FANFIC: Zaun Sewer Story part 1

Surface tension breaks and a heavy drop of water tumbles onto Twitch's fur from the darkness abover. Repelled by layers of oil it simply rolls and tumbles down the creature, absorbing noxious compounds as it goes. As it somersaults away off his tail, the sewer cobbles smoke for minutes where it lands.
The Plague Rat himself, better things on his mind, scampers over under vaulted, crumbling archways, up corroding pipes and ancient, forgotten scaffolding. Zaun's vast and ancient labyrinth sewers speed past him and he runs, searching, sensing, scenting the air and snarling. Intruder! Intruder! In his realm! With his subjects! Oh but surface thieves and surface burglars, surface metal faces, oh how he will claw and tear.
Then, stopping on a dime, he stares into the dark. Sniffs the air, listens, feels soft currents of stale fog on his whiskers. Snarl and scamper forgotten he begins to creep, silent, deathly silent, clinging to the shadows he slides liquid like into a vast pipe, and through it, up and round and by, his rat's senses honed on a single, sensible trail. Out into a passage softly lit by luminescent mushrooms, vaulted in fine marble worn smooth by centuries of dripping water. A great canal flows placidly through, carrying the waste of the world above, this place is almost new. He's climbed high up, Twitch knows, and the surface isn't far. Surfacers come here, sometimes, to cross things off lists and kill whatever lives here. His jaw clenches, and, noiseless as a shadow, he dives into the filthy water, following the trail onward. Diving under a rusted grate he surfaces, and comes face to face with a great, bronzed door. Smooth like glass and utterly featureless, it's molded to the wall like it was cast there. No handle, no lock, no knocker. But the trail goes through it.
"Nnno no no NO NO!" he squeals, scratching his feet on the floor and stamping. Growling he throws his head around, whiskers probing the air and his nose huffing. Still wailing, he turns around and dives back in the water, under the grate and up again. Scampering out of the water again, he darts through the nearest sizeable copper pipe and begins the hunt anew.
Slowly, over hours, cursing, squeaking and scraping, he circles his prey. Through every pipe and crevice, around and around, he closes on the boundaries of his prey's nest, drawing a map with his senses. By process of elimination, the contours of the bronze door room emerge. It's sealed on every side, hidden behind thick rock and that damnable door. No holes, no cracks, no entry, until... finally! Through a narrow pipe and over some rubble, at the very back of the room, a single underwater canal sealed by a great bronzed grate. He tears and pushes at it, and it does not budge. He surfaces again, out of air, and screams curses at the dark. He floats there for a moment, rodent mind darting this way and that. Underwater, struggling with the grate, he had heard them screaming. He needs help.


"S'what'd YOU do? I mean, y'know, if y'had wishes, li—like y'know... if you, if you could wish. Just... wish for—"
Jim burped.
"—j's wish for ANYthing—" hiccup, pause for breath "—nnanything 'tall."
Faiz Al-Ghalib stared blankly at the ceiling, thinking. He rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath, and said: 
Jim gestured with the neck of his beer. "N'yknow, you, if you, I mean if you— if y— if you, if YOU had the three wishes and there was—"
"What, from a genie?"
"No, 'mean if—"
"Don't wanna ask a genie."
"No look there's no genie, s'just, s'just you have the wishes."
"From where?"
"Dud'n matter, from a, from, from a wishing well, but—"
"Wishing wells is one wish."
"Look you JUST GOT SOME WISHES okay and you gotta— you gotta wish, uh, you gotta wish a thing. Things. 3 things."
"3 things?"
Jim took another swig. "3 things."
Faiz stared at the ceiling again. Jim drained the last of his bottle and sunk a little lower into the sofa, and let the bottle fall on the floor with the others. Alcohol made the place bearable, but it took a lot of alcohol.
"I'd wish for..." Faiz began, "I'd wish for gardens."
"Gardens," Faiz went on, "just... gardens. Plants and grass and just... you can see the sky and it's not endless there's, there's trees and you can't see the horizon anymore. And there's no more horizons, and you can—"
"So you wish for... thr—*burp*—three gardens?" Jim grabbed another beer.
"Endless gardens. With a fountain—"
"Jus' one?"
"—ENDLESS fountains. And there's a library, and the wind's nice. It plays on the leaves and... and there's no-one there."
"B'what about girls tho?"
"No girls!" said Faiz firmly.
"'kay I mean whatever I guess but I don't see why not have some guh— have some girls, all with nice tits and y'know and... stuff..."
Jim's mumbling petered out, distracted at the thought of tits and stuff.
"There will be gentle boys," muttered Faiz to himself, "carrying water, and sweet dates and sweet smiles. And under the moon we dance and we recite our poems to the stars and no-one asks for anything. Gentle boys in water skins and no horizons, like they promised me."
"Gardens is only one weh—wish."
"Oh. Oh I think my second wish is a car," said Faiz, and uncurled his white-knuckled hands, "a really nice one."
"Yeh," said Jim, "t'pick up girls."

Long ago, Jim had had three wishes. He spent the first on money, and the second on revenge. And when the money ran out and revenge came back to bite him, he'd wished for sanctuary.

Later that evening, in a dark New York back-alley, a hobo rubbed his finger across a tarnished old lamp, and became a billionaire. He died three weeks later, face-down in a prostitute's breasts, his heart fighting a losing battle with cocaine and viagra. His last, delirious thought had been how the stories never said anything about lamps with two genies.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. It is also wrong. Most nights what they want is a few drinks and a pretty face that doesn't say "no."

Allure is a high-class place*, and within walking distance of the financial district, so business is good. Twentysomethings with fat wallets and flecks of white around their noses come through all night, and into the backrooms for private dances and strictly over-the-clothes action. D-dawg (real name Dennis Johnson), has invested about four hundred dollars in overpriced liquor, but is still too proud to pay for a lapdance. His friends have filtered out for the night, looking for callgirls and excuses for their wives, but D-dawg talked a big game about landing a dancer and stuck around. His eyes dart twitchily from the dancer (Constance Crash, who keeps her smile on even when no-one's watching) to the bouncer (Big Tyrone, whose real name is David) to the private rooms, to his half-empty beer and back again. The cocaine is wearing off, and the pounding bass has sync'ed with the pounding in his temples, and something's gotta give. He holds up dollar bills and Constance, gleaming teeth and exhausted eyes, slides across the floor to grab them in her teeth.
*(which is to say the floors are clean, the booze has foreign names and the girls get a fair commission)

"Hey babe, wanna ride me home when you're done?" he slurs. She slides the dollar bills coquettishly into her g-string, "sorry babe, I'm just for dancin' tonight," and she arches her back while she crawls back to the pole for another spin.
"Cunt" mumbles D-dawg, sinking back in his seat and burning the last of his cash on a bottle of what he thinks is quality whiskey. The last dance fades as Constance walks off stage. Out of habit she gives the room a twirl and a wink as she darts through the curtain, though no-one sees. Big Tyrone starts clearing away the chairs and the girl behind the bar (real name Stephanie, but Tila to the customers) locks up the last of the bottles. 
"Ay yo closing time, man, you gotta go," booms Tyrone, efforlessly sliding a heavy steel table across the floor, a stack of chairs in his other hand.
"Hey fuck YOU dog, I'm dri—hrgh—drinking! I paid for this sh—shit" D-dawg gestures wildly with the bottle neck, hiccoughing "I paid for this fffuckin' whiskey SHIT and your fucking beer and and and fucking and fucking SHIT for fucking..."
D-dawg peters out slightly as he tries to get up and stumbles back on his ass, nearly tipping the chair, prompting a fresh string of expletives as he unsteadily steadies himself. David, silver cross under his shirt, quietly prays for the Lord to see the poor man home, but Tyrone puts down the chairs and takes a few meaningful strides D-dawg's way. It'd usually be enough to get the point across, but D-dawg is too drunk to read subtle social cues. David quietly resigns himself to sweeping up the inevitable mess of spilled drink and broken glass, but before Tyrone can do his job a white hand gently touches his shoulder and he backs off. In fact he hurries off. Tila, who's new, gives him a quizzical look but he shakes his head and beckons her out. He walks her home because he's scared of the dark.

Meanwhile, D-dawg tries to focus on a pale girl with dark eyes and shiny white hair. She sits down across from him and smiles.
"I'm outta cash," he slurs, "I spennit all on this—" he gestures with the bottle, trying to remember what it is, "on this... this THIS, y'know."
The girl just smiles, and blinks her perfect lashes slowly, interest radiating from her face.
"Y'can have some," says D-dawg, with the magnanimousness that comes from libido, proffering the bottle. The girl gently lowers his hand, and leans in towards him, cream-colored lips promising a kiss. She stops short, and whispers... something. Something in his ear. He didn't recognize the words but they tell him to follow. Another little smile, and a flash of dark eyes and she takes him by the hand. He follows, steadier on his feet in her grasp than his blood alcohol percentage should allow, and walking backwards she leads him gently past the satin curtain, past the claustrophobic row of private rooms, down this hallway, past the other. Smiling, eyes on his eyes, and down the stairs and round this corner, another corner and another smile and then there is the door. It is black and heavy looking, but to her touch it swings open like a curtain, and the room beyond is bright - as bright as her - speckled with sunlight, and touched by a gentle breeze through silk curtains. Backwards, stepping like a dancer, she pulls him to a silk bed and stops. D-dawg, sensing something is required of him, draws a breath and barely mumbles, "I din' assh your name... ?"

The girl giggles, and her arms embrace him and her thigh rubs against his hip and gently in his ear she whispers, "it's Huldra." When he touches her back he feels nothing but hollow air, and it's far, far too late.