Monday, July 11, 2005

City Beneath The Earth

~
I awaken and find myself in a dim earthen passageway, disappearing into the darkness in both directions. Where am I? What is this place? Where on earth can I be? At first it is quiet, but suddenly it is not! For, from behind me, a rank of people are marching, not in double file, but smartly in fours. They parade on relentlessly past me, bound to a destination, I know not where. They are past me now, vanishing into the darkness of the passageway ahead of me. I follow, I know not why, perhaps to settle my curiosity as to where I might be.
....For what seems a near eternity, I hear them ahead of me, marching in rhythm. But now there is silence. Have they halted their parade for some unknown reason? Do they sense I am following them? Nonetheless, I continue in their direction. My steps come to an end, for now I am standing atop a steep cliff. Where did they go? Surely they didn't go this way, only to plummet to a certain death!
....I now study the environment around my perch, looking below my feet, I stare in awe. My eyes rest upon a massive underground city, completed encased in an earthen dome, perforated with cave-like openings, much like the one where I stood. Some of the openings are near the dome's floor, while others tower even above me.

....Suddenly, my observations are interrupted movement from behind me. I turn and find myself face to face with one of the city's inhabitants, and a fierce looking one at that! Without a word of warning, he is upon me, attacking me with powerful arms and body. My only reaction is to defend myself, even though outclassed as I might be. I suffer a tremendous blow to my head as his arm swung viciously. Almost unconscious, I grasp him and fall onto my back, pulling up and over me. I hear his muffled cry as his body hurtles past the Cliff edge before falling below. I chose not to look down at his broken body, but to move elsewhere away from there.
....My plight brings me to yet another passageway which I find slopes increasingly downward, probably to the city's floor far below. A short while later I find that I was right. Now I am standing at the mouth of the entrance, at the very base of the dome. Before me there is a city with a maze-work of streets, heavily traveled by the busy dome dwellers. My curiosity has the better of me -- so I proceed. I walk along the streets cautiously eyeing the people as they stroll about nonchalantly.
....I came to a huge square, and it appears that half the population is there. I couldn't imagine why. Mingling in the crowd, I feel that my presence is alarming to a few individuals. As if in reply to my thoughts, several of them are approaching me, eyeing me with uncertainty. Without undue hesitation, a pair of powerful arms lock around me, as still another pair pins my arms behind me. Guiding me across a plaza, abruptly I am released. Perhaps satisfied I mean them no harm, I appear to be accepted into their ranks.
....Everyone's attention seems to be centered on a lone figure standing at dais. With waving arms and a bellowing voice, he seems to be a leader. For he has everyone mesmerized. It appeared that no is looking around, keeping their gazes fixed on him. Suddenly, from somewhere in the city, there are screams! Then are more! In the distance, pillaging through the street, is a crimson blob nearing the center of the city. Around me the people are moving into a formation of some kind, perhaps as defensive measures.
....Wisely, I step aside and work my way clear of the city square. I know now what is in store for these hapless residents. What was a blob moving this way can now be seen for what it is. The crimson blob is a red-clad army attacking the domed city. I swallow hard as I see blood-spilt bodies fall. This is war! This is not a place for me. Not now. I must flee! Even as these thoughts enter my mind, I am seized from behind. I must act fast. My elbow finds a place in the mid-section of my aggressor, and his grip upon me loosens.
....Again I attempt to flee and make good my escape from this underground city. But how? I glance upward eyeing the top-most point of the dome, which has an opening at it's center. That must be the way out! Through the opening I can see the blue of the sky. My jogging pace now has me well away from the city's center. I am nearly to the passageway from which I originally emerged. Now I am sprinting up the inclining route. Now well above the city, I stop at one of the passageway openings and gaze upon he city far below. The battle is still raging. The carnage is sickening.
....I am about to continue my escape, when I realize I am not alone. Two of the city dwellers are advancing to me. My path by them is blocked. I use the element of surprise, it is I who makes the first move. When the first of my would-be assailants falls to a blow from my fist to his temple, the odds are even. Not so from the point of view of the other. He turns and flees.
....Suddenly, the very earth itself seems to heave beneath me. Earthquake! The walls of the passageway tremble and start to collapse. My escape is now more dire than before. This place is doomed. My pace is quickened all the more. The walls and ceiling crumble about me. Even the passageway floors start to crack from vibrations from within the earth.
....At long last, the dome's opening is within my reach. As my hands grasp the lip of the opening, the tremors increase. I chance one last glimpse of the city below. It is dead. The city's structures are falling, victims of the very earth from which they were constructed. My assured escape is cut short as a large stone smashes against my head. Dazed, I somehow manage to crawl through the opening even as the tremors continue.
....Consciousness escapes me as I tumble down a steep incline away from the domes entrance. I am tumbling down the outside of the dome. I awaken, out for only seconds, to the trembling earth and see that it was no earthquake dooming the underground city. It's unbelievable! For there a few hundred yards from is a boy. With mischief in his eyes, he is kicking and stomping at the collapsed remains of the dome -- the remnants of an ant hill!
....Dazed, my eyes are blurred. What a crazy dream! I look down at the flattened ant hill and I give it one last kick with my shoe!

-- June 21, 1969 aboard U.S.S. Warrington (DD-843) - at sea off Montego Bay

No.235

2 comments:

schnoodlepooh said...

Interesting story. I'm pulling from my archives also.

blue said...

nice work on those poems, point, ...also, nice work in holding on to them for so long!
discharged in dec. 1971, eh? interesting, i was discharged on nov.3, 1971, but in an entirely different way. lol, hard to believe a friend of mine was well into his adventure while mine had barely advanced past its opening sentence!