Chapter 1 ~ COMMUNICABLE INSANITY ~ featuring Shawn and Shelly 

    "Oh God, he's eating her!" Shelly screamed.
    Shawn's stomach flipped. Then he took Shelly's hand and pulled her, "Come on!"
    He hadn't meant to pull her so hard or so fast, but he did and she fell. As he bent down to help her up others ran into them, tripped over them and kicked them. Quick to think before they were trampled and crushed to death, Shawn pushed Shelly and yelled, "Roll under the van!"
    They both rolled under the utility van and lay flat on their backs, stiff as boards trying to catch their breath. Shawn wanted to cry out for help but he knew no one could help them. They were on their own. Shawn turned his head to the side and watched the endless flow of feet running by and he noticed that under the tire of the car stalled in the next lane over was a smashed orange construction cone. He also saw pieces of bent and damaged metal of what he surmised had been a barrier. He could see the round lid of the manhole cover that no longer lay flush with the street.
    "Shelly, there's a manhole open under the car next to me. Let's go down there and maybe we can get away from here and get somewhere else, maybe get to another subway station. Or at least we can get away from the crowd and the crazy people for a little while. Do you think you can handle that?"
    "The sewer? Oh God, you mean we'll have to walk through sewage?"
    "No, I don't think so. I think they have walkways that the workers use. Come on, let's check it out."
      Before Shelly could argue, Shawn rolled from under the van and stood up with his back pressed tight against the side of the van. Then he squatted and stuck his hand under to help Shelly come out. They both stood holding hands waiting for a break in the onrush so they could dash the few inches to the other car. Shelly eyed a miniscule break and went first, pulling Shawn. Shelly immediately crawled under the car and then Shawn scrunched in beside her.
Shawn prayed silently please God, hoping no one would see what they were doing and think to follow them. He couldn't decide if he should go first for Shelly's sake but he didn't want to leave her alone even for a moment in case someone tried to grab her.
    “Go Shelly, you go first, I'll be right behind you!"
    Shelly took a quick look down the hole to locate the ladder. She turned around on her stomach and pushed herself backwards into the hole, feet first. She didn't care anymore about how gross the sewer might be. She only cared about staying alive and getting home to her children.
    Once Shawn saw Shelly's head disappear, he maneuvered down the ladder himself and then stopped, leaving his head and arms out. He pulled and heaved on the cast iron cover. It was very heavy, close to one hundred pounds, and it was difficult for him to move it in the position he was in. He managed to pull it most of the way over though but wasn't able to get it all the way on lest he smash his fingers.
    Once down he found Shelly standing on what was indeed a cement walkway that ran along the side of the tunnel. The stench was overbearing and made them both want to gag. They both tried breathing through their mouths, keeping air from coming into their noses but it only made it worse, because then they could taste the shit. Shawn wasn't sure which way to go, left or right. He tried to think of where they were exactly and he tried to get his bearings. He noticed now that Shelly was shivering badly and hugging herself.
Shelly wanted to cry but she knew it wouldn't help anything and besides, she wouldn't do that to Shawn. He was trying to figure out what to do and her foolish blubbering would only distract him. Shawn took her in his arms and she moved her arms from herself and wrapped them around his waist. Her new purple dress and her favorite coat were smudged with filth and her skinned knees were bleeding. They rocked together gently, to and fro. Shelly thought the sewer wasn't as bad as she had feared, except for the smell, which was worse. At least there was a walkway and at least there were lights. At least they weren't in pitch-black darkness. Thank God for that she thought. Then she thought how absurd it was to be thanking God for lights in a sewer—the rank sewer that she and Shawn stood in, three thousand miles from their children while the world raged and people murdered each other with their bare hands just above them. She suddenly felt very angry with God. Then as if God had answered back in malice at her anger, the lights flickered and went out.