My muscles burned in protest as I pulled myself towards safety one rung at a time. As I lifted and pushed away the manhole cover my eyes stung from the harsh streetlights.
Simone clicked the safety on her shotgun and helped me out with her free hand.
“What did you find?”
I pulled off the mask and threw it aside. I leaned against the brick alley wall with both hands stooped over to spit out my lunch. When I was done I got around to an answer.
“It’s spawning...could be the Goat…”
Simone winced. “Oh Christ…”
I kicked off my galoshes and peeled away my leather gloves. “Soon the sewers won’t be big enough to hold them all.”
I kicked the bundle back down the open manhole. Simone opened the briefcase she brought along and passed me a new set of slacks.
“How much time do we have?”
“Not much time at all...we gotta evacuate this town inside of two weeks before the Foundation can send their exterminators. Otherwise a lot of people we know are gonna lose their minds and their lives.”
I was balanced on one foot and fumbling with the belt when I felt a cold piece of rope wind around my ankle.
“HANG ON I GOT THIS!”
She unlocked the safety and fired both barrels down the manhole. Instead of blood and gore the thing dissipated in a cloud of oily black smoke, and I fell to the pavement like a drunk outside the cantina on Cinco de Mayo.
I crawled over and helped her push the manhole cover until the grinding of pavement against metal surrendered to a satisfying Clunk.
“That was a young’un. They’re faster....but they’re not howling like the big ones.”
“How the HELL are we gonna get all these people out? They’ve already been relocated once! They’re not gonna move this quick again!”
I pulled myself up and grabbed a clean shirt from the briefcase.
“That’s really not our call, Sis. As soon as we call Washington the Feds’ll make ‘em move. Especially if they gotta kill all that with fire.”
She sighed. “I was just getting the hang of this place.”
“They might move back eventually. For now they’ll think it’s just another natural disaster…”
I pulled my tie up until it was snug. “I here there’s a suburb of Boston that startin’ to boom...they’re actually lookin’ for workers. I bet a lot of these folks will sit tight there until Noop gets the all-clear.”
I picked up the gas mask and stuffed it in burlap sack by a strap with a pencil and dropped into a burlap sack so I could sterilize it later. Then leaned over the briefcase myself and fished out my trenchcoat with a snap.
“I met one of our new Steelhead neighbors,” I went on as I adjusted the sleeves. “He’s cagey about it but it’s pretty obvious he’s Lunar’s kid. He’s building a library across from us. One of the kinds we could put to good use. His assistant he referred to sounds like a master of the five-finger discount.”
“Well that’s good to hear. Do we have furniture yet?”
I popped my fedora back on and shut the case. “Yep...I found an old file cabinet…”
She just shook her head. “Priorities, Dave. Priorities…”