[Picture: Decorative initial letter ``U'' from 16th Century]

The name on the sign was Undertown. It looked as if it had been painted in rust colored spray paint. He sincerely hoped it was spray paint.

It was a place of ramshackle huts built of scrap metal and wood, held together with rope and bolts, crammed together and often leaning on each other for support. The hovels bordered winding dirt lanes that were never any larger than two particularly broad shouldered men standing side by side. It was a dangerous place, full of starving and desperate people.

Quinn pulled his scarf over his mouth and nose and kept his head down. He wouldn't be the first stranger to wander out of the hills into this town or village or hamlet, whatever it wanted to call itself, but he had been through plenty of places just like it before to know that strangers didn't always come out on the other side of town.

A small child crouched in the doorway of a house made of rags, sheet metal and plywood. Quinn couldn't help but pause; the kids still always got to him even after all this time. The child looked up at him, and grinned, showing crooked, brown teeth, and Quinn realized that the kid wasn't that young. In fact, the person grinning at him and reaching for the knife under a fold of his ragged tunic was well into adolescence, stunted from malnutrition. He hunched his shoulders and hurried away as the sound of laughter rang out behind him. What in the hell was he doing here? He should have steered clear of this place.

The truth was he missed people, even if they were the kind of repellent, mistrustful, thieving, and possibly murderous people who populated Undertown.


  1. You use descriptive words so well. I was seeing that scene perfectly in my mind.


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