Fish: Lost in the Tunnels ~ Year Three: A Death in the Park
Marc had expected
a profound disruption to the community when they discovered the
Dome and opened the tunnels to the mine. He thought in their eagerness
for escape everyone would rush for the precipitous falls and half-light
of the caves until food production was ignored and babies began
to wail in the forgotten Park.
"Oh my god,
Marc," Stephanie said when he told her of his fears. "Are you
totally bananas? You think I'd let go of Malcolm and worrying
about his future to sneak around in an old mine?"
"I know people
are desperate." Marc tried to substantiate his suddenly silly
sounding fears. "I just thought it might have been just as well
if Jared hadn't cracked the wall."
doesn't matter now. Life is back to normal and no one's even paying
attention to the mine."
was right. Gauri had been interested enough to go below with him
and Jared, but she'd made few recommendations about what could
be done in the mine now that their early exploration was drawing
to a close. Karl and Mary, no one was surprised to see, didn't
care what went on outside their own projects, and Jen and Haruki
were busy with their children. Enisa had been all for charging
into the depths to find their way out, but that turned out to
be dinner table talk and she had never pursued the idea beyond
Katie's infrequent statements.
Katie, Marc sighed. Like many who begin a sexual relationship,
he was just starting to think of his connection to Katie in a
more permanent way when she became pregnant. Suddenly she was
friendly, but remote. Stephanie had noticed. She'd kept her glee
to herself, but at least she could set aside the fears she'd begun
to have that Marc was drifting away from her.
should start making some maps of the tunnels," Marc said finally.
ask Natsuki." Stephanie turned to lift Malcolm from the floor
although Malcolm was large enough now that his weight was a burden.
"What do you
mean? What would Natsuki care about that?"
know? I'm surprised. You always keep up on what's going on. Natsuki
has been going into the mine."
claimed she knew little more about it, but Marc slept uneasily.
He couldn't help but feel like he'd missed a vital turn in the
community, that around him something worse than the Donner party,
more glacial in pace than Easter Island, was starting to tighten.
days had passed before Marc had a chance to ask Goro about Natsuki,
but at the question Goro hefted their child, gave Marc a wide-eyed
look, and went to the roller coaster carts that were their train.
weirder than normal, Marc thought.
would have been able to follow up on his misgivings if Melissa's
boy, Ryan, had not become sick.
was a tragedy for the community, but he'd prepared them well by
constant references to his age and the state of his heart. Melissa
had no such warning. She was a more than attentive mother, and
she leapt at every cough, or worse, perceived slight. She took
to telling people that she believed in attachment parenting, but
Marc had heard about that before. Insecure mothers on the surface
had been years building up the myth and although people played
along, everyone knew it had much more to do with the mother's
feelings than those of the child. No one had ever seen Ernst alone
with his child, although he was allowed what Kim smirkingly called
supervised play. Melissa used a sling Gauri had designed in the
early days of Ryan's infancy, and then graduated to a stroller
someone had abandoned in their hurry to leave when the Park's
doors closed. Soon she was walking with the child and holding
his hand, rather unnecessarily, and everyone remembered the public
fight over whether the child should be taught to swim.
"My baby will
not be going into that filthy lake," Melissa had stated at one
of their nightly meals, much to the secret humour of the table.
"What if he drowns?" Ernst had been surprisingly firm in his rebuttals,
but no one was shocked when Melissa's wishes had triumphed.
been over there all day." Ernst was beside himself with worry.
"Can you come by and check on how things are, Marc? She's not
a real doctor anyway."
I, Ernst." Marc pulled on the shoes that Kim had made from the
vinyl she'd taken from the carnival rides. "These are excellent
shoes, by the way. You should get Kim to make you guys a pair."
Too late Marc remembered Kim and Melissa were not on speaking
have to be a doctor to realize that Ryan was not long for the
world. His face was white and his eyelids fluttered while Haruki
gently prodded his ribs. His breathing was fast, like someone
had trapped a bird. Melissa looked on, fear and anger warring
on her face.
"Is he going
to be OK?" Ernst had taken Marc aside to ask but the fraught look
he received in answer was little comfort.
Marc sat on
the porch until Haruki finished her examination and then caught
her as she was leaving. "What do you think?"
is not well." Haruki was abrupt but she possessed a curious notion
beside her as she walked back to her and Jen's house in the museum
hotel, Marc tried again. "How do you think the baby is going to
Haruki turned to him and he saw her tears, did Marc realize why
Haruki was so eager to get back to her own child. "He will die.
Likely before the passing of one week."
delivery of the news notwithstanding, Marc stood in the middle
of the fake town's main street and thought once again about how
they never visited each other in their homes. Mark and Stephanie
lived in the house next to where Norman had lived, Karl and Mary
were down by the lake, and Jared and Kim had moved into a place
they'd built near the edge of the forest.
been in their homes, Marc thought. Am I the only one?
strained looks that Goro gave Marc were dismissed as the entire
community became concerned over Ryan's condition. More worrying
than the child's death, to those who had kids of their own, was
the chance a virus had somehow passed unnoticed amongst them and
was going to jump now that the children were young.
worry, and he believed he shared that with Ernst, had to do with
Melissa's mental state. She'd stopped coming to the nightly dinners
some time before, and if Marc were honest, so had many of them.
Karl and Mary were far enough away that they had an excuse, but
Stephanie had told him that Mary would likely never forgive him
for destroying the bible. Jen and Enisa were regulars, but Katie,
he was disappointed to note, had little to do with the dinners
since her pregnancy had become obvious. Jared was always busy
with projects of his own, but with Gauri if not Kim, he was always
the next night, when Jen and Haruki had already left, and Stephanie
had gone with Malcolm and Gauri to see Melissa, Marc asked Jared
"Do you think
the dinners have served their purpose, Jared?" Marc felt absurd
bringing such a question to Jared, but he hoped an engineer could
see the pivot of a problem invisible to a historian.
"It was Norman,
wasn't it, who first decided we would do them?" At Marc's nod,
Jared continued. "He was thinking it would get us over the hump
of being trapped down here." Jared waved overhead to the cameras
in a now familiar gesture. "I wonder what he would think now."
"What do you
kids now, Marc. Ties to the community and all that."
we have a community down here already?"
nowhere to go, unless we find a way out in the tunnels . . ."
Natsuki and the mine?" It finally occurred to Marc that Jared
would likely know what was happening in what many had come to
consider his tunnels.
in there sometimes." Jared looked towards the lake. The sun, stalled
in its path by early evening, flickered off the water as Karl
and Mary went for their nightly swim.
she looking for?"
any of us used to want. A way out." Jared's eyes were bleak and
Marc asked him no more.
until everyone was on the roller coaster and all six cars were
moving that Marc remembered that the last time they'd gone to
the forest together had been a celebration of Jared's opening
of the tunnels. The bundle in the foremost car, and the rocking
of Melissa's unsteady head, were a brutal reminder that their
latest reason was not nearly so festive.
Ryan had died
less than two days after Haruki made her sombre guess, and with
the rest, Marc feared for Melissa's mental state. Mary had become
a great support, and was even now riding with her while Ernst
looked unhappily on, but Marc knew of no cure for Melissa's sudden
loss. Her crying could be heard at night and it was a testament
to the seriousness of her bereavement that they'd waited four
days before broaching the topic of burial.
to her," Ernst had said, but it was Mary who spent more than an
hour in an argument everyone could hear from outside finally convincing
Melissa that her child needed a Christian burial.
groaned aloud when he heard Mary's demands, but he was as happy
as Ernst to have someone else take on the burden.
have called me," Stephanie had complained when she heard Marc's
concerns, but Marc was worried about the fragile nature of their
own relationship after his "dalliance," as Stephanie insisted
on calling it, with Katie.
it fine," Marc grudgingly admitted, even while he worried there
was more to Mary's support than he could see on the surface.
At the funeral
Marc pulled at the weeds that had sprung up around Norman's grave
and the three blank markers that showed where they'd buried the
skeletons they'd found in the Park. The new grave for Ryan was
tiny, and Marc's hand crept to Malcolm's as Ryan's body, wrapped
in a sheet, was laid in the ground. Melissa was crying in great
heaving sobs and Ernst was awkwardly patting her, looking as though
he wished someone would take over the job for him. Goro was standing
alone with his daughter Asake, Marc suddenly noticed, and looking
around, he realized that Natsuki wasn't present.
pulled out her book, Marc recognized the binding as Stephanie's
work from the museum. He glanced at Stephanie who grimaced with
understanding. Mary began to read and Marc recognized traces of
the bible in her words.
I walk in the secret passages underground I shall fear no evil,"
Mary began while Marc's memory strove to find the words he'd been
taught amongst the revision of Mary's no doubt faulty memory.
she was going to write the bible again. I stand corrected. Religion
is a lot harder to kill than I thought. Marc turned his mind
back to Mary's sermon.
hours of the machine day sun shall preside over the people, and
with the shadow of the night comes darkness, and it is the darkness
of the cave, but all is light before god."
until he was home with Stephanie and Malcolm and they had bid
farewell to their old friends and hugged Melissa before he asked
Stephanie the question that had been burning in his mind. "She
actually did it? She actually wrote the bible? Or a bible?"
her best. Call it a work in progress." Stephanie grinned at his
concern and Marc tried to control his curiosity.
"OK. At first
she said she was going to hypnotize people and get them to tell
their bible experiences or whatever. Did she do that?"
You were likely busy with something"-for some reason Katie's smooth
limbs came into Marc's mind-"but Mary has been interviewing as
she calls it. She went to everyone."
Surely not you?"
so surprised. I dated that religious guy and went to church as
a kid. Also," Stephanie spoke quickly to forestall Marc's expected
words, "did I really have a choice? When the man I love composted
her bible, the least I could do is help her with another one."
Stephanie the point. "But that isn't the bible. What she read
today. Where did that come from?"
"I don't know,"
Stephanie mused as she went upstairs to obey Malcolm's imperious
to Gauri the next day to ask if Mary had interviewed her and found,
to his consternation, that she had.
a Hindu. What could you possibly know about the bible?"
obtuse, Marc. It doesn't become you. Just because I am Hindu doesn't
mean I know nothing about Christianity."
about that. I just don't understand it."
Gauri was gleeful at the look on Marc's face. "Mary didn't ask
me about the bible. She asked me about the Hindu stories."
Marc. Even about hell."
than ever, Marc went to Jared and Kim and bounced Ferris on his
knee while he received a similar report. "I told her what I remembered,"
Kim said simply, "but Jared just jerked her around."
call it that." Jared grinned from the corner where he was working
on a machine dinosaur he'd built from what looked like soda cans.
"I told her things I thought should be in the bible. I never read
it anyway, but I told her some stuff, you bet."
was turned towards his work, but Marc could guess the look that
was on it.
went to Mary. "I heard you were coming." Mary spoke flatly, and
for the first time Marc saw how beautiful a spot her and Karl
had made from their lakeside cottage. Maybe Stephanie and I
should move away from the town too. "How could you hear that?
I just made up my mind." Marc hated the combative nature of his
and Mary's conversations.
talking to everyone about my bible ever since the funeral. I guessed
you'd be here sooner or later."
in the background, Marc noticed, for when he came up from the
lake he immediately busied himself in the garden.
what you're doing, Mary. It really is."
reluctantly admitted she was right, he still had misgivings. "How
do you even know you have it right?" Marc tried to tack, knowing
a firm hand on the tiller can tip a boat that's unprepared for
a full gale.
no right." Mary thrust her shovel into the ground with her statement
and Marc felt rather than heard it sever a root. "The bible is
the word of god. Given to people-"
man. Isn't that the quote?"
men, or else they would have said given to people." Mary tilted
the shovel and Marc watched with her as a squirming mass of roots
and soft earth spilled from the hole. "Given to us to make our
lives better. To teach us how to live and care for one another.
That is the message of Jesus."
that old testament stuff about killing your children and having
slaves?" The question was irresistible now that Marc had a sense
of what Mary had done.
Mary gestured with the shovel to the garden chairs that Karl had
made from twisted branches and some dirt flew onto Marc's shoe.
"I'll tell you what I plan, although you have no right to it.
I'll tell you that too."
his lack of fit with a nod.
"As you know,
the bible was put together a long time ago and is filled with
inconsistencies and downright corruptions. It is the word of god,
but being a part of the earth, and contaminated by people, or
in this case we can say men, it's been changed. God wrote the
first bible, or rather guided the hands that wrote it, although
I wish he'd paid more attention to who compiled the various parts.
He can guide my hand just as well. God knows we're in the Park.
He knows you destroyed his holy word, and you'll be lucky if you
don't burn for that, and he's aware we need another. I'm writing
another, one hopefully inspired by god."
"So why would
you need to interview everyone then? Shouldn't you just write
writers talked to the people around them. They had to in order
to get that much of the culture of the time into the book. I'm
doing the same."
Mary. I wish I'd trusted you from the beginning."
"You saw an
old woman on her knees and your mind stopped working. I think
it's better this way."
Karl sat heavily
on the chair next to Mary. "Hot day," he exclaimed, and Marc and
Mary acknowledged the joke.
thing, Marc." Marc had been about to leave but he leaned back
again. "I'd like to interview you."
for Marc's confusion to crest and then recede before she added,
"I want to know about the Donner party and the South American
Rugby players. I want you to tell me about Easter Island."
finally. "I'll do it, Mary. Anytime." Turning back to his garden,
Karl smiled that the earth between them had been smoothed over
and patted down.
Mary and Marc
watched him dig and once again Marc felt the urge to ask them
about their relationship. Wasn't that living in sin?
"He's a good
man." Mary seemed to read his mind. "I'm lucky to have him."
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