She lowered herself onto the slippery surface below. Dripping liquid could be heard overhead. But the screams were gone. Had it all been an illusion? An aural hallucination? Had she simply imagined it? She closed her nostrils. The stench was unbearable. She put one foot in front of the other, turning on her flashlight.
She’d reached this city days ago, after wandering the endless desert for weeks. A denizen of the coastal compounds, Maisy Spencer was a spunky and lively girl with a healthy chutzpah. Her family was gone off to join the counter-revolutionary bands of guerilla warriors in the Lands Beyond. Her feistiness served her well in this realm, bearing witness to her upbringing among the Chosen Ones. But now she was lost and lonely in a vast cityscape cluttered with the remnants of The Lost Ones and the dead. Slowly working her way through the sewage pipes, she clambered onto the hope of finding her relatives somewhere in this labyrinthine web. She thought about what her priest had told her about The Lost Ones – how they lived their lives in vain, sacrilegiously profaning the Creators. Oh, how she loved old Frater Berias! But alas, her love was not returned, for Berias was a chaste man, sworn to living in celibacy for all eternity. Such a man couldn’t possibly lay hands on the swollen breasts of a teenage girl. Such a god-fearing satyr couldn’t dare caress the loins of a flowering nymph. At least she thought so. Unbeknownst to Maisy, Berias had always nurtured dreams of deflowering her. He’d always dreamt of entering her vagina, plucking the delicate fleshy orchid that lay between her thighs.
Her flashlight lighting up the surroundings, she clambered onwards, wary of dangers. The sewage pipes were arranged in a maze-like grid, one layer on top of the other. She figured the whole structure was built before the Great Drought, when working folk were still alive around these parts. She heard squeeks of mutated rats. Copper wires were curled up in coils emitting sparks. Her old-fashioned pocket radio emitted static. She thought about what it meant to be human. What she’d sacrificed to get this far.
She reached a large hall. Rusty oil barrels littered the floor, but all of them were empty. She’d driven a car once, when she was still a child. It was the last car in the southern coastal compounds. It had a fully functional transmission system, but was gas driven. Her father had been so proud of that car. It was the pride of the compound, an irreplaceable jewel of technical mastery. Most of the inhabitants hunted with spears and arrows. Animals were rare, but humans made good food for hungry stomachs. Electricity was magic to them. Through a looking glass they’d seen travelling packs of scavenging folk with plasma- and laser guns, but somehow managed to keep their distance, staying safe. Until the terrible event occurred. The event that’d marked Maisy for life, forever imprinting in her a healthy fear of strangers.