Dead Air

by Ian Walker

 

Dead Air. 

I’d heard it been called that. It was a long time ago in a distant conversation. None of that information had been in my head when we descended the ladder.

What a foolish decision – climbing into an underground structure that no one knew was there. Bonus points for me and Alesha. I turned and looked at her lying next to me, with her pale skin, her auburn hair, her blue lips. Could I still be a little bit jealous of her? Somehow she still rocked her look. She always knew what colours worked where. She knew highlights.

Highlights of the past few hours included a bunch of the teens from town running off into the woods for a stupid scavenger hunt. Who can find rusted pieces of machinery? Forgotten clothes? Picked clean bones? There were no prizes for winning, just bragging rights and odd trinkets. There were prizes for poor decisions though. I had mine. A broken ankle.

It wasn’t so bad – my leg, I mean. I could walk on it. I would scream every time I put pressure down, but I could do it. The problem was the ladder: it was broken like my ankle. This scrap den must have been here unused for a couple decades before Alesha and I had stumbled upon the entrance.

The hatch was well hidden, covered deep with branches and bushes. Inside and rotted away was a thin foam mattress, some water damaged magazines, and a pair of work boots. Nothing worth venturing down for. We hadn’t known that when we started descending though. We had believed it a treasure trove.

So much for our indulgence of Ketham town. We would have to leave. That is, if my parents could find me. The gasses would probably mask my scent, disguising it with the wind. Perhaps the others would find us here. Maybe they would have the common sense to call for help, instead of climbing on in. Properly trained rescuers would come in, remove both our bodies, wonder why one girl still pumped blood through her veins while no air passed through her lungs. The alternative to either of these possibilities was much worse.

The thought of slowly dying from hunger. First I would salivate constantly. Then my agitation would grow, my thoughts would become non-coherent. Finally my stomach would begin throbbing. My drive would kick in, yet there would be little food for me here. And then my body would slowly shut down, with the pain only growing the entire time. That was how you punished one of us. My parents had told me stories. Lock them in a box until the screaming stops. I turned once again, this time to look Alesha dead in the eyes.

Her mournful, desperate brown eyes. Sorry, Alesha.

I bit deep into the veins in her arm and began sucking blood.

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