We fell down the pit that seemed to extend all the way to the center of the Earth. It was the final resting place for dozens of humans and queerats. The bottom was too dark to make out, rendering cantus useless. I flipped over to face the sky and imagined throwing a grappling hook over the edge of the hole. I managed to swing myself over to the wall.
The stone was still wet and slippery from the rain. It was humid in the pit, and the explosion had depleted most of the oxygen in the air, making it hard to breathe. A miasma of blood and burnt flesh wafted all around us.
“Saki, are you alright?”
It was Satoru’s voice. He appeared to have found a place to land far above me.
“I’m here! How’s Niimi?”
I couldn’t see around the rocks, but his voice was closer than I expected.
“I see a tunnel just below me. Let’s go in there.”
A green flame flickered on the wall. I was blinded for a second, but managed to mark the spot where it had come from A red afterimage drifted across my field of view.
I imagined myself sticking to the rock face like a compass needle on a magnet. Once I was secure, I started climbing slowly up the wall like a gecko.
From beyond the pit, I could hear a cacophony of screams and falling buildings. The fiend must have started his slaughter. I bit my lip. There was nothing we could do right now. All I could do was pray that at least some people could manage to escape.
I closed my eyes and tried to slow my frantically beating heart. I had to concentrate on getting out. There should still be some time before the fiend turns his attention to the pit.
Satoru was already waiting inside the tunnel when Niimi and I arrived.
“Hurry! Get inside.”
He pulled us up one by one.
The tunnel was only a meter and a half tall, forcing us to stoop to fit inside. It smelled even worse in here. I thought my nose would wither from the stench.
“What is this smell?”
“I think they used mortar made of feces and dirt to reinforce the tunnel,” Satoru said, pinching his nose.