BY SCOTT WADE
I guess it was none of my business, and I’m still not exactly sure if I’m doing something wrong. It started when I was out for a walk and saw a Dell hard drive in an alley off Bonnycastle not far from Cherokee Park. It looked smashed, like it had been thrown out a window. Maybe I could scavenge some memory, I thought. So I brought it home.
I probably should have just deleted every file, but one Word document, Moleville, caught my eye. As I read, I felt like a voyeur, but then curiosity won out as I began to wonder, Is this real? It seemed real. I still don’t know. To assuage my guilt, I’m going to assume it’s all made up and not some 8th grade boy’s diary. I have changed the names of the boys in the “diary” to J and Z in case they are real kids, so it’s not like I’m telling on them exactly. Here it is:
Aug. 3 — It’s still just too weird to believe, and I swear to God I’m not telling anybody except the two guys who already know. Me and J and Z were riding our bikes this morning about 11. We decided to go to Arby’s over by Taco Bell on Bardstown Road, and it looked like a part of this garage door was knocked out on this old green concrete block building. It was so hot already, so J said he wondered if we could get a Coke and sneak in there to hang out. Z couldn’t fit, so he said he would cruise up and down the alley and call us if the cops came.
I normally don’t keep a diary or write stuff down, but this was so cool. The place smelled like gasoline, so we figured it was a garage, and then we knew it was when J nearly fell into this pit, the kind where workers stand under your car. It was so dark, with just a little light coming in, but then J found this big, flat piece of metal covering this hole and we moved it and it was the sewer — way bigger than I imagined, like an underground hideout — even better. Tomorrow we’re going to bring flashlights. We’re gonna be a secret club, and we’re not telling anyone when school starts in a few weeks. I can’t believe I’m going to be in 8th grade.
Aug. 5 — We went down there in the sewers today, and I can already see this could turn out to be something bigger than we thought. It goes on and on and you can get lost. We’re taking my old sidewalk chalk tomorrow to mark the sides with big arrows like direction signs. Z’s going to get his dad’s camping headlamps, so our hands are free to carry Cokes and chalk.
The coolest thing is that there are these straight-up ladders all over the place and you can go up and spy on people. They have no idea someone is looking out at them from the drain hole in the curb. Like, we came up to look one time and I could see we were at the bus stop by Wendy’s at Grinstead. We saw this “I’m so cool” guy on a motorcycle behind a TARC bus at the stoplight, and then the light changed and the bus farted on him, a big black cloud TARC fart. The only thing about peeping out of drains is you just have to remember to turn off your headlamps before you look out the hole or people might see you looking. Z said later we were looking up girls’ dresses, but there wasn’t any to look up, so … maybe we’ll get lucky.
Aug. 6 — I forgot how much I hate possums until today. We really went a long way, and when we went up a ladder to spy, we thought we were at Qdoba catty-cornered from Heine Bros. at Eastern Parkway. Actually, we were really near the Daniel Boone statue by Cherokee Park. I was just about to peep out when this giant (freaking) possum stuck its head in and I shouted and fell on J. I can handle being in the dark and even snakes, but not possums. They just look like big stinking rats to me. We ended up laughing, but got really dirty. I can’t believe my parents believe we’re at the Extreme Park every day.
Aug. 8 — Z says he’s figured out why we can walk around in those tunnels without being up to our butts in water. It’s because it hasn’t rained in so long, and also it’s cool down there, at least compared to outside. It was over 100 again today and it will melt your brains. We took a break and went to ear X-tacy and hung out, then we went to the new ice cream shop called ceFiore over behind Qdoba. Z said maybe we could find a way into that place through the tunnels and get some free ice cream. I doubt it. He’s getting crazy. He said we ought to see if we can peep into the girls’ shower room at Lakeside. Right. What’s that, five miles? When I got home, I saw Dad driving his Jeep away fast, like he actually squealed the tires and he was really pissed about something. I ran in the house and Mom was at the sink and she was crying into the dishwater. I went to my room, which is where I am now. I don’t know what’s going on, and she won’t tell me, but I have my secrets, too.
Aug. 10 — Everything is OK now, but we’re going to be really careful. J had this plan to get into Cave Hill Cemetery. We used a compass and carried a map. When we came up, I was looking through this ground-level opening at a white Civil War headstone. PFC Sebastian Webster Fenemore, 1843 to 1862. Webster is my middle name — really creepy. We came to this pipe opening and it was in the woods somewhere. It was almost dark, and we were beside a really stinky creek. I was crawling out first, and then I heard a grunt and saw these two guys beating the (crap) out this other guy. I fell out of the pipe into the creek and we ran. It was really late and we finally found out we were close to Cherokee Park. Mom was waiting up on me and she was smoking, which she hasn’t done in a long time. I don’t know where Dad is, and that’s really bad. Mom thinks I’m into something bad on the Internet and threatened to ground me from “that damned computer!” as she called it.
School starts Monday. Eighth grade sounds cool, but there’s a problem I didn’t have in 7th grade. I get a boinker about 10 times a day, and when it happens, Z points and laughs. He’ll probably do it at school, too, right in front of a bunch of girls. It’s probably because my underwear is too tight. I might try boxers.
Aug. 17 — It’s Friday night and my first week of 8th grade is over. Of course we had to write the usual “What did you do this summer?” thing, and I just laughed. If I wrote about what really happened, no one would believe me, plus we’d get in trouble. A week ago, I didn’t think I’d ever go back down in Moleville — that’s what me and Z and J call it now — but now I can’t wait. J thinks we can go a lot farther and faster on skateboards, so we’re going to put them in our backpacks and lock the bikes up over by DQ and walk over to the garage. Z thinks we ought to take some food, like a couple of Chalupas and Red Bulls.
Aug. 18 — It’s Saturday morning, like 6:30, and we just got back. I will never in my whole life go back down there again. I don’t know if I can even explain it. It started when J called about 11 last night and said he could sneak out. It’s scary. It’s different at night. There are people down there and they are real freaks. There are a lot of them, and what they are doing, it’s just … I don’t know the word, weird isn’t strong enough. Spooky.
At first we saw reflections on the walls around the corner, like there were candles. We shut off the headlamps, and just then there was this chanting. I think we were under Blockbuster. J was standing right behind me and he was so close I could feel his chest on my back. He said, “I think we found hell.” I looked around the corner. Holy crap. These freaks were dressed like demons, like it was Halloween. They were standing around this table and it looked like somebody was tied down. Then all of them raised up their black hoodies, and the chanting got louder. When the tall one pulled his hoodie up, I saw he had on black gloves with the tips of the fingers cut out. That’s when I felt something on my ankle, and when I looked down I saw this big red-eyed possum sniffing my Chucks. I screamed like a girl and we heard the chanting stop, then we heard somebody yell “Hey” and we ran until I thought my heart was going to explode.
Aug. 19 — It’s just before midnight Sunday and Mom just got done interrogating me. She said she called J’s house and his mom didn’t know where he was either. I told her we’d been sitting out in the middle of Rugby Field at Cherokee Park and she asked me if I’d been smoking pot. That made me mad and I thought about telling her about Moleville, but I didn’t. I don’t know if I’m brave or stupid, but my curiosity about those freaks really got to me this afternoon and I told J we should go back again tonight. So, we went in around 9:30, and when we went up for a peek, we were across from Heine Bros. coffee shop, the one next to Carmichael’s book store. I couldn’t believe what I saw, and I told J to squeeze up the ladder beside me. Two guys wearing black hoodies were sitting at that little round concrete table outside the coffee shop. They were kind of hunched over their coffee, with their hoods down, like the sith Darth Maul in “Star Wars.”
That’s when the tall one raised his coffee and I saw the black glove with the finger tips cut out. I actually felt my heart pounding, like last night. We were both looking right at them, probably thinking the same thing, when the taller one looked up, then pointed straight at us and said something, then both of them stood up. It was too late, they had seen our headlamps. The taller one raised a cell phone into the shadow of his hood. A second later, I heard a ring somewhere kind of far away, but definitely in the sewer. We both jumped backwards and I cracked my head when I fell. We’d taken about one step when a voice yelled to stop. The voice echoed through the sewer, like it was coming from both directions at once and J froze, until I grabbed his arm. We lost them by turning into a pipe under a little side alley. We were huddled down trying not to breathe when at least three freaks ran by. The one in front shouted: “Never come here again! We will find you!”
J and I came out of there and just sat at Dairy Queen until about midnight. That moron says we should go back on Halloween. I don’t know. I’m going to think about it. Maybe …
End of Part 1 — “Moleville” will conclude in the Oct. 31 edition of LEO.
Scott and Ben Wade live in the Highlands. Scott teaches English as a Second Language at Atherton High School, and Ben is a 9th grader in the visual arts magnet at DuPont Manual High School. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org