||[Nov. 17th, 2005|10:12 pm]
In the beginning, there was only chaos, primordial and ever-changing, ready to be shaped like soft dough into something new and meaningful.
And then a word came from outside of the primordial mass, a thought, a suggestion. It beckoned to the chaos to answers its call, and, desperate for a master, for no thoughts exist in chaos, it complied, and planets were born, stars and colour and life began to emerge in a place where only ambiguity and unimaginable potential once existed.
And thus, our world began, from that humble beginning...
The girl and I made our way through underground tunnels and abandoned sewer systems, ways that only the people of the Underground would know about. Something that you should know about me, that’s helped me as both a duster and an Undergrounder - I’ve got a near-perfect memory for things. I can memorize maps, objects, images, whatever, and I can focus on it when I need to, get a grip on it. Having an image in your mind for when you want to dust something is a good thing - null magic is all mental-work, finding the cracks in the material fabric and yanking it in all the right places, making it come apart at the seams. It also helps if you gotta memorize a map in five to ten minutes before someone has to take it far away from you and burn it. That kind of situation has happened more than once, I’m afraid.
There was only one way to the warehouse through the underground system, which, thankfully, still stood up in my absence. Machines have a tendency to collapse stuff like this without warning, if they think that it’s disruptive in some way. They’re not kind to us Undergrounders.
The temperature was cold, but I couldn’t feel it - the large jacket I wore had a self-adjusting temperature regulaor in it, which I could manually control if I need to. I had an urge to turn it up a little so as to get a little warmth into my bones, but I refrained - warm and toasty was not something I wanted to be, not if it made me lose my focus, keep my eyes out. You never knew what might exist down here in the sewers.
The dead girl walked behind me, no shoes on her feet or anything to cover them. She was like a pale, lost ghost in the darkness, aloof and ethereal, watching me now with an unwavering stare. She probably didn’t even know where we were going - I didn’t remember telling her. I wondered if thoughts bubbled insistently in her mind, like an organic - did she think anything about this situation, about her death? Did she even know she was dead, or for that matter, who she was? I didn’t know - memories seemed to prove difficult for her, like she was manually willing herself to think back on things. Maybe she was just rediscovering how her body worked, even dead, but I couldn’t be sure.
It took another hour for us to finally arrive at the junction that we needed to turn on. You had to be fit and ready to walk long if you wanted to be an Undergrounder. It meant giving up transport carrier and using your own two legs to get around if you wanted to go where no one would see you. That’s pretty much two bona fide requirement for being part of the Underground, layed out for you right there - you need both patience, and two legs.
We turned left from the junction, continued on, and that’s when I turned on the adjustable flashlight in my pocket (a small thing, self-rechargable, attached to a thick, adjustable wire that was in turn attached to my jacket), peering around in the dark corners with its bright illumination. I remember when I first came down these types of tunnels - I used to be scared of the dark, of what lay in its inpenetrable shadows, ready to ambush me. As I grew older, and more experienced, I learned not to fear it - but remain wary of it, treat it with respect, and caution. And so I scanned the shadows with the light in my jacket, moving not so much with stealth, but with a silence of footstep that I could be wary of noise in these darkened passages without being distracted by my own.
I followed the signs that were labeled and marked for those with knowledge of the underground to follow, and after a while I came to it - a doorway, a shaft in the wall, the door looking deceptively rusty and unusable. I found the knob in the darkness, twisted it, and with more than a little effort, pulled the door back, grunting as I did so from the strain it put on my arms.
“Get in,” I spoke softly to the dead girl, ever at my side. “We’ve arrived.”
The woman did as I asked, no questions asked, stepping in through the porticulus as I came in behind her, closing the door behind us. The metal floor continued up in a staircase, wide enough for two people to fit in, and in a floor above us, my friend and mentor, my contact the Librarian, dwelled in his own private home.
It’s hard to find privacy in this day and age. In fact, for the average person, it’s damn near impossible. But the Librarian found a way – he found an abandoned boiler room down here, and from the forgotten artificial bowels of the planet, he had removed what he could and had created something from nothing. There were nice carpets on the floors now, library shelves lined up in rows and lamplights decorating the walls and ceilings. Despite the illumination, it was still rather dark – not all of them had been turned on.
I took two steps into the room when the first pangs of weirdness started kicking around in my gut – something was wrong with this picture. I didn’t suspect an ambush, no – this place had long been forgotten. But… something else. Something intangible.
“L?” I called out, his alias for lack of a real name. “It’s me. I’m back. You around?” To calm my nerves, I tried to fathom an excuse – he might have gone out to get supplies for himself. But at this night, at curfew?
“Does someone live here?” asked the dead woman in a slow voice as she turned her head this way and that. She looked around, in a kind of… what could the word be? Awe?
A faint voice cried out from the direction of the other rooms, and so I turned in that direction.
“Someone lives here, yes,” I replied, going forward now at a steady pace. “It’s the man we’re supposed to see. My mentor. Come, he's waiting for us."