Waterfall, Robot Leg

User Error and Sanford Brisket are cycling/rollerblading down an offshoot tunnel, relying on their headlights/lamps and the bioluminescent sludge on the tunnel walls to see their way through. They’ve got their portable CD player playing Now That’s What I Call Music!, Sanford’s idea, and San is singing all the words to “MMMBop,” or at least what little words there are. User Error is putting up with it till Radiohead’s “Karma Police” comes on, which is one of his favorite songs. They’ve listened to this CD together more times than they can count. Hanson eventually plays out, and “Zoot Suit Riot” is next.

“Where’s this frakking waterfall, User?”

“We’re super close, I think.”

“Like how close?”

“I don’t know, San. Let me commune with the ancients or something and pinpoint the ETA for you.”

User holds one hand to his temple while he steers his bike with the other.

“Nope, still have no idea.”

“Smartass. Well maybe–”

Both of them smack into something with enough force to make them shout expletives but not enough force to knock them over. They both come to a squealing stop and look behind them. Where they just came from, there’s a huge piece of plastic, cut to fit the tunnel exactly, hanging from the tunnel ceiling. It’s been painted to give the illusion that the tunnel goes on forever. Sanford turns to User:

“Holy shit, man. We’ve been Wile E. Coyote-ed.”

“Uh, Sanford…”

Sanford turns back around to see what User is looking at: The Waterfall.

The tunnel opens up into a massive atrium, unbelievable in size, impractical even, with outflow pipes poking out through all of the walls and loosing water into a carved-out cavity below. One main pipe supplies the waterfall; it’s large enough to fit User and Sanford’s entire town comfortably. User Error drops his bike to the ground. Sanford Brisket kicks off his rollerblades.

“Holy fucking Tamagotchi, User. Are you seeing this?”

“I’m seeing this.”

“What do we do?”

“Uh, go in? I haven’t had a bath in like ever. Like not once since I was born.”

“Saaame. Let’s do it.”

They wade into clean water, clear enough that you can see to the bottom. At its deepest, the water comes up to their chests, which is good because neither of them can swim. Twenty years of dirt and grime come off of both of them. They try to clean out their tangled, matted hair too, but that isn’t as easy. User grabs a knife out of his fanny pack and cuts his hair with it until he’s left with short, brown, non-matted hair. He passes the knife over to Sanford, who ends up with the same haircut, only blond. Sanford passes the knife back to User, who lets out a sigh of relief.

“I feel fresh.”

“One hundred percent. I feel fresh to death right now.”

“I didn’t even know it was possible to feel this clean.”

“Right? I feel lighter. There must’ve been like thirty pounds of dirt on me. It’s insane.”

User scans his surroundings. He finds dozens of pipes sprouting from everywhere, stone brick walls, and branching tunnel systems that look like they were constructed centuries ago. He turns to Sanford:

“Who do you think wanted to hide this?”

“I don’t know, but fuck them. I’ve been drinking puddle water my whole life when I could’ve been having this stuff.”

Sanford crouches so that his open mouth is at the surface of the water. He walks forward, drinking water in huge gulps, making it look like he’s trying to eat the water as he keeps walking forward. User makes a cup with his hands and drinks from the pool.

Time passes. Sanford looks at User:

“My stomach hurts.”

“Yeah, ‘cause you drank like gallons of water when you’re only used to slurping a little at a time.”

“Whatever. What do you want to do now? I’d take a picture, but cameras don’t exist anymore.”

“Let’s go to the waterfall, see if there’s an Easter egg behind it.”

“What the fuck is an Easter?”

User laughs.

“An Easter egg is something cool that’s hidden. In like video games and stuff.”

“Oh, sweet. Let’s do it.”

They wade over to the waterfall. The sound is deafening, so they cross past the falling water as fast as they can. Standing there in front of them are dozens of sickly pale people, completely naked, covered in moss and with their open mouths pointed at the tunnel ceiling. There are insects everywhere. They get curious and land on some of the people’s mouths. These people close their mouths mechanically and keep them closed.

“What I am seeing right now, User?”

“Uh… It looks like…”

“What?”

“It looks like a tribe of people that’s evolved, or devolved, to a vegetative state where they like passively catch prey. Or something.”

“These are people?”

“Yeah. I mean, I think they are. Technically.”

Sanford turns to them:

“Hey! Are you people?”

None of them so much as blink. There’s even bioluminescent sludge growing on some of them.

“Okay, this is giving me the Cheez-Its, User. Let’s get out of here.”

“Agreed.”

They leave. Walking out of the water, User Error’s limp is more noticeable than usual. Sanford almost never mentions it, but:

“Hey, are you okay, man? Seems like your leg’s getting worse.”

“I know. I’m thinking of chopping it off and giving myself a robot leg.”

“Robot leg?”

“Robot leg. I just need to gather the parts.”

User gets on his bike, and Sanford puts his rollerblades back on:

“Shit yeah, man! Let’s adventure.”

Neither of them know which tunnel they should go down, so they pick one at random and zoom off into the darkness.

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