S I X
Bloom knew what lie beyond the old thin wooden door. The only thing that could be on the other side was a tunnel. He had almost forgotten that the downtown area was full of them. Back in the 1920’s, the tunnels were used for moving and trading items and products from one store to another, not to mention ‘late night deliveries’. They were also used to maintain the city’s sewer system, which ran parallel to the tunnels. This little fact worried him. Bloom and his friends had been lucky enough to find an entrance to the tunnels, however the only problem was that he had no idea if anything had gotten into the tunnels and didn’t know his way around in them. If they were to get lost in the labyrinth under the city, they would be as good as dead.
Before they had been attacked in the gas station Bloom had dropped some pretty heavy information on the boys. He didn’t want to risk them losing it over the situation in the sewers. The little wimps would probably give up and kill themselves. That’s all I need. Just when I start to find a use for these two, they would freak out and that would be it. I gotta figure out how to get a gun from one of them. Probably Michael. At the beginning of the city’s battle against the undead, the people of Spring Valley dropped the bodies of their fallen into the sewers, having nowhere else to put them. They did not realize that most were infected and were sure to come back from the dead. By now the sewers had to be crawling with carriers. There was one place that Bloom had no intention of going. Nothing on earth could force him to knowingly go there. The tunnels had several doors that opened to the sewers and opening the wrong door could mean an early end for Bloom.
After opening the door, Bloom knew he should say something, but not too much. “I think this is some kind of trade tunnel. I remember seeing a blue print for one of them in the Spring Valley Museum.”
“Yeah, I remember reading that older towns are full of them. Used in like the 20’s and 30’s for moving alcohol during the prohibition…” Michael said. Bloom began to realize that the quiet taller one was a lot smarter than he first thought, and that it might be harder to keep things from him. Maybe I should go for Brian’s gun. Bloom decided that it couldn’t hurt to fill them in about the tunnels and they’re history, since Michael seemed to know about it anyway. He was sure to leave out the part about the sewers and the fun times that were probably crawling in them, in an effort to keep them calm. Bloom wasn’t in the mood to deal with paranoia. He was a master manipulator, which is why he easily had excelled in politics. He cautioned them to stay close and not open any doors with out all three of them there. He gripped his letter opener tight as he tried to get his bearings. The mayor figured that since his house was less than a mile north of the store that they could probably keep going on a straight path north and be okay. Bloom couldn’t have known what kind of trouble may lie in their path and preferred not to think about it, especially since he had no gun. He was good with hand-to-hand combat, but was lucky not to have gotten scratched yet. Bloom had no intention of pushing his luck. Bloom hated losing control and was very uneasy with the fact that his life was potentially in the hands of two kids he had just met a few hours before. Kids he barely knew, let alone trusted with his life. They were unfit for combat with no real instincts or training. In fact, Bloom didn’t trust either one of them at all. He began to think that eventually, after of course getting guns and ammo from his house, he would need to ditch them, or kill them. Bloom knew that they would inevitably slow him down in the end, and in this situation, that was not something that Bloom was willing to risk. He didn’t have time to be slow. He didn’t dislike the boys. It was nothing personal. By killing them, he would probably be doing them a favor. Bloom just wanted to survive.
Brian didn’t trust Bloom. He had no reason to. Sure he had saved their lives, but it almost seemed as if he was more annoyed by them than glad to have them fighting by his side. Brian was usually a decent judge of character. He would never have voted for Bloom. Besides being bossy, Bloom had a look in his eyes that really didn’t sit well with Brian. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and Bloom’s eyes were dark, more so than would be caused by lack of sleep. Brian knew that at his first chance alone with Michael he would have to find out how he felt about Bloom. He just hoped he would have the chance to talk alone with Michael much sooner than later. Bloom seemed to hold a lot back when talking to them. He almost acted like he thought they were stupid and wouldn’t figure it out. Like it was a mind game or something. It was like Bloom not only knew more than he was sharing, but he was only telling them what he wanted them to know, which was just enough to shut them up. Brian had a history of not trusting any politician, and wasn’t about to start with Bloom. Politicians lie.
The three men had been walking a straight line down the cold dark tunnel for about half an hour and seemed to be getting nowhere fast. The walls were grey and slimy from mold and moss and they seemed, to Brian, to be moving. He knew they weren’t and that it was just his mind playing tricks but that mixed with the fact that he was sick of walking was getting to be too much. He was about to complain but decided not to after looking over at the lantern that Michael was carrying. The lantern’s oil looked low, almost empty. Brian knew that once the lamp was out, so was their light, and the tunnels were freaky enough with light. He didn’t want to see them without.
Bloom had mentioned that he didn’t know the tunnels very well, which was probably a lie, but that his house was less than a mile away. Brian was tired. Not only physically but mentally as well. He began to think that he was hearing things. Perhaps the moans of the living dead haunted his mind but Brian could have sworn he heard the dull and chilling sound of moaning coming from the walls of the tunnels. Perhaps the city was haunted as well. If the dead could return to walk the earth, what would stop the spirits from coming back too?
Brian was sure heard a moan. It was not in his head. He knew it, so He decided to bring up his concerns with Mike and the Mayor. Bloom quickly dismissed the sounds as Brian’s over worked and overactive imagination.
“You know as well as I do that we’re a hell of a lot safer down here than we would be up there. If you wanna go back up, be my guest. I’m sure the gas station is clear by now if you wanna go back, but the lamp stays here.” Bloom insisted as his pace hastened. Despite his words it was becoming clear that something was bothering Bloom. He was practically jogging.
As Brian looked up, he began to see manholes and ladders. They had passed many of them but Brian knew that by now it was nighttime and spooking his head out of the wrong manhole would be suicide. He began studying the walls for signs of location markings, which was becoming harder as the lantern dimmed. He was worried that something would happen and he might get separated from his friend and their tour guide from terror town. Then something caught his eye. “Hey Mikey, wait up. Check this out!”
Brian heard Bloom whisper some profanities under his breath. “Brian, we don’t have time. The lamps almost out and we’re almost there. Do you really want to be down here in the dark, ‘cause I don’t.” He said.
“Wait a minute. I think he might be right.” Michael said turning his attention to the mold-covered piece of paper on the wall. It was faded but could still be read.
Bloom rolled his eyes and walked over to where the boys were standing. “Well what have we here?” he said as he carefully began peeling the paper off the wall.
Michael held the lantern closer to get a better look, squinting to see. Michael could tell right away that it was a map or blueprint of some kind. Being the controlling person that he was, Bloom had snatched it up pretty quickly, but Michael had excellent vision and knew the distinctive qualities of the paper that identified it as a map. Although he figured that the map probably was not only of the tunnels, but also made references to the streets above, he trusted it with Bloom. After all, Bloom hadn’t leaded them astray yet. In fact, if it weren’t for the great mayor, he and Brain probably would never have made it this far. They’d probably be in the pile at the police station. Now they should have some idea where they were, and more importantly where they were going… until the dead end.
According to the map, they missed a right turn about three doors back, so after back tracking, Bloom convinced Michael and Brian that he knew where he was going. Michael thought that maybe they should cut through the sewers, thinking it would be better lighted, but Bloom kept persisting that it was not a good idea, and that he was in control.