Author Note: It's been a while folks, but I'm back with a new story. This is a crossover between The Crow and TMNT. If you've never seen or read The Crow, don't worry - there are no new characters to contend with, this is a story based on the premise of the comics and film.
And for the warnings; as befitting the premise, this story contains humongous amounts of blood, gore, character death, angst, torture, potty language, implied drug and alcohol abuse, implied adult situations and plenty of other stuff that could make the children and the sensitive shudder. If you think this appllies to you, do us all a favour and click away now rather than sending me agitated mails.
The first chapter is a T, but I'll be shifting the rating up next chapter. This is shameless whoring for readers on my part.
People once believed that when someone dies a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it, and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right...
In the streets of New York City, the rain comes down in a dispirited downpour, as if it plans on raining for a very long time. The streets are dark and empty, the street lights seeming to barely pierce the gloom, serving only to emphasise the darkness rather than alleviate it. Rain drips from guttering and swirls into the drains and sewers, taken down below where nothing of importance lives.
Below the streets, in the sewer, it is dark. The weak light from above does not penetrate far into the darkness that mere feet from the few openings becomes total. The creatures that live here prefer the dark. The dark is known to them, the rats and roaches; things that are not welcome in the world above have always been able to find a home below.
In the dark, it is quiet.
Not silent, not entirely. The sound of rain as it pours in some places, drips in others. The stirring of water is quiet throughout, but there. The squeaks and scuttling of small creatures as they move through the blackness can be heard, were there anyone here to hear it. In the dark, nameless things crawl through the dirt.
Below the streets, in the dark, something stirs
In the quiet, something scratches, scratches, scratches slowly. In the dark, where there is no one to hear.
Below the streets, there are secrets. Mysteries. Answers to questions that have been half-formed in the consciousness of those who care to ask. No one can hear the scratch, scratch as they lurk beneath. No one wants to know the answers; too few even knew there was a question to be asked.
In the upper levels of the sewers, the rain water rushes and gurgles, muted against the thick stone but audible, were there only ears to hear. But no one could stand to be down here for long. The workers who maintain the systems go about their business as quickly as they can and leave, back up to the air and sunlight, glad to be gone. No one would want to be down there, not voluntarily and none of them linger once the work is complete. They would not wish to be lost down there.
It has happened before.
On the lower levels of the sewers are tunnels which have long since been forgotten, where water creeps sluggishly in through the walls and drains slowly from the ceiling. The water does not make as much sound here, does not have the energy which that above is carried with. Far from warmth and sunlight, a stagnant pool may lie for weeks, months, longer, motion spent and nothing that would evaporate it, growing stagnant, colour indistinguishable in the dark.
The lower levels are dryer than those above, but still dank, still cold. Still dark. No crack of light permeates these depths.
In the dark, sounds are rare. In the dark, sound brings curious creatures, hungry to eat.
In the dark, something moves.
In the dark of the deepest part of the sewer, there are signs that someone has been here. There is a spot, an indentation which might have once been there for run-off before the new sewers were built atop it. Now it has been made level with the rest of the tunnel, filled in with soil and covered in dirt.
There is a marker, wooden, rotting gently in the dark. A solid piece of pine that might once have been a part of some much larger structure, ornate glory invisible in the black tunnel and any marking that might have been added unseen. Hidden where no one can see it, looming over a hole filled with dirt.
Leaning on the marker is more wood, a walking stick, placed reverentially and now seemingly forgotten. The filth that lurks has coated both stick and marker would make it seem as if they were part of each other, were a sudden light to be shone. The stick is not as sturdy as the wood on which it leans and will become spongy and mouldy first, falling into ruin.
Atop the marker lie far more delicate strips of fabric, dyed in bright hues which are turning grey down here. If they could be seen, it would be difficult to determine what colours they had been before they were abandoned in the dark, to envisage what they might have been in the light. There is no breeze to disturb them and they have been given minimal attention by the creatures that might have carried them off to line nests. The creatures do not search out their comforts down here.
Atop the soil lies the remnants of flowers, bought above, wrapped in cellophane and brought down to die in the dark. The petals had long since withered, the plants falling apart and only their wrappers remaining, neglected, forgotten.
Beneath the dust, the soil.
In the darkness, a sound.
For the first time in a long, long time, the dirt moves.
Soil drifts atop the mound, floating down, soft. Insects pause in their endeavours, scuttling away from the sound. Rodents pause, ears pressed flat against their skulls, waiting for what came next.
Beneath the streets, in the dark, fingers scratched. Skin peels from bone, raw and bloodied stumps scrabbling, seeking light.
The earth moves.
The earth bulges, soil rippling.
Scratch, scratch, scratch.
The tunnel is dark and those things that make it their home should not have to rely on vision. The insects and the rodents do not need sight and can manage quite nicely without.
Air moves further down the sewer tunnel. In the dark, something new has come.
It is impossible. Although there are ways for birds to get beneath the streets, birds are creatures that crave air and space, not the dank, enclosed, tomb-like atmosphere of the sewer. And yet there is one down here, its spread wings almost touching the walls at either side. It glides, flapping its wings only when momentum implies it is about to go too low, unerringly avoiding all obstacles.
In the dark, the bird should have flown into a wall and dashed its brains out against unforgiving stone. Yet it navigates the turns with ease, never going too high or too low. Its feathers are as black as the midnight tunnel around it, eyes the same colour, even its beak. It glides, at one with the darkness, parting the air significantly for the first time in too long, leaving the creatures in its wake twitching with nerves.
It should not be here.
Beneath the streets, in the dark, it lands on the marker, talons digging into the strips of cloth without dislodging them, knowing just where to perch although it cannot possibly see anything. It pays no heed to the fabric, no interest in them at all.
It sits, head tilted to one side, eerily still.
The earth before the marker falls back, leaving an indentation that was not there before. It heaves out again, pausing, falling back, as if it were a lung struggling for air, as if something beneath the ground has come to life.
And then it stops.
In the dark, the loudest sound of all is the silence.
The crow caws.
The sound echoes through the tunnels, sending vermin running for cover. It echoes, breaking the quiet, echoes tonelessly beneath the streets, where there is no one left to hear.
The dark may hold sway, but the silence is shattered.
The ground heaves, bulging like some tenuous membrane before showering in several directions, disgorging its contents. A figure breaks through the soil, as if the very earth has rejected him, falling forward onto hands that are slicked with blood from their struggles, their scratching.
Beneath the streets, in the dark, he takes his first gasp of air.
His heart. He had not been aware of his heart beneath the dirt. Now it thunders, as if it is outside his body, some creature with heavy tread coming for him.
His first gulp of air brings pain.
The air beneath the streets is thick, somehow oily, unused. It is not fresh. He sucks it in anyway; greedy for it, feeling that he can never get enough, in spite of the pain his expanding lungs give him. He holds it, never wanting to let it go again, but can do so for a mere second before it escapes his body in an agonised gasp.
As soon as it is gone, he sucks in another. A third. These are easier and he continues to breathe in, out, in, out, until he can rid himself of the shaking sensation of suffocation.
The pain recedes.
Breathing heavily but no longer concerned about running out of air, he blinks. He sees nothing. Down here, it is dark and there is no way for his eyes to adjust to the total inky black.
His hands are covered in some gritty substance he realises, dirt or something. He clenches his fingers to be almost a fist, feeling the way his hands manipulate the matter. He expects pain. There was pain, a lot of it, while he scratched at the earth...
But that memory is hazy, although it has to be recent.
He lifts his hands to his face, although he cannot see them, flexes them again. There is no pain. Runs his thumbs over the digits, feels nothing but solid, uninjured flesh.
He struggles for understanding but there is nothing.
He looks around himself, panic bubbling near the surface. He remembers nothing. Not how he got here, or indeed where here may be. All he knows is that he is in the dark.
Alone in the dark.
Mired in silence, alone in the dark.
The crow caws.
He cries out, tries to turn, his legs still in the hole where he had been lying, almost tangling up. He knows this – this fear, this free-floating fear, is not like him, but he cannot say why not.
The bird regards him dispassionately.
He cannot see it, in the dark, but he can feel its eyes upon him, can hear the ruffling of its feathers enough to guess at its genus. He reaches out, knowing he probably should not even as he does, knowing that the bird will probably peck at him, but unable to think of anything else to do. Something he almost recognises as logic tell him that judging by the whereabouts of the sound, it is either an improbably large bird or it is perched on something, something that might help him find his way home.
He puts a hand on the marker and although his skin brushes the bird's talons, it does not move, does not even flinch. Disregarding the bird, he uses the marker to pull himself to his feet. Once upon a time, he was stronger, did not need help like this – but those memories elude him and he accepts the aid.
The effort takes a lot out of him and he pauses for breath – and yet, he feels stronger than he did mere minutes ago when he had barely been able to catch air. The – perch – is something wooden and he has time to wonder what it could be, left here in the dark.
Those answers will come to him.
In the dark, he closes his eyes and takes stock. His mind is not a blank. More, it is as if someone has drawn a veil across his memories, which are fighting to escape. He can sense the shape of them, taste them on his tongue. He knows they will come to him, given time.
He does not want to be here when they do.
The shapes he sees are twisted and terrifying. They taste metallic, of copper, they smell of blood. He does not want to be down here, in the dark, when they break through.
He does not want to remember them at all.
He does not want to be here.
The crow caws, rises from the marker. Its wings brush his face as it leaves and he cringes away. He can never remember a bird down here before...
Down here. A memory almost surfaces, sinks again.
He has to get out.
As his hand brushes the top of the wood, he feels something soft against his fingers. Familiar, yet alien. Changed.
After a brief hesitation, he grabs for the fabrics and carries them in his hand as he takes after the direction he thinks the bird went in. But it is dark, dark. His heart pounds, counting off the seconds, marking the time he spends here.
His fingers play with the fabric, gripped tightly in his hands, but his thoughts are carefully blank. He walks, not knowing or caring where he is going as long as he is gone, away from this dark place. Unseeing, tired, he stumbles over obstacles in his path, walks into walls, falls and wonders if he should just stay in the place he lays.
And yet he gets back to his feet and stumbles on. Quitting is not in his nature.
He wonders just how he knows that, when he seems to know so little else.
Once or twice, a thought occurs to him. That he is lost, beneath the streets, in the dark. That there is no reason for him to keep going, no reason at all. He is lost.
Lost. Alone. Beneath the streets, in the dark.
And whenever that thought occurs to him, he hears the sound of the bird ahead of him, calling, as if it knows his thoughts and is pulling him in the direction he is supposed to go in.
And he follows, because there is nothing else left for him to do.
He follows, because it is either that or be left here.
Beneath the streets.
In the dark.