The Greatest Reward

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Drip, drip.
Drip, drip.

The man underground did not think much of the drips as he took large steps through the shallow water. A woman had told him earlier that if he brought back a certain item from under the city, he would be rewarded greatly.
Drip, drip.
Drip, drip.

Deeper and deeper underground he went. An occasional old lightbulb in the ceiling would illuminate just enough for the man to see where he was heading.
He continued on.
He knew that each step through the shallow water meant one step closer to his reward. The woman had only described what the item looked like and generally where to find it.
Drip, drip.
Drip, drip.
“The item I am looking for is small, about the size of your finger. It is a glass tube with a cork on top. It has something in it. Do not open it. But if you bring it back to me, I shall reward you greatly. If you fail you shall never see the light of day again.”

The end of the woman’s ominous message replayed in the man’s head. He did not know what the woman meant by it, but he was so blinded by his greed that without hesitation, he asked where to begin his search. It began in the underground part of the city.
Drip, drip.
Drip, drip.

He had been traveling through the shallow water for minutes now. The lightbulbs in the ceiling became darker and less frequent. The man did not know how long he would have to travel, but he would do anything for it.
Drip, drip.
Drip. Drop.

The man tripped on something under the water. He thought nothing of it and kept on walking, determined to reach his goal. He knew that the money he would accumulate would be enough to pay off his debt.
Drip. Drop.
Drip, drip.
Drop.

The man tripped again, this time falling to his knees. As he hit the ground, his hands brushed against something hard. He grasped the item in his hand and brought it closer to see it but it was too dark. He could see a light up ahead. He tried running toward it, but tripped on something again. As he tripped, he quickly righted himself. The man continued walking quickly to the light. As he got closer, he began to make out the color and shape of the object. It used to be white but was now yellowing with age. It was long with large bumps sticking out at either end. The man knew immediately what it was and threw the object into the water. It was a bone, a human bone.
Drop, drop
Drip, drop.

The man did not know why, or even how, a human bone had ended up underground in a waterway. Something crossed his mind that his safety was in danger. He turned around but was met with complete darkness in the distance. He turned back and suddenly the light flickered, then turned off. Everything around him was dark. The man became completely afraid.
Drop, drop.
Something in the back of his head told him that he would not make it. He tried to run back, but his feet would not move. He was literally scared stiff.
Drop, drop.
Each drop of the water started to sound eerily like footsteps. He had not passed another entrance or exit on his entire walk. That meant that someone had followed him all the way down here; someone had been walking with him this entire time.
Drop, drop.
Drop.

It kept on getting louder, closer. The man still could not move. He did not know what to do. Is this what the woman meant by never being able to see the light of day again?
“It seems you have failed.”
The man looked around. The voice seemed to come from where he had just walked.
“You shall never… see the light of day ever again.” It sounded like a woman’s voice.
The man’s legs gave way and he fell into the water. As he lay there, he felt even more objects. More bones, the man thought as he tried to stand but could still not rise. As he lay there, a hand rested on top of his head. The hand turned the man’s head so that his nose and mouth were under the few inches of water surrounding him. The man fought against the panic rising in his chest.
Drip, drop.
The hand put more pressure on the man’s head. “Never again,” the raspy voice said, this time right next to his ear. The man struggled to breathe. Water had entered his lungs as he tried to take in air that was a mere few inches away.
Drip.
The man’s skin began to turn blue; he could not hold his breath any longer. He tried to fight against the hand keeping his nose and mouth underwater. His body began to thrash about, splashing water in all directions.
Silence.
The light flashed back to life. The body of a man lay in a few inches of water, dead. A shadow of a woman stood over him. In her hand was a small clear glass bottle with a cork top. She walked over to the man’s dead body.
Drop. Drop.
The woman placed the bottle next to the body, smiled and said, “No one yet has gotten the greatest reward. I wonder why that is.” Then she walked away.
The lights flickered off once more.
Drip, drop.
Drip, drop.






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