Delving Deep

For the July prompt call: What lives in the darkness?

No one believed in dwarves anymore. It was like believing in unicorns, or elves. This was the era of steel and industry. Men had conquered the oceans and superstition. There was no room in the Industrial Age for dwarves. To think anything else would be chaos.

This would be why laying in the new sewer had been delayed due to intersection with the tunnels of another civilization, obviously. Sheer contrariness. Sheer chaos.

“I want to steal their engineers,” her little brother said, eyeing the steel walls and molded-stone floors. “All of them. Yesterday.”

Her little brother was an architect, not an administrator. He didn’t understand schedules.

“You can’t steal their engineers. I have to blow them up.”

“I know you love your blasting jelly, Samantha, but isn’t that going a little far? I’m sure anyone who can build something this beautiful will be reasonable.”

Anyone who can secretly build steel and glass tunnels underneath and between the roots of the greatest city on Earth will be dangerous, she didn’t say. Her little brother had never been to war, never seen what the new machines of war could do. He was fourteen, a genius, and she would keep him safe and innocent. Let him build sewers and roads. She’d worry about guns and, yes, blasting jelly.

“You wanted to show me the tunnels, Simon,” she replied. “You have. We had best return to the surface now, don’t you think?”

He twisted his hands together, eyes glinting behind his glasses.

“Well, you see.”


“I made some friends.”


“You’ll like them!”

“Ahem,” said a deep voice in the shadows. “You will introduce us, Lord Simon?”

Samantha folded her arms, resting one hand on her pistol.

“Sure. Samantha, these are the dwarves. Everyone, this is my big sister I told you about! She’s great, she’ll help.”

Oh, yes. Samantha would help, all right.