Whimsy Wednesday: The City Beneath

Dungeon by Min Yum

Dungeon by Min Yum

 Lightning streaked the sky as I passed under the exposed beam. Frigid rain pelted my back, sending chills down my arms. I tugged on my sleeve, letting the loose fabric fall over my wrists. I neglected fastening them, knowing that as soon as I found shelter, they'd be rolled up again. 

The thunder followed quickly thereafter, indicating the bulk of the storm had yet to bare down on him. I peered up to a macabre audience. The crows sat there, huddled amongst the rafters, their black eyes reflecting little.

The rotting wood shifted underfoot and I focused on the task at hand. The satchel pulled on my right shoulder, changing my posture into that of a gunslinger. I could appreciate the image as I felt on edge, ready to lash out at anything and everything that might be lurking in the darkness.

Wind poured through the gaps in the ceiling, sending a spatter of settled water cascading along the enclosure. I stood there as the light poured through the sheet, spotting the underlying structure beyond. Gutted tarps shook violently in the sparse light, wires swayed, threatening to tangle. A gap functioned as a makeshit doorway. I approached the ragged hole, placing a steadying hand on wall, then leaned in.

Silhouettes, black amongst black, darted at the movement and I immediately got the feeling of being watched, a prickling feeling that settled at the base of my neck. I held on for a minute more, the damp wall giving me little purchase, before retreating back to the cold. Another flash of lightning revealed a figure sitting in the darkness, dark eyes taking me in, silent but alert.

"Come in." It said, letting one hand fall in an offer. The voice rumbled, course and well worn. It took its time letting the words dance off its tongue. As its hand returned to its face, the ill-fitting suit hung from his limbs.

My hand went to the satchel, feeling for the familiar lump.

"I so rarely have visitors."

"I can't imagine why," I responded. The words felt odd, foreign as they tripped out of my mouth. I stepped across the threshold, pressing the bag against me in a reflexive gesture. "You're in such a prime spot."

The old thing laughed, leaning forward. The light tripped across its features, all melted and stretched. "You've got a mouth on you," it whispered. "All the better. Did you enjoy your jaunt around my home?"

"It hasn't been yours for a long time."

It dipped its head back and forth as if weighing the possiblity, then outright dismissed it with a wave of its narrow fingers. "No no. I never gave it up. I was just . . . forgotten."

"Looks like its in need of some spring cleaning." I crossed the room, keeping my eye on it, watching it as it tracked me. There was a shredded chair, its upholstry tattered, guts spilled all around it, marred by some gamy stains. I lowered myself into it, feeling all together uneasy in the midst of this thing.

"Well, things do get away from you." Lightning punctuated its sentence, thunder following on its heels. As the rumble shook the structure deep in the earth, rain pelted the opening. It came down in torrents, streams falling from the beams, through the ragged maw. The thing watched as its old domain was submerged, forgotten as it were. It sat here, in the company of the one man that could kill it.

A beam gave way, spilling fresh light into the bleak structure. Plaster mixed with the water, splashing grey splotches along the walls, robbing the room of what little color it had left amidst all these dark tones. The god looked up, into the light, its eyes flashing and lingering.

I took the opportunity, wrenching the dagger from the bag. The dagger's hilt glowed brilliant blue. The god hadn't seemed to notice. I lunged forward, only to find the god's face on me. Lost in the movement, I pushed through and  plunged the blade into its vacant seat.

"Oh, Daedren." The god seized my arm, jerking it savagely. The room filled with the hollow crack of bones breaking. The rain pelted my skin, cold enough to burn. I screamed. "I had hoped this would be more amicable."

It released me and I hit the ground, the broken limb caught underneath me. Still, I held fast to the blade with my good hand. I tried to speak, but instead a viscous stream of saliva fell across my chin.

I grunted, tried to reposition, as the god towered over me. It leaned in, its face a mask of living flesh, and plucked up my blade. "Let's see what makes you tick."

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.