The Door in the Sewer
Riverside was just one of those towns I guess. Built in the perfect way, either on accident or on purpose. Either way, they built it right on top of a big hole, and whatever was on the other side put a door in to make sure they could get back and forth. Over the last 50 years, I’ve found forty-six missing kids in the newspapers. Sometimes they were assumed to be drowned in the river or in the quarry. I blame the door.
We first heard the kids talking about it in the schoolyard. Petey Wilkins had just gone missing, and someone had seen him walking off toward the woods. Someone else had seen the thing that lived down there…it called itself Barney, and it looked like an old homeless man. The big rumor at school was that Barney had taken Petey Wilkins.
His best friend finally confessed that Petey had seen weird things going on in the woods and wanted to check them out. So we went to the woods. We nearly got the snot beat out of us by Jeff Thompson and his gang of lugs, but we kept looking, and that’s when we found the holes. Holes as big as a kid, scratched through the earth. We tried looking down them to see where they stopped, but all we could see were tunnels.
Next, we found the first rat kid. He was hiding in a log, I went in like John McClane, my zippo out, and came face to face with him. He ran out the other side, jumped down one of the holes, and was gone.
That wasn’t the last we saw of them. We found them sniffing around my neighbors house. We found their holes all around the neighborhood. We followed them for a while, until it became apparent that they were coming from the sewer.
Everyone had always said to stay away from the sewer. That’s where the kids drown, that’s how they turn up in the river, or worse yet, get sucked into the water treatment plant and never found. The truth was, kids did go disappearing in the sewer, but not because they drowned.
The first time we went out there, we heard him playing the harmonica. Spencer, the youngest of the McAllister twins, had his violin with him. He played it until we couldn’t hear the harmonica anymore.
That was when Crazy Nick, the Vietnam Vet who raised a flag every morning in his yard, the guy who our parents had always told us to stay away from, came down to shoo us away.