Mercy in the Underground16 May 2016
The door to the farm is up ahead. I creep up the steps and slowly open the hatch above me. I climb through the portal and find myself behind a restaurant. The stale, dusty smell of the city at night replaces the stench of the sewer underneath me, but I am not bothered by the stink; I rule the sewers. Everything below the city is mine. I sneak through the alley without making a sound, softening my footsteps in case I might meet someone or something. Sometimes I run into raiders living in the bunkers outside the city, but they’re usually pretty weak. And I am pretty strong. Up here, there’s always the risk of meeting wild animals and mutants who try their best to survive. I am their relief. When I see their faces give up their last morsel of life, before I drink their blood and store their meat in my freezers, I feel they become a part of me.
The full moon is bright and washes the city in its pale grey glow. The day is not too different, since the sun struggles through clouds of acid to shine. I seldom go out during the day, it makes me uncomfortable.
In the alley there is no sound of footsteps, no danger. My feet pad softly on the ground and I assure myself there is nothing to challenge me. The grey bricks and stones of the laneway and the building walls remind me of medieval castles I read about as a kid. I am the king here. For everyone else, I make this place their grave.
The supermarket is next to the restaurant. I don’t have to walk far from my sewer. If the restaurant was still in business and the city was still liveable, the owners would not have much trouble getting fresh ingredients. The thought amuses me. My home is under the supermarket, so I don’t have to go far for ingredients either.
A cockroach crosses my path. My tongue shoots out and I catch it: an appetiser.
I sneak through the supermarket’s loading bay in the alley and creep towards the frozen food section. A couple of people from the bunkers are lying in front of the freezers. They are wearing bullet proof vests and carry some crude spears charged with electricity. Both are men. It’s been a long time since they sent down women. I haven’t seen one alive since I retreated underground. They were usually killed by my traps.
I wait a little there to hear if anyone else is coming.
I hear static. Then someone, a male, says “Peter are you there? Please respond… we’re coming over.”
Quickly I grab the two corpses and carry them on my back towards the loading bay.
I hear barking.
When I am in the alley I see a dog come out of the supermarket. I lay the corpses on the ground. The dog runs over. My arms reach out and coil around its neck like snakes and I kill it before it can make any noise. A clean kill. No blood around to leave any traces. I carry it home with me along with the other two bodies. Tonight was a good catch. Still, I worry about being caught and seal the sewer door behind me. No one will be able to pry it open and follow me.
I creep past the generators I installed under the supermarket and thank myself they’re still working. I also thank myself I managed to avoid getting caught. I am the ultimate predator; all things are my prey.
At some point the cockroaches and the rats as large as cats become too easy. I even tire of the alligators people flushed down the sewers and the other creatures that make the underworld their home. They’re too easy. People are more interesting prey and far tastier. They don’t taste of sewer as much. They remind me of bacon. I ran out of bacon when people raided the city for supplies, so now I stock my freezers with strips of their flesh instead. I provide for me.
Under the supermarket runs a sewer network. I carry the three meat-bags under my arms through the sour stench of their piss and shit. I am importing my own food underground. I am self-sufficient.
Through the sewers of ancient red brick, rusted walkways and broken lights I head to the underground rails. I used to take these to work. I can see in the dark as well as I used to in the daylight. I am the dark.
The train tunnels are dead. No electricity runs through them or anywhere for that matter except for wherever I have built generators. The trains have all been dormant in their depots for years or scrapped for parts by raiders and survivors. I find the station marked ‘Hope Street’ and walk through a maintenance tunnel leading home.
The nearest door to the right smelled of embalming fluid and coldness. I touch the freezing door and push. I am in a morgue. I like to keep my food fresh and stored properly. It’s been twenty years since the hospital was in business and the smell of embalming fluid still permeates the air. The smell of the dead is stronger because this is where I keep my meals. I preserve and save.
I search and remove the crude armour of my prey and look at their wallets. I like doing that. Not that I care for them, I just like making up stories about the people I eat. It saves me from going out and meeting people. I figure if I just find some memorabilia about these people, I save myself the trouble of socialising. Perhaps humanity fills a need by finding stories to live in. I am beyond that. I am the end of their stories usually. I don’t need to live. I just survive and kill. It’s very simple and logical; I am satisfied by that.
I like to find out the things people die for. Perhaps their wallets or the books they carried with them will tell me what they liked and believed in. Sometimes survivors carry bags with their personal bible or a book with them like the Tao, something by Alan Watts, or Nietzsche, or the biography of someone they looked up to. One time I found someone with the biography of Maria Callas, a soprano singer of some sort. She lived way before my time and reminded me a lot of my fiancée.
I strip the flesh of my quarry from their bones and keep their clothes, armour and weapons in the floor above the morgue. I store the meat for later in the morgue and eat the dog for a snack. I cut some of the flesh into steaks. I make some into strips that look like bacon, in case I want something crispy.
I run up to the genetics department on the seventh floor. My old office is there and I keep a shrine there. First, I look into my mirror and thank myself for another good day hunting. I smile when I see the rows of teeth and two large fangs proudly standing in my muzzle. I lick and polish them. I pick up a brick and polish my horns and once I am satisfied, I retrieve a book from my shelves.
It has a black cover saying ‘Thanks for the Memories’ and I turn to a page showing my old body next to my fiancée’s. Our friend took that picture of us sitting in a café, the day after I proposed to her. That was the day we told everyone. She died a month later from the enemy virus. Her name was Mercy. That is the past.
I find another picture of her, this time it is a picture of her at a beach. She looks so luscious, with her wavy brunette hair and doe eyes driving me crazy. I lick my lips and masturbate.
I nap and wake up after hearing some motorbikes outside. I need to go out and explore. When I am on the ground floor, I see her. She looks exactly like Mercy and carries an assault rifle. I want her so badly.
I introduce myself, sprinting quickly and catch her rifle just as she points it at me. She screams. I take her quickly below ground.
I run through the morgue, opening the door to the maintenance tunnel. I run so fast and she passes out from the exhaustion of screaming. I hold her tighter. Down here, no one will hear her. I pray to myself no one will follow us. I am on the train platform and decide to take her somewhere nice to chat.
We are now in the parking lot of a large shopping centre. It used to be so popular and crowded and was one of many mega malls that grew all over the country. It was a crazy time. They were fun places, usually filled with three different food courts because it took people an hour to get between each of them. People were fatter then.
We are six floors under the ground; three of them were for parking. Some cars are still here, but most of them I guess were used to evacuate people. The ones left here are probably broken. I go up to the third basement floor and it’s as large as two stadiums. There is an amusement park here and it’s got some roller coasters and boat rides. It even has a submarine and I remember how popular it was. I never got the chance to go on it on account of the long queues but now the crowds are gone, I could use it, if I could just turn it on.
I open the hatch of the submarine still docked by its pier and switch some levers. I play around and hope something happens.
The machine stays asleep and I take my woman to the pier. I wait by her side until she wakes up and we can talk. She’ll probably be disappointed I can’t start our ride. She’ll be angry and I will ask for her mercy.
She lies asleep on the pier and I decide she looks uncomfortable. A bed, that’s what she needs. I know it is still night time and the sun won’t be up for a few more hours so it’s safe for me to go up the mall and get a mattress for her. I’d carry a whole bedroom for her if she wants it. On the way I look for food she might like. She will be hungry and I must satisfy her. Her love is perfect. She is perfect.
Sophie is worried. It’s been two hours since she last saw Mercy. She gave her orders to search the hospital for anything useful. By now, Mercy is supposed to meet her and the platoon at the mega mall. They are twenty-nine women minus Mercy. Sophie can’t afford to tell the bunker they lost someone in the city, they need all the people they can. She sends her best scout, Daisy, to look for her at the hospital and tells her to come back if she can’t find her. She doesn’t want anything to happen to Daisy too. If Mercy is missing, it could be that something caught her on her motorbike or even killed her in the hospital. Whatever the case, she wants Daisy to return as quickly as she can.
Daisy comes back and says, “She left her motorbike outside. I couldn’t find her anywhere. If she’s inside the hospital, I’m not looking in there myself”
Sophie replies, “Smart call. We’ll all look for her.”
A black dog the size of a motorbike barks nearby and points to the front entrance of the mega mall. Other black dogs of the same size joined in until there were about ten of them baying and howling. Sophie runs up to them and the barking gets louder and angrier. “Everyone! Get your weapons ready, danger’s nearby. We’re going inside that shopping centre. Follow Cerberus and his pack.”
The platoon gets lively as plasma charged rifles whir and reload. They burst in and follow the war dogs down to the basement. Cerberus follows his nose and leads the platoon and his pack down three disability ramps to some amusement park. He is a special dog, his ancestors were hunters and he was bred, with a little tampering to his genes, to protect humans and hunt down what isn’t. Just now, he sensed something strange. It is very big, whatever it is.
Cerberus and his pack find what they sensed earlier. Its blood tastes vile and it’s strong. Not strong enough to resist the strength of a pack of large war dogs and a platoon of armed women with plasma rifles and electrified spears. The beast has horns, claws, a hunched back, huge fangs and a long, sticky tongue. The tongue goes for Sophie but Cerberus manages to bite the tongue cut it. The beast is angry and charges towards Cerberus but his pack manages to pounce on it and take it down. Nine large descendants of ancient wolves is enough to take down even a mammoth. The beast dies when shots of plasma burn into its torso and head.
Sophie looks around and sees Mercy on the pier. She is sitting behind a king bed and her head is behind her knees and crying. Sophie embraces Mercy and comforts her. “Everything is going to be alright. Medic, come here! Mercy’s alive!”