232 Days Until Absolution and The Uncertain End
Evester looked up the drainage system. It was a complete vertical climb. Dropping their supplies down for the kids would be easy, but scaling it? Far from that. Phil jumped from foot to foot. Rayda stretched and Crass looked up the drain with Evester. Right now, no one would be watching. The guards were off and they’d disconnected the cameras for just long enough with a loop. Heiphillia and her family would be sleeping. He’d get in, get out, and get her in within three days. Chances were that they wouldn’t realize he was missing until the morning.
By the time he returned it wouldn’t matter. He’d have their tickets in. All of their tickets in.
“Ready?” Phil looked to Crass.
“Not particularly.” Evester watched as Crass turned his attention from the drain to the bags they were bringing and checked his harness.
“Excellent.” Phil pulled on his gloves. “Let’s do this then. Everyone connected?”
Being connected would save them if they fell. Each of them wore a harness that was connected by a safety wire and a rope. Evester and each of the others had already checked the equipment multiple times. This was not their first time using such a system. Phil was up first, then Rayda, then Evester, then Crass.
“Yes.” Evester’s blood pumped. The danger in what they were doing… It took his breath away.
“Up we go.” Phil looked to Rayda and Crass before he raced across the yard towards Crass who launched him into the air. Phil touched the Tower side, running up the wall with all the momentum that he could. Launching himself into the air towards the tunnel, his hands reached for it, narrowly grabbing the surface and sticking thanks to the suction gloves he was wearing. The moment he was attached, Rayda began to climb the rope up, moving swiftly so that she could grab on to him and swing herself to the other side and then up into the tunnel. When she had her legs propped up against the tunnel and hand attached she helped Phil up and in.
“They are in.” Crass told Evester who began to climb up the rope that connected him and Rayda. Rayda helped him up as Phil began to climb upward. Crass was the last one up and once Crass was into the damp and dreary tunnel, they began their way forward.
Evester knew that the tunnel started off open and wide, but as they moved up they’d need to choose their path carefully as it got narrower and narrower. One wrong turn could end with them in a dead end drawing in unmentionables. They all had lights, but Phil was the one who’d guide them. He was the one who was supposed to have memorized the path.
Hands and legs against the sides of the large drain, Evester pulled himself upwards using more of his arm strength than anything else. The tunnel was slippery, but their gloves compensated. It was their shoes that did not. Hoisting himself up, Evester knew that this sort of scaling was far too difficult for Heiphillia. The others would never be able to complete this, and as the tunnels got tighter, and the muck rained down from above them, he cursed his own life. Why had he decided to go?
Because his mother insisted. Right.
The tunnel grew narrower and horizontal, forcing them to crawl on their bellies through the muck and grime. The smell made his eyes water and his arms ached, but he pulled himself through. Then it got very tight, where he had to wiggle himself through, taking deep breaths when there was an air pocket. Eyes closed and based on feeling alone, Evester pulled himself through the tunnel and tumbled down with a splash into an open area.
“Three.” Phil wiped the mess from Evester’s face. “Welcome to the world of the living. We have made it though hell.”
“That wasn’t hell.” Evester didn’t even want to think about what they’d gone through. “Hell was me submerged under water pulling off the Houdini trick without it being a magic trick. That was hell. All that training.”
With a large plot Crass came tumbling down the side and into their area.
“Four.” Phil stated as Rayda cleared Crass’ face.
“I hate this stuff.” Crass groaned. “Makes me wonder if I have claustrophobia.”
“You survived, so probably not.” Phil laughed. “Reminds me of spelunking in the caves that one year remember? We nearly had to put Uly under because he had a panic attack due to the size of the caves we had to crawl through.”
“When you compare it to that. This was easy.” Crass agreed standing up. “My arms feel like they are on fire and going to fall off. Let’s get to Evester’s house. I need a bath.”
The four continued their trek through the tunnels headed for the exit that Phil knew existed. Somewhere. He’d be home soon.
Upon breaching the surface, Evester heard the announcements and looked to the Star Clocktower for the time. They’d been climbing and tunneling for far too long. Time seemed to condense when they pushed themselves and adrenaline raced. The city of Valaria held the true night sky, but she would soon become lighter.
“Let’s move beautiful.” Phil pulled Evester forward, snapping Evester’s attention to the present. The four began to move across the field and towards the grand city.
“Look what the sewer coughed up.” Kim called out to them standing a bit away. Evester felt his worry about getting to his house drop. The field they had exited from was in the outskirts of Valaria, far from most transportation and people, but also from his house. Whose’s land they were on… he was not sure. “You all smell.”
“Really? You don’t say.” Rayda laughed prompting Evester to want to smell himself, but refusing simply from the idea of it. He couldn’t smell them yet, and Kim was always brutally honest. “Got us a car?”
“I sure do.” Kim pointed a bit away. “Welcome to Valaria. I am your tour guide. Please enjoy your time here.”
“Shut up and get us inside the car and to baths.” Rayda walked past Evester and to Kim, disconnecting her harness from Phil. Evester disconnected himself next, so that he would not be pulled along with her. He let himself sink into the world of Valaria. She was a second home to him, and now he was back.
“Ready?” Kim’s words came across in the hushed night air, as a light trickle of worry.
“Yes.” Evester was focused once more. Get home. Get the tickets in. Get back to Heiphillia.