The sound continues, louder. Terrence begins to feel light-headed, has to breathe deeper to grasp a breath. It’s possibly a leak. The air-flow isn’t as well-maintained in these old disused tunnels. That’s all it is. He moves quicker, fingertips reaching, stretching out; seeking a door. A thought hums agitated through his mind: air-flow is maintained everywhere, anywhere a child or animal may stray. It’s probably just a lie, propaganda, there’s no way resources are used up on this dank place.
Except it doesn’t feel like a leak. It feels as though the air is being stolen from his lungs themselves.
He keeps moving; he has to keep moving. There has to be a door.
The whistling shrieks high and wild, blanketing the tunnel, lighting it up. He can feel it, burrowing through his ear canal. He can’t scream. He can’t even breathe.
He tries to run. But collapses to the floor. He scrabbles against the ground, fingernails in the dust. He scratches at his ears and head and chest. The whistling grows louder still. Stealing the sound from between his lips, stealing the breath from his lungs.
He fights, gasping emptily, and everything fades away.
Brett stares blankly, unimpressed.
Ari frowns. “What? You love that story.”
Brett rolls his eyes. “Maybe the first thousand times.”
Ari sighs. His baby brother seems to be growing up so fast, too fast. “I should tell you one of the old campfire tales. The ones they actually told around camp fires.”
Brett’s face scrunches up. “What are camp fires?”
“People used to spend days outside, for fun. It was called camping. They would make a fire to keep them warm and sit around it and tell stories.”
“Weren’t they afraid the fire would use up all the air?”
Ari laughs. “They were outside silly! No shortage of air up there.”
“Oh.” Brett says, frowning.
Ari can sense the question forming and tries to think of how he can derail it. He’s seen pictures of forests and trees and sky-scrapers. But to tell the truth Ari doesn’t understand the concept of outside much better than Brett. He’s still intent on keeping the all-knowing big brother ruse for as long as he can though.
Ari puts on granddads voice and mimics, “No one tells the old ones anymore. Vampires don’t make sense without t’sun. Werewolves don’t make sense without t’moon.”
Brett laughs. “Outside is scary.”
Ari grins, keeping character, “Well if you’d told ‘em people would end up living like this: it’d be the scariest story of them all.”