by Hydrargentium

The little boy looked up at him. Though not exactly clean, he looked properly fed, and his hair was cut in the kind of style mothers tend to favour for four-year-old boys — certainly not shaggy and wild, more youthful and impish. Haze noticed that his clothes were definitely not new, but patches on both knees showed signs of regular upkeep.

“It’s okay, mister superhero. I almost fell in the water, but I’m okay now.”

Haze looked at the slowly flowing sludge. It might be raw sewage, or maybe just thick with dirt from the streets. He no idea, really. He’d never even considered what lay below the streets. It was just where the rainwater flowed beneath the curbside grates. He realized he was probably lucky he couldn’t smell anything.

He felt the boy pass a finger through his thigh.

“Cool. Are you really here? Are you a ghost?”

Haze smiled. “I’m really here. And I’m alive, too, just with super powers that make me look like a ghost.”

“And speaking of being alive, what happened? Did you save yourself?” He resisted the urge to get straight to the point, to ask why this child was even down here in the first place.

“Uh-uh.” The little boy shook his head. “The Under Man saved me.”