Chapter: Swallowed Whole

Entry: May 16, 2007

Well, maybe that was an exaggeration. To Jason, the worst only meant nothing, so presented with nothing for all their efforts, no larger insult existed. "Shit!" he yelled. "I don't believe this!" The exertion ringed his head like a gong, and he doubled over, holding both hands to his head. "Ahhhh... Ok, no yelling. Ow."

Kyle sighed and sat down. "Well, that was fun! 'least I got my book. You can play with these eyes all ya want. I'm goin' back upstairs." He paused, "In a minute. I gotta rest."

Then he layed down, rolling his back along the bare dirt until he stared up toward the crooked building that loomed over them, verging on collapse. But Manny wasn't done. No, he was incensed, and fueled by a constantly irritating ringing in his skull. "Kid, I didn't come down here to run home like a naked girl before I done the deed. There's sumthin' here."

"Yeah? Tell me when ya find it."

Jason swung his foot around, cutting a shallow swath in the dirt and sending a billowing cloud toward Kyle, who coughed fiercely upon inhaling a deep sample of Manny's impromptu gift.

"Hey, asshole!" he choked.

"Least you ain't bleedin', kid!" Manny continued to shuffle around, skating ungracefully over the packed dirt, bored and annoyed. "Ow, damn it!" he suddenly cried. He withdrew his foot, now throbbing like his battered head. He too collapsed to the ground, only not to relax, but cradle his aching toes.

From the corner of his eye, he noticed a slight gleam of metal truncating the rut his shoes carved. Well that explains things. He leaned forward and dug his fingers beneath the object, finding it rounded, thick, and heavy. But it fit his grasp, and he wanted to know what it was. So he latched-on, stood on his haunches, and leaned backward. Unfortunately he overestimated the beam's size and fell again, bruising his ass possibly worse than his pride.

Kyle stood up to avoid the dust-tsunami and witnessed the entire exchange—it was the definition of slapstick. "So... I really hope there ain't no monsters down here, 'cause you're doin' their job for 'em. They'll get jealous and eat me instead."

Disgusted, Jason flung his arm out and released the harbinger of his downfall, sending it clattering and clanging only a few feet away; it was heavy after all. "Yuk it up, kid. I don't see you findin' anything."

Amused, Kyle shook his head and giddily skipped over to the metal bar laying a yard from Jason's right. Ok, maybe that was overkill. Don't want to rub it in. He bent over and hefted the weighty iron, grunting as he twirled it experimentally. "What? You 'found' some useless eye-things and a piece of rebar." Then, sarcastically, "I better go find some archeologists. I'm sure they'd find this fascinating." Har!

Jason grunted. He was done talking. He'd taken enough abuse from... inanimate objects to know he was beaten.

"Look what I found!" Kyle yelped. "An... um... Eye poker! A poker of eyes!" He ran up roughly, lugging the heavy pole toward the first eye Jason found, and rammed his arms forward, cruelly smashing the metal into the eerily vulnerable, fleshy carving. Maybe he should have paid more attention to his disturbing dreams, bought stock in their message. Really, he should have seen it coming.

The eye screamed somehow. Deep and low, high and sharp, sending a piercing agony through his skull, forcing him to drop the pole. Jason fared no better, his already muddled and concussed head reeling from several injuries, the sound was like an ice-pick, digging into the fleshy folds of his unassuming brain. He screamed, collapsed to his side, and curled into a fetal ball, rolling back and forth while holding his head, crying as even his thoughts introduced stabbing pain.

Then the eye closed. It didn't just close, it slammed shut hard, a small crack forming in both eyelids as the force sheared through rigid stone. They all closed, all three—one after another, thrumming and booming through the grind of their movement—forming a triangle, a circle, enclosing the two boys.

"Oops." Kyle managed, before the room began to shake.

Both Jason and Kyle scrambled for some place to hide. The rumbling was severe, enough to jolt their legs mercilessly, sending them staggering desperately for support. They knew, even if only subconsciously, that the structure above had been biding its time, waiting for an excuse to finally collapse, end its prolonged existence and churn them like so much butter. Things weren't looking good, optimism decidedly unavailable. Sorry, try again. No, being in the basement of a rickety school wasn't on the agenda, but when the stairs clattered to the ground during the rumbling, the matter was settled.

But the shifts and rattles were consistent, if not expected. There was something symmetric and normal about the grating and dancing pebbles sifted from the floor. Like a machine, or magic, or recipe written ages before their discovery, it formulated and bubbled into manifestation, little by little. The regularity was almost soothing—until the floor parted.

The room itself didn't twist, but to the disoriented boys, there was no difference. The floor spiraled open, spinning like an iris, focusing into nothing as the floor dropped away, pulled into the walls, giving them a ride they'd not soon forget. Kyle scrabbled desperately for the wall, hoping to outrun the cranking gears that withdrew the foundation from beneath him. It didn't matter Jason was mere feet away, pursuing a similar path toward an opposite wall; avoiding the yawning pit below was his only thought. Whether crocodiles, sharks, or fluffy bunnies awaited his descent into that confusing oblivion, Kyle wagered some things were better left unexplored. Yeah, he could deal with that.

Idly, Jason wished he pinched his dad's scotch before wandering out into the wilderness. God knew he could use some liquid painkiller to numb the abuses his body suffered through mere exploration. Then again, considering the amount of cranial trauma he'd experienced, maybe being intoxicated was a close second; using his head like a pinata oddly put the whole threat of impending death in perspective.

But they both ran out of options. Though the receding floor also pulled them along, when their bodies met the wall, the support slid from underneath them, slithering past their buttocks and legs, withdrawing into a hidden den. There was no hiding, no running, only a black nothingness below them. Soon, they'd be intimately acquainted with the pit, or well, or even mild unexciting incline awaiting their impending tumble. Nothing so substantial or philosophical crossed Jason's mind, or Kyle's mind—only escape mattered. They didn't care if two yards, or two feet, lurked below; they made a mistake by fiddling with the mysteries of the basement, and longed to have never found the schoolhouse at all.

When they lost that battle, and careened into that uncaring blackness, that insane evil churning from the bowels of Earth and Sanity, whatever truth lay ahead, beckoned to them.

And so they fell. Into the night, away from the sky, as the tumultuous clouds churned and raged above, the still emptiness swallowed them.

And so, they fell.

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