The Underground.No one is who they say they are, and everyone is who they say they aren't.
| The Underground. Its name needs little explanation, for that is exactly what this place is. Underground. It lies beneath the cities and civilization of modern society, neither the sun nor moon ever seen in the dirt-covered, makeshift sky. It strays for mere miles. One huge, surreal, darkened refuge from the world Above which is only half made from humanity. Here, everything is made by man. The rivers, dug open by shovels and human hands. The buildings, built by terrifying, inhuman machines and metal, not wood or plaster. The streets are cobblestones, slippery and always wet from the dampness seeping down through the sky from the rain Above. There is no such thing as a dry area in The Underground.
The humans that live in this sad excuse for a society are neither happy nor sad. They have been banished to this place because of either their differences or bloodlines, but no matter the reason, all who live here are no longer what they or their ancestors were Above. The darkness has made them sickly pale, everyone a shade of white normally reserved for freshly fallen snow, something that is never seen here. Some people have become accustomed to this life and adapted to it well, living safely and effectively, running their own lives in a calm and collected fashion. These are the Home-Dwellers.
Home is the safe zone for all who wish to lead a life like the one they had Above, socializing with their neighbors and living a peaceful lifestyle that is safe and normal. The "sun" (which is made up of a large metal sphere with a warm colored light shone upon it in the daytime) rises here, giving them a small amount of warm light every day. Nights are dark and dank, most people shutting, locking and bolting their doors and retiring for the night, having no use for anything that lurks outside when the sun goes down. Unlike the Home's counterpart.
Haunt resides on the far side of the city. The sun never reaches here, so days are even darker than Home's nights and the people who live here are even more accustomed to the darkness. Nighttime is lit by the "moon" (made of the same metal ball as the sun but with a soft white light shone upon it) that rises as soon as the sun is taken down to give Haunt an eerie, ghoulish glow. People who live here avoid one another as much as possible, keeping to themselves or small groups of family members and friends. These people have changed their appearances more than just the ghostly skin, like the rare albino children complete with pigment deficient bodies, people with strangely colored eyes never seen in anything but the rainbow and bodies built for creeping the allies and slinking around in the dark. Strange creatures roam the streets, worthy of their nickname "The Nightmare Bugs", for their bug-like bodies and nightmarish looks. Not only do creatures roam everywhere you turn, the Dolls are never far away from the nearest darkened corner.
The Dolls are rumored to be women with angelic beauty, seductive personalities and something horrendous beneath their Doll-like faces. Rumors say that they are monsters created by the darkness, hiding behind masks of beauty to seduce men to do their bidding. No one knows for sure what they are, but you can always tell when you are faced with one. Their beauty is undeniable. No other women compare. Their eyes stare into your soul like it was a clear sheet of glass, and that is exactly what they compare you to. To them, anyone other than their fellow Dolls are breakable and replaceable, just like a sheet of glass.
The Underground is a maze of dark streets and darker people, but our story follows only one boy. His name is Vera Mesmer, a Home-Dweller living a peaceful life with loving parents, siblings and an incurable curiosity. I will start by telling you that Vera is no special boy, that he is a normal 16 year old teenager. He has no special abilities, no hidden agenda. He roams the streets past his curfew and ends up in trouble afterwards. He sneaks out of his house and is grounded the following morning. This story is not about a special boy, it is about a boy who finds some special people. Some special people who undoubtedly turn his life completely upside down.
Vera Mesmer lives in a small, metallic house on a rough and tumble street with his mother Monroe, father Victor, and sisters Morrigan, Malloreigh, Margot and Malice. He is the eldest of five children, the only male and the most rebellious, of course. We will start off his storyline with something he is fairly accustomed to: punishment.
"VERA VAHN VICTOR MESMER!" a shrill voice hollered from the downstairs portion of the Mesmer household. The terribly high pitched sound was the sign that once again, Vera Mesmer was in trouble. He needed no reassurance, just the sound of his mother's voice processing in his ears and the dread forming a shallow puddle in the back of his mind.
He sat on a rumpled, cluttered excuse for a bed made of a broken box-spring and dozens of wrinkled, shedding blankets. He was a pale boy, just like everyone else, with a wiry body and legs that seemed to go on forever. This was contrary to his mother's plump, petite body and his father's stocky, muscled appearance. He was obviously the recipient of genes that were many generations older than any of his living relatives. His hair was a light shade of brown and his eyes were a dark shade of blue, almost black. All of his sister's were short and slim girls with beautiful dark brown curls and bright blue eyes, making them seem vastly unrelated to their brother. His mother was the same, but with dark brown eyes and a round, cuddly appearance. His father was a baby-blue-eyed red-head. No one knew how Vera ended up looking like an alien in the household, but none of them cared. To them, he was still aMesmer trouble maker.
The room around him was small and crowded with various trinkets: jeweled skulls, makeshift metal chairs, lamps made of plastic bones, rusted chains hanging from the ceiling , glass picture frames atop a rusted metal table, marbles scatter across the floor, even a wide variety of colored toys made of gems and silver. It was dark, the "sun" outside blocked from entering the room by thick black curtains that swept the floor and were covered in dust. The walls were painted red, with a few mirrors, each of them reflecting Vera's face back at him.
Vera stared into his own eyes through the looking glass in front of him, a bored, used-to-punishment expression on his soft, baby-like features. This happened almost every morning. Usually it was for sneaking out the night before or waking late the morning of. Today was for something different. Today his mother just wanted to yell at him since he had not left his room yet.
Sighing, the Mesmer boy picked himself up off the bed and ducked into the upstairs hallway. The way was cramped and narrow. The children were small enough to squeeze by each other, yet their mother always had to walk down alone in fear of squashing her family into the walls. The staircase was no different, and Vera usually never bothered with taking the time to step on every stair; he just bound down them like a jack rabbit.
As he entered the kitchen of his strangely built, metal house, he was bombarded with not only his mother's bellows, but also four treble voices squawking various accusations.
"I told you to get out of bed at seven AM, Vera!" Monroe screeched in her sons ear, "It's seven thirty! We are now going to be late for the meeting, all because of you."
Margot and Malice, the doll-faced twins, were tiny girls with dimpled cheeks, skinny limbs, and always dressed exactly the same, making it very hard to distinguish between the two. "The meeting is important, Vera!" Margot twittered, her pretty eyes narrowed at her rebellious brother. Malice chirped beside her, "Yeah! It's about the Haunt this time!"
"Your mother is right, Vera!" Victor hollered from the bathroom upstairs, "You should be more responsible! This-" he paused to spit out whatever was in his mouth, "-meeting is crucial to attend! Even Malloreigh woke up early for it!"
Malloreigh looked up from her book only long enough to narrow her baby blue eyes shadowed in brown make-up at Vera. "I didn't want to," she hissed, looking back down at the words on the page, "But I did. Don't know why. But I did."
Vera rolled his eyes before seating himself beside the only one that didn't seem to want to yell at him this morning. Morrigan was a slender, beautiful girl that caught the eye of every boy she passed. She was the closest to his age and the one that usually stood up for him the best she could when he was in trouble. Today she just kept her mouth shut, seeing it best to not get involved with something her entire family was vehemently worried about. "Don't say anything," she whispered to her brother before taking a sip of water (really, it was the only thing to drink here besides alcohol), "I don't think I can handle any more of Mum's voice."
Vera laughed and smacked his forehead on the table. This was going to be a horrible day.
These town meetings happened every month, and usually his family didn't really care. For them to be this worked up about it meant something. He wasn't quite sure what, but it was... something. For sure it was something.
For the next... two minutes, really, Monroe efficiently zipped her children into sweaters, coats and shoes, fed them their breakfast and got them out the door in record time. Vera lagged in the back behind the rest of his family, really not caring about this stupid meaning. Well, he did until his father dragged him by the ear to walk by his side like a stubborn child.
The meeting place was the Central Square. It was a flat, stone-lain circle, surrounded by stores selling food and other trinkets, and other various buildings. At the front was a sort of stage that was built specifically for the use of these meetings. Standing on this stage was... well, The Mayor of sorts.
Richard Knails. He was stout man with a bald spot hidden underneath a navy, sparkling top hat that stood a foot high above his head. He looked very much like a marshmallow with how round he was, and if he were not wearing that shimmery blue suit, he would be mistaken for one quite easily. His voice was that of a croaking toad, and it was very hard to comprehend that the man next to him was his son.
Keith Knails was a tall man with shiny brown hair and the sweetest face you would ever find on a man. He was nothing like his father, especially in the fact that he did not look like a sweet, squishy treat, or that his voice was not like a dying amphibian. He was his father's adviser, and in all honesty, had more say in things that went on around the city then his father did. He made all of the decisions except for what clothes Richard dressed himself in when he went out in public. That was usually a disaster. Just like today. That suit was a crime against humanity unlike Keith's snazzy black tuxedo.
"Now, you all behave, children! Do you hear me?" Monroe barked to her family, ruffling her dress that had more skirts than was necessary. These meetings, whenever she attended them, were always a breeding ground for chatter amongst her children. Today there would be none of that if she could help it.
The crowd went fairly silent as the roly-poly Mayor cleared his throat into the microphone that was just beyond his reach. Angered he shoved it down to his height, shaking himself out like a ruffled bird.
"I'm not sure whether any of you know what this meeting is about," he began, his voice still making the Mesmer children giggle. Victor snorted along with them until he received a whack on the head from Monroe's hefty, weighted handbag, "But there have been strange occurrences within Haunt we wish to share."
He was silent. The crowd was silent. Was he going to say anything else? "What sort of things?" a man asked from within the mob of people.
Taken aback, Richard cleared his throat again. Keith, sensing his father had forgotten his speech, took the microphone from him.
"We have been told," Keith said in his clear, bell-like voice. Malloreigh and Morrigan swooned, **** "Of children finding there was into the darkness of the Haunt and not returned. We have though these to be myths created to scare us. Until now.
"Three days ago, Wilbur Greenshadow from the Glocklinne Orphanage was playing with hid friends Tinoi and Broni McSlade. They wandered off, out of sight, into the alleys. Sister Emma searched up until last night, in which time she found the boys' jackets discarded in the alley between the safety of Home and the darkness of Haunt in which they disappeared."
The crowd erupted into chaotic chattering. Everyone had always been warned of the dangers that lingered within the darkness. The stories of children being taken from Home were myths used to scare the young away from anything they were unsure of. Suddenly these myths... come true? Vera thought back to when he was a young child and his parents scare his witless with the stories of Dolls swiping children off the streets if they strayed into the alleys between the two Industrial buildings that separated Haunt from Home. He had only recently stopped believing in those myths, and now, out of the blue, they become reality? Something strange was going on.
Monroe gathered the twins into her sides.
Keith silenced the crowd with a wave of his white-gloved hand. "Yes, I know, this is something we are not used to..." He sighed, running his hand down his face, seemingly trying to wipe away the stress of dealing with missing children. "We are not sure if they were taken or are simply lost," he stopped, being plagued with thought s of the other possibility: death, "But one thing is for sure. We cannot retrieve them. Haunt is much too dangerous to go sending innocents within. If the children are meant to come back, they will return. In the meantime, keep your children close. Never leave them unattended. Wandering after dark will be punishable in adolescents. Anyone under the age of 18 must be cautious at all times. Haunt is dangerous. Stay at home if you need not be outside. Parents keep a close eye on your young ones. If not, be prepared to lose them."
The crowd was silent as they dispersed, children pulled close to their parents. Vera stayed put. His family traveled back home, not worrying about the rambunctious teenager and worrying more about their daughters.
This had never happened before. Children had never been in this much danger. He had never been in this much danger.
And he had never been more intrigued.