I went out first thing in the morning and began looking for it. I never expected to find it in the road where I had lived for seventeen years, but the gossip that I overheard in the pub the previous night had confirmed it; one of the manholes led not to a sewer, but to the long-sealed tomb of a 16th century wizard king, struck from the history books for confusing magical reasons.
I located three of the round, thick metal lids; two bearing the logo of the local water authority, the third completely blank. I’m not sure how I hadn’t noticed it before, as my eyes usually glue themselves immediately to the lack of things, the blank, the absent. But this had passed me by completely – a perfectly smooth, round disc with no scuffs, engravements or handles. Not even a gap around the side for my trusty crowbar. It made sense – why would the bones of a wizard king make it easy for any passer-by or mistaken workman to enter their place of sanctitude?
I knocked on the lid. It was early and nobody was around, and I was glad of this as the sound of echoing death rang out across the street as I rapped the manhole cover with my bunched knuckles. Birds rose from trees, branches rustled and a crow was sick. I went to knock again, and my hand passed straight through the cover, which had grown mysteriously permeable as if my firm knock had somehow altered the molecular structure. Pride swelled within me; it had been a very good knock. But, as I allowed myself a small smile, I noticed that I had entered a state of dangerous imbalance and was beginning to topple towards the hole. I shut my eye holes tightly, and braced myself for an impact that never came.
I fell for a time, and then something changed. I no longer felt air rushing past my face, and I no longer tumbled and span like a miniature wolf in an oversized washing machine. I quickly decided that I would have to open my eyes, and quickly followed this thought with the corresponding action. I was floating mid-air in an infinite chamber. It was Tuesday.