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Fiction: The Hole
He Couldn't Breathe . . .
Buried alive. Yes, that’s what he was, Renfrew realized. I can’t go up, I can’t go down, so I must be stuck here. Dirt everywhere and that smell. Whatever the farmer had poured down the Hole caused this. Dead everywhere. A body below him, one to his right, and who knows how many above him. On his left, a wall of dirt.
He tried to squirm but to no avail. Hard to breathe! If only I could push him out of my way. Who is that, or should I say who was that? Is that Pinkert? Whoever it was stood in his way and would not move. Damn!
Up above the sun was shining and Jake Everett was working in his field, unaware of the turmoil below. The turmoil he had caused. He looked up. “A bit hot,” he said to no one in particular, “but I gotta get this stuff done. No one else’s gonna do it but me.” He continued to work.
Down below Renfrew considered his precarious position. If I stay like this, I’m going to die. I will starve to death or die of thirst or that smell with eventually get me like the others. Whatever way, just as dead. Got to move. With all the strength he had left, he tried moving the body above him, whoever it was. No dice. This is getting worse. I must do something.
Jake Everett considered the stump of a tree he had cut down months before. It had to go sometime and today seemed like as good a day to do it as any. He walked to the barn to get his tractor.
Renfrew had but one option left. He had to chew his way out. Pinkert, I’m sorry. He began his cannibalistic job, the only option he had. It took a while and it was nauseating. He could not swallow his dead friend’s flesh no matter how hungry he was so he expectorated below him onto the other body, whoever it was. It did no matter. He -- or she - would not mind. Eventually he had torn enough of Pinkert’s flesh to see above him. Was that a bit of daylight?
Everett looked around the barn and settled on a chain. That should do it, he thought. He’d wrap it around the stump, attach the other end to the tractor, and pull the damn thing out of the ground. He started the tractor and got ready to do the job.
Yes! Light! Hope! Renfrew spat out the last piece of flesh and hair and pushed up as hard as he could. Another body in his way, a smaller one. A baby. Oh no! It did not matter. It was dead. Nothing he could do. I must survive. To tell others. This must not happen again. He pushed the small body aside. The light! The opening! There it was! Just a few inches . . . what was that noise?
Everett headed toward the offending tree stump on his old tractor. On the way, one of his tires crushed a clump of dirt covering the Hole. Oblivious to the barrier he had just erected, he continued to the stump, whistling as drove.
The light! It was gone! No, no! What happened? Where is the light? He almost gave up then, almost deciding to just lie there and die. A minute or so went by as he lay in the suffocating darkness. Finally he made up his mind. I am good at digging am I not? Did we not make this Hole? With renewed strength, he dug.
It took a few tries, and many adjustments of the chain, but the stump finally came out of the ground. Everett started to pull it toward the barn and the chain slipped off the stump. “Damn!” He dismounted and started walking toward the stump. Something on the ground caught his eye. One of them!
Finally Renfrew broke through. Daylight! Freedom! I can breathe! Then he looked up.
“I thought I got all you damn chipmunks, but I guess not. I’ll have to tell Joe that stuff he sold me didn’t work.” He looked around and picked up a spade he had left on the field earlier.
Renfrew saw the spade up above Everett’s shoulder. No! Don’t! We’re not dumb animals! We have feelings! We are . . . He didn’t have time to finish.
To Everett it was just chirping anyway. He almost felt sorry for the animal, even as he smashed its head with the implement. “They’re cute, but they’re damn pests, tunneling all the time,” he said, again to no one in particular. Can’t tell Jodie I did this, he thought, referring to his teenage daughter. “Oh Daddy, how could you?” she would say. She had a soft spot for animals, even vermin.
The remains of Renfrew slid down the Hole, joining the others. Everett turned over the spade, covered up the Hole, and walked toward the stump, whistling as he went.
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This is the website of Alex Drinkwater, Jr., author of fiction. including the novels "The Ghosts of Hanoi," and "Duly Constituted Authority."