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.”

thinking, ponder, ponderous, Archemides

The Hole in the Wall 4

Foreword:

The good news is that I’m alive, my post is just a little late.  The bad news, I stabbed myself in the hand, which makes typing difficult.  Actually it’s making everything difficult.  And in case you’re wondering it was a from a brutal fight with a kitchen knife and a bag of frozen food.

20140722_192827

 

For those of you who can palm read: I know, I know.

For those who can, interpret what you will.

palm reading diagram illustrated

And without further ado:

———————————————————————–

Melody came with me, clawing at everything as we slid down the slick floor. There wasn’t much time to get my bearings, but I knew it was cold and damp. Then suddenly the floor was gone and I was in mid-air. Somewhere in the darkness, Melody screeched. I had a moment of clarity, drifting in the emptiness; I began to count.

One.

Two.

Thr…

I slammed into icy water, choking, swallowing and sucking it into my lungs. The shock of the cold turned up and down backwards. For a moment I fought to find air, going in the wrong direction. Everything burned, my lungs from lack of oxygen and my skin from the stinging ice water. When gravity finally showed me the right direction, I shot to the surface, desperately heaving.

Only a second after gaining air, my attention turned to melody. She was clawing at the water to stay afloat. Her head was so far under that she couldn’t cry out without drowning. I tried to move as quickly as possible, but I felt my muscles tighten and grow sluggish. Hypothermia was setting in. I didn’t have long to Melody before she succumbed first, then get out before it took me.

Within hands reach, Melody went under. I scoop down into the water, reaching blindly, catching her tiny frozen body. Holding her overhead and treading water with my other three limbs, I let us both take a breather. Melody hacked and gagged, coughing up liquid. She was shivering so much, I struggled to keep hold of her.

While I waited, I spotted something that looked like land. Setting Melody on the nape of my neck, I swam as fast as I could without knocking her off. She was too stunned to cry or move.

The land that I spotted was covered in snow and felt more like a sheet of ice. It was a struggle to climb up onto the slick surface. Melody took the initiative and jumped off my back and onto land. She’d never seen snow before, and searched for some safe spot to sit, but the powder was ankle-deep to her.

When I finally managed to get out of the water, I reacted much the same way as Melody. I knew I couldn’t lay or sit on the cold ground. I also knew that I needed to get out of my wet clothes, even if the air was frigid.

Stripped down to my boxers, I crouched over the snow. I grabbed Melody and did my best to wring the water from her fur. Then we stayed there shivering. I held her to my chest to keep us both as warm as possible. I knew that any minute now April would come after me. So I waited and listened to hear her calling. Against my instinct, I didn’t call for her, too afraid she might rush head long into the same thing I did.

I had no way of telling how much time had passed, except for the speed at which Melody dried herself.

We were both shivering. The tips of my fingers were blue. If I waited any longer they’d be black. Melody was doing worse.

Behind me, I’d seen it, but didn’t want to consider it an option. About a hundred yards in the distance was a wall of ice. It rose beyond my sight, though at the base was a dark hole; a cave.

There was one hope now. That April had chosen to play it safe and gone for help, and I had to get into the cave to get warmer. I needed a way to communicate where I had gone in case of rescue; I pulled down my boxers and peed an arrow pointing in the direction of the cave.

My clothes in one hand and Melody in the other, we headed off.