Pipes: Part Three
Having my eyes facing so much light was as uncomfortable as the first time I looked through the pothole. I felt dizzy and twisted my body in circles, almost fainting until my eyes closed up so not as much light attacked them. Curling into a sitting position, I glared around at the table that I was sitting on.
The table was brown, and made of wood, something I only read of in the dictionary back in the pipes. Wood was falling off, one bit at a time. As I reached my paw out to touch the new substance, a piece of wood stabbed itself into my bright, blue leg; I winced in pain. I reached over to it with my claw, and grasped the two sharp ends around, ripping out the wood. That hurt more than it coming into me. Of course, I returned to the comfort of the sack lying over the table.
After the odd moment, I looked around at what was in my presence. It was all different, something I had never seen before in my isolated life.
There was a large pool of sewage, some of the stuff I feasted from when the pipe dripped it down its cold, greasy surface. Not only was there the pool of food, but on it was another species, Wockies, riding on it with something that separated the two. Not looking at their faces, I didn’t see that they were tired, depressed, and looking for something. Why did the high pitched male voice tell me this place was so bad?
Suddenly, remembering the light, I recognized that this still wasn’t above the pothole. It was strange, since from what I remember, we were going below. As much as I knew, light only came from the ball of light above even the above. Yet I was below the below.
“Where is the light coming from?” I cried, finally croaking a phrase after a few awkward minutes. The Skeith was busy whispering to the creature, now who I realized was a Tonu, more handsome than the Skeith. However, he had an air around him that made you not want to pick him last in a game. The Skeith was too busy whispering to answer my question, but while he was listening, the Tonu began to speak.
“The lanterns, my boy.” He smirked, eying strange canisters holding light. I didn’t mind not knowing what they were. They at least were the answer to my question of possibly being above. I was not in that lovely place, even if this place still had a pool of my favorite thing to eat. Of course, it was one of the only things to eat in the pipes. The whole world here just seemed like a whole new, better place, without slippery, dangerous pipes. But then again, it was even more down beneath the haven above.
When I finished thinking about where I was all the way, I turned back at the Tonu, who surprisingly was still hearing the whisperings of the Skeith, whom sometimes eyed me with his brow turned down.
“So, why am I here?” I asked, cautiously. The Skeith finally stopped at stood up, folding his arms until they looked like a pretzel. The Tonu grinned, baring his worst feature, his maggoty teeth, which even were worse than mine. I supposed with a pool of sewage for him, and a bit for me, his would be worse off. But food was food, and he had more.
“Because you did a dastardly deed, Nuld,” The Tonu seriously said, although he someone kept a smile on his face. I was puzzled.
“What deed, sir?” I politely answered, hoping for some kind of helpful explanation.
“You learned to speak, and by then, we could hear you from down here. We need all the help we can get.” The Tonu kept talking about my speech, and how they found me by my sounds. Why had I learned to speak? They had been looking for me? I had to remind myself that it wasn’t just me. All the help they can get.
“Well, sir. Why do you need help?” I was shivering now, realizing that the Wockies all wore a terrified face while they floated through the sewage, looking for something.
“Looks like you’ve figured it out with your eyes, you little rat.” He laughed, turning his smile into a dreadful smirk. I looked around one bit more.
“What are they looking for?” I slowly asked, burying my eyebrows into my tangled mane above my eyes.
“The key out of this dump, of course.” He coughed for a moment, almost in a fit, but stopped. “You didn’t think your mom would let you live in the pipes, did you?”
I stared at him, and back into the sewage pool, that could be over five feet deep, and more one hundred feet wide. The Wockies were all looking for the key to the pothole, way high above. All the way up to the amazing light ball. And then I pushed the wondrous, yet contagious thoughts out of my head. He had spoken about my mother.
“You know my mother?” I gasped, my eyes widening, but having to close due to the light from the many lanterns. The Skeith nodded. He gave the Tonu a look that as far as I could tell meant that he was going to explain it to me.
“Your mom is with us. Didn’t you know that she could speak? Talking to yourself gets you into a lot of trouble, right, Lionel? It’s a good thing we caught you speaking, since she’s been worried sick about you. Maybe she’ll shape up now and get to work and find that key. And then again, you’ve got some pretty nice eyes for searching. Two in one.”
The Tonu, whose name was Lionel, nodded midsentence of the Skeith. Then, they both bared their gross smiles. I winced and looked away, still sitting on the sack. I wished I could run, but I never saw where I came from. Not at all did I want to spend my life searching for a key, even if it was to the lovely world above. Not even the Xweetok with the biggest eyes could see some tiny pothole key.
“Why, if I may ask, do you need to go up to this lovely world above; how long have you been searching for the key?” I wondered out loud, suddenly noticing that I still had my habit of lifting my tail above solid floor.
“Go ask someone else, if they even know. If they do, tell me. They’ll be dealt with properly,” laughed the Tonu. Lionel’s laugh reminded me of the cold nights back up in the pipes, when the wind must have gotten through the pothole keyhole in which I had looked, and blew right into the small cracks in the pipes, where I ate my waste. It ruined the silence, which was so perfect in itself that while his mouth moved, my eyes trembled with regret of pushing him over.
“Now please,” I mumbled while he laughed. “Take me to my mother.” My mouth stuttered every syllable realizing how quick this had taken place. Only two days ago had my mother ‘fallen’ off. And now, I was kidnapped, down here, learning she was alive. A lot to handle for a young sewer Xweetok like me. Retracing my thoughts, I wondered how my mother could speak for them to hear and find her to get her on their search.
“First, I need your information. And if you don’t agree to revealing it to us, there are other plans.” Lionel eyed the Skeith’s back pocket of a leather bag that I hadn’t noticed before. There was a spark; probably a knife or something. I didn’t want to get mixed up in that.
“Alright, go,” I said, with a worry in my big, yellow eye. Lionel nodded, laughing his laugh once more. My claws clutched the sack hard.
“Name? Nuld.” He answered his own question. “Age?”
I didn’t say anything. Lionel nodded and said two years nice and loudly.
“Can I leave? You obviously know everything,” I muttered, looking up into a vast puzzle of pipes, the light of the pothole gone. Lionel glared at me, biting his yellow lip. He slicked his hair back.
“Don’t get smart with me, little Xweetok,” he growled, screwing his pencil deep into the wood of the table, and I could almost see a puff of smoke from his nostrils. Backing up, I told him to continue.
“Diet?” he asked, and his lips closed tightly, not going to finish the sentence this time, as not to embarrass himself.
“Sewage and things I can find.”
“My mom,” I awkwardly mumbled. Maybe they were expecting more? But it was true; she was all I knew.
“And that is it.” Lionel had a paper with the words ‘vulnerable’ and ‘easy-to-feed’ scribbled down on it. I didn’t intervene with his terrible ego, and let it go. But I had to say something.
“Am I going now, after this short interview? My, my, four questions...” Laughing, Lionel shooed off the Skeith.
“That’s my worker, second in line. Now I’ll show you to your quarters, with your mother to keep you little brat comfortable.”
Before I could object, he snarled and picked me up, even though I was half his size. Much smaller, yet still I was too big for the large Tonu to carry.
Lionel dragged me through the sewage pool, over a bridge made of pipes, all put together. From there, there was a tunnel that led to some more tunnels that led to more. He knew exactly where he was taking me, somehow. After turning the corner for one last time, I saw a wooden door with the word ‘Xweetok’ scratched on the wood, a substance I began to recognize in this place. Lionel turned the greasy door handle and I saw some more light. In an instant, I was dropped, and the door was shut behind me.
“Work begins tomorrow, for all of you. You’ll be in the east pool.” His voice went through the door, my eyes still looking at it. I turned around, and a beautiful blue and brown Xweetok, whose hair was mangled and whose face had been pale with worry stood, staring back at me. It was my mom. However, behind her, fuzzy to my eye, was somebody else.
To be continued...