The Jigsaw Floor – chapter 4
Anders climbed down beside Harper, angled his head to try and see. His heart was thumping against his rib cage. He was sure that anyone nearby would hear it.
He looked carefully at the space between Harper’s head and the floor. He could see a flake of light through the break, or he thought he could. It was actually a reflection in a tiny puddle of tears.
Harper sucked in a quiet sob.
‘What?’ Anders said, ‘What is it?’
‘Graves,’ Harper said after a wet, heavy breath, ‘millions of them.’
Anders heart continued to pound. He could feel the skin on his face reddening. His hands itched. He looked around to check that the floor around them was still empty. He didn’t fancy their chances if they had to run.
‘That’s what they keep down there. The dead.’
‘No. Harper, that makes no sense. Why would they have built the floor just to hide a graveyard?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe… Maybe so we don’t realise how many died.’
‘But we know how many. Everyone except those that are left. And very few are left. If they wanted to get rid of bodies they’d just have cremated them all. It would have been easier than burial. That’s absurd.’
Harper looked up. ‘She’s down there.’
Anders bit his lip and struck his friend on the shoulder.
‘You promised,’ he said. He hit out again, this time with more venom. His old fist slapped against Harper’s burlap shoulder.
‘All this time we’ve been living over our own dead.’ Harper straightened up his old spine and looked at the stars. ‘Eating, sleeping, dreaming… While those that died are down there, unable to any of those things.’
Anders thought hard about whether he wanted to see for himself.
‘You know, Harper,’ he said, ‘you’re all I’ve got.’
‘I wonder if, when we die, they’ll take us down there. To an underworld graveyard.’
‘You really are. I mean it. I don’t have any other friends. Relatives.’
‘To grow cold and decompose, while people walk forever, just a hundred or so metres above our bodies.’
‘That’s why I agreed to speak again. After all those years.’
‘You should look. I doubt we’ll get another chance to see. I think you should see.’
Anders drew his friend close and held him.
‘I am sorry for our years of silence,’ he said.
He had been watching the platoon of armed police approach and knew they could never escape.