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Endever Publishing Studios presents
The Underneath: Part 1
Written by Coral Rivera and Andrew Toy
It’s heavily overcast, the clouds an inky black…he’s never heard sirens sound like this before. It’s a high-pitched whistle as well as a deep reverberating humming that he can almost feel under his feet. The sound comes from all around him.
The air is oddly still, but he figures the wind will kick up soon enough. He walks toward the horse pen and pets Kiss on the snout. She’s snorting and huffing more than usual, but that’s understandable with the sirens being as loud as they are. God, they’re getting louder. He almost has to cover his ears.
He watches as a hawk circles above several yards away and eventually swoops down to snatch its prey. It darts back up over the road that leads to his home and Kyle can see a mouse’s tail swooshing wildly in the bird’s beak.
Kiss just keeps shaking her head, snorting loudly and viciously. “What’s the matter, girl?” Kyle asks, trying to pet the long nose.
But Kiss does not calm down. She stomps her front hooves, kicking dust up all around them. Then without warning, she takes off running around the pen like a dog set free.
Suddenly the ground shifts under Kyle’s Converse and he has to catch himself. There’s a deep rumble in the earth as the entire countryside tremors as though the earth just got itself into a fender bender, or else the ground underneath just had an upset stomach. Either way, it’s enough to make Kyle have to regain his balance. Kiss stumbles, but continues her stride.
Silence fills the air.
It is utter and complete silence. No birds sing. There’s no breeze. And the sirens have stopped. A ghostly eeriness threatens to take hold as the clouds darken up above. There is still no wind, and even though it’s midmorning, it’s dark enough to be getting on midnight.
A sinking feeling pokes Kyle’s stomach, but he dismisses it as just immature paranoia. Tomorrow, after the storm blows over, the sun will shine and the neighbors will swap their storm stories with one another about how they had to live on their generators all day and how cleaning up the debris will set them back a day.
He turns his attention back to the hawk, gliding higher and higher with its prey clenched in its beak. Then suddenly, as though hitting a ceiling, it descends toward the earth. It doesn’t swoop down in one majestic motion like it had before. Instead, it’s falling clumsily to the earth like a rock. There was no gunshot, nothing. It’s as if the bird just stopped working altogether and now it’s falling as though some kid dropped a stuffed bird out of a plane.
Kyle furrows his brow and directs his attention out across the sea of grass. A few of the metal bars that holds up the fencing have been slightly bent, now leaning instead of standing erect.
He decides to go into the nearby town to pick up a shovel from the hardware store to fix the pen…He locks Kiss up in the barn, grabs the keys to his truck, hops in, and hopes to hell he makes it back before it starts coming down.
He slows his truck when he passes the fallen hawk and sees no abnormal abrasions. It lies stiff on the side of the road, its wings still spread as though posing for a picture for a museum brochure. In its beak the mouse still squirms and fights to get loose from its clenched beak, scratching the ground as though running in place.