If you saw a map of the caves superimposed over a map of the city, they would look like ice creeping through cracks in a wall. They followed the major arteries of the city, starting from the oldest parts and flagging when they grew unable to keep up with the developments above. By decree, the map was pasted on the walls of all the departments of work, so nobody would dig into a cave by accident.
Mr. Smith stood at the mouth of one now. He was disguised as a hobo, but you could tell he wasn’t one by how busy he looked. At this particular moment, he was running his fingers over the edges, trying to feel the stone and thinking in a multitude of depths.
If Mr. Smith went in, he would see the city’s refuse huddled in groups, having formed small communities. No children. Mr. Smith liked children – he could talk to them. Further inside were entry-points from above, with grates, right below which would be a lot of garbage and a faint smell of urine and an even fainter one of alcohol.
Mr. Smith fought monsters. But only as a last resort, if he couldn’t reason with them. Far into the caves, at a spot barely reachable from any exit, there was a monster. It was a fairly nice one – a vegetarian – but there were no more trees easily found on the streets of the city, and the monster had been going hungry. It had started creeping up into the city.
One of Mr. Smith’s internet friends had alerted him to the monster. It had eaten Mr. Smith’s friend’s mother’s begonias. After research and due rubbing of the hands, Mr. Smith had reached a solution.
But as always, the problem was people. He couldn’t barge into the caves and go planting trees willy-nilly. These were people’s homes. And to get to the deeper parts where there were no people (of the human persuasion, at least), and to lug that many plants along with him would be quite difficult. If only these people would oblige and make a daisy-chain.
Mr. Smith did a quick calculation of the number of plants and the approximate number of people in the caves. Then he had a long drink of water so he would be hydrated for the task.
And then he walked up to the first group of hobos, cleared his throat, and said, for the first time on that long, long day, “Excuse me, miss. How would you like a garden?”