You’re shaking and everything’s just a little too warm- maybe you’re melting? It’s hard to tell where you’re walking (if you’re walking at all; you can’t feel your feet) but it would be harder to stop so you keep on trucking until you’re back in the sunlight again.
So you cough and spit some of it out, hoping that you’ve gotten enough that it won’t matter. You’ve heard about this shit. You may be new, but you’ve seen the Rats before.
And three hours later you realize that of course it’s going to matter. You probably deserve this, anyway.
You squeeze the water out of your hair and give a stupid, shuddering little sigh, because you feel like you might be entitled to a few moments of self-absorbed woe-is-me whining. And you’ll get that, totally, just as soon as you can get the batteries on your flashlight working again.
(Who could possibly be stupid enough to rely on battery-powered technology this close to the border, anyway?
Oh, right. That would be you.)
It only takes about fifteen seconds for you to realize that shaking flashlight isn’t going to do a damn thing, so you reach out and slide your hand against the side of the tunnel. It isn’t slippery. Your fingers don’t hit anything unidentifiable. You mumble thank you and start walking again.
You’re never going to be able to tell anyone about this. Holland would laugh so hard- “Of course you went in the fucking tunnels, you’re such an idiot, you’re so new, don’t you have any common sense? Don’t go where you can’t see, don’t go so close to the river.”
Whatever. It’s not like it’s your fault you don’t know how things work here. Drainage tunnels were fine when you were still living in your old city, as long as it wasn’t raining. How were you supposed to know that there was a difference on the Border? Surprises are fine, and all, but this wasn’t the pleasant, fun kind of surprise you were hoping for.
Speaking of surprises— your foot doesn’t land on the dry edge of the concrete and suddenly you’re wet up to your knees, off balance. You go down hard, face in the water, and you pull in a shocked breath before you can stop yourself.
Your flashlight flickers back to life. The water is red.