Our Lords and Masters

Should I start with an introduction, or some back story? I suppose this is a very strange occurrence to me.  I’ll go back to October, I guess.  I was part of a survey team of Inspectors commissioned by the Home Office to build a report on the Undertown beneath Huyton (as per the Undertown Monitoring Act, 1972), and despite losing two of our team members, the operation went surprisingly well (the report is to be published in January).  I finished compiling the report and collaborating all findings of the surviving team and was debriefed by my superiors before submitting the report to be examined by the government and published.  Then, earlier this month, I received another commission.

This time the request did not come from the Home Office, but from something… else… I can’t give specific details but let’s just say that our elected government officials are not truly in control of this country…

Anyway, I’ll just call them the REAL government.  They requested that I attend a meeting at their secret headquarters (which may or may not be located beneath the Thames and reachable only via an inconspicuous tube at a certain point along the riverside).

The tube appears as a disused sewer pipe with a grate which, when whispered at seductively, twists away to reveal a pristine corridor, clad in zinc panels and smelling of chlorine and apples.  So, I strutted up to the grime covered lattice of iron and put on my sauciest voice.  After about ten minutes of lewd whispering, the grate rolled out of view leaving the cylindrical tunnel, which I tentatively stepped into.

My footsteps clattered and resounded off the metal surfaces, which being curved, twisted the echoes into an eerie cacophony of tapping, like some mad orchestral piece, composed entirely of ill timed knocking.  As I began to wonder how much longer I would be walking, I emerged abruptly into an enormous atrium, crisscrossed with walkways and staircases, for what seemed like forever when looking up.  Actually, now I think of it, I don’t recall seeing a ceiling, just walkways, staircases, walkways, even more staircases, it was really quite dizzying to look at.

A person approached from a desk that I had not seen upon entering (likely because I was looking up).  The figure was all form and no detail – I guess they had eyes and ears, a mouth and nose.  Probably, they were of a certain height, and they were at the very least wearing… something…  But none of these details were apparent to me.

Their voice was also nondescript as they said, “Come, you are expected.”

I wouldn’t dare repeat what followed but I will describe the nervous tremor that took over my right leg as I stood in the elevator, descending to some unknown depth, the sudden terror of realising the danger in this place, a palpable and rising tension that started in my groin and through my stomach to rest in my throat like barely suppressed vomit.  Emerging into the Cabinet Chamber that smelled like something that had died in summertime and been left to rot in a poorly tied off black refuse bag, hastily stowed in a rickety garden shed.  Coming face to face with our true and terrible rulers.  If the power in this world had a geographic heart, this was it, and everything in me told me to run and run and never, ever stop.

I did not run.

That’s how I ended up in Huyton a few days ago, having been briefed for long hours and forced to swear blood oaths of compliance.  Once again, I stood among a patch of trees beside the River Alt.  I looked into the sky and waited for the slight gleam of a surveillance drone and then displayed my entrance stamp.  Crossing my arms, I prepared myself internally for the stress I was about to face externally.  The only way through the deadly Barrier is to open a Hex Warp, a wholly unstable means of punching a hole through reality, in a sense.  Last time there were eight of us going through when Davidson, a fellow Inspector, lost concentration momentarily and was thrust into the barrier to die a death I hope to never understand.

Davidson wasn’t the only one we lost.  We lost another on the other side, and of the six that survived to make it home only myself and Inspector Marley have lived, although I’ve heard nothing from her in a couple of weeks, not since the report was submitted.

With a sigh, I stomped down hard with my left foot and the Warp began to open.  The steel clouds above spiralled in a mad kaleidoscope of revolving vapours, slamming into the ground around me with the anger of a hurricane.  Then, the earth began to convulse and bubble, bending down, down, down.  Turning with nauseating speed, I descended, focusing on staying away from the Barrier, which was now all around me, rumbling and pulsating in contempt.

Finally, I pushed through, and emerged into the Undertown of Huyton.

Now, I’ll set out some objectives for this journal.

Firstly, I am to act as an Inspector, compiling information and chronicling the events that take place here.  The only difference is that I have to live here now, among the inhabitants of the town.

I am going to record anything I find significant here – I’ll cut things down to relevancy when I return to the surface world to compile my official finding (whenever that may be).

Finally, I was briefed on a disturbance here that has caught the attention of our lords and masters (which appears to be their primary reason for assigning me this position), and I am to investigate. It’s something unusual and of great power.  I am to contact them as soon as I discover the source of this… thing? Person? I don’t know.

Well, I guess that’ll do.  I’ll start my investigation tomorrow and update this space next Monday.  I hope I’m not stuck here for too long.

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