“Did you hear that?”
“Ssshh… They can hear you.”
I am pretty sure our harsh whispers would have travelled to their nimble ears anyway. We inch along the corridors, our backs flat against the walls. There is a steady dripping of something which we are sure is not water. Jim slows to a stop.
“It’s round this corner, and then the door is at the next left turn,” Jim says in an undertone.
“How do we know that they are not down the corridor?”
“Even if they are, they can’t see us. They can’t see in the dark, remember?”
“They can smell!”
“When we are covered in shit? Come on. We smell just like them.” Jim tightens his hand around mine. “Let’s go, or we’d be stuck here forever.”
“You’re nuts,” I whisper back, petrified.
“We’ll be fine.” He doesn’t sound convinced himself.
Jim creeps forward slowly, pulling me along. I try to walk as stealthily as I can, even imitating their slow lumber in case we pass by them. Desperate to blend in, I check the smell of the feces on my shirt. It has been so long since we had climbed out of the sewers that I thought I smell normal. I bite my lip to stop myself from crying. Breathing as lightly as I can, I tuck my hands in to minimize my surface area, to minimize the chances of me brushing past them as much as possible. With every step I take, I feel utterly relieved not to have touched or felt anything brush past me. Numerous swear words have gone through my mind by now and I settle on “fuck” to repeat in my head over and over again.
Suddenly, Jim’s hand stiffens. He squeezes my hand and pulls me closer. I hold my breath. Something wet and cold brushes past my right, knocking into my shoulder and smearing thick liquid on my arm. A deep shadow lumbers past on my right and then another plods across my left. I take a larger step forward and stick as close to Jim as possible. Retching noises now fill the corridor and more and more shadows loom into view. Jim and I follow their slow rhythmic trudge, hunching as we squeeze past them. They are going in the opposite direction and I wonder how long we can stay undetected as imposters.
The retching grows louder and louder as we proceed and I take a chance to breathe. The air is foul and burns my nostrils. It overwhelms the smell of our feces-soaked outfits and helps us blend in. I knock into more and more shadows as I feel my movement space grow smaller and smaller. Jim navigates to the left, trying to move to the left side of the corridor as much as possible for us to make the left turn. Our steps become more and more constricted, more and more cautious as we proceed, shuffling against the rest of the Retchers until we can no longer move. We are stuck.
The Final Evolution © 2013 by Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.