There is a large grate in the sidewalk by the corner of my apartment building. I stopped walking over it very early in my time living here because the metal covers are uneven and tripped me a few times.
Not long after I stopped walking over it, I noticed that there’s something that makes unsettling noises down there. Sometimes it sounds like the clearing of a large, long, very phlegm-y throat. Sometimes it’s a deep swallow. Sometimes a gruff grumble.
So yes, obviously, a monster lives down there. I mean, obviously. Some kin to Pennywise. And I was lucky that I only stumbled over the uneven grate because an actual trip and fall would clearly have made me easy prey.
I’ve heard the noises nearly every day of the years I’ve lived here. Until these last couple of months. The grate has been markedly silent.
Did the monster find a better lair? Did someone pour a bus-load of rat poison down there to end the monster’s reign? No clue.
This morning I left for work late. Late enough that a full work crew had not only set up across the full intersection at my corner but already dug up a lane-wide rectangle in the street and piled a shipment of giant yellow pipes along one side of the road. The traffic light was out and a somber-faced crewman was in the middle of the street with a sign that said “slow,” drowsily directing traffic, occasionally pointing at a larger sign at the curb that read, “SHARE THE ROAD” (with each other, with the work crew, with the monster?).
The monster’s grate was covered in pylons and the full corner was cordoned off so that I had to cross mid-block in order to walk down to the subway.
So … is the city finally seeing about the monster? Are they rooting it out or bringing a large-animal vet to find out why it’s gone quiet and tend it? Are they doing an elaborate catch-and-release so they can lay all the new, yellow pipe? Where will they release it? What makes a good replacement home for a sewer monster? Are they setting motion an “Incredible Journey” story that will see the monster beating all odds and finding its way back to its original home?
(Yes, I’m silly. But I’ve been thinking about the monster a lot lately, almost missing those creepy sounds from underground in these months of silence. Seeing all that activity in the street this morning made this flight of fancy inevitable.)
It’s the 16th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!