There is light now, for the first time in almost 100
years. Rubbish-heap Christmas lights, mostly, lovingly
repaired and strung down both sides of the tiled
tunnel. They twinkle, dime store constellations in the
gloom. Their candy-colored light illuminates the
derelict, hand-made train: Waterford crystal windows,
soft, lamb leather seats and mother-of-pearl handles
on the sliding doors. The old pneumatic-tube train,
abandoned on its one-block line, had hunkered beneath
Wall Street waiting a century for someone with a use
Mouse had stumbled on the station by mistake. The
Optic Kid had walked off with Mouse's last can of
vienna sausage, and when Mouse called him on it, the
Kid had come for him, his goons in tow. Mouse had to
abandon all his belongings in the subway tunnels and
flee into the dark, into the dampest, deepest tunnels,
where no one (not even the other tunnel rats) went. In
the dark, he'd crawled through a spot where the
ancient concrete had rotted away beneath a steam pipe
leak. Beyond was the lost pneumatic tube station.
Mouse struck a match and saw a brass plaque on the
wall. A name: Alfred Ely Beach. A date: 1870. The
vast silent room was like some industrial cathedral.
Mouse moved in on the spot.
Mouse never told anyone about his underground kingdom.
When he died, several years later, he regretted
little. He lay on soft leather, watched the Christmas
lights twinkle and felt himself slowly merge with
their brilliance. When other tunnel rats eventually
discovered Mouse's lair, they quickly left. Beauty, so
rare for them, had become a sacred thing. They hid the
tunnel entrance and it remains lost to this day,
though many claim to have seen Mouse's lights,
blinking far away in the darkness of the tunnels.
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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.