He was dead.
Molly found that the body did not affect her quite the same way she thought it would. The man hanging from the pipe above her looked nothing like John's lifeless, still form. She felt sick, but not as sick as she had expected. She felt afraid, but not as afraid as she should have been considering the circumstances.
"It's Dan," the sewer worker supplied beside her, "God damn it."
His voice was just shy of hysterical. He seemed to be on the verge of crying. A normal reaction to seeing his dead coworker. She heard his sloshing footsteps as he walked away from the scene.
Molly stared at it for a long time, the body of Dan, and said nothing as his blood seeped from his torso, dripped down his clothing, staining her shoes and the water around them. Dan had been a big guy, a bulky guy, and he had been carved into with a knife, it looked like. He had a lot of blood to drain. His skin hung in thin pieces around his ribs. He was hanging by a noose, face twisted into a horrified expression.
Molly thought about her therapist's theories of her insanity; that she'd just somehow conjured up a hallucination in order to help her adolescent mind deal with killing. Molly had thought maybe, just maybe, it could be possible that he was right.
She still didn't know, but she did know one thing, as her eyes swept over the hanging body. There was no way she could have killed Dan. She couldn't have heaved him up that far to tie him to the pipe. She wasn't strong enough. She couldn't have stabbed him in the stomach. She had no knife. Even if she'd been delusional, even if she'd killed before, she couldn't have killed this man. It was a physical impossibility. That simple fact relieved her.
Molly reached up as far as she could, plucked the shiny yellow hardhat from Dan's head, and placed it atop hers. It was too big, but it would suffice. She clicked on the light at the top and smiled.
When she turned to test it out, the stream of light caught the sewer worker's face. His tears shone in the darkness and he stared at her smile as though she had somehow violated his trust.
"Sorry," Molly said, quiet and apologetic, and she let the corners of her mouth fall, "Just glad for the light is all."
The worker nodded, "Didn't know him well or nothin. Just..." he wiped at his eyes, "Damn it."
They stood in silence for a few lengthy moments while he composed himself. The only sound was the dripping, the slow trickle of blood from the hanging body beside her.
Billy swept his hand over the wall of the sewer, feeling the pock marked stone beneath his skin, sweeping his flickering headlamp down the wall. Dark blocks of stone surrounded them from every side. After the panic had subsided, it was all Billy could do to not feel trapped in what had quickly become their dungeon.
He wasn't sure why he was feeling the sewer's walls. There would be no trap doors, no secret passageways out. But the girl had sat down on a small section of concrete out of the water and was massaging her calves. She needed a break and so he chose to occupy his time thinking.
Billy let his hand fall away from the rough stone, and just as he did, the walkie talkie buzzed to life on his hip, filling the noiseless void that surrounded them. He saw the girl jump out of the corner of his eye. His own heartbeat sped in his ears.
It was through a heavy fog of static that he heard his boss' voice again.
Billy's fingers scrambled for the belt at his hip where his walkie hung. He punched the button, "Hello?" His voice shook, desperation hung thick in the air.
"Horwell?" Billy's boss replied, followed by static.
"Yes," Billy closed his eyes briefly, a sigh of relief making its way out of him, "Yes, thank God." He punched the button down so hard it hurt his fingers.
"Horwell, where are you? ...Nearly three in the morning. You and that good for nothing idiot Dan better be done."
Billy's mouth flatlined and he shook his head. "Dan's dead," he said, "Fucking hanging from a pipe down here, cut up something good."
There was a brief, weighty silence.
"Did you... Did you say dead?"
The voice of Billy's boss had lost all of it's usual bravado. He imagined his boss' face, shocked, mouth open wide, ruddy face draining white.
"Consider this my resignation notice, okay? I'm not comin back down here. There's something... something wrong down here," Billy felt his voice crack and pressed his eyes shut tightly against the tears, grimacing. He didn't want to cry in front of the girl again.
His boss' voice lingered in silence over the radio before he heard him clear his throat, "You're freaked out, Billy. That's alright. Just tell me where you are."
Billy recoiled a bit at his name. His boss had never addressed him by his first name, and Billy was surprised that he even remembered it.
"I don't even fucking know," Billy admitted.
"Okay, okay," his boss said over some static, "Take a couple breaths. Dan wasn't in the right state of mind, you know? He'd been suicidal in the past."
Billy glanced at the hanging body to his right, shrouded in darkness. Dan's open eyes shone in the headlamp. He shook his head, "No, no... Dan didn't kill himself. There's no way, no fucking way he did that to himself."
A gurgling noise deep in his boss' throat sent shivers down Billy's spine. It was a deep gurgling accompanied by a wet cough. It was the gurgling of someone that was slowly drowning.
"Boss?" Billy said tentatively, his stomach twisting into a nauseating ball.
Wet wheezing, like forcing liquid through lungs, more static.
"No, no, no... God, damn it."
Billy quietly sobbed, lowering the walkie talkie down to rest in his hand. He knew what had happened, how could he not? His boss was spluttering on his own blood on the floor of his office. The tears were hot down his face. They stuck to the stubble on his chin before dropping down into the blood-streaked water below him.
"Hello," another voice said from the walkie talkie, one that Billy did not recognize. It was dark, gravelly, monstrous, and the static did not help the sound.
Billy's head shot up in surprise. He looked at the girl, whose eyes were wide. She was terrified so Billy tried to pull his shit together.
"Who the fuck is this?" he said into the walkie. His fingers trembled.
The voice laughed, a slow cackle as though they were trying to sound like a haunted house special effect.
"Never mind that," it said, "I want to speak to your female companion."
Billy looked again at the girl, face pinched in worry. She was staring at the ground now, looking sick, looking pale.
"Well you're speaking to me," he said, "so maybe you should start explaining what the hell is going on around here."
"Hmm..." the voice drawled, "What is going on? Well, I'd say an awful lot of people are dying around you, Billy Horwell. Are you afraid that you might be next?"
Billy licked his lips, unsure of what to say to that. Of course he was afraid, but Billy was not the type to easily admit something like that.
"You aren't going to tell us anything, are you?" Billy said.
The voice chuckled, "Maybe the girl would have better luck."
Billy looked again at her, feeling no hesitation in his decision, only hard determination. He couldn't keep the anger from his voice, "No, leave her alone. She's just a kid."
"Wait,"she said beside him. Her voice was strained, a quiet, soft sigh. She stumbled forward to him, "I'll do it."
"You don't gotta," Billy said, tightening his grip on the walkie talkie, "You know that right?"
She nodded, looking him in the eye. Still, Billy hesitated, giving her one last long glance. She looked less sick now, a bit more stable. Her dark eyes were no longer wide with panic.
"What other choice do we have?" she said.
With some reluctance Billy dropped the plastic piece of hardware into her hand.
The voice had been strangely silent throughout their conversation, as though it knew it would interrupt them, and Billy glanced around in the darkness in paranoia. He felt watched.