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Author's Chapter Notes:

Tunnels And Trolls



As the men continued to laugh Tim's mind went into fast speed as he noted everything he could about them from a survival motivation.

They were all older than him by about 10 years or more. Their skin was tan, as opposed to his sun starved milky white flesh. They all had facial hair with beards of varying lengths. They wore bits of leather sown together crudely. They also had scars upon their hardened skin. Their hair was a bit wild and unkept and they wore no shoes.

Their spears were made out of wood. The points being not metal, but thorn tips instead. In fact everything about them looked wild and made from scratch. If he didn't know any better, he would have sworn that he was currently accosted by cavemen.

"Tim, where are you.. Please come out!" Was heard above even closer now. The men broke off their mirth and acted quickly.

"My name's Ron, kid. What's yours?

Tim hurried his answer sensing that their time was quickly running out. "My name's Tim. Are you guys from the Freedom Nation?"

"We'll talk about that later. Right now we've gotta move fast she's almost here. Follow us and move quickly. If you hesitate we'll leave you for the birds and cats. But first things first."

Ron grabbed Tim and shoved him into the water. Tim fell with a big splash, shocked by his actions. Tim treading within the cool murky creek was offered Ron's hand to which he grabbed in desperation not knowing what else to do. Ron pulled him back up on shore and all three men at once began smearing mud upon his bright green jumper suit. Tim did not resist as it dawned on him what they were in fact doing was camouflaging him. Tim began assisting them.

Then one of the other two pointed out Tim's tracking necklace to which Ron removed a leather pouch from his rope like belt and began digging within it. At once he removed his hand and began smearing the contents within his palms. After this he began smearing what Tim noticed to be pure animal fat all up and down Tim's neck and jaw-line.

"Ok Tim, hold your head back and we're going to pull this device off of you. It's going to hurt some but it will come off."

Tim immediately obliged knowing that Wendy would not be far behind Sheila using that dreadful technology to corner him once again. So Tim done as requested while all 3 men dug their fingers underneath the collar and began to heave upwards. And Ron was right.. It did hurt like hell and it felt like they were going to take the skin right off of his face and head but miraculously the collar did begin to slide. Up, up, and up it slowly went until it cleared his ears at which it came off of his head with a resounding pop.

"He's over this way Sheila follow me!"

Ron's eyes bulged as he gave the orders . "Let's go, double time!"

The 3 men began running along the creek water-line and Tim did his best to keep up. Tim could feel and hear the ground rumble as the girls came down the creek ledge pushing mounds upon mounds of earth out of the way with their bulldozer sized feet as they bounded towards Wendy's signal.

Tim was watching the Giants come down at an amazing speed covering in seconds what took him several minutes to pass and with absolutely no difficulty either with their eyes trained upon the area that they were just standing at.

Tim unfortunately had forgotten that he needed to watch where he was sprinting towards and fell right over a large root, his right arm going right into a bundle of them. Hitting the ground hard his wits temporarily shut down like a trapped animal.

He tried to jerk his hand back but it was stuck within the roots.

"Here's his collar but he's not wearing it." An annoyed Wendy announced. Tim could see both girls looking the collar over. Then their eyes began scanning the ground around them. Tim knew it wouldn't be long now.

But then Tim felt a grip upon his arm as one of the men had returned for him and was currently using what looked like a home-made knife in order to cut the roots away that had trapped Tim's hand.. The blonde man with the short thick beard sawed furiously.

Ron called back to him. "Let the Domesto go, we've gotta save ourselves." But the man kept sawing. Tim looked back to see Sheila's eyes looking in their general vicinity until they locked right on them. The eyes went wide with shock. But then they narrowed with focus as she began to take massive steps towards them.

"I think he's over here Wendy!" She called over her shoulder.

Wendy's head now swung and saw them all as well too. Now both of them were bounding towards them.

The man finally managed to saw clean through one of the two roots that was trapping Tim as he pulled his arm free and got up. Tim took off towards the other two men as fast as he could just as a shadow blotted out the sky. The effect making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Terror began to rush through his veins now.

Once Tim reached the other two men he once again looked over his shoulder to see his savior attempting to hold his ground as Sheila's massive hand came down upon him. It snapped back quickly though as the guy stabbed an index finger with the tip of his knife.

"Oww! The little bastard stung me!" Weeped Sheila, quickly sticking the finger into her mouth to suck the pain out of. Her other hand swept in from behind and scooped the unfortunate man right up to which he gave a blood curdling scream as he was lifted up and away. His knife flying harmlessly away from the impact.  Both girls stopped as they regarded their catch. The man continuing to cry out. Now for help. "Help, me.. somebody please help me!"

Tim felt his shoulder clasped by a hand once again and he was yanked behind a bush trunk. Ron had grabbed him with one hand and had his index finger over his lips showing Tim to be quiet. He pointed a little further along the creek water-line to a pipe that was jutting out of the earth. Then he started towards it and the 3 of them began running once again for all that they were worth. They didn't stop until they had gotten inside the wet rusty steel pipe. The pipe itself was about 9 feet high by 9 feet wide. While all 3 were panting and trying to catch their breath, Tim could hear the girls further discussion reverberating through their metal refuge.

Wendy: It's not him. We gotta keep on looking Sheila.

Sheila: Oh ok, but finders keepers, he's mine now!

Wendy: I don't care, help me look, did you see any others?

Sheila: Yeah there was a few more around this one but they scattered when I caught him.

Wendy: Well did you see which way they went? I'm sure they've got Tim.

Sheila: Nuh, uh.. I lost track of them once I found this cute little guy.

Wendy began looking again but Sheila was now going gaga over her catch and was now only interested in playing with her new found toy. Touching his twitching body and moving him about within her grasp using fingers larger than his legs and squeezing any limb to test it's durability as she chose.

Wendy started up the ditch ledge in order to gain a broader perspective of movement and Sheila followed no longer paying any attention to her surroundings.

Tim couldn't help but peek out of the pipe to look at Sheila who was now holding the man cupped within both hands. He was still crying out for help but only to be heard more faintly now due to his elevated height near her chest. His arms and legs hanging out of her fingers, dangling and swaying to the massive girl's movements.. Like some helpless puppet in her hands who was now being carried away to some unknown fate.

Ron pulled Tim back within the pipe once again. "His name was Mark in case you wanted to know. That's the guy whose freedom you just help take away from. He'd been with us for 3 years and was our best bird look out. You'll grow to hate birds. You'll see. The fact that you made it this far without being snatched up by a hawk is a miracle in itself."

Tim looked back at the two grim looking men who were partially obscured by the darkness of the pipe. Feeling every bit as guilty as he should have.

Ron pulled something out of another pouch upon his rope belt and struck it against the wall. It sparked and then lit. The piece of something was a chunk of white phosphorus gathered from a match head as he would later learn. Ron held it to a piece of cloth to which he wrapped around a twig (branch at their sizes) in order to make a torch. It lit up and burned brightly.

"We can no longer go out that way as they might get wise to how we escaped them. And besides. We know these shit tunnels like the backs of our hands anyhow. You follow us and don't make any noise unless we tell you. You stay down when we tell you or we'll stick you with these spears of ours. So come on let's go."

Tim was bewildered at the turn of events now.. His adrenaline of being chased by Giants was finally starting to subside. He was feeling the onset of exhaustion too from all of the running and stress up until this point. The pipe was humid and wet up to his ankles. but he obediently followed not wanting to anger them and not knowing what else to do right now anyway. His plan of freedom wasn't even thought all the way through and if this was the Freedom Nation then he probably couldn't do any better right now truth be known.

They trudged along and walked through a small stream of water as they did. Tim's shoes were soaked but he didn't complain. These guys were barefoot and it didn't seem to even faze them. They stopped at a four way intersection of the pipe where the two men pulled two leather bags down from the rounded ceilings that actually contained net like hammocks strung across them to one side.

Then they all heard a large whooshing sound. Ron waisted no time. "Ok, Timmy boy.. If you don't want to wind up back in the creek back there I suggest you climb up on these hammocks with us and don't come down until I tell ya.. Got it?" They both threw their packs back up into the hammocks and began to climb up inside of them. The hammocks appeared to be made out of vines of some sort. They were fastented by wooden pegs into the joints of where the straight pipe met the 4 way intersection pipe.

Tim could feel a pressure change in the air. And a familiar rank odor hit his nostrils. The two men were already up. The second one offering Tim a hand to which Tim was pulled up into the hammock. So they sat there and waited.

Tim looked around the dank walls and started noticing things through the flickering torch light that he had not seen before. He saw white chalk drawn arrows pointing in different directions with directions underneath them.

One white arrow pointed east and had directions that read: "Big Oak, FN, 5 miles."

Another arrow pointed west and read: "Next house .5 miles .. Park Village, FN, 20 miles"

Tim felt a nudge by the man sitting next to him who had dark thick bushy hair and brown eyes. He looked like a fireman from the 1800s with his bicycle mostache to complete the persona. "My name is Ned. Don't let Ron scare you too much about Mark. I always thought that he was an asshole anyway. He, he. Oh, and sit tight now, you're going to really like this." He smiled.

Tim was beginning to feel scared and wasn't quite sure what the guy was talking about or what all of this meant until a tidal wave of river water rushed past right underneath their feet only missing their heels by mere inches. Then some huge brown excrement logs went by along with the yellow colored water. Followed by huge white wads of paper smeared in more excrement. The stench almost took his breath away.

Tim now knew where he was at.. He was in the subdivision's sewage pipes and some Giant whether an sweet old lady or a giggling toddler had just taken a dump. The men on each side of him both began to heartily laugh.

Ron proudly announced; "Welcome to freedom kid."

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