Steadfast is a serial short fiction piece.
To start from the beginning, go to part 1.
Scurried, hushed footsteps reached my ears. Soft yet unmistakable, more than one something approached. My arms moved before I even realized my paralysis had left. It felt amazing to control my own motion again, yet I remained restrained by my hempen bonds.
To my own amazement I discovered the fall had not adversely affected my functions. Nothing was broken. I rolled over and sat upright, feeling with my hands along the slick wall until I found a jagged edge of concrete on a corner. Rubbing up and down, I used the grit to sand away at the rope. It was arduous and monotonous. My ears kept alert, tuning into the shadowed shuffles growing louder and coming ever closer. The echoed reverberations shortened with every minute.
Were those eyes glowing in the distance? I shook my head and continued to saw the rope—up and down, up and down. I glanced again and knew there were at least three sets of glowing green eyes watching me from the darkness. The shuffling ceased and they were still, watching and observing. Was I to be their prey? I posed no possible threat in my circumstance. I would be at their mercy if they attacked.
I continued to saw the rope and I could sense it fraying, loosening its biting grip on my wrists. The shuffling recommenced and it was even closer than I expected. They knew my weakness in bondage. I stood upright and ceased trying to free my bonds while awaiting my fate. I was set to become spare parts for illicit rats.
One set of green orbs bobbed in front of my face and then settled to stillness, searching but for what I could not know. The two others looked me over from the flanks before joining the first pair in front. All three persons now faced me.
“What you think?”
“I think he’s one of ‘em.”
I felt bony fingers pinch my skin and I shrugged at it.
“He can feel. I’m not so sure.”
“It’s an upgrade,” the first voice spoke and then the green eyes came close to my face. This rat’s breath smelled of putrefaction, dieting on garbage. “You’re one fancy clock big boy. You be any trouble?”
I shook my head.
A blade slid between my wrists and the rope slipped away.
The labyrinthine lay of the sewer tunnels ran and intersected many times over. I followed the leader and the two toadies followed me. The darkness moved only slightly away in any direction where their soft green light touched and was enveloped once more when departed. We turned left and crossed a small bridge. Water ran by us along this tunnel and the moist scent of mildew clung to my olfactory sensors.
After several silent minutes of lefts, rights and crossings, we now faced a rusted bulkhead shut tight. The leader rapped upon the metal door, ringing out a dull and tolling tune: Dada-di-dada. Di-dada-di. The rhythm echoed through the course of tunnels behind us and eventually lolled to silence. Then I heard the clanking and shuttering of metal on the other side, and sure enough the bulkhead opened.