Let me take you down, because, one day, you’ll all go down too. These are the tunnels, the caverns, the inbetween places. Between here and there, between the swift moving, bright lit land of the living and the dark treacly depths of the land of the dead, there is a place between. A halfway place, known to those unfortunate enough to know as Midway. Once, it belched out white winged angels of death, before the production lines fell silent and the Municipals moved in. Now it is where the Authority puts its inconveniences, the half-dead half-living waifs and strays that once haunted the city’s monuments, before the garishly garbed hand of progress came and swept all aside to make monuments to higher callings – to the gods of private finance, the maenades of tourism, the bright Olympian deities of shopping. The ghosts of the old city did not go easily, so the Municipals took them and put them in the one place guaranteed to hold the spirits and keep their wailing, bloody protests from the public eye. They took them to the tunnels of Midway.
In the tunnels, the shiny sided stalactites grip the gloom like blunted fangs. They gnaw hungrily at the damp tunnel air, but find no nourishment, only the choking damp dust and the rotting iron tang of starving subterranean air. People had worked here once. Men had clocked in and out of the tunnels, the men that built the hulking white pelican shaped seaplanes that went hunting for deep submerged foes in the last memorable war. The workmen had filed papers in the rusting filing cabinets that lined the chambers, they had scrawled crude pornography on the walls. They had sipped weak milky tea at bakelite tables. Now the sixty years since the seaplane works had shut down had slowly nibbled away at its working reminders until all that was left to speak for the men’s wartime endeavours were a few stenciled signs, some mildewed documents and the piles of decaying cogs, wires and aerilons that filled the tunnels.
The energy of frenzied, blitz threatened industry had long dissipated, leaving three miles of cold, useless chambers, snaking blindly like a slowworm beneath the mirror fronted apartment blocks that had sprung up above ground. The above-grounders had largely forgotten the tunnels. They knew nothing of the subterranean factories, aside of some vague nostalgic memories of bright white planes taking flight from the nearby river’s edge. The Muncipal Authority that governed the town had not been slow to capitalise upon this lack of memory. A forgotten past is one that is easily erased; better still, its inconvenient ghosts could be buried within it. It was in this way that the tunnels of Midway became home to the spirits that had haunted the tumbledown buildings that had stood in the way of the Authority’s plans for dull, numbing progress. Every porticoed terraced house, every red brick factory that fell in the great Development’s wake spewed forth the wraiths of its former inhabitants, who gathered in angry, gauzy crowds to protest their disturbance and the destruction of their former homes. The picket lines of half formed sailors, sweeps, prostitutes and chamber maids that lined the streets after every demolition became something of an embarrassment to the Authority, not to mention a source of negative publicity. So the Authority had set forth the Municipals, a semi-official police militia of black shirted toughs kitted out with the very latest in anti-undead combat and surveillance technology.
It took a matter of weeks for the Municipals to clear the ghosts from the streets. Soon the memories of Saxon warriors pillaging the supermarket aisles and the red tuniced Royal Fusiliers firing muskets into the sides of Ford saloons were forgotten, the above-grounders shrugging it off as ‘one of those things’. Peace reigned and the great Development cast its glass fronted neon lit net over everything in its reach. People shopped, people watched their televisions and gradually, they forgot about almost everything.