As the rain falls, a young girl looks across at the vast city from her bedroom, tying her hair. It’s last time she’ll ever see her room; she closes the door with one final peek at the place she called home. Down the steps from her home, she starts to run, her blue eyes gleam under the street lamps, and her palms sweat with fear, her fists tightening with determination to be gone for good.
She runs past the local pub, wolf whistles taunting her. The wind and rain are pelting down; as she moves further into the complex labyrinth of streets, her legs start to tense. Her feet echo off the cobbles as she travels along Nannie Noggins Lane. She hears a snarl. She draws her knife out of her dark brown hair and quickly turns around. Fearing they’ve already found her, her heart beat quickens. A ginger cat stares up at her. Relieved, she continues. Curling with the rain, her hair flows behind her.
Nannie Noggins Lane stretches for over three miles, the tenements tightly bound, towering over her like giants. The dusty, dirty broken windows and black soot buildings, bound by the twisted tangled thorns, tell her she has entered into the realm of the Sliiverym. Like an underground cave system, you can only go so far before you have to turn back. Special Squads are only ever able to catch the Sliiverym that are near the surface of these caves. Glass is scattered across the pavement and the build-up of cigarette butts scar the street from its many years of abandonment.
All her life she has been waiting to run along Nannie Noggins Lane. As a young child she was told by her parents that she would only ever be truly happy if she discovered what life was like on the other side of the city. She knows happiness is rare but she wants to try and achieve it, even if it means death.
She stops to catch her breath but she becomes lost in her thoughts until, a clatter in the distance reawakens her senses. Panic sets in. As she starts to run once more the wind howls through her bones, and she trips on the glass. Smashing to the ground, the pain roars through her body the stench of whisky flares her nostrils. As she drags herself up, she can feel the blood drying to her skin as it trickles down her face. Soaked in blood, her clothing sticking to her skin, and her sight blurred by the rain, the hope that she could be safe is being slowly sucked out of her. As she begins to run, her eyes dart over her surroundings, to make sure she isn’t being followed. Hands clench tighter to the knife in her hand, turning her knuckles white. Behind her, the sound of heavy footsteps and the odour of a wet dog follow her.
She stops. Her body starts to shiver as the cold air and strong smell of blood from Nannie Noggins Lane’s previous victims take her close to feeling lost forever. A tall dark haired man tries to grab her hand, pulling her with him. He has a slim figure. However, years of living in the city have given him many scars. He shouts back, “Are you nuts?” He is running ahead. There is a moment of confusion before she managed a squeaky little “no”. Grunting, “You sure? The name’s T”. She starts to regain her confidence back so she snapped, “Yeah I’m sure. My name is…..” She had almost forgotten that if a Sliiverym hears your name, it’s you asking for your own death sentence. The smell of rotting fish is drawing closer and screams of too-near-for-comfort torture is sending shivers down her spine. She is closer, but how long is it before it will be her screams?
The Sliiverym control people: not through laws, like governments, but by fear. Nannie Noggins Lane is the only way to reach the other side of the city without being killed. The Lane is the weak place in the Sliiverym defences. It was once a strong hold for love and this prevents the Sliiverym from being strong.
Nobody can leave the city. Everyone knows life is out there, because they receive food on several conveyer belts. On both sides of the city, you can receive food. However, they each offer different forms of services which people desire or need. They control the population by only allowing children to be born on one side of the city. But, you need to be married, and that only happens on the opposite side. If you don’t obey the rules you are sent to the Sliiverym.
“Come on.” T shouts.
Her limbs are becoming weaker with every step. It feels as if the sounds of the Sliiverym slashing of people’s limbs in a nearby tenement are traveling through her. Her eyes and mouth widen when she sees a Sliiverym crossing her path. The stench of blood is overwhelming. The sound of cracking bones and humans being ripped apart makes her stomach turn, with the wash being nearly ready to spill out. T stops.
Dark shapes start to surround them. Heavy breathing crawls up on her as they close in. T asks, “What’s your name?” Maybe he has said this to provide her with a quick death or so he can save himself, but either way she feels no desire to respond. No matter how much you’ve been trained, no one can train you to kill a Sliiverym. T raises his arm to slap her. He is too slow.
She has already pierced his heart.