Overheard from Below

Kris squeezed past me to lead the way through the pipes, her sinewy form almost curling in on itself as she navigated the tight twists and turns of the pipes. I kept as close behind her as I could, trying to keep my mind off the pounding pain in my chest. Now I was doubled over, the pain felt about ten times worse. I focussed on crawling, teeth gritted against the pain. I couldn't blow it now, I told myself, I'd got us this far and I couldn't let myself fail now. However, I could almost feel the adrenaline draining out of me. With every passing second I began to feel weaker, my vision more blurred than ever. I began to wonder how long I'd last if we didn't get to the exit soon. Or, more worryingly, what would happen to me if I never got there at all.

We followed the pipes for what felt like hours, with only the wet splashing of our hands and knees in the puddles that littered the bottom of the pipe to break the silence. It was cold in the pipes, and they obviously hadn't been cleaned in a long time for they were practically dripping with mould. Kris continued to lead me on through the tunnels, scarcely slowing, but sometimes turning over her shoulder to check I was still with her. However, as we rounded a corner, Kris halted abruptly. Bleary with exhaustion and pain, I nearly ran into her from behind. I went to ask what she was doing, but she clapped a hand over my mouth and pointed upwards. I held still and listened and, sure enough, there were sounds coming through the floor above us. Voices.

"... Finally finished him off," came one voice, not one I knew. "Took long enough, must have been chasing all over the Arena for almost an hour. Almost gotta feel sorry for the bugger eh? Nasty way to go."

"Guess so. The boss was damned keen on getting rid of him though, wonder what he did?" replied another. "Least it was quick. Last guy was practically in pieces by the time they got that monster off 'im. Thing was a bit of a mess itself this time, blood all over its face. Reckon that'll put it out of the ring for a bit."

"Wouldn't count on it," the first voice again, laughing slightly. "Nothing stops that thing. 'Sides, the boss wouldn't like it if we put the thing away. The mob adore the damned thing and the boss' in a real celebratin' mood since Ryder copped it. Rumour says he's throwin' some sort of party out in the city, and he's kicking up the number of fights these next few days. They've got that Phoenix woman lined up for it next you know, think she's gonna be the grand finale or something like that."

I heard Kris gasp sharply. When I looked at her, the blood appeared to have drained from her face. I thanked God we'd got out when we had, otherwise she'd have been next on Wayne's hit-list. And there wouldn't have been any Sodium Sulfide to save her.

"C'mon." said the first voice at last. "Time to get going. Gotta run the rounds, then we can head for the mess. If I don't get a drink in the next hour my gut's gonna shrivel clean up."

The voices overhead moved off, their voices gradually growing fainter. Kris and I relaxed, but before I knew it she was off again, moving so fast it was almost hard for me to keep up. What she'd heard had evidently scared her, more so than I'd have thought. But one thing I did know, we'd have to get out of these pipes fast. If the guards were out on patrol, it wouldn't be long before they realised the pipes were off, or before they discovered that I was missing from the morgue. Time was of the essence, and what little we had was fast running out.

We had to find the exit pipe. Fast.

The End

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