I don’t know why I decided to come out here with a handful of half-drunken nit whits anyway. Aren’t we all tourists just the same? I was having a splendid time under the cool flickering lights, beat of the industrial techno boggling my soul, sipping on my rum. But oh no, Some guy with a half assed accent, I think he’s native here to the Romanian outpost played me into coming out here and into the underbelly of said town. Hell, I’ve only been in town for 3 days, tour Romania. I guess a tour I shall get. Instinct tells me to get my ass back in the club. Mind is racing with the excitement of possibilities under the historic land of vampires.
So here I am. A handful of assholes and elbows and the British bloke already halfway down the gullet of ass carnage. Brave guy and by the looks of the other few people here probably the only one who has a rats ass chance in making it through this little tour. Few people here just staring at each other tempting with their eyes, whose going next. Well, if I stand here any longer I’m going in for another drink so here goes. Thanking myself for deciding to wear combat boots instead of heels. Lucky I am at that.
Fighting back the urge to wretch up everything I’ve drank at the stench permeating from this sewer. I can see flashlight beams spotting every which way beneath me. That British fella saying something to our half-baked guide. Trying to recall what exactly I have contained in my purse, gum, Lifesavers, some money, a pen, a mismatch assortment of hair grooming accessories, a lighter, and a few other stray items I can’t currently recall.
Once I popped off the last rung of the shaky makeshift ladder, I see 4 men 3 with flashlights and that British guy. Behind me comes down the last few people, appears that some have changed their minds, can’t say I blame them there. Once we are all down here our guide begins to rattle on.
We begin our underground tour with the history of Romania and the need for their labyrinth of underground passages. I can’t say that I can understand half of what is coming out of his mouth. One of the other women that came down is gagging from the stench, she may not make it very far. It’s not all that dark down here. Almost an orange glow casting shadows from the flashlights. “Come” states our guide and we move forward hesitantly into where the shadows grow ever longer.
We traverse the first corner rounding our left. Now the darkness has thickened and I find myself wondering what in the holy hell was I thinking come down here? I think the girl behind me thought the same thing as she continued to wretch at the stench. One of our guides, I’ll call him Ralph, is ushering us by him single file until he is bringing up the rear of the group. The thought crossing my mind, Now I know what cattle feels like. Obviously I stated this out loud as the girl behind me ushers one more gag and I hear the unmistakable wretch as she spews her dinner and drinks to the floor to mingle with the other plethora of decay there. The tall guy behind her, in khakis and loafers, also gags, grabs her arm and the two turn around to head back up to humanity.
Now down to 3 guides and 6 of us tourists. Ralph is still back there and I’m calling our leader Serge, still out front. After canvassing several hundred feet further. Serge stops us and issues this. “We go into bad part of tunnels, stay close and don’t look at anything, we be out in minute, just having to be by that part.” All of us looking questioningly at each other. The tall girl with red hair wearing a baseball hat, rolls her eyes and snickers. She does however move up between the British dude and myself. I can smell the tequila on her as she passes me, and watching her, I can tell that she is half shot in the breeze.
There’s a blonde girl who looks like she is putting on a great face of bravery, although her hands are shaking. The two guys behind her are pretty tough looking and seem to not being giving two shits bout any of it. “Hi everybody, my names Ginnie.” I exclaim, feeling like a fool caught in a spotlight. “I’m Shell” responds the tall tipsy girl. “Pleasure’s mine ladies, names Eugene” rolling out in thick British accent as the first guy down the foundry mouth addresses the group. The blonde, although quietly, says “Pam”. In turn we hear from Dale, the bald guy and I swear the last guy said his name was Brett. “We move” Serge advises in a stern sounding voice. And our little half intoxicated sewer cattle begin to push forward.
Another hundred feet and on the right, a new tunnel appears. In our current position there are a set of rooms or tunnels on our left, another tunnel to our right and our tunnel that is a straight shot through. “Let’s go that way” pointing straight in an inquiring gesture by Shell. “No we go to right, we cross the dwellers here, no looking, no nothing” Replies Serge. We start forward and veer to the right. It’s lighter in here, not much, but brighter and there are several people. Dirty, unkempt people. These must be the dwellers. I really tried not to look.
I hear Pam gasp and feel her move in closer behind me. Serge is saying something to a guy, inaudible, but we keep moving, people staring at us as we pass. I really tried to keep my eyes to myself. Actually straight forward, I faltered and strayed. Looking to the left I see a guy in a crushed top hat, slouched against the wall, legs flat out in front of him, needle still in his arm. I reach forward and put my hand on Shell’s back, she’s already got Eugene’s hand, and Pam grabbed mine. I hear the other guys behind us know. Dale and Brett must have scudded up closer too.
Ralph grunts behind us and I did not look around at the people we passed again. It couldn’t have been but a few minutes and we break into an opening. Past the congregation of dwellers by a good clip. The dark is now creeping back in on us. Serge is saying something to Eugene, although my attention is now drawn to our surroundings and every bit of my alcohol induced bravery has now drained from my body. There are 4 tunnels that converge here. One half collapsed in on itself. One the way we just passed through, and two more that look older and uninviting.
In a wave of momentary panic, I realized that Ralph, Brett and Dale are no longer in our presence. Now we are in an underground place, with no exit clearly known to any of us. I nudge Pam, who is now on my right, making me the last one in our little lineup. Serge must have recognized my startled realization as he Blurts out “they went back, K” With just his flashlight illuminating the opening I could have sworn that I saw a silver shine across his eyes. “Strange they didn’t say anything” this came spilling out of my mouth without thinking.
I could see Eugene recognized my concern, with a gesture of stepping back, Shell was looking behind her at one of the tunnels. Around this tunnel were markings. Pam gasped and held her breath. We all saw that drawing on the brick there. A sign prominent with the legend of hell. I can easily recognize that all 4 of us that are left and now on the same wave length and Serge, well he begins to chuckle. “No worry now. We have way out. We getting to the old tunnels you wanted to see. Now follow me K’s.”
Serge begins to walk to the tunnel opposite the Hell mouth, I think my heart fluttered a bit, while I watched him. Thankful he chose a different path. Eugene and Shell hand in hand follow behind Serge. Pam and I are next, side by side. Pam not taking her eyes of the Hell marked opening. She trips and regains her footing. My mind reeling with fight or flight reaction. I have a cell phone for light, chances are all 3 of them do as well. That’s good we may need them. Escape route well that’s the reason for concern. And this Serge guy, I really have a horrid feeling welling up inside about him.
We enter through the tunnel arch. All four of us in a makeshift huddle, scuffling along. The darkness so thick you can feel it on your skin. Goosebumps are now caressing my arms and I have that feeling in the pit of my stomach that we are indeed cattle. As if reading my mind, Eugene drops back so we are almost encircling him “I’m thinking that we are in trouble here and we need to get out.” Shell whispers, “We’re following you.” “I agree, we need to separate from him and get the hell outta dodge. The question is where is out?” Rolling off my tongue so slithery sounding. Pam shaking her head adds “I have a bad feeling we aren’t going to find it.” Eugene reassured all 3 of us and himself.
Serge bellows from farther in the tunnel “Come now”. We continue forward, we must have stopped when we were talking. We continue on for what seems like a mile maybe two. I saw no more openings, tunnels, nothing. But it’s so dark in here now, we could be standing next to a door and never know it. “Serge” I yell out. Mind reeling as we are all hand in hand, Eugene up front, me in the back. There comes no answer as the four of us stand in the pitch darkness. Eugene a few feet away is fumbling to get his cell phone out, cussing like a sailor as he finally gets some light.
Our little group, now without a guide, standing in a very old part of a tunnel. We all fumble to find our mobiles and get some more light illuminating our surroundings. Once we have 4 cell phone lights alive and spreading cold flat light, it becomes apparent that we are now standing in a very old vestibule in this underground city. What is directly in front of us chills me to my very core.
A well, and surrounding it, bones. Blasting my train of thought wide open, Pam screams and grabs my arm, I try to clutch onto her hand as her nails , rip the flesh off my right arm from elbow to knuckles in torn gashes. Unsteadily shining their lights, we see Pam’s flesh torn, ripped and streaming blood, removed from her body like a carnivorous zipper removing her flesh. All of us screaming. We run to the other side of the opening, staying away from the wall. “Holy shit, holy shit!” All I can muster. “We gotta get outta here NOW, exclaims Shell”. Eugene says nothing grabs Shell’s hand and begins to pull us to the left. There is a small bit of light seeping in there. We just gotta get there. Without saying a word, we all begin our shuffle to towards the light.
Oh my God, it’s behind me, I hear it, I feel it I know it’s there. Fuck, “Guys, faster, go, go, go” I push past Shell and Eugene. “I’m not getting eaten. And I’ll be damned if you are either.” I grab Shell’s right hand and we are all pulling. Eugene attempting to keep our path lit. Just as we get close to the light coming in the ceiling, Eugene’s light dyes. I let go of Shell’s hand, shine my dimming cell light behind us, what I saw drained the blood straight to my toes.
I stumbled backwards, and thankfully did not fall. Had I, I would have become a light snack for the snarled jawed, shiny eyed, beast behind us. We kept moving until we were at the base of stairs, yes, holy shit, we have stairs. “Let’s go.” Eugene calls out “Let’s go”. Eugene first, stops on the block stairs to allow Shell out first. She races to the top, pushed open the door and runs full force into the dwellers. Only now the sounds they make snarling, ripping, guttering moans as the sounds of Shell’s bones crunch in their teeth, the sound of her flesh and innards ripping apart.
In a moment of panic I reach for the hunting knife I keep in my purse, dropping everything else. The slithering behind us getting louder now, I can hear the shattering of their teeth. “Let’s go!” Eugene and I burst through the door, prepared to take on the dwellers we encountered earlier. Seeing the blood and innards spattered across the room, we both run. Slipping on the bloody carnage. I see Eugene’s arm ripped clean from his body as he keeps running. My foot is entangled by a hand as I feel my ankle break and sharp teeth clamp around it.
I thrust the knife into the middle of the temple of the monstrous beast, stunning it long enough for it to release my foot or what’s now a bloody, stump of bone. I try to run. We run, leaving a trail of slick, blood behind us. Eugene has lost so much blood, by the time we reached the other side of the tunnel, near the needle man form earlier, Eugene was finished. Collapsing on the floor, his eyes blank. I made the mistake of stopping just for a moment to look at him. I turn slightly to continue on and there in front of me is the needle man. Jaw split wide open, teeth like razors dripping saliva. Silvery eyes watering. It took a moment for him to suck the skin from my bones. Instant pain, and then its gone.