Saturday, October 01, 2005

Sewer Nymph. (Coffee with the Devil, 2.5)

She slips between the tracks, deep underground. Tunnels below city interconnect, intertwining pathways for the snakes that people ride. She knows the paths that run between these tunnels.

She is wary around the snakes, knowing that they will not stop for her, that they probably do not even see her, while they do (occasionally) inhabit the same darkness. Down there, she is as alert as above, only now more by touch, because vibrations, the city's shivers, tell more than sight or hearing can, here.

She enjoys wandering through the dark corridors, even if she doesn't come here all that often. There is no food here (for her), although plenty of treasures to be found. Something in her tells her to leave anything she finds here. Not like above, although, like above, she has her places here too, where she can rest, or hide.

She rarely meets people here, and if she does, she disappears so fast that they aren't sure they've seen her at all. Most of the men move about there with purpose. Some don't. The ones that don't, she finds more scary, because like her, they have their spots here, territories, allegiances. The ones that do are merely there to do a job, to maintain, to get from one place to the other. The ones that don't hunt for treasures, and even food. Rats are plentiful down here.

She mostly manages to steer clear of these underdwellers. Unlike her, they choose never to go up, into the light. They prefer their burrows here. She can understand that. They all live on the edges, narrowly managing not to fall off, although she is not aware that there is an edge, since any ties between her and others are nonexistent (in her eyes). Scowl though they might, the underground people cling feverishly to this thin link (even though they would never, ever, admit it), so they have something to look down upon. Denying the (right of) existence of one part of society is only another way to acknowledge it, maybe even more so.

Those few flashes that people do glimpse of her, in the brief gloomy encounters, in the strobe of trains slithering by, in footsteps heard splashing away, are enough to spawn numerous urban rumors, legends, whispered tales. Tunnel-sprite, sewer-nymph: she is talked about as if she were some feral representation of the city's patchwork soul. A sliver of ancient animistic traditions filtering through the concrete and steel.

She likes the darkness, finds comfort in the damp scents and the feeling of the city's weight above her. Down here, she only has to worry about the snakes. When she feels one coming, she slips into an alcove, presses herself against the wall and watches the lights flash by. Faces, lots of them. Almost always impassive, drained. Most of the people seem too accustomed to the life above, so down here, the city's weight is pressing rather than comforting. She wonders why they feel that way.

The snake rushes past her, and she looks inside. The same faces as always, but then, her eyes lock with the other girl's, the one that's not really what she seems to be. A moment passes, stretches, lasts. Her upper lip curls up in a snarl, while the other's does the same, but in a smile. The snarl audible now, but hardly so, above the snake's sharp rumble as it speeds away, and she ducks into the darkness, needing to go up, up, craving light and air.

Ascension, until she is high up on a building, cool dusk sky blowing around her face and hair, and she slowly catches breath, regains calm.

She realizes now, why that smile distressed her so.

It was an invitation.


Anonymous mews said...

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

5:02 pm  
Blogger tallyho said...

I want to know this girl, Who she is and why she's there. Will there be more to come?

5:57 pm  
Blogger Murk said...

Mews> Thank you.

Tallyho> There's a previous chapter about her, if you want read more. Who she is... I think I know, but I'm not sure (yet, if ever). She's hard to get a grip on. More to come, for sure. I might be in love.

10:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, this is good, quality writing. is english your first language? certainly sounds like it.

11:46 am  
Blogger Murk said...

Nope, Dutch is. Oddly enough, writing's easier for me in English. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I read a lot of English.

1:33 pm  

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