“Shh. It’s going to be okay. If you follow my voice, I can lead you out of here.” Silence followed. “You mean it?” I assured him I did, and would even see to it that he was taken care of by doctors once we escaped. “No…No more doctor. No drill. NO DRILL!” He became frantic.
“Shhh, no drill. No doctors, if that’s what you want. First things first, let’s get out of these tunnels.” He then calmed down somewhat, but insisted that the tunnels go on forever in every direction. Certainly seemed like that on the way in. A difficult maze to navigate, even with the lights on.
I wiped the accumulated sweat from my face, picked a direction and began walking. Calling out every few seconds for Jeremy, so he could follow. We’d not made it far before I heard it. Distant, and initially unfamiliar. Like the weeping. But once close enough, I realized what it was.
Metallic screeching, and the sound of hurried limping. Then, the whirr of an electric drill. “NO DRILL!” Jeremy cried, and ran back the way we came. I followed, unsure of what could possibly be behind us, but not wanting to find out. My only cues were Jeremy’s occasional frightened cries. It was difficult to stay with him.
Left turn. Right turn. Right. Right. Left. Right. Left. Left. No clear direction. Nothing to indicate how far we’d run. Still, I could hear it following us. The metallic screech. The drill. Left. Right. Right. Left. Thighs burning, throat dry, body coated in sweat. A burst of steam narrowly missed my face. The indirect heat still seared my skin.
I screamed and fell to the ground. Jeremy just kept running. The screeching drew closer. My mind raced, grasping at possibilities. I would never find the way out at random. My phone had long since shut down, the battery depleted. There was just one remaining option. But I would have to believe it was possible.
The screeching now nearly on top of me, I struggled to my feet and ran. Despite my aching muscles. Despite everything. “There could be a subway stop down here, couldn’t there?” I thought. It’s unlikely of course. But possible, right?
Yes! Nothing absolutely prevents it. There’s ample precedent. The construction could have been done in secret. All told, I convinced myself I was absolutely, genuinely unsure of whether there could be a subway stop ahead.
That was all it took. The door slid open, bathing a short stretch of the corridor in warm tungsten light from the oil lamps. I began to cry with relief, salty tears mixing with the grimy layer of sweat on their way down my face.
Inside stood professor Travigan, Zachary, and a small boy with a bandaged head. I barged in, slid the door shut behind me, and eagerly set about sealing it with the four levers. Only then did I let myself recover. Breathing gradually slowing down. Heartbeat returning to normal.
“You don’t know how glad I am to see you”, I confessed. But I received no response. When I turned around, the professor and Zachary were nowhere to be seen. The boy stood unnaturally still, not visibly breathing. When he finally opened his mouth as if to reply, only metallic screeching came out…then the drill began to emerge.
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