Hidden away in West County, wending among expansive lawns and expensive homes, is a sluggish ribbon of creek, part drainage ditch and part natural waterway. It snakes through and around a half-dozen subdivisions, a thinly drawn line of trees and small wildlife that occasionally opens into wide pools of brackish water encircled by shoals of rocks and soda bottles. These pools are often fed by a storm-sewer pipe jutting out of the creek bed, a shadowy concrete mouth large enough to swallow a child and partially hidden behind a twisted thorny curtain of poison sumac and broken branches. One of these openings into the earth is deep in the switchbacks of the creek, where the protective girdle of trees is at its thickest. Here the creek bed is almost dry, choked with large stones and the shreds of detritus flushed out of the sewer pipe. The pipe itself is cool and dark, and once you crawl inside, the outside world becomes muffled and indistinct, a soft din of faraway sounds. Surrounded by stone and trees and earth, hidden from the sky and any prying eyes, it's easy to imagine you're the first person to find this spot. But there in the cold solitude of secrecy, you see the crude black snarling wolf Magic Markered into the cement near your head, just inside the boundary separating daylight and shadow. Underneath the rough totem is a single alien word, scrawled in the same black marker, cold and hard as flint: MARDUK. And you know that a kindred spirit has left that other world behind and come to this secret place for... More >>>