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The Morlock Forest

Arnold looked up at the imposing wall with resignation.  It seemed to encompass the entire skyline from his angle and separated the Canals, the swamp really, from Babbage square by several hundred feet.  He had no desire to risk scaling the wall instead.  His uniform, what was left of it as he had ripped the apron apart to move better, was torn, muddy, and stained red from his encounters with the ravens and Wiggyfish Moreau which had plagued him on his travels.   Climbing would have put him at the ravens mercy.

The wall itself looked as if Kaylee’s tower and the Church of the Builder had combined into one structure on both the out and inside.  Towers and chimneys crept and popped out randomly and even had windows looking downwards at the lower city.  Directly before him the center had been hollowed out leading into a dark sewer.  On the inside there were outcropping of small towers and walkways which looked haphazardly built, but were still structurally sound for the most part.  The rest of the city was elevated far above now while he was at sea level .  and the city proper was far above separated by the wall.  Within there was nothing else to see but pipes as thick and as dense in population as trees in a forest.

Going around or back would have taken hours, so Arnold set his hat and gripped his bag and made his way into the darkness.  He could see with his eyes, but soon he was deep within the caverns and could no longer see the entrance.  The pipes surrounding him hissed and bubbled with steam and water passing through, and he could also hear trickles of a thick liquid dripping incessantly down to the water below with a drip that echoed against the walls despite the pipes. 

He heard and felt movement about him, though he only caught the glimpses of what he could only call white shadows between the pipes as he continued his journey following what he hoped was a path to the other side. 

He had fought the Wiggyfish which had been bigger than him, he had dragged a robotic dinosaur several times his own weight out of the asylum before it exploded last summer, he had done things that should have been impossible for a cat that weighed less than eighty pounds.  But whatever these things were they were hunting in a large pack and with growing dread he knew they’d tear him apart with sheer numbers if nothing else.

They finally moved without much warning, silently stalking forward to take him unawares.  The cat put his bag in his mouth and broke into a run and the white shadows followed after him swiftly.  He dodged in and out of the pipes as quickly as he could, but he couldn’t go at a dead run without chancing that he’d run head first into the pipe’s. 

Unlike him, the Morlocks knew this twisted terrain.  They moved among the pipes fluidly, knowing exactly where each one was placed, and they gained on him.  He could see some of them on his left that were closing on him and he began to edge to the right. 

His desperation grew as he fled, heart pounding in his chest, and then saw a rise like a smooth staircase in the wall.  He ran up it as the creatures followed, though they seemed to have slowed down as he continued to make his way up. 

He hoped they simply preferred their food slow, but it didn’t take long for his fears to be realized as he stopped short before he reached a massive chasm The white shadows had known there was nothing back here except a drop which seemed to go on forever.  It definitely went far below sea level, and not even the cat could see or hear what was down there.  Grimacing he realized that they had also managed to outsmart him.

He turned around and faced one of the creatures which had come forward on its own, the other white creatures stood back and down the way in case he decided to jump over the first one. 

“Come away from there, little one. It would be unfortunate to scrape you off the ground and serve as pancakes.”  His grin told Arnold that he was simply hoping the meal would be less bruised.

Arnold’s heart raced as he prepared himself to take as many of them with him as he could. He set the bag to the side and then tried to set himself to fight them.  As he prepared his back leg it went over the side and he had a moment of terror as that leg fell and threatened to take him with it. 

He gripped the side and dug in his claws, but the carpet bag had been knocked back by his elbows in his desperation and it fell to the darkness below.

He shouted in protest and tried to catch it, but it fell beyond his grasp.  Looking up quickly, Arnold noted the creature was closing in on him.  Even if it hadn’t the cat would have jumped after that bag; he leapt into the darkness and hoped to land on his feet.

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