippery. What if someone comes? What if I die? What if I can't make it to you? I'm going to go deaf. Everyone miles around could have heard that. I can feel the concrete through my shirt. I've got to get my feet up.

     The sun's so bright, too. I may as well get back in the hole, because I can't see a thing.

     I'm out, I've done it. But everything's so hazy. Unreal. I need to start running, but which way? I was in the dark for too long. My eyes have to adjust before I can do anything. I should have thought of that before I got here.

     I'm dizzy. The pavement's moving but I'm not. I've got to find one spot, somewhere, and stare at it. One thing. Just stare at it, David would say, and the world will stop spinning.

     There's something in front of me, say ten feet away. It's black, a silhouette in the sun. In what looks like an overgrown flower bed. I drop to one knee. I'll stare at that. It's coming into focus, slowly, and the buildings are becoming more stable.

      The urge to run is nagging at me. But the thing, in the flower bed. It's looking more and more like something that I really don't want it to be.

     It looks like a person. A kid. Now I start running, closing the distance. It's a boy. No older than six. Dark complexion, with a ball of fuzz for hair.

     I'm there, next to him, tearing the vines away from his feet, when the boy starts laughing.

The Bottle WithinWhere stories live. Discover now