I screamed “Get up get up get up…here!”, and dashed to the rear of our “base camp”. Mama didn’t raise no dummy. When partying anywhere, anytime, and for any reason, sit near a working exit and be the first ones out.
Otherwise, stampedes work this way: Women in high heels are the first to go down. The people behind them continue to push forward, trampling anyone who is on the floor, twisting ankles and going down themselves. The ones who make any progress pile up in doorways, until a mass of bodies becomes too tightly jammed in for anyone else, but the most selfish, cowardly pukes who haven’t been stomped or crushed to crawl over and get out.
It took less than twenty seconds for that very sequence of events to make exiting from the main tunnel an impossible goal. Over two thousand over, under, and barely dressed bodies versus a 400 square foot, unobstructed opening, and they still managed to jack it all up.
I couldn’t blame them. In the forty seconds that it took for our emergency exit to open up, a scene evolved which could have come from the brain of Caligula on crack.
The “devil” was back. He wasn’t dead. He had been just resting, I guess. I grabbed a tablecloth and every last bit of food and every full bottle that I could cram into it. Linda saw what I was doing and helped to tie the mess up. She even grabbed napkins, silverware, candles, cigarette lighters, a few more bottles, and filled another tablecloth. Some others started to do the same thing.
What the hell were we doing? We didn’t know. It just seemed the thing to do while Robert and Franklin and some other men were trying to get the emergency exit open. Linda said “I just want to go home and call Mom. If they get Franklin, just shoot me!”
I said “Shut up, Linda. You’re good for better than this whining!”
A second devil creature was far across the cavern, herding a group of those distorted, deformed looking characters, just like the one that had bashed into Franklin’s car. Franklin got the door partially open just before he spied one of the creatures and yelled “Hey! Isn’t that…?” I grabbed him up in his chest and dragged the bulging tablecloth and as many other people’s body parts as I could through the emergency exit behind our banquette, then barged into a tunnel that was only slightly narrower than the main tunnel. This place was huge!
None of us were ready to break down, cry, or throw up, so we must have been in shock. It was just a good time to keep pulling and pushing people through and down the tunnel before one of the devils or angels or creatures got wind of what we were doing.
About eighty five of us had gotten through the exit but I could not stop looking at the miserable scene that was going on in the ballroom. Everyone who hadn’t gotten out by then was being torn apart and devoured, burned, gutted or played with.
One poor man was being hoisted up to about 20 feet in the air. At first, I thought that he was laughing, but he was screaming as he was being picked apart by two more of those of awful, laughing “Devils” who were three times the man’s size. First, they pulled off an arm…I couldn’t look any more.
The last scenes that I could remember included “angels” who had, for the second time, come in from the upper reaches of the cavern. Only this time, there must have been a battalion of them. They were throwing something that looked like liquid lightning bolts and frozen air. Each angel took out a devil and many of the distorted creatures with each toss of a weapon. The angels were clearly the superior force, so I stupidly thought that the angels would take care of everything, and that maybe we would not have to go down the emergency tunnel.
One of them flashed over in our direction, stopped briefly, floating on absolutely nothing, and stared at us. It had the most serene, assured and intelligent eyes. They were like beacons of absolute power with irises of metallic obsidian set into orbs of turquoise blue. Then it blasted a great wall of cool air at us…a clear message for us to either move on or experience something far more unpleasant.
The angel then used its wings to slam the door on that scene that was now beyond the limits of any human tolerance. We moved before we could each begin to think too much about our individual torments. Each of us had seen something that no human should ever have to witness, but I don’t think that we all saw the same things.
Silently, we all began to move as fast as our high heels and bulging tablecloths and tight dress shoes would allow, noticing that this was one long tunnel. It seemed to go for about an eighth of a mile, then branch to the left and right. Someone asked which way we should go. Another person muttered that we needed to worry about getting that far, and her husband told her to “Shut up, Betty!”
Betty shut up. None of us had much to say as we hauled our tablecloths full of crap from the party and edged our way forward in the fabulous light. This place had great construction, with sound, nicely finished walls, safety lighting, and industrial flooring. Even the base molding was perfectly installed. No gaps. No cheap work, here.
We kept leaving tablecloth bundles. They seemed to be working. There were still plenty of us in our group.
We heard a sound to the right. It sounded like “Whop whomp whap.” Then there was a break, then a “Whomp Whompa whap!” Even though we had no idea what was making the sound, we just registered it as another horrific thing that was going on somewhere.
We all moved to get away from it as soon as possible. We still dropped a tablecloth full of stuff now and again to distract any crazy creatures that might attack, so we expected to move faster. But that didn’t seem as easy as we expected. Apparently, the floor was gradually angling upward, a good sign since we had started out deep underground and had a long way to go, upward, to get to any hope. We would make it back to the surface once we took one of those branches in the tunnel.
We still weren’t speaking very much, a sign that fatigue and shock were still doing their jobs. I looked at my watch. It was one a.m. We expected to find a way out of the place by one thirty. Suddenly, a couple started praying and trying to speak in tongues, all of that. They just dropped to their knees. We joined them for a few minutes, but they wouldn’t stop or get up.
A couple of the stronger men tried to lift them up, but they were frozen in place with their prayer. Finally, one of the bigger men knocked them out, and lifted one of them while another huge man lifted another, and we continued on our way.
The last thing that we needed was for some fool to start having a psychotic break and acting like a bug eyed Birther, spouting off all sorts of pseudo religious drivel and bitching about the apocalypse. I had just finished that thought when one of them did just what I’d feared, barging through our orderly formation and rushing off to the fork in the tunnels, screaming about the apocalypse.
Something detached itself from one of the walls and scooped the poor soul up before we could even register what was going on. It was a winged creature that had eight legs, each of which terminated in a shiny black claw that seemed to be at least two feet long. The thing flew off with its screaming cargo and took the left branch of the tunnel. That tunnel seemed to go downward and into the depths. I don’t know why it was not lit, but the dying screams in combination with that dark void just made me sick.
We were running by then, and took the right branch, not caring that it had an even steeper upward incline than the tunnel that we had just left. The “Whomp whomp whap” sound was getting louder, and we all had reservations about getting any closer to it. But there was no other option and there were no openings in the walls of the tunnel that we had just chosen. There was nothing to indicate that there were any more hidden or chameleon like creatures pasted to the upper walls, either.
After about fifteen minutes, we expected to be almost at street level again, and tried to see if there were any doors or signs of an exit to the real world where devils and angels weren’t battling each other and tearing people apart. We did a head count and had seventy three, not eighty five.
There were sixty three of us. We had only lost one person that we knew of, so I must have counted wrong at the beginning. Robert, Franklin, Linda, our dear little man with the stories about Archduke Ferdinand, myself, and a very nice group of people who were seated in our area were hugging together. As we reached the end of the tunnel, we almost broke down at the sight of an exit door, complete with panic bar, and knew that we only had about fifty yards to go.
Robert and Franklin turned and looked back to see if anyone might be lagging behind, and saw that the tunnel had quietly filled with the distorted little creatures!
While the two big guys were frantically trying to get the panic exit open (this time, it was taking far too long), the distorted little creatures turned and walked right into the wall, toward the “Whomp whomp whap” sound. There must have been a hidden doorway or opening that we did not notice, but the little creatures ignored us and kept flowing and turning into the wall and disappearing. Occasionally, a clawed monster would swoop away from a wall and spear one, carrying the silent little creature away without a sound. They were actually benign, sad little things who only seemed to get in the wrong place at the wrong time. What monstrous world were we dealing with, here?
What had the Army been up to since the last Underground Party?
Finally, the panic door gave way and we gratefully barged through it and into…
…fresh, damp freezing San Francisco Air!
We were at the opposite end of the structure where we came in to the party. As exhausted as we were, we wasted no time in getting around to the entrance, where it was quiet, clean, locked, and empty. Our cars were still in the parking lot.
In fact, our cars were the only ones there. There was no sign of any huge, hysterical crowd, or ambulances, or swat teams. There was not a living soul around, not even a night guard.
There was just a tired, bedraggled group of twenty shivering people who headed, bewildered, toward the last remaining cars in the parking lot, hoping to get out of there and home before anything else happened.
It was six a.m. The Sky was just taking on that steely gray tinge that marches ahead of a real dawn.