Into the Hole

Harry, a senior detective, sat in his patrol car, looking at the smoke and flames rise from the subway station entrance. Plans for something like this didn't exist, so he had to formulate them. In sixteen years of service, he'd never seen so many bodies; in fact nobody had been murdered in two years. Now the townsfolk were looking at him for justice, which he would have to provide.

"CS has closed the city, the perp's trapped." interrupted a calm, synthesized voice. Harry had been so wrapped up in grief he'd even forgot that Gwen was in the patrol car with him. He turned to look at her as he spoke, taking in her expression.

She'd been on the force five years, surprising for a woman so young. Childhood accidents had left her with a mostly mechanical neck, throat and eyes, something striking to him even now. It was no surprise that she looked sick and drained. Harry looked back at the cloud, a black dragon emerging from its underground lair.

"We'll wait for a bit, then head up to Central Security to analyze the security footage." He conceded, in a whiskey worn tone. Her steely gaze burrowed into him, expectant of solutions. A brick of sound shattered the silence, a fuzzy block of static and popping.

"Requesting assistance, we're under attack. Some guy has a gun and is trying to leave the city. Repeat - requesting assistance." And so it repeated, the patrol car radio now commanding their attention. They both looked at it, cries of distress emitting. Harry started the car and sped off, in the hopes he could make it in time.

Ann was a strange city; it was completely contained within large concrete barricades. Their purpose hadn't been forgotten; many people still lived in fear of the space plague which had ravaged the world over fifty years ago. The walls however served a new purpose, as there was only one gate in or out and when something happened, Ann was locked down. The killer was trying to break the system, but even if he escaped, he'd still be in the middle of the desert.

"Do you think this is the same guy who lit the fires back in '69?" Questioned Gwen. Ten years made so much difference, and even after five years of serving together, he still found her immature at times.

"I don't know, but if he planned this, we might be able to pin it on him." Harry replied, concentrating more on avoiding other vehicles. He could see the red and blue lights of the siren washing over the walls of the buildings surrounding him. They were so close to the road it seemed he was traveling twice the speed. "We won't know until we catch him." He concluded.

The concrete labyrinth of sky scrapers had become second nature to its citizens. Thin, winding streets were the order of the day, except along the wall, which had been reserved for emergency vehicles. Eventually they caught a glimpse of sand and sky, the gates approaching. Seeing the outside world meant they were too late.

Only one road leads to and from the city, with the nearest outpost being up to two hundred miles away. Harry slowed down as he approached the twisted metal and broken glass; the remains of the toll booths. He felt no need to stop and assist the officers as others would no doubt be there soon enough. Gwen shot him a look of surprise, not foreseeing the hole in Harry's good nature. Her attention turned to the sands as they exited the city.

She'd never realised how cramped the lifestyle of Ann was. Seas of creamy nothingness, extending forever. It was as if the landscape had been chiseled from stone, the way it never changed, just dune after dune of barren wasteland. Gwen couldn't remember ever being outside of the city walls before, she felt almost agoraphobic.

The squinting vision of her driver stayed on the road however; a single, black car chugged along in the right hand lane, out of the city. The highway was raised, a bridge of sorts, slowly angling down onto the sand. Harry pushed the car as hard as it would go, but simply couldn't make ground on the dusty black jet he followed.

Off in the distance, a sight never before witnessed by her, drew Gwen's attention. A pit of sorts, a crater, seemed to grow and suck them in. Could this be the remains of the parasites which had been knocked back all that time ago? She'd only heard of them in history books. 2018 was the year the plague hit. No one knew what to do, so many fled to Ann as the others died. Even such a secluded city was attacked though, in 2020, but the walls protected the people. This hole was all that was left. Rubber on asphalt jolted her out of this recollection, back to the task at hand.

The sooty slate of banged up metal in front of them made for an exit, slowing down only momentarily to avoid collision with an unyielding cement barrier. Harry turned down with it, catching up slightly. The death bound car ahead now had a destination.

The angle of the down ramp made the crater appear as a dark sun, hovering above the road and drawing them in. It might have been a trick of the eyes, but Harry felt he had lost control. The man ahead had not slowed down at all and could easily spin out of control and shoot off into the sand. An easy escape perhaps, a cheaters way out. Harry knew that this man was heading for something, a camp, a way out; maybe it was a trap. All this made him feel trapped, like fish in a net, getting dragged above the water.

The slope evened out and eventually succumbed to the waves of sand. The road had become almost indistinguishable from the massive ripples of dirt which now seemed to press in on them. The car ahead remained static, blending into whatever shadows were cast on the road, before the motorway ended, the car ahead slowing to a stop at the edge of the pit.

Harry realised they weren't close enough when he saw the enormous, dark figure step out and walk to the sandy edge of the hole. Dirt blew around them, but even still he was sure he'd seen the tortured features of this face before. Gwen was ahead of him:

"That's a guy you picked up for vagrancy in '66." Her voice was louder than normal, possibly stirring up memories of past objections. Harry stopped the car beside the mangled remains of the dusty black compact. They both looked up as Harry reached for the radio. But before he could utter even a syllable, the man had disappeared, apparently jumping down into the hole. "This guy's nuts!" he thought he heard Gwen say. He dropped the radio and got out of the car, the wind pushing him around a little.

They walked up to the side of the crater and looked down into its shadowy depths. "Who knows what's down there. I'm gonna radio for backup." Harry thought, unsure if he'd said it out loud or not.

He leaned in, seeing Gwen do the same. His heart stopped as he saw her topple over, falling into the pit. Her blonde hair was the last he saw as she disappeared into the dusty darkness. He wanted to call out, to go in after her, but he knew he had to radio first. Still in shock he turned to face his car, his heart somewhere in his stomach. He wasn't two steps from the edge before the sand beneath him broke away. Large chunks of once solid rock merely crumbled, taking him with it, down into the cold darkness.