Eddie could have screamed when he realised where he was, where he’d always been and where he may remain for as long as he keeps going. The shriek worked it’s way up in his throat but died and came out as a low, miserable groan. His head felt like he had been beaten half to death and his face was black and blue with green thrown in for good measure. Darkness swirled around him almost nauseatingly. It felt almost although the tunnel was shaking and rolling, but Eddie knew it was just his tired eyes playing tricks on him. That, he was used to down here. After all, how does an evil clown work it’s way into a sewer?
Only in Derry! Came a shrill, amused voice from Eddie’s left, forcing him to turn and face his worst nightmare. We all float! Here in Derry, we’ll all float and you will too! Only in Derry will you see-
Pennywise’s voice was cut off my Eddie’s blood-curding scream. Just moments before he was back home with his mother watching TV. How did he get back here? Scratch that! When did he get back here?
A hooked claw grabbed onto Eddie’s right leg and refused to let go despite how much he kicked, screamed and struggled. The sounds of laughing rang throughout the tunnels like a terrible chanting nursery rhyme, reminding the boy that he would never make it out alive. If he’d been to this awful place once before with no memory of ever getting there, then maybe he was stuck in limbo; and this was Hell, or the afterlife or whatever you’d like to call it. Eddie knew he was dead. When he rang the doorbell, nobody answered so he had to crawl his way in through the upstairs bathroom window by climbing up onto the roof (scraping his already bloodied knees and collecting more bruises along the way). He had ran into his sitting room where his mother was sat watching TV, crying. Eddie remembered yelling ‘Mom!’ as loud as his lungs could bear, but she hadn’t even batted an eyelid in response, simply continuing to weep. He had felt like a ghost boy. Nobody could see or hear him, only just feeling his presence when he threw a book across the room in despair. To Eddie’s mother, it was like somebody had strode past as she got a prickly, chilled feeling; the hairs standing up on the back of her neck as the smell of the sewers came flooding in like disease.
You’ll die if you try, Eddie. You’ll DIE IF YOU TRY!
His mother had looked surprised for a second, but soon went back to focusing on American Bandstand. The sadness Eddie had felt in that moment was overwhelming. He hadn’t known what he had expected to happen, but it certainly wasn’t that. Eddie was crushed.
We’re coming for you, Eddie! We’re going to punish you for running away, Eddie! Came a familiar voice. Eddie wasn’t quite sure who it was in his confused and panicky state of mind, but he knew later on it was actually Matthew Clements, a little boy a few years below him from Derry Elementary.
Eddie picked himself up from the wet floor and ran for his life (if he was even living). His eyes bugged out his face as he sprinted, greased hair flying and arms pumping as fast as they could. He wanted to know how he had gotten back in this monster-infested corridor of Hell - he certainly hadn’t waltzed here of his own doing - that would be insanity in it’s purest form, my dear. The children down here certainly were odd. They always stood in pairs of two, expressions exactly mirroring their partners. Lined up like dolls on a dusty shelf, the children of the sewers were not living, but you couldn’t exactly call them dead either - they were far too animated and sprightly for that what with their constant chants of ‘Kill him!’ and ‘Make him float with us, Pennywise!’. Their hearts had pumped it’s last round of blood around their pallid, grimy bodies a long, long time ago; maybe even before Eddie was born? Maybe even before America was discovered?! That claw that had wrapped itself around Eddie’s ankle whilst dragging him away from his home via the storm drain had left bloody wells and two bruises the shape of kidneys. Eddie felt like it was broken despite being so certain he was as dead as the doll-like children chasing after him.
Water splashed everywhere as eleven pairs of rotten feet flew through the sewers, each pair getting closer and closer to the terrified Eddie Corcoran.
‘Help! Help!’ Eddie cried, ‘Veronica, please help me! Veronica!’
More childish laughter erupted around him, causing him to almost stop in his confusion. He wondered if the kids were laughing at him for calling for the help of a twelve year-old girl.
‘I’m not going to help you, Eddie,’ Came an embarrassed, haughty voice from directly behind Eddie, ‘Grow a pair and help yourself. Besides, stop screaming my name like that, it’s humiliating and makes you sound like a whiny baby!’
Eddie whipped directly around and came face to face with the smirking Veronica Grogan. She had held of a girl and a boy’s hand, her pretty yet dirty face half illuminated in the dull lighting. Her long hair was crusted over with grime and mold from slipping over at some point. They had stopped chasing after him like a gang of foxes after a rabbit, and Eddie had that to be grateful for at least. Much to Eddie’s disgust, she was still wearing the same yellow and white gingham dress she was wearing the last time he saw her (since the day she disappeared and died).
‘Nice to see you too! I thought I told you to go home!’
‘I thought you were going home,’ she shot back, ‘but obviously it seems that you’re so obsessed with me that you just can’t leave me alone!’ A chorus of giggling echoed throughout the place, causing a pipe overhead to quiver slightly.
Eddie felt slightly disgraced, his cheeks flaming but his fear seemingly evaporating. His mother always taught him that if you couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. He couldn’t trust himself to say anything nice to the girl mocking him for showing compassion and common decency; that he cared for her, his classmate and nothing more.
‘Well, you might as well remain here along with us,’ she said flatly, her own cheeks blushing at how cheeky she was being, ‘The real world isn’t ideal for you anymore, Eddie. That’s the reason I prefer it a whole lot more down here… Mommy and daddy wouldn’t know I was still alive even if I screamed in their faces. Stay with us. It’s beautiful down here.’
Eddie almost laughed, ‘Beautiful?! Veronica, it’s disgusting.’
‘Don’t you say that! Don’t you dare, Eddie Corcoran! I can’t believe you!’
‘Look, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but look around you: it’s filthy.’
Eddie should have known that as soon as he said that, the sewers would prove him wrong and make a mockery of him. More panned laughter rang in his ears and Eddie was persuaded by a voice in the back of his mind that the laughter was like the ones you’d hear in a bad comedy film, put in just to force a laugh out of the audience even when the scene they’re watching is deadly serious. Eddie wasn’t laughing. No, not even a smile touched his lips as the sewers transformed before his very eyes. This wasn’t funny - it was sick. A sick, sick trick that somebody just loved to play on him. Somebody as sick and disturbing as the trick itself it seemed. Only a freak would get a kick out of scaring children like this.
The ceramic walls shook before discharging a whole rainbow variety of colour from it’s very core. Eddie’s eyes started to bug again before he reminded himself he had company. He forced himself not to exclaim as flowers snaked and curled themselves around the tubes and wires, in every colour of flower you could imagine. It was like watching as the whole world as he knew it changed for the better. The white dead-lights forced their way to Eddie’s brown eyes and he knew he wouldn’t ever like to leave this place with the sweetest smile imaginable. Not now, not for anybody. Feeling so elated and happy, the nervous nagging in the back of his head was muted to a mere whisper. Never again would Eddie feels so anxious and worried - the sewers persuaded him of that much.
‘Alright, I guess I’ll stay, Veronica,’ Eddie smiled, taking the dead girl by the hand.
‘I’m glad,’ she replied, returning his boyish smile and leading him off to play with all the other dead kids under Derry.
Anybody else would have thought the boy had taken something - Hallucinogens, perhaps - to wind up so horribly, pathetically confused about the world around him. Whenever an adult of Derry went down to work in the sewers, they couldn’t see the dead children play and dance; they couldn’t see the kid’s wonderland around them, nor predict the cold, clammy hands to clasp around their legs before being dragged down into the sewage water to be eaten alive. To this day their skeletons lay like trophies in the chambers of Pennywise’s Funhouse along with the children that ate them.