Deep in the abandoned culvert, the portal appeared.
Tom, zipping along with reckless abandon, braked his bicycle and dropped it to the floor. He stood, staring, for an unknown length of time.
“What fresh hell is this?” he asked no one.
H had been alone for hours now, pedaling his bike at speeds either slow as a tortoise or fast as a bunny through the city’s old sewer system. He had been expecting to confront running water, sewer rats, homeless old men, even wild dogs.
He hadn’t expected this.
The city behind him was bombed out and on fire. His husband, Tito, had been struck by falling bricks and rebar during the initial attack, and died in his arms minutes later. Tom wanted to stay with him, but things were escalating swiftly. He pulled Tito off the sidewalk, propped him against the trunk of an Elm and kissed him goodbye. Then he mounted his bike and took to the streets as fast as he could go.
He’d entered the culvert in a state of desperation; staying in the streets was sheer folly. At least he might find a hiding place.
Now–this. This tunnel within a tunnel.
It was bright, a beckoning entrance of swirling lights and a low, thrumming hum.
Tom stood, indecisive. Then he shrugged. What did he have to lose? Tito was gone; he was alone. Did it matter what was on the other side?
He mounted his bike, and breathing deeply, pedaled through.