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"At least there are no rats." Neddy whispered. 

"It's a manhole."


"The water is going down a manhole. I can feel it with my feet. It's practically covered so there isn't much suction." 
"Now what?"

"Shut up, I'm thinking!" The torch wasn't going to last much longer. Neddy looked away from it, trying to keep his night vision.

"What's that?"

"Hmmm?" She turned, facing the same direction he was. "I do believe that's a boat!"

"Yeah... you coming?" 

She shrugged her shoulders and followed him, not knowing what he had in mind. It was a small skiff, someone had stored on a trailer. The machete made short work of the bindings and they tugged it down into the murky water. Lani rolled into the bottom and moved as Neddy struggled in with her.

"Where we going, Captain?"

He pointed towards the ruptured pipes spilling water into the basement.

"Let's turn up the volume."

They used the paddles strapped inside the small craft to move them towards the large iron wheels that seemed to be the master valves for water in the building. 

"They're chained shut!" Lani cried.

"Move out of the way." Neddy was wielding an axe he'd pulled loose from above their heads that had been stuck next to a fire extinguisher. He groaned as his torn and bleeding muscles in his right arm began twitching with his repeated attacks on the chain.

"You're crazy!" Lani yelled, taking the axe from him as he fell to his knees in the rocking boat. The beating he had given the chain and pipe gave in and water burst out almost knocking her over. The impetus of the freed water wrenched the pipes loose from the wall showering the whole area. Neddy lost a paddle and then almost fell overboard regaining it. 

The water was pushing them away. Lani gulped in huge lung fulls of air as they moved up and bumped against the locked underground doors. The air was filled with groaning, tearing roars as the water surged and pushed against the frames of the double layered, insulated garage doors. Neddy held his breath, praying his crazy idea would work.
With a shudder the frame bulged and sagged. Water caught at the edges and fought the mighty frame back and forth like wiggling fingertips. Then they were out, riding the giant wave up into the street, with the tiny boat grating against the ground and bumping quickly forward as the dammed up water cascaded by.

Surprised yells caught at their ears as they were half floated half dragged past the end of the street. The craft shivered to a stop and then Lani pulled Neddy loose, leaving their supplies behind.
"Bet they're mad." 

Neddy was enjoying the sun. It had been two weeks and the fever from the rat bite had finally gone away. Lani offered him some more charred grubs and watery stew. There were plenty of grasshoppers on the edge of the plain and water seemed palatable if you cooked it long enough. 

Neddy had thought he was still having the fever when he saw the wild buffalo out on the vacant prairie, not many, but enough. Somewhere the world was coming back. There'd be wild horses, too, he imagined. Be like living in the old west again, except maybe this time, they'd make it work. 

"You are coming with me, aren't you?" Lani was at him again. Once they'd broken free of the mob and she'd gotten used to the wilds, she'd been on him. "Let them fight over the inner city. There's nothing there anymore. Out here, we have a chance."

"We going to raise some buffalo?" He smiled indulgently as he spit out the head of a grasshopper. Lani slung her cross bow over her back and patted Neddy's almost healed shoulder. "Unless you want to raise a little Cain instead?" 

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Shades of Fantasy
Revised: March 6, 1999
Copyright ©1999. All rights reserved