Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer
â€œWhen the Surface became too crowded, Man had already hollowed out great caves in the crust of the Earth, mined for metals with which to build his towers. It was simple for those who desired space to move downwards, found the first cities of the UnderEarth.â€
-Excerpt from The Laws of the UnderEarth
Testimony of Arla, The Insane
Eleanor was burning, her pelvis felt blistering to touch. Her breath came out wet and hot, like steam from a kettle. She stumbled forward in the darkness, one hand on her swollen belly, the other clutching the cave wall
Eleanor thought again of turning back, of the hospital of Under Shanghai, itâ€™s doctors clad in sunflower yellow. Then she felt the Fury, like before, that wash of emotion that had driven her deeper into the uninhabited caves. She stepped forward into cold, wet mud and the Fury abated, as it always did when she obeyed.
Eleanor cried out with another burning contraction and stumbled into the mud. She crawled forward, the blue light of her glow necklace showing only her muddy hands and darkness. Eleanor heard the soft gurgle of water ahead and the sound made her thirsty. She wanted to embrace the water, to be surrounded by it, to drown.
Eleanor touched the surface of the lake. She slid into the water, like a bubbling volcano meeting the sea. The light of her glow necklace reflected off the surface of the dark water. The caves extended farther than her light could reach, deep and long.
Eleanor leaned her head into the mud on the shore and let her body float in the water. Her contractions quickened and she felt her molten center squeeze, pressure building. She cried out, feeling herself tear, her blood leaking from her, the head building, pushing out from inside her body.
She felt the Fury approach, close, closer and then there was cold flesh, snaking around her legs and arms and neck. She struggled, burning, her baby fighting inside her. The wet flesh slapped against her neck, pulled her under and pushed her up, gasping. Eleanor screamed. The Fury pulled on her throat and Eleanor sobbed. She pulled off her necklace, her only light, throwing it back the way she came, back into the dark.
The Flesh was soft now, supple, supportive. It cradled her. Eleanor felt something scratch the small of her back and relaxed, cold and calm. The contractions were coming fast now. Eleanor felt her body pushing and some other force pulling the child out of her. Instead of the Fury, Eleanor felt the silence, vast and old. Then she was empty.
There was a splash of moving water and Eleanor felt something rise before her in the darkness, something massive. The flesh around her quivered and she could see, in dim outlines, thin shapes snaking towards her.
Her eyes adjusted and she could see a black outline in the dark, tentacles and the shape of her baby. Eleanor squinted and thought she saw glistening eyes and dark moving shapes. Eleanor reached out for her child, towards the huge, alien shape.
The babyâ€™s eyes opened. Its pupils were red as lava. Eleanor felt the flesh around her quiver. The mind that had touched hers, great and old was deciding if it should keep the baby or sink back into the water. Eleanor felt her mind go clear, go dark.
The UnderEarth God enveloped the baby for a long moment. Then it held the infant out to Eleanor. She took her baby and brought its molten mouth to her breast.
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows