The arrow belonged to somebody. That somebody was neither claiming it nor the moment. I surveyed the surroundings and saw nothing. My eyes travelled up to the empty windows in the buildings that stared down at us. Emptiness looked back and my search continued. Who had fired it? Why had they done so? Were they friends or foes? My questions would have continued if there were not other things to consider. Musa was still recovering which meant that she could not travel. We had narrowly escaped our encounter with the younger hunters. Close behind them would be the more seasoned of their group. In our situation, we would be fresh offerings. My fist task was to hide the bodies and the second one was to hide ourselves.
I had noticed, sometime earlier, that beside the walkway ran a narrow indent that fed into holes that were by and large covered with a heavy metal cover. These cover acted as a filter for material washed along by heavy rains or floods and allowed only smaller detritus to pass through. Many of them had clogged up and even more had vegetation growing out and through them. I had seen one, a little way back, that was both without a cover and devoid of any plant growth. I also noticed that the sound of water could be heard flowing along beneath the surface. I had heard of such things before and they had a name, drains. I had also seen them and had, for one desperate evening, had to sleep inside the mouth of one of these things. It had been during a prolonged deluge and I was in the open marshes where there was no cover. If I had stayed in the open, the chances were that I would have died of the cold and the wet. The drain opening had been my only option.
I still remember that night. I barely slept behind flickering eye-lids. The sound of the creatures that inhabited those underground places remained in my dreams, even to this day. At one point during the grey of the early morning, with the rain falling with alarming ferocity, I thought that they world was about to end, that everything would be submerged in one final reckoning. One of the stories that I remembered from the Bible was that of Noah and the boat that he built. On that night, I wished that I had such a vessel.
Whilst the tempest was raging outside, behind me I became aware if another storm gathering in intensity. This was not just the gathering waters rushing through the conduit but it was a collection of screams thrown together in anguish and panic. In that underground madness creatures fought with each other for their immediate survival. And they were all heading for the grey light of prolonged existence which was the place where I had chosen to escape the night. It took me little time to decide that a drenching would be far more preferable to the opportunity of being inundated by the residents from the underworld.
Just in time, I fled my temporary shelter and climbed the bank of mud and grass, clung on to outgrowths that were themselves clinging on and then flattened myself for concealment. There I waited for a number of seconds until the first of the dwellers emerged. They had been fast and their efforts ought to have been rewarded but again death has its own rewards. No sooner had the menagerie of rats, voles, wild dogs, and water witches emerged, than they were washed away by the torrent that was pursuing them. In that torrent, I saw creatures that I have never seen since, and never wish to see ever again. If the surface world was bad, the lower world was worse.