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'Shh, listen! Do you hear it?'
Silence falls upon the girls for the first time that whole night, each craning to hear what they could not.
'Some say that on quiet nights, you can hear the sewage monster, calling little children to his lair.' I whisper fervently.
Some of the girls gasp.
'Shh! Listen! Did you hear that?' I said in mock fright.
The girls remain silent; they seem to be holding their breaths.
'There is an old story that says there is a monster that lives in the sewer- but nobody knows for sure because anyone who's gone to investigate hasn't returned. Now I've only heard bits of stories, but from what I've heard, he only calls out to little girls who don't go to sleep when they're told to do so.'
A little girl looks up at me with a smirk on her face, 'Oh I see, you're trying to get us to go to sleep.'
I get a fearful look in my eyes, 'SHH!' I look around; 'Do you hear that?'
The girls are all wide eyed and start to look around as well; even the doubtful one is.
'Listen,' I whisper.
'I hear it!' cried out one.
Soon they were all convinced they'd heard the monster and they crawled into their sleeping bags and fell to sleep.
I see my little sister crawl towards me before she falls asleep like the others, 'Sissy? That was just a pretend story right?'
I smile, 'Of course it was Elsie.'
She smiles back and curls into a ball to sleep.
'Are they really all asleep?' I hear mom whisper.
'I think so.' I smile at her. 'How long?'
Mom showed me the stopwatch. 'Five hours since Elsie's birthday party started. That's a record!'
'Awesome!' I yawned. 'Well good night mom.'
When I wake up, the girls are gone; their mothers had picked them up around 10ish. I grab some cold leftover pancakes and sit on the couch next to Elsie- who's watching cartoons.
'Hey Elsie? Wanna go to the park or something?' I am so bored; it's all I can think to do.
Elsie turns slowly away from the TV. 'Not today.'
'I want to finish watching this show, okay?'
'What is it?'
'I don't know' I like it though.'
I smile and leave.
The park isn't too far away; you can either walk around the long way or the short way. I prefer to take the scenic route so Elsie's more tuckered out when we get to the park. The long scenic route goes past three ponds, a middle school, two bridges, and lots of trees.
I am just getting around the third pond when I hear a noise coming from behind us. I spin around; no one is there.
I am really confused now, 'Okay' I could have sworn I heard something''
A loud yell assures me that I'm not hearing things. I whirl around and find no one there. I walk around and see that there is a sewer grate nearby.
A shout comes from within it.
Intrigued, I sit next to the sewer grate. 'Hello? Anyone down there?' I call out.
I hear splashing and a faint outline of a body appears 'Hello I'm stuck down here!' It sounds like a boy, and he sounds normal enough.'
I laugh, I can't help it, 'How'd you get stuck in a sewer?'
'It's a long story, I saw this cave-like entrance and jumped in' I'd wanted to do it for a while though.'
He sighed, 'I lost the entrance though and can't find my way out.
'A cave? Where about is it?'
'Well it's not really a cave but just looks like one.'
'Alright then where is it?'
'By a pond.'
'I'll be right back. Stay where you are.'
As if he could be any more vague! By 'a pond'- there are a dozen ponds in this area! So I decided to check out the three ponds nearest me.
The first pond was relatively small. I looked around and didn't see anything remotely cave-like. I saw a little pipe, though I doubt a human could crawl through it.
The second pond was very large and had a fountain. I walked around the water's edge and found not even a little pipe.
The third pond had a dock and lots of fishers, it didn't have a pipe or cave-like opening.
I went back to where I heard the boy, and bent over my the grate, 'I can't find the entrance, but I can bring food to you if you want.'
'That would be great! I've been down here most of today' I'm so hungry!'
'Don't you think that your parents are worried?'
'They must be by now' Hey when you go to get me food do you mind calling them and telling them I'm staying at your house for a bit?'
'Uh' I think that they may have some issues being since I'm a girl.'
'Oh! You are? I couldn't tell since all the sound is really distorted down here. That could be a problem''
'I could ask my neighbor' What's your name?'
'I'm Fred, and yourself?'
'I'm Krysten, though my friends call me Krys' My sister calls me Sissy''
'I'll call you Krys then.'
'What's your number?'
He gave me the number, which I put into my cell phone.
'I'll be back.'
I rushed around the corner to the shortcut home, the not so scenic way home. All I had to do was go through a tunnel then cross the street.
I grab a sandwich, which I wrapped in a baggie, chips, which I wrapped in a baggie, and a bottle of water.
'Sissy? Where are you going?'
'Back to the park-ish.'
'Yeah, I'm helping the sewer monster Fred escape. Wanna help?'
'I thought you said the sewer monster was pretend''
'He is' It's just a friend of mine is somehow stuck in the sewer.'
'First let's get Rob to make a phone call though.'
Rob is my super nerdy self concerned next-door neighbor. He owes me a favor since I got his scooter out of the Tree of Lost Souls- the giant pine tree in the back that things somehow get stuck in.
'Hey Rob! I need you to make a phone call''
'N-O.' He tries to close the door.
'Aw' Why not?' I put my hand on the door to keep it open.
'Because I'm very busy at this moment and have no time for your stupid games.'
'It's not a game! Sissy's friend is in trouble!'
Rob sneers back at her, 'Right, what kind of trouble?'
'He's in the sewers.'
Rob throws back his head laughing, 'Sure, I'll make the call- but only because you've made such a good joke out of it all.'
I scoff, 'Fine here's the number, tell his mom that Fred is over at your house working on a project.'
He smiles at me and nods, taking my phone and dials the number.
'Yes, hello. Is this Fred's mom? Yeah my name is Rob, Fred's little girlfriend here is at my house and told me to call you to tell you that he's gonna be over here for a while. Uh-huh' Uh-huh' Really now'' He shifts his gaze to me.
I glare full force at him, how dare he make up such lies!
'Oh you want to talk to her?' He looks at me smiling, 'Here Krys.'
The other line has a faint voice, 'Hello, this is Fred's mom. Who is this? Is this some kind of practical joke?'
'Huh? No! Fred told me to call you and let you know that he is going to come over to work on a project. He thought you would freak out if I called so I had my neighbor call.'
'He has a cell phone.' She sounded very irritated.
'Uh-huh' then can I talk to him?'
She doesn't sound convinced, and I can't convince her when I can't hand him my phone' so instead I say the most generic excuse, 'Oh' he just went into the bathroom. Well I better get working on that project! Bye.'
Right before I hang up, I could have sworn I heard her say, 'What class is it for?' But I hung up anyway.
'So I guess now I'm intrigued. I'm tagging along as well.' Rob announces.
'Fine, let's go then.'
Along with my small group, I make my way back to the sewer grate.
'So you're saying he went into a cave-like thing that led to the sewers right?' Rob asks finally, 'I think I may know where that is''
'Wow really? Where?' I ask getting all excited.
'Right there.' Rob points to my right.
I turn and see a pond completely hidden by trees that has a little cement opening that leads in like a cave.
'Let's go in!'
'Whoa' How about I take the food to the guy, let him know that we're going in, and meanwhile YOU go in.' Rob laughs.
'Fine! I will you big chicken!'
Rob stares back obviously offended, 'Oh no you don't I'm NOT getting pulled into this like that.'
'Alright, then you go over with Elsie and talk it up with Fred whilst I be the brave one and venture in.'
'Fine, I'll go in.' Rob tuns to Elsie, 'You go to the sewer grate and talk to Fred okay?'
Elsie nods and runs off.
I look into the dark sewer hole, 'Good thing I brought a flashlight.'
Rob looks in, 'Good thing I brought a lot of string.'
'Yeah, Hanzel and Gretel had bread crumbs, but what do we have? Nada. Therefore I brought string, like Theseus and the Labyrinth.'
'The whosy and the whatsit?'
'It's a popular Greek myth where this guy''
I get my history face on and stare blankly back at Rob.
He must've caught on because when he opens his mouth I hear him say, 'You know forget it. Let's just go in.'
We cautiously walk in.
The first thing I see when I turn on the flashlight is a giant rat, instinctively I scream and drop the flashlight. I didn't expect to see it is all, I'm not afraid of that kind of stuff.
Rob must've heard me yell because I, out of the corner of my eye, see him turn. Then I hear him scream like the little girl he really is.
'Come on, it's just a rat'' I laugh.
'Hey, you yelled too!'
'Because I saw it when I turned it on and wasn't expecting it!'
I scoff and roll my eyes, 'Whatever!'
After the rat, the trip through the dark sewer was uneventful. We had to stoop over to walk around and the ground was wet. The air smelled foul, and oddly reminiscent of a bathroom.
'Hey, you know what I just thought of Krys?'
'What is it that you thought of now, that is just SO interesting that you felt the need to share it with me?'
'What if there really is no guy in here? You know, maybe he found his way out, or there never was one to begin with?'
I stop, why hadn't I thought of that? What if this is all an elaborate plot set out by some deranged little kid?
I shake off the doubtful thoughts, 'No, we'll opt to believe before we doubt.'
'Wait, there is light right there!'
I look forward and sure enough, there is light. I run fast to it.
'Elise? Elsie!' I shout up.
'Sissy? I hear you! That Fred guy said he'd be right back' He said something like taking a leak or something' What's that mean Sissy?'
My eyes widened. I spread my legs out so they didn't touch the water. Gross!
'Hey Fred! We're here! Let's get out' You know, before your mom figures out how to track my phone number.'
'Why would she do that?' a voice rang from behind me, 'What did you tell her?'
'It wasn't ME! My neighbor thought it would be funny to make your mom misinterpret the situation.'
'He told her I'm in the sewer?!'
'No' But he said some other stuff'' I turned and saw Rob just getting to us.
'Let's go!' Rob called to me, 'Obviously there's no kid here!'
'Dude! Do you not see Fred's right here?' I called back to him. Then I looked up and shouted, 'Elsie, go back to the opening and wait for us alright?'
'Well then, what do you know? There really was a kid in the sewer!'
We followed the string back out and went our separate ways.
You know the thing that bugs me most about the whole thing? That Fred kid never said thank you for anything we'd done!