We all heard him tromping through the tubes. Into our home, the unwanted fool who can only bark out that he’s just doing his job. An unwanted job. A job no one notices but him, his bosses, and us. We are as out of the way as we can be, and we are still too in the way for someone. They would rather us not exist. That’s where we will have to agree to disagree.
Sometimes he looks different. Sometimes he is a woman. Or short. Or apologetic, for all the lack of good that does.
Our home is below the homes of even the homeless. The homeless that are allowed to be seen. Set dressing for the city dwellers. Our home smells putrid, is putrid. But it is our home, and we will not leave it.
The smell of our lovers is so much more precious when it is the only thing in the world that smells good.
He passes through some of us, flashlight blinding their eyes in their nooks, still unnoticed. Even when being looked for. He swings his flashlight in one hand and a tranquilizer gun on his back and he pushes a cart specially made for the tunnels.
Once it rained outside and one of these human dog catchers was dragged away into the depths that even we won’t enter. We all cheered. We were not bothered for a long time after that.
The man finds one of the older ones of us. Levels his gun and shoots. That one would not have put up a fight. Too old. But if there is one thing the surface dwellers love, it’s protocol. The son of the body on the cart grows furious. We can all feel it.
We wanted to be peaceful and out of the way. We wanted nothing to do with the world that rejected us so much that we could only live down here. But they are determined to make us hate them. They want battles down here. That is the only reason we can imagine they keep coming down here. We are capable of war.
The son of the old one groaning on the cart skitters down and uses an arm like a lead pipe and bashes the head of the man who is only doing his job. There is a collective cheer. We did not want war but now that war is here we will lose if we do not embrace it. This is a knowledge that spikes through us like our own lead pipe arm.
We descend on the man with the broken head. Within moments he is gone and our old sewer dweller is in the arms of those who have only love for us.
Soon more will come. And more will die. Our pipes will be cluttered with bodies. We won’t be able to tell the difference except by the smell. We shudder with excitement and fear and anger and hate. This must be what they want up there. They must want to be hated. We will hate them then. We will kill them then. We will do something for the world that has never done anything for us.
Joe a writer from Michigan working in radio and television. He has a movie podcast called Sharing Everything with his wife Cady, and produces noise music under the name Ring of Roses.