Its enormous form blocked the tunnel a few yards down, the light from the room barely illuminating its appearance. A robust plumage constructed of an assortment of contrasting feathers patched with straw and mud crowned its mammoth shape. Long, matted blonde hair sprouted from under its headdress and framed its irregularly shaped head. The left side of which was wrapped with a stitched piece of tan cloth; a large ocular lens fastened into it over the left eye. The rest of its face was obscured from David by shadow and aversion. Large black robes (embroidered with unidentifiable language and delineations stitched in a strand of an inconceivably darker color) flowed about its massive physique. It breathed heavily in raspy tones and raised its arms up, reaching out with torn, ragged gloved hands. David backed away hurriedly, opening his mouth in an attempt to shout, to warn his friends, but found he could only make high pitched squeaking noises. All his air escaped him, he couldn’t breathe and he began flailing wildly in the water until he forcefully backed into Tim.

“What the hell, David?!?” An annoyed Tim turned quickly, eyes fixated on his friend. “If you want to go ho…holy shit!” He took hold of David, who was having trouble keeping himself upright, and pulled him around through the water so that he was behind him. “Let’s get out of here guys!”

“What?” Rafael took a look over his shoulder and instantly beheld the array of colorful feathers atop the deep stygian darkness sliding from the tunnel and into the pool. It moved smoothly, preposterously slithering over the concrete and through the water. Rafael turned his head away, back toward Aaron, and placed his hand firmly into the middle of his back. “Don’t look back, just hurry toward the tunnel, fast!”

Aaron didn’t need to look, he could feel the fear engulf the room and he dove into the water and swam swiftly in the direction of the far right tunnel, Rafael trailing closely behind. David was trying to run through the water toward the middle tunnel, all sense having left him. He was in a state of extreme panic, and he splashed about in an attempt to row himself along faster. His chest heaved with heavy breaths that broke into sobs every other moment, his eyes watery, tears staining his face. Tim swooshed around in the water to follow his friend, and just before his eyes left the sight of that horrifying thing he noticed that it had submerged half as much more of its height under the water, its robes sinking with its form instead of billowing about. Of course this was implausible; the water just wasn’t that deep. As he faced the back of David he saw that Rafael and Aaron had reached the right tunnel and were scurrying up its passage, out of sight. David was having a hard time moving through the water and Tim could tell that all was not right with his friend. He moved to his side, grabbed him about his shoulders and began to pull him toward the tunnel opening. David had begun sobbing uncontrollably and was having a hard time finding his breath. Just as they reached the concrete flooring of the tunnel, Tim looked behind him, relieved for a moment to see that the figure had vanished. He readily surmised that it had either completely submerged beneath the water, or it had turned and went back down the tunnel. None the less he was taking no chances and, helping David gain his footing inside the passage, began to push/pull his apprehensive friend away from the pool and up the tunnel. There was dim light penetrating the pitch from what was most likely another pool room up ahead.

“Come on David, get it together! We’ve got to get out of here!” Tim shouted, the despair of their plight starting to sink in. He was pushing David forcibly toward the room, angry at his friend for breaking down into a state of inertness. A dark shadow rose up behind him, blocking the light from the previous room. Tim tried grabbing David to lunge him forward, but his head suddenly jerked back as his feet progressed.

“Ahhhh!” he cried out in pain. “David! Run, ru…” His hair was being pulled from his scalp and he wanted to take hold of the hand that had his hair and unclench it. He barely raised his arms from his waist when he felt the unnatural feeling of cold sharp steel at his neck. He felt the sharp bite as it pierced his flesh and carved its way within, a numb throbbing pain pounding into his head. He cried out in horror when he realized the steel was easily continuing to slice into him. Warm liquid began to run down his naked chest and although he could not look down he knew it was his blood. He cried out violently, a reaction to the appalling realization of what was happening to him. His cries turned to chokes as he slowly lost the ability to breath, the steel now slicing through his trachea with awful potency. A murky cloudiness engulfed him; his last vision was of David scurrying franticly up the waterway.



David’s lips stretched about his teeth as he remembered his discovery. “No, I found it this way. The lock and chain were just gone.”

“Hey, hey, alright!” Rafael buoyed in the water with excitement. “Hey Aaron!” he shouted back.


“The lock and chain are off the door! We can go into the tunnel now!”

“What? Really? Sweet!” He dove into the water and swam briskly toward his friends.

David opened the door and began wading through the clean, shallow, run-off. The aqueduct slanted slightly upward, and the water flowed down in a mellow current about a foot or so deep. A dim light could be seen about a quarter mile up ahead, creating a shadowy visibility in the otherwise pitch black air.

“You guys coming?”

“Hell yeah,” said Tim, following behind his friend. The other two were right behind him and the boys began to journey together up the tunnel. After a short time it opened up into a large cement room with a pool much like the one that they had just left, except this one was only about two feet deep. There were a couple of light fixtures fixed into the wall, one of either side. A cement ledge surrounded the pool, with a depression along the opening of the outgoing tunnel to allow the water to flow down at a tempered pace. Another tunnel opened into the room in front of them, built about a foot over the ledge. There was a metal door built into the left-hand wall. Rafael went along the ledge toward it and tried the metal door knob, it was locked.

“Locked,” he informed his friends. They began to explore the tunnel leading further into the hills. It was dark and shadowy with dim light coming again from about a quarter mile ahead.

“Another room?” asked Aaron.

“Must be,” said Tim. “What do you guys think?”

“It’s getting colder,” stated David, shivering a bit.

“Well this is run-off,” proclaimed Tim. “There’s no sun in here to heat it up. Come on David, when are we going to have this chance again? Someone from the city is going lock that gate up tomorrow.”

“You know it,” Rafael agreed. “One more pool and then we’ll turn around.”

“Yeah, one more David,” quipped Aaron. “You can take the cold just a bit longer. I mean we’re kinda used to it now and it ain’t that bad.”

“OK. OK, let’s check it out.”

They were half way up the tunnel when it suddenly rumbled with the sound of a large amount of water rushing nearby, as if a valve had been opened. Then there was the whoosh of air being sucked out of a room, a thunderous clap, followed by the choke and cry of a man sobbing, fading away into the distance. The boys stood frozen. It was impossible to tell where the actions creating the sounds had originated from, and the boys looked up and down the tunnel and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

“What the hell was that?” Aaron asked without expecting a reply, and he received none. They waited a few minutes in silence, wide eyed and attentive. Nothing stirred, and maybe it wasn’t anything to be too concerned about.

“Come on, let’s just check this last pool out and then we’ll go,” Tim urged his younger friends.

“What if that was some city worker in here and he locked the gate on the way out?” asked David.

“Nah, he would have seen our bikes and yelled up here. It probably came from further up. We’re only going a little ways more.” Somehow Tim’s logic made sense to them and they proceeded on their way, although quieter and with more caution. When they came to the lit opening they found that it was indeed another open room with ledge, door and pool. Except this time the room was larger and there were three tunnel archways along the opposite wall through which water flowed in. The pool here was about a foot deeper and the boys, except for David, waded out into it to splash around.

“Wow, this just keeps getting more interesting,” said Aaron. “Kinda want to keep exploring.”

David wasn’t having any of that. “No, let’s go,” he requested. He turned to head back down the tunnel and fear shot through him like winter wind whipping through a city street.



David shifted down gear, pushed the handlebars forward and let the seat slide under his butt as he turned into the uphill stretch. His lean tanned arms stretched forward as his hands gripped the bottom angle of the drop handlebars and, bending his head forward, his eyes focused on the road directly before him. He climbed, sweating, his legs churning the pedals. He smiled, imagining his poor BMX buddies trying to climb this hill on their inadequate bikes. Finally he made it to the cul-de-sac that ended any further paved roadway into the hills. He dismounted, breathing a bit heavily, and began walking his bike onto the lawn of a house situated at its far end. There never seemed to be anyone home when the boys came through here. They could be out, or reclusive, it was hard to say. Never a car, drapes always drawn, eerie silence.

He walked hurriedly through the gateless yard, as he passed the house he could not help but feel he was being watched. Looking up at the house immediately he could have sworn that a drape moved. He quickened his pace past the shed that marked the end of the home’s property: one could tell by the line separating where the grass was kept low from where it sprouted wildly in an abrupt manner. An odd feeling of deep apprehension overcame him, and he almost turned around to go home but decided it was his imagination and continued on. About thirty yards further, through the pine and fir trees, to where the cement lined “stream” slowly cascaded downhill toward the nearby reservoir. The man-made waterway was sunken into the hill, flowing on a cement pathway where the water ran only, at most, about two feet deep. He walked his bike along its grass lined edge a good distance uphill until he came to the broad archway built into its side. Sweat poured down his face as the sun beat on his skin. He let his bike drop to the soft grass, took off his shirt and used it to wipe the sweat from his face before laying it out upon his handlebars. Flicked off his sneakers, took off his socks and draped them on his bike, put his Keds back on, pulled up his shorts, and then jumped down into the “stream”.

From the vantage point of the waterway he could see within the archway to the pool underneath. There, the water was made to collect as it poured out of the underground tunnel beneath the hills, through a slightly rusted gate, into a walled area about four feet deep. About three and a half feet up on the front wall was a ledge about two feet wide that allowed the water to slowly spill out onto the small canal. There it went upon its journey toward the reservoir. David ran up toward the wall and leaped over, using his hands and arms upon the dam to brace his jump, into the pool. Cool, wet, relief literally washed over him. He dunked his head beneath the water and swam a moment underneath it, holding his breath. He surfaced feeling refreshed and splashed around for a time. Eventually he noticed something odd about the gate and swam over to investigate.

The gate, covering the entry to a tunnel that was built above the pool upon a concrete ledge, had an access door built on hinges so that maintenance crews could enter the aqueduct. It usually had a chain with an enormous padlock on it that kept it sealed off from intruders. He knew this because he and the boys had wanted to go investigating within the “cavern” the last time they were here. Today, the lock and chain were missing, nowhere to be seen. David climbed up upon the ledge and searched in the water around the door and found no sign of it, then he stood up, took a bar of the gate door within his grip and began to pull it open.


David spun around in startled confusion, his back crashing into the gate and feet slipping off the ledge, to see Tim laughing at him from a few feet over. Rafael and Aaron were a further ways out standing on the outer ledge of the pool, laughing hysterically at their frightened friend.

“Did you see him jump?” Tim shouted back.

“Yeah, like a frightened little jackrabbit.” Aaron answered between guffaws.

“That’s what you get, ese.” Rafael tucked his longish black hair behind his ears. “You shoulda stayed with the gang.” He laughed some more and then dove underwater, surfaced and began swimming toward the gate.

David straightened himself. “Nice Tim. Thank you, guys.”

“Ah, just having a little fun at your expense.” Tim smiled and patted David on the back. His eyes widened then as he noticed that the lock and chain were no longer binding the door. “Wow, son, did you get the lock off the door?”