Katherineís Story

by Brian John Mitchell

Weíre underground in a system of tunnels. We live here. The zombies are afraid to come down by themselves because the dragon lives down here too. But there are four of them walking after us & Iím afraid their mumbling moans will wake the dragon up. I hear the writhing of the dragon. The tunnels are really a little small for it. The tunnels are probably only two feet wider in diameter than the dragon is. I can hear the bass rumblings as its snake body hits the side of the tunnel & Iím running as fast as I can even though it makes my bookbag of canned food slam against my back & bruise it. Thereís a flash of light & I know the dragon must be in our tunnel now. Jasonís running in front of me & gets to the giant valve wall first & heís twisting the release to open it when the rusty wheel falls off. Iím pulling at the circular concrete wall thatís only opened far enough to put my fingers in, fighting against all the gears that are supposed to make it so easy to open. Jasonís gone, presumably to try to find an alternate route, but I know heíll never make it. Thereís a flash of light again & Iím pulling with my arms & pushing with my feet against the wall instead of the floor. I hear talking & the wall gives a little & people on the other side are pulling me through to the other side & asking "What happened?" & Iím saying, "Close the fucking gate." But the wheel wonít turn on this side either & thereís a burst of light & I can feel the hot air rushing in where they pulled me through. Weíre grabbing the mud at our feet & trying to fill the gap & weíre putting in sticks & pieces of wood & broken bricks & I can feel the tunnel shaking instead of just hearing the dragonís banging. The foot wide concrete is hot & burning the palms of my hands, so I put them in the little bit of mud at my feet. It bangs on the wall which actually makes it slide shut a little more. The two people who helped pull me in are already gone & I grab my bag & run.