The Hole in the Wall 9

Brutus guided the boat toward a cave that looked small from a distance, but grew to be large enough to fit a cruise ship.  The water broke and slapped at the cave walls making it impossible to hear anything else.  But April wanted most of all to know where she was.  It had begun to dawn on her that she wasn’t thinking clearly.  She had almost forgotten the door, that her husband had fallen through and she had gone after him.  Waking up in that field had seemed so normal, even Brutus and this island of ice felt perfectly normal.

As they reached the back of the cave, the water began to settle and quiet.

“Is this where you live?”  April asked.

“Yup,” Brutus replied.  He was distracted as he brought the boat alongside a wooden dock.  The small boy leapt out and onto the wooden planks to tie off the boat.  “Come on, I want you to see something.”

“It’s too cold here, Brutus,” April said.  “I can’t…”

“I know, that’s why we need to go,” Brutus explained.

April climbed out of the boat, but everything she touched was covered in a layer of ice, freezing her skin and speeding up the cold creeping into her chest.  Once again Brutus led the way.  First into a narrow cavern and then up a set of icy stairs.  April noticed that the walls of ice produced their own light, glowing magically.

The stairs were steep, and April’s legs were beginning to burn, but it was at least keeping it warm.

“How much further?”  April asked.

“Sorry,” Brutus apologized quickly.  “I’m not done building it.  But when I am, it’ll be better.  I’m gonna have secret passages and maybe an elevator that shoots you all the way to the top really fast.”

“Sounds fun,” April said politely, not knowing if he actually meant it or imagined it.  “But for now, how far?”

“All the way to the top,” Brutus said.  “You can see everything from up there.”

The top was another hour away, or at least that’s what it felt to April.  Brutus pushed open a metal hatch letting in a stream of blinding light.  He stepped out, followed by April, onto a massive plateau.  But Brutus was right, it was an amazing view.  It look out over the dense fog that encircled the island.  April could make out the beach where they had set off, and if she squinted, even the field where she had first woken.

Brutus took her hand in his and guided April to the other side of what was an enormous glacier.  The view here was of mostly water.  The ocean went out as far as the eye could see.  It danced like fire as the sun shone down on it.  Directly below them was some sort of lake, cut off from the ocean by more ice.

“There,” Brutus pointed.  “Do you see?”

He was point into the air and so at first April thought to look for some bird or cloud.  When she saw nothing, April’s eyes refocused and spotted what he was trying to show her.

“We’re not going on that are we?”  April asked about the rope bridge.  It went out from the edge of the ice into what looked like, to April, nothing.

“We have to,” Brutus said.  “Please, please.  If you don’t I’ll…”  He didn’t finish the sentence, instead the buzzing in his throat grew louder.  The veins in his face and arms throbbed.

“Okay, okay,” April agreed in the hopes of stopping a tantrum.

Brutus opened his mouth in a disturbing smile.  He ran off toward the bridge, and April tried to keep pace.  When they arrived, April thought that it didn’t look to bad.  It was newly constructed and as she hit it with her foot, it hardly swayed.  Brutus didn’t give her much more time than that before he darted along the wood and rope.  April took a slower approach.

Every few yards or so, Brutus would stop to urge her forward, until they came closer to the end.  There was a door there, floating in mid-air.  Brutus waited with his hand on the door knob, looking like he was going to pee his pants.  And almost before she was at the end, he flung the door open and dragged her through.

They came out into cave that was too narrow to walk abreast, so that they had to scoot through sideways.  The cave came to an abrupt stop and April stepped out into a living room.  She looked back to see that she’d come from a large crack in the wall.  In the house most of the lights were off, except one or two that provide just enough light to see by.

Directly across from them was the front door, to their left a sliding glass door.  There was a hallway that would lead to the three bedrooms and a bathroom.  The kitchen was at the front of the house, along with the dining room.

“This is my house,” April said.

“I know, I got it for you,” Brutus replied.

It was definitely April’s house, but, “This isn’t my furniture.”

From the hallway came a noise.  A light flicked on and the silhouette of two people was cast across the wall.

The Hole in the Wall 8

“Brutus?  Brutus,”  April stammered to keep from over reacting.

The small boy watched her.  He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt like any other child might.  But Brutus didn’t blink, his dark black eyes were motionless, and somewhere from deep in his throat he made a buzzing sound.

Something swished through the grass startling them both.

“We have to go,” Brutus said, “before Jacob finds us.”

“Who’s Jacob?”  April asked.

Brutus grabbed her by the hand and started to tug.  “Please,” he begged.  “Jacob is bad.  We have to go.”

Thinking it best to argue later, April let Brutus lead the way.  He seemed to know exactly where he was heading, though they couldn’t see past the grass.  The two of them emerged onto a  beach with the sun high over head.  Brutus let go of April and ran across the sand.  He reached a large piece of driftwood, that turned out to be a boat.  The boy had incredible strength, flipping  the entire thing over and dragging it into the water.

“Eg, eg,” Brutus grunted and pointed to the paddles still laying on the beach.

April obliged, grabbing the paddles and tossing them into the boat.  She tried to help push the boat further along, but a wave lifted it along with her.  Rather than fall into the water, April threw herself into the boat, head over heels.  When she regained her orientation, lying on her back, Brutus sat over her watching.

“We’ll be safe when we get to my fort,” Brutus said.  “Jacob isn’t allowed inside or else.”

“Why is Jacob so bad?”  April asked.

“He just is,” Brutus replied.  “Trust me.  If he knew you were here, he’d take you away.”

“Away to where?”  April asked.  “Somewhere bad?”

“Don’t worry,” Brutus said.  “We’re almost there.”

Brutus had been rowing this entire time, and now April noticed they were going at a disturbingly fast pace.  Ahead of them, the approached a thick fog.  The little boat whisked into the mist.  The temperature dropped and April started to shiver.  Then suddenly a massive wall of ice appeared in front of them.  It stretched in all directions beyond the eye could see.

The Hole in the Wall 7

April woke to the delicate scent of fruit and honey.  It was warm, making her feel light-headed and lazy.  She gave her body a long stretch to try and wake up, but that only seemed to make her more tired.  April let her head sink into the soft ground and went back to sleep.

Soon the sun grew hot and this time April stirred to wipe the sweat from her brow.  She fought against the heat until she could stand it no longer and sat up.  Simultaneously she was at ease to find herself in a field of wild flowers, and confused as to how she got there.

Thinking that she’d wait until the grogginess subside, April picked at the long blades of grass.  Each green strand was covered in a downy fur adding to the soft bedding.

From somewhere out of side, beyond the tall flowers came a giggle.  It was a child and April began to remember something.  The memory was hazy like a fading dream and the more she clutched at it the more she lost.

The giggle came again, this time from behind her.  It was quickly followed by another that sounded as if it was beside her.

“Hello,” April called out.  “Are you playing a game?”

This time two giggles burst out at the same time.  The children ran through the field circling April.

“Is this hide and seek?”  April asked.  “Do you want me to catch you?”

The children stopped and went silent.

“Okay, you little goblins, I’m coming for you,”  April called out.

She leapt up almost high enough to see over the flowers.  Then giving it her best guess, she went off.  Knowing all she had to do was get close and the children wouldn’t be able to contain themselves, she charged whooping as she went.  It wasn’t long before the laughter started and a tiny body shot out past her.

“I’m going to get you,” April shouted.

She followed the trail of bent flowers and grass until she heard a cry.  Laying on the ground, near a large rock was a small boy.  He was sobbing, having tripped.

“It’s not fair,” he said between sniffles.  “I got hurt because of this dumb rock.”. He had his face buried in the grass trying to hide his embarrassment.

“Are you okay?”  April asked.

“Leave me alone,” the boy snapped.

April stayed where she was and said, “My name is April, what’s yours?”

The boy rolled over to look at her.  He had two sets of black orb like eyes and a mouth that went from ear to ear in a terrifying grin.  April nearly screamed, but covered her mouth in an attempt to hide her shock.

“I’m Brutus,” the boy said.

thinking, ponder, ponderous, Archemides

The Hole in the Wall 6

“What do you mean watching me?”  I asked.

“What do you mean, what do I mean?”  The girl asked mockingly.  “Tippity tap, tippity tap.”  She begins kicking out a rhythm against the stone floor.  “Click clack from the cracks.  Knocks and snaps at your back.  Windows with eyes.  Mirrors with ears.  Walls with knows, everywhere Cynthia goes.”  The girl continues to tap dance on the floor humming to herself.

“Your name is Cynthia?”  I asked, but the girl just laughs.  “What is this place?”

“These are the walls,” a voice boomed.

Cynthia stopped in place, her eyes wide.  “Brutus is here,” she said almost inaudibly.  “Jacob.  Run.”  The girl turned and as fast as she could went into the darkness.

“Yes, run.  It will make this game more, more fun,” Brutus roared from somewhere in the cavern.

“Go Melody, go,” I shouted.

Melody was off like a shot, checking back to make sure I was close behind.  As we ran my eyes adjust to the dim light.  The walls here were covered with the phosphorescent algae, giving off enough illumination to navigate by.  Ahead of me Cynthia’s footfalls echoed of the stone.  It soon became disorienting try to track her.  For the first hundred yards Melody confidently led the way until we came to a cross roads.  We both skidded to a stop.

“Meow, meow,” Melody said.

“I trust you,” I told her.

“Jacob ran,” Brutus’ voice was close, “with a little song.  But something went oh so wrong.  He’s gone around to where he’s come, not knowing what he’s going from.”

In the echoes and darkness, there’s no way to tell where he is.

“What do you want?’  I called out.

“To be,” Brutus answered back.

“To be what?”  I asked.

Brutus chuckled.  “Do you know how boring it is?  I am a watcher in the walls.  Really Jacob, how long can you play those video games?  Do you know how much you waste?  Hours.  Days.  Years.  You do nothing with what you have.”

“You’re angry at me because I’m boring?”  I was confused.

“You,” Brutus said.

“Me what?”

“To be you,” Brutus said.  “I want to be you.  To take advantage of everything you have and take for granted.”  There was a brief silence.  “But before you run, you should know that pretty little thing of spring has just arrived.”

My heart was pounding in my chest.  The tension in my body wanted to be released into the need to get away; as far away as possible, but what in direction.  Where is Brutus?  What path do I take?  What does he mean, to be me?  What does he mean by…?

“April?”

thinking, ponder, ponderous, Archemides

The Hole in the Wall 5

The cave entrance was blockaded by a drift of snow higher than my chest.  But from all the reality survival shows I’ve seen, this is a good thing.  It means the wind can’t get in either.  It takes me a moment to decide how to navigate the pile of snow with Melody.  Tying off the leg of my pants I drop Melody in side.

“Meow,” she said weakly and a little irritate.

“Just till we get out of the cold,” I told her.

Then I use the other leg and turn my pants into a bandolier.  It’s going to be cold, but the only way to get over the hill, is to spread myself over the snow to keep from sinking in.  I belly crawl up the thin layer of crust that’s formed on the drift.  It scratches and burns.  But pain is just a matter of mind over matter.  Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, and I know something is wrong.  There is no need for pain.  There is no pain.

The moment I reach the peak, I flip my legs over the edge and slide down the other side.

And for once the TV is right.  Inside, it’s at least five degrees warmer.  It’s enough to drive me forward on my hands and knees.

“Meow,” Melody complained.

With one hand I release the knot and she slips out of the pant leg.  She stops instantly on the hard stone floor, sniffing and making a quick search of the area.

“Meow,” she said.

“Warmer?”  I said.  “Maybe it’s better if we go deeper?”

“Meow, meow.  Meow,” Melody pointed out that it’s also darker.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” I said.

Getting to my feet, Melody and I head further into the cave.  Before long it turns pitch black, and I move along with one hand on the wall and the other out stretched.

“Meow,” Melody told me to stop.

“What?” I asked

“Meow,” she wants me to stay.

“Fine,” I said.

I hear the soft sound of Melody bounding off into the darkness.

After the longest time she started shouting, “Meow.  Meow.  Meow.”

“What?  What is it?”  I called to her.  I’m already moving, faster than I should; stumbling once and nearly breaking my face.

Then I turn a corner and see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Melody’s silhouette guides me forward.  I find her standing at the top of a stair way; steps carved into the stone and leading down.  Somewhere below there’s a light and a hot breeze hits my face.  I don’t need much more encouragement to go down, ignoring all trepidation.

The stairs go down at a steep angle, they’re slick and wet from the melted snow.  At the bottom there’s a small pool of water.  It’s a hot spring, filled with some kind of phosphorescent algae.  Both Melody and I drop to the edge of the pool and let the steam warm out bodies.  Melody sniffs at the steam, bringing it into her lungs.

“Good idea,” I said.  It’ warms my lungs, heats up my chest and stops the shivers.

“Jacob,” the voice of a girl echoes off the stone walls.  “Jacob.” The little girl appears from a dark corner.  She’s wearing a light sunflower print dress.  “Jacob, there you are.”

“Hi,” I said gently.  “I’ve been looking for you.”  I do this without moving, afraid I might scare her away.

“I’ve been looking for you too, Jacob,” she said to me.

“My name isn’t Jacob,” I told her.

“Oh, Jacob, don’t be daft,” she said to me.  “Come on…”  The little girl stopped suddenly.  “Oh no, did you lose your pretty wife?”

“How do you know me?”  I sit up quickly.  “How do you know my wife?”

The girl cocks her head.  “Because I watch you through the walls, silly.”