#24 Trickle Down

by Charles M. Long

“What’s wrong with them?” Cheryl gasped at the shuffling Wall Street crowds.

“They’re like zombies,” Adam said.

“Downward! To the bowels of the city! Set him free!” Adam and Cheryl whirled toward the voice. An ancient man, driving a garbage truck, threw three things at them. Adam caught a flashlight; Cheryl, a bag of food. The third thing fell through a grate into the sewers. The Garbageman vanished.



They shimmied down into the sewers. Beside a stream of polluted water, Adam’s flashlight revealed what the Garbageman had thrown: a subway token. After some food, they followed the flow of sewage for hours—rats, roaches, rubbish, all floating downward. Suddenly, the foul water spilled into blackness.

The thin arc of light illuminated a chamber pierced by innumerable pipes dribbling filth. At bottom, a giant sat blocking the drain. The chamber was slowly filling with sewage.

“All mine!” He bellowed. “All. Trickles. Down!”

“No!” Cheryl said, holding up her food bag. “Mine!”

“Mine!” The giant rumbled, but unwilling to stand, Cheryl was beyond his reach.

Adam shined his flashlight into the giant’s eyes, shouting, “Mine!”

The giant roared, “Mine!” but sitting, he could not reach Adam.

Lifting the subway token, they screamed, “Ours!”

The giant stood. The drain unblocked. Sewage rushed downward. He took one step forward, then was overwhelmed. The flood sucked him down the drain, screaming, “Minnnnneee!”

Silence. Then the Garbageman’s voice resonated through every pipe, “He is free. They are free.”


Sam Knight said...

As confused as I was by just exactly what was going on and what happened at the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and wanted to know much more about the world.

Unknown said...

Dear Sam, I had a vision of an alternate NYC where the people were enslaved. All the resources of the city, of the world, going down the drain to a single being. Nothing recycled. Everything flowed to one creature. Of course, trickle down was borrowed from economics and the story is allegorical. Thanks for reading and commenting. Charles Long.

Anonymous said...

Very strange story...but interesting, too. Reminds me of the alternate world portrayed in the TV show "Beauty and the Beast" some years ago, starring Linda Hamilton...well done, sir!

Flutterby said...

Charles, I enjoyed this!

JRVogt said...

Surreal and a bit confusing, but teases at an interesting alternate world.