6 – Eric in The Underworld

Sure enough, Eric chased Anja’s mole into the 2nd Ave. tunnel but the man rounded one curve, then another, and Eric could hear only an occasional foot splash or knocks echoing against invisible walls.  Though the man was older than Eric, he knew the underground, and was fleeing for his life.  He veered, then looped back, at first in a pattern, pausing, covering his wheezing breath.  Eric, running as far a mile through the dark, tripping through black puddles, slamming into slimy walls, flushing out nests teaming with rats and cockroaches, never pulled closer.  Indeed, their roles reversed, for if the mole would have run in a straight line to the next F-train stop, Eric would have caught him.  But for all Eric’s effort, as his sense of time and distance slipped away, he was being hunted.  The subway train which Anja feared might strike Eric was a full tunnel to his right when it roared by, whining against the tracks, brakes squealing, exhuming stale winds, but Eric kept hurling far into the gloom, fingers tracing greasy walls covered by a century of dripping muck, snagged by frayed cables snarling his ankles, dropping face down into mold-covered piles of garbage and shit.

Rats the size of dogs, cockroaches the size of small cats!  Eric cried to himself, but they were far less menacing than the live rail, for if he slipped in mud or oil, in fecal drainage, before the omniscient dark could invade his head, and eat away his sanity, be electrocuted. Save for occasional conductor lights which, to Eric, seemed oasis’s of civilization, Anja sent him straight to Hell.

While Eric stood panting and sweating against a wall, beside a vertical lead pipe, the mole, emerging from a wet shadow, crept up directly behind,  grabbed  Eric’s wrists and brutally cuffed him to it.

“What?” Eric cried, glancing wildly around without seeing the man. “Goddamn you!”

The mole said nothing but Eric could hear him retreat, sauntering confidently away without tripping or even splashing in the puddles which lay between Eric and  a distant flashing light.

“Rape a girl and leave me here to die? Animal! Two crimes?  How many more?  How many people have to suffer your existence?  Come back here! Come back here you son-of-a-bitch!”

All for naught.