Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Hole - free short stories

Andy was a young man who had just turned thirteen last week. His mother had a small party for him with some of his friends over and a cake. Andy did not come from a rich fitmily, though he never went hungry. His father worked hard for the money that he brought home for his family. Andy and his fitmily lived in a small house out in the country. Often, Andy’s father would take him on his days off camping in the woods near his house. He looked forward to the camping trips with his son because they had so much fun together. Andy absolutely loved the woods. He would sometimes get his camping gear together and take hikes to explore the area even when his dad was not around. Although he knew the trails that ran throughout the area like the back of his hand since he spent most of his free time there, he was not yet allowed to spend the night out there without his father being present. His solo hikes and his hikes with his friends always had to end before dark. Next week was the beginning of the summer vacation and the end to all those books for a while. Andy and his best friend, Robert, had planned on taking their first camping trip alone in the woods — without Andy’s father. After months of begging his parents he finally convinced them to let him and Robert go alone. Andy’s father had trained him well and knew that Andy would be all right by himself for just one night. However, deep in his heart he was torn. He knew that Andy was getting old enough and responsible enough to handle himself unsupervised, but he was hurt that his son did not want him along on this trip. It seemed to him that Andy was just getting too old too fast. As the final bell rang dismissing school for the summer, a great roar of kids poured out of the buildings. Excitedly, Andy jumped on the bus for the last time that school year. Robert had already beat Andy to the bus and had saved him a seat. “Well it is about time we got done with this year, man. I did not think it was ever going to be over,” Andy shouted over the gleeful screams of the many kids on the bus. “I know what you mean; it seemed to drag on forever,” Robert answered. “Hey. my dad just bought me a new backpack for this weekend. It is awesome,” Andy blurted with excitement. “It has pockets all over the outside and it holds lots of stuff.” “Cool man, where did he get it?” inquired Robert with a touch of envy in his voice. “I think he got it at the Army surplus store in town. It looks like it is an Army style backpack.” Andy was ready to leave for the woods and had completely packed last night after his father presented him with the gift. “What time do you want to leave tomorrow, man?” Andy asked impatiently. “I figure if we leave for 2pm we will have enough daylight to set up camp and cut firewood.” “Sound’s good,” Andy replied. The two lived within a country block of each other and had been friends for as long as they could remember. After arriving home the two boys got together at Robert’s house and spent the rest of the afternoon packing and plamiing what they were going to do on the trip. Neither of the boys were able to sleep well that night due to the excitement. Finally, 2:00 came and Andy and Robert strapped on their boots and put on their camouflage camping clothes. “I can’t believe we are finally going without your dad here tagging along.” “Yeah, although he wasn’t ever that bad. I mean, I am kinda going to miss him this time.” “Are you kidding? We will have a blast without anyone else there” “I suppose so, but we can make it without him, right?” asked Andy with a hint of apprehension leaking from his voice. “Of course we can. We have camped in these woods more times than you can shake a stick at. We have it down pat — no problem, man.” Andy was reassured by Robert’s confidence in their ability, although deep inside he was just a bit scared. Andy strapped on his trusty survival knife. The knife, although only a piece of steel, gave Andy a feeling that he could handle any problems that might occur in the night. Nothing had ever happened on any previous camping trips to worry Andy, but without his dad there it would be somewhat different. “Now you be back here by lOam tomorrow,” Andy’s mother stated, her voice somewhat shaky and uncertain about the situation. Her baby was now old enough to camp on his own and she did not have the strength that her husband had about these things. “Please..., Please, if anything happens y’all come home tonight. I know you both know what you are doing, but I still wony about my baby.” “Come on mom, I am not a baby. I’ll be all right. It is not like I am going away forever. I’ll be back in the morning.” “I know honey. Just promise me you will be careful.” “I promise mom.” Andy gave his mom a warm hug. “See you tomorrow Ms. Bauman.” “0. K. Robert. You be careful, too.” Andy’s mom waived as the two gear laden boys disappeared down the road heading towards the woods at the dead end. Stopping at the beginning of the trail, the two young campers doused each other with bug repellant. The mosquitoes got big in the woods near Andy’s house. Without repellent they would be miserable all night in the summer heat being eaten alive. Happy to be free for the night, the two strolled down the trail while keeping a sharp eye out for snakes along the way. After hiking quite some distance, they finally arrived at the campsite and dropped the heavy gear they were canying. The site was well established and was nestled in a bend of a small creek. There was a little bench made of two Yshaped logs stuck in the ground with a small diameter limbless tree for a cross bar. The firepit was already dug in the center of the camp. Small clearings dotted the perimeter where the boys had set their tents on previous trips. The campsite was well maintained and not trashy. Andy had been taught by his father to leave the campsite cleaner than he found it if he could. A thin coat of yellow pollen covered the leaves that Andy brushed away from his tent clearing. A piney odor flowed through the woods riding on a cool breeze as the two quickly set up camp. Having set up their tents many times before, they were done in short order. “Well, let’s get firewood for the night,” Andy stated as he passed a small hand axe to Robert and pulled out his machete. They knew exactly what to look for: dry, dead, standing wood. “You go and look over there and I will start on this side of the camp,” said Andy stepping into the woods. Robert jumped off the bench and went the other way with the axe in hand. After an hour, the two had collected a small pile of wood that stood at least three feet high. It was plenty enough to make it through the night. “I think that is enough,” said Andy dropping his machete with sweat pouring off his brow. Robert looked at Andy with a doubtful glance. “We need more than that, man. We will bum that up halfway through the night!” “That IS enough!” argued Andy. “Look, lets just get a little more just in case. I hate looking for wood after dark.” “Yeah but there is no more around here, at least not anywhere near the site.” “Sure there is... You just didn’t look hard enough,” Robert argued his point. “All right. I guess you are right. It is kind of a pain in the butt to find wood after dark,” Andy reluctantly agreed, “Let’s look on the other side of the old barb wire fence.” “That is too far, besides it would be difficult to get the wood through that old, msty, tangled mess.” “NO — you insisted we get more wood. There is no more around here, so lets check over there,” Andy stated flnnly as he stood up and grabbed his machete. The boys had never gone to the other side of the old wire fence. It had long since been overgrown. The wire passed through the center of large trees at some points indicating that it had been wrapped around the tree when it was very young. Normally too far and too dangerous to cross for fear of a nasty puncture wound, the two headed in the direction of the fence with no father there to stop them. “We haven’t ever been able to cross this thing with your dad around, man.” “I know. I was just thinking about that. It is going to be fun exploring a new area.” The two approached the rusty tangle and scanned the line to see if they could find a good place to breech it. “We will cross there, where the pole is down,” Andy suggested. “I’ll hold it for you first, then you hold it for me,” Robert grabbed the top wire pulling it up and stepped in between two of the barbs pushing the middle wire down. Andy gazed past the fence into the thick unkempt woods behind and wondered for just a moment whether or not he was making the appropriate decision. After all, they only needed a bit of wood. After the battling thoughts in his mind had cleared, the adventuresome side of Andy took over and he stepped through the gaping hole in the fence. Almost immediately Andy recoiled in fear pulling his leg back with a quick jerk. He had almost stepped on a coiled up rattlesnake waiting for him just on the other side. “Whoa, look out!” he yelped to Robert who quicldy let go of the fence. The two boys looked at each other and simultaneously said, “That was close!” “Let’s cross further down.” “Yeah, let’s.” Moving out of the snake’ s immediate range, the boys crossed the fence about 20 feet down. “Look, there is a couple of dead trees we could use,” Andy pointed out after crossing. They proceeded to chop the small dead trees down and drag them t the side of the fence. “Let’s get a couple of more pieces and then we will throw it all over the fence and head back to camp.” “0. K.,” agreed Robert. “Let’s check over that hill.” Once they reached the top of the hill the two boys’ mouths dropped open wide and they stared in amazement at what they saw just on the other side. There was a giant hole in the ground at least 15 feet wide sloping down into the darkness. The edges were covered in brush and it was obvious that nobody had disturbed the hole in a very long time. “Wow! Check it out, man!” exclaimed Robert after picking up his jaw. “This is awesome!” After all the many trips into the woods over a lifetime of thirteen years, Andy had never come across such a sight. A powerful force quickly drew he boys to the edge of the hole. “We gotta go check it out man. We can’t just leave this alone,” begged Robert. Andy looked suspiciously at Robert, “What? You want to go down there?” “Yeah!” Robert shouted. “I dunno man, we don’t know what is down there,” Andy blurted. “Besides, what if we got lost?” Robert, sensing Andy really wanted to go too, tried again to convince him. “Come on, it will be fun!” Andy picked up a stick and threw it into the hole. Nothing happened for a moment, and then the stick could be heard sliding down a long slope deep inside. “Well, we need to go back and get our flashlights for sure.” “Yes! I knew you really wanted to go. Come on!” The two forgot completely about the wood piled up by the fence waiting to be chopped up and scrambled through the rusty barbwire like a couple of wet fish. “Bring your knife as well, Robert,” warned Andy expecting the worst. The two quickly grabbed only the essentials from their backpacks: water, a bit of food, flashlights, and a few other items. They left most of their gear at the site in anticipation of a quick return after exploring the interesting hole. Bubbling with excitement, they slid back through the rusty wires that for so long before had kept them from discovering the hole. They climbed the bill again and quickly slid down the other side clicking on their flashlights. Very little could be seen down in the hole since the sun was still up. Deep and dark, it seemed to just eat the light and not give a glimpse of what it contained in return. “We are going to have to go down if we want to see what is in there, y’know.” “Well Robert, Let’s go!” They started into the gaping hole squinting to adjust to the lack of light. The hole maintained it’s giant 15-foot diameter well into the darkness. It sloped down rapidly, but it was not steep enough to cause them to fall. Slowly their eyes adjusted and they were able to see better than before. The walls of the hole consisted of compressed earth with pieces of rock embedded within. It had a red clay-like appearance the deeper they went. Andy reached over and touched the wall and pulled off a chunk smashing it in between his fingers. It seemed like normal dirt but had some sort of slime-like substance holding it together. “What the heck made this kind of hole?” Andy wondered out loud. His voice echoed down the hole indicating that it was much deeper than they had at first thought. Slowly they crept down into the strange hole shining their lights before them into the darkness trying to make out what lied ahead. They turned and looked back the way they had came and were astonished to see the light of day so far up the steep slope. “Man, this thing is deep!” Robert exclaimed, “This is so cool!” “Maybe we should go back; we can’t even see the bottom.” “Aw come on,” Robert prodded, “It is probably right in front of us. It is just that our flashlights aren’t too good. Let’s keep going.” They pressed deeper into the mysterious hole of unknown origin. After walking down for quite some distance the floor began to slowly level off from its slope and begin a series of curves. Astonishingly, the hole kept its gaping size and did not get any smaller as one would expect. At this point, the boys could see no daylight at all. They were solely using their flashlights to provide the light they needed to see. Andy’s light caught a glimpse of something white poking out of the hard dirt floor just ahead of them. “Look, what the heck is that?” Andy asked while pointing at the object. “I don’t know. Let’s go see. It is too far away right now,” Robert answered. As they approached it seemed at first to be a white stick poking out of the ground, but to their horror they perceived it to be a bone once they got close. It was old and looked like it had been there for some time. They tried but could not figure out what animal it could have possibly have come from. “Maybe it is human.” Robert’s voice was cracking. “I doubt it. Don’t be silly. It was probably some poor animal that wandered into the hole and got lost. It couldn’t be human,” Andy replied with a hidden inner uncertainly. Robert nodded as he gulped and they kept going deeper into the unknown. Eventually, the hole came to a rather large room. The ceiling opened up and the vast room seemed to go on forever. Their flashlights quickly became useless as they just faded into the endless darkness. “Hey!” Andy shouted just to see how big the room was. It echoed with grandness. “This place is huge.” Suddenly, the boys froze with terror gripping their hearts. They could hear something walking in the same room. Their instincts quickly told them they were in trouble. Adrenaline coursed through their veins and chilled them to their bones. “What the heck was that?” Robert could barely get the words out. “I don’t know but we better get out of here now!” The two turned and began to run liii! force. They could hear something huge slumbering about and chasing them. The boys filled the room with screams as they ran aimlessly. With no walls to guide them they quickly lost their bearings in the darkness. For the moment the noise following them stopped. They slowed their frantic pace of rumiing with their flashlights shining in all directions. They stopped and turned desperately shining their lights behind them to see what was making the freighting noise. Nothing could be seen. “0. K. Be quiet... Shhh!” Andy said, straining to hear the recently stopped tenifying noise over his heavy breathing and pounding heart. The silence in the cave was deafening. “We need to find the entrance hole and get out now, man. Something is in here with us,” Robert panted. “We just can’t hear it now.” Then it started again in the darkness just beyond the flashlight’s reach. It was sort of a dragging sound with intemiittent giant earthshaking footsteps. Fear once again gripped their hearts. It felt like their chests were going to explode. They frantically attempted to shine their lights towards the noise. They could barely make out the silhouette of a giant creature. Their lights reflected off its eyes making them glow like a cat’s eyes in headlights. They were spaced apart by at least a foot, although it was difficult to tell how far away the creature was in the darkness. “That thing looks like it is at least 15 feet tail!” Andy cried in fear. Suddenly the creature let out the most horrible noise that sounded like a cross between a terrible lion and an angry monkey screaming. Andy and Robert looked at each other with their eyes wide in horror. Both of them were pale white with fear. It seemed like they both wanted to say something, but the words would not come out properly, only incoherent babbling. They turned and began running again — anywhere, just away from the noise. The boys easily outran the slow-moving creature finally mnning into the giant room’s wall. They quickly turned out their flashlights and listened for the noises. They could hear it far away from their present location but still echoing loudly in the large room with them. “Come on, let’s follow the wall by feeling it until we find the exit hole.” Making sure the creature stayed far away, they made their way around and finally found the entrance. Quickly, they jogged up the long seemingly endless tunnel. Upon exiting the hole, they found that night had already i├állen. “Somehow I don’t feel like camping tonight, man,” Robert blurted. “Me neither — lets pack up and head home,” Andy replied while trying to catch his breath. It was the fastest pack up and tent takedown they had ever done. They pulled out of the campsite after loading themselves with their gear and hit the trail heading home. “Look, do you think anyone will believe us if we tell them what happened?” Robert asked. “Of course not, man. They will think we are crazy.” “Well, what are we going to do?” “We are going to keep quiet about this,” Andy stated with sincerity. “But why? We need to tell our parents what happened.” “Are you crazy — we finally convinced them to let us go camping alone and you want to give them a crazy story and make them never trust us by ourselves again? Think about it, man.” “Yeah, you know you are right. We better keep quiet about this or we will never be able to do anything else alone,” Robert realized. “We are just gonna tell them you had a stomach ache.” Andy’s plan worked and their parents never found out the real reason they came home early on that trip. Andy and Robert vowed to go back to the hole one day when they were bigger and with better equipment. Their hearts were filled with wonder and fear as they grew up thinking about the mysterious hole and the strange creature. Until the thy they return, they will never know what was at the bottom of ‘the hole’.


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