TUBE, DRAFT 1, CHAPTER 33 (EXCERPT)
Mitya reached for the handle. The flashlight tilted in his hand. A circle of light splashed on the gap where the jamb met the bottom of the door. From it squirted dark viscid liquid. It wasn’t black, rather ruddy, and it came at regular intervals, as if something was pumping it out, something with a steady beat. With it came a faint tang of iron. It rose into Olesya’s nostrils. She felt a wave of nausea, her vision swimming. “Mitya...” she croaked. “Mitya!”
He didn’t hear her. He pushed down on the handle and pulled the door open, stepping in without looking at the floor.
A deafening noise of the pistons banging in the cylinders, the crankshafts churning, the connecting chains rattling blasted their faces like a physical slap. It shook Olesya’s teeth and sent ripples up her skin. A grimy bulb housed in mesh illuminated a narrow pathway between the wall on the left and the engine works on the right, a series of interconnected twisted pipes and rods plugged into a row of cambers that sat on top of a long circular cistern cinched with steel bands, nuts and bolts poking it like crooked fingers.
Olesya’s eyes followed the circle of the flashlight streaking along its shiny surfaces, steel painted surfaces that leaked condensation. Only instead of water it was—
“Blood,” Olesya snatched Mitya’s arm, jerking it back. “Mitya, it’s blood!”
“What?” He screamed over his shoulder, dragging her inside.
She stumbled over the jamb, splashing in.
With a whoosh the door behind her banged shut. She was terrified to look down, to see what she started soaking through her winter boots, warm and deliberate.
“This must be the engine!” Shouted Mitya, pointing to the right. His arm froze mid-arc. His mouth opened and he stared. “What is...that?” He touched the surface and his fingers came away stained. He sniffed it, looking at Olesya.
“Blood, Mitya. It’s his blood! I think we’re...” she squinted at the mass of tubes and pipes, the grooves between them, the bulging tumefied appearance of its bulk, gorged up, pulsing, and it connected in her head with an image of a delicate intelligence housed in a hard shell. “It’s his brain, Mitya. I think we’re...” she tore her eyes away from the engine, “...inside his head.”
(Photo by District Noir.)