Friday, August 12, 2011

Excerpt 5 from TUNNELS


The tunnel spewed us out into a tumble next to something that looked like a cross between an ATM and a Goodwill drop box. Jackson grunted at me to get my feet off her face. I scrabbled away, stood up and offered her a hand. The small white room we were in was bright yet windowless. The hole above my head was narrowing and I could not see any way out. No doors. No tunnels.

“Here, Paige, take this,” she said, pushing her bag at my hand, not wanting my help. She rose up and brushed herself off; bits of gravel and yellow dust flew everywhere. “What are you waiting for?” she growled, clearly impatient with me. “Dump yours in the green chute and mine in the red one.”

I looked at the drop box and pulled open the green chute. I started to shove my whole bag in, but Jackson stopped me. I was doing it all wrong, of course. She took a huge breath and visibly blew out her impatience. She calmly explained to me, as if I were a five year old, that I only needed to empty the contents then hold the bag open under the spigot on the other side and catch the new supplies. She did the same with her large satchel. I tried to peek at what she was getting, but she had pulled the edges of the material up and over her spout.

“Now what?” I asked.

I caught the last half of her eye roll. “You better snap out of it fast,” she said, “and get your memory back, ’cause you’re on your own for this next one.” She clutched her bag tightly to her chest, closed her eyes and whispered ‘good luck’ as the floor opened beneath her and she dropped out of sight.

I gasped in panic for the millisecond it took for me to think about my kids, my husband. I tightened my grip on my satchel and felt the floor give way. This time the heat in the tunnel was bearable, perhaps because it was only one body causing the friction. The speed was slower as well, more deliberate. I splashed out onto a dirty wooden floor yet I was dry and safely hidden under a corner table. Thankfully I hadn’t zipped the bag so opening it was a nearly silent function.

I found the recorder first and switched it on capturing the strangest conversation: “Dooty is dooty, messmates . . . But dash my buttons! that was a good ’un about my score.” A great bit of laughter followed and then the speakers moved out of the tavern and headed toward the quays. Ah! My memory was returning. I knew the way to the quays.

(TUNNELS is still a work in progress, feedback on these excerpts is appreciated.)