Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Pallbearer: A Hundred Tiny Hands Part 3

The Depths

Holly deserved better. She deserved a real funeral, with friends and family in attendance. A classy ceremony, a eulogy, and a wake. She deserved a better tombstone than one charred helmet in the middle of a trash heap.

She didn't get it.

I was three days walk away and more than a mile underground when I woke up. I still stank like peeled tires, cigarettes, and scorched carpet. Neither set of eyes would open and my Brute refused to budge. Crippled. Nice.

Didn't look like I was worth a fuck at this vigilante thing.

Rotting fish scent crept up my left arm and leaned over me.

"Easy... easy sir. Thanksies thanksies for helping me and the children. You are safe. We keep safes. We going down now. Rest. We fix."

For the first time in my life, I did as I was told.

And I passed out.



The next time I came to, my eyes would open again. Nothing from my Brute yet.

The ceiling was filthy. Thoroughly filthy. Repulsively filthy. Filthy like only children, college students, and factories can make.

I turned my head slowly and my view changed from filthy ceiling to filthier wall. And a grubby 5 year old with no eyes skipping along merrily. Glowing blue. Keeping me held in mid-air.

I looked at the ceiling again. Safer.

The fish smell swam up my side again. Gremlin.

He had cleaned himself up greatly since the dump. He now sported a black and white tweed sportscoat with patched elbows, a black sweater vest beneath it, a white dress shirt beneath that, and a black tie around his neck. That did not change the fact that he still looked like a large, badly beaten iguana on two legs.

Up close, his scales weren't pure white. More like coffee creamer than new fallen snow. He had one tooth, an incisor, that wasn't snagged and snaggled. The rest twisted and jutted from his gums, a dark cavern full of teeth. His hornrims were still cracked.

Hornrims. Glasses.

I blinked and looked again.


"We're helping. We'll fix."

"No. Why do you have eyes?"

Gremlin fidgeted, rolling a leather button on his sportcoat between his fingers.

"I came other way. Not through pipes. Chose to come. Was laughed at above. We go farther, stay down. You see why."



"I'm trusting you right now. Don't make me beat your ass later, alright?"

"Yes sir. I saw, saw you fight Vaudville. Will keep safe."

I didn't ask. I didn't care. My eyelids looked beautiful.


The next time I woke they were feeding me. It was slippery, loose, and chunky. Tasted about like pureed anchovies. But it was warm.

Samson was holding the spoon from across the room as Gremlin tended to her knots and bruises.

"Where are we?"

"Down. At least a mile and a half beneath the city now. Pallbearer was it?"

Gremlin. Clear. Understandable.

"What did you say?"

He began fidgeting with the button on his sportcoat again.

"Down here, I am a bit more... shall we say... educated. I wasn't when I first came down. Something in the air, I believe, sparks the change. Increases the rate of synapse firing and such. Knowing my pedigree and long history with such things as lady luck, the chemical cocktail is almost certainly fatal to me."


Brilliant and I still had no fucking clue what he was saying.

I looked at Samson.

"English, please?"

"When Misser Griblin is down here, he's really smart. Up there, he's more like us. He's a scared that this'll make him go away, so we go up alot for fresh air and to play."

"Thank you Samson."

I didn't smell like a burnt marshmallow anymore. That was positive.

I blacked out again with a mouthful of goop. Had forgotten to ask what it was.



My eyes, both sets opened this time, my Brute's world coming into focus at once. Gremlin stood in front of my, fidgeting with his button.

"Who's that working on my Brute?"


"I can see her. Tall, skinny, black hair, blind like the children. Who is she?"

"That's Ms. Borden. Natalie is her first name."

"How'd she get down here? She's my age."

"The Disciples kidnapped her and were using her to further their Upgrade with her expertise. The minute she wasn't of any use to them, they..."

"Flushed her?"

Gremlin was waving his claws hands with their webbed fingers.

"Not flushed! Don't use that phrase here. Not around the children. No reminders of what we are to this city are appreciated. We are this far underground so as to distance ourselves from them. Were it not for the vast quantity of sewage and the run off water the dam needs, these tunnels wouldn't exist. We are lucky to have this place to come, Mr. Pallbearer. I would appreciate it if you didn't remind folks that we were, as you so put it, flushed!"

"Will you quiet down? I have a headache."

Gremlin's mouth clapped shut and he started playing with his button again. Did he ever stop playing with it? Christ.

"There's something I wanted to ask you about."


"Holly... the one attacking you. She mentioned something about people wanting them fresh. Did she mean what I think?"

"Yes, yes she did. They use those they round up in part of the feeding of this city. Up to the surface, then out to a port beneath the wall. The port leads to a hydroponics plant. They incorporate them into the product coming out. We... we were hoping to rescue some of them."

"How many of you are there?"

"In which part of the city?"


"We number in the thousands. All kept in touch by those children who in exchange for eyes have gained telepathy. Others, like Samson, have telekinesis to protect us with. However, we aren't a match for trained exterminators. Especially not when they catch us topside."

He kept talking but I wasn't listening.

"Gremlin, quiet."

"Mr. Pallbearer, you're being quite rude."

"I said shuddup. I have another question for you."


"You know where this tunnel is?"

"I do."

"One more question... how fast can you get me back topside, with my Brute fully operational?"

"I don't know... why?"

"It's a harvest moon two nights from now. I would like to see the fields aflame under that moon. Do you catch my metaphor?"

"I believe I do Mr. Pallbearer."

"Name's Neil, nice to meet you."

"Markus. A pleasure. A thought, Neil."


"Wherever will you get a scythe large enough?"

No comments:

Post a Comment