* * *
They slipped through the twisted gate barring the entrance of the underpass to enter a concealed world filled with the stench of stale water mixed with urine. Their hoods came off, eyes blinked to regain sense of the impenetrable darkness. Anne produced a glow stick and snapped it, a steady blue glow soothing the atmosphere. Massey followed suit providing light from behind revealing spray-painted panels, faceless caricatures of people and grotesque snails made up from swirling letters. They jumped down from the white-tiled platform and swiveled along with the curve of the primitive tunnel with its single lonely track.
On some nights while going through the routine, Anne thought the walls of the tunnel echoed her rising heartbeat back and forth along the hollow length of the dank sleeve, multiplying it to make it sound like some giant beast was there with them crawling like a shadow along their weak ones, waiting patiently in the dark ahead. The hiss of air coming from her parted lips whistling back through the ceiling holes didn’t help battle the image either. The first time they had come down here they were met with two mole people securing themselves from the pouring rain on the basic platform stretching along the rail. Massey scared them off easily enough but now every time they crossed this path of dangerous righteousness, Anne expected a worse type of guest waiting for them. Her mind liked putting Globe there, a ridiculous thought. Jacob Globe would never dirty his expensive suit in a sewer like this.
The gravel on the narrow yard crunched under her boots as she followed the imprints of long lost train tracks, no doubt dug out and cut to be sold rather than reused on another line. The remainder of them had collapsed, submerged under the pool of water gathered in a slope.
The gray water pooled ankle deep then knee deep and Anne slowed down to let the refugees get their bearings. Fragile light from outside briefly entered the tunnel through punctured holes in the semi-healthy roof. The walls leaked with cool water from ancient yellow pipes, the drip-drop the only other sound apart from their sloshing feet and labored breathing. They reached a man-made clearing in the debris where the roof had caved in creating a dam of large blocks of cement and century-old materials from the original construction. It still required them to crawl through a gap on all fours scraping foul smells and muck on their palms. The 1930’s collapse followed by the 2009 collapse had permanently locked the better part of the tunnel abandoning it to stream in the city filth, creating a convenient escape route in the process.
Years ago while still functional, the tunnel would have opened through a wide portal climbing to the surface, rising from a lower level before descending again after the train had made its brief stop. Now, this was its last stop as the tracks faded into gravel blending into sand. The rest of the tunnel was nonexistent, collapsed fully and cleared away abandoning the territory to the spread of industrial, red and yellow shipping containers stacked behind a fence. Anne quickened her pace, dropped the glow stick, crushing it under her boot.