Noveletics

August 10, 2008

Mystery

Filed under: Uncategorized — noveletics @ 3:07 am
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1

In about a half foot of mud, the young man sank his knees deeper in and leaned slightly against the earthen wall of the seven foot trench he crouched in. His dark colored pants were tinged an even darker color by the old soil and leaking muddy waterfalls dripping constantly from the sides. Low booms rang out from every direction and the young man leaned harder against the earth.

 

We go over the top tonight, he silently thought. He closed his eyes and tried to remember a home. Any home. Somewhere far away from this place, this emptiness and the ever present daily horrors that seemed to fill his life with an abnormal normalcy. “What happened to Frank?” Someone would ask. “There he is!” With an uproarious laugh, everyone would point at a corpse, entangled in ten feet of barbwire, splayed like a marionette on strings. The sad, lifeless eyes cast downward, as if intentionally look at himself.

 

The young man’s memories were burned with this. Callowness that these times had wrought seemed to be just a replacement for feeling. Everyone smoked cigarettes because everyone wanted to remember civilized practices. Everyone laughed at mortality because the bell tolled everyday for at least one man. The young man prayed he would never lull himself into this blindness. He wanted to be shocked, he wanted to mourn and he desperately wanted to remember home.

 

We go over the top tonight, he thought again. He was given a whistle and an old revolver. He would lead the charge and he was fourteen.

 

The young man awoke on the cold floor. It felt like metal, maybe iron or very smooth stone. His hands outstretched and his face resting calmly, he drew himself upright into a sitting position. There was no light, just a low hum and the sound of someone else breathing. Where was he? He thought. He reached out into the darkness but felt nothing.

 

The young man’s clothing was still slightly wet from the mud and rain from the ditch he remembered crouching in.

 

“Hello?” “Eh, Spractenzi-English?” The young man attempted some rudimentary German, and the dread of being in some prisoner of war camp was quickly becoming a reality, at least in his mind. A lighted door would break the darkness and some despicable Kaiser-loving bastard would emerge shouting obscenities in their Barbarian-tongue. Bollucks, the young man thought. Bollucks, indeed.

 

The young man sat, yogi-like and examined himself. That breathing and the low hum were still very present, but he knew better than to over extend his inquiries into an unknown darkness. Best to take care and be ready. Always be ready is what the Sergeant said. He always knew just what to do. Dammit. Where in the devil am I?

 

Matches! Yes, matches! The young man quickly was sharpening his mind and realized he did have something to light his way, or at least find out what damned place this was. Reaching into his front left breast pocked he fumbled for his matches. Before his hand could reach in, he felt a hole in his jacket. That’s odd, he thought. This was a new jacket, as his other had been thrown away in Kent before he shipped out. The hole was about a quarter inch by a quarter inch in diameter. Strange.

 

The young man continued for the matches and found the glorious technology. Pulling one down to the floor, the young man checked to make sure it wasn’t damp. No, I’m the one who is damp and a bit cold, he mused.

 

Dark and quiet places always seem to any noise as if it is a canon exploding, and the match moving roughly across the smooth floor sounding like a marching band. With a roar, the fire glared from the young man’s hand and he looked as hard as he could into the inky blackness.

 

Moving the match around him, he could make out no discernable characteristics of the room, except for the grey floor, which did appear to be made of metal. Moving in a circle the young man extended the light as far out as he could. In the back of his brain, the young man remembered the breathing sound and listened as closely as he could for it again. There! He had it. Right behind him, about ten yards. The match was burning down quickly and the young man had to know what else was in this darkness with him.

 

A grey wall began to emerge in front of him, as clear as it could be seen in this dim glow and slowly the young man crawled closer. The breathing increased and there in the corner was a figure. It was something breathing, curled in the fetal position and the young man stood up, to face whatever it was. Sleeping. That’s what it is doing, he reasoned. White fur seemed to cover its neck and legs and there were shambles of clothes on it.

 

Some type of beast or some poor wretch, asleep under blankets, the young man pondered. With the last light of the match, the young man stooped down and lowered the match and its illumination down to the creature.

 

All of the sudden, the creature shot upright and glared at the young man.

 

“Jesus!” It screamed. The young man screamed and he realized what he was looking at.

 

A four foot tall rabbit.

 

2

Reeling backwards, and tumbling again to the floor, the young man scrambled for his weapon. No revolver was in his holster and he had nothing to defend himself. He screamed again for good measure.

 

“AHHHHHH!!!! Help! Someone help!!” The young man screamed his loudest.

 

“Wait, just wait. Please.” The voice emanated from the corner where the young man had just left. The thing was talking to him.

 

Rational. That’s what the young man had to be. This had to be some kind of joke. Something weird, something crazy. He was a soldier, he had to maintain composure. Composure did not seem to be coming easily.

 

“Please! Stay away from me!” The young man screeched. He continually crawled backwards in the dark until his head on the opposite wall with a ‘thud’.

 

“Shit!” The young man said. The dull ache from the top of his head resounded to the bottom of his feet.

 

“Please be calm.” The thing spoke again. It seemed to be walking through the darkness towards the young man.

 

“Stay where you’re at, whoever you are. I don’t like jokes or anything, and I have a gun.” The lie was seemingly well received as the thing seemed to stop in the middle of the floor.

 

“Now, please, it’s quite alright, young sir. I’m not going to hurt you. Trust me. As for a weapon, I believe you dropped that over here.”

 

There was a ‘clink’ sound as the thing picked up something off the floor.

 

“My goodness, quite old, isn’t it?” I wonder if it works. The thing had a peculiar way of speaking. Almost like a gentleman.

 

“Why not light another of your matches, sir? Perhaps we might spark a bit of light to grace our dark situation.” The thing was again moving closer.

 

“Honestly, stay where you’re at. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know who you are, and I am at a bit of a disadvantage now that you have my side-arm.” The young man was forcing his brain into a rational state.

 

“Right you are. Let’s see. How about this? I shall place your armament upon the floor and roll you a candle I have. You may light the candle and then see your way to retrieving your, lets say, antique piece of warfare.”

 

The ‘clink’ of the gun touching the floor rang out again and slowly something rolled across the floor and stopped at the young man’s knee. He reached down and felt a wax candle, about six inches in length.

 

Grasping the candle in one hand, the young man quickly reached for another match and struck it upon the floor. What would he see standing in front of him? Did his mind just invent some type of illusion? Yes, that’s it. An illusion. This was just a kindly man, maybe a fellow prisoner of war. Yes, that had to be it. The young man was almost cracking a smile as he drew the flame to the candle. Rational thought triumphs over the hallucinations of the mind.

 

Step by step, through the darkness and into the small campfire of the lone candle the figure emerged. Four foot tall and covered in white fur; rationality leaped from the tallest building inside the young man’s mind. The four foot rabbit began to talk again.

 

“Well I’m quite pleased we could reach this armistice, my friend…” The young man screamed again at the words dispensing from the rabbit’s mouth.

 

“AHHHH!!! You’re a rabbit!!! Stay back!!!” The young man scrambled as far back as he could. It was a rabbit and a talking. And of all things, it was wearing a waistcoat. A worn waistcoat.

 

“Please, calm yourself.” The rabbit sat down near the candle and seemed to rock back slightly.

 

“Here you go.” The rabbit had reached back and grabbed the gun from the floor again, he extended his arm across the candle and offered the grip to the young man. Tentatively, the young man reached and snatched the gun from the rabbit.

 

“Ok, beast. Stay right there.” The young man pointed the gun at the rabbit and stood up.

 

“Your going to tell me exactly where I am, and exactly who you are. Otherwise I’m going to kill you. I’m tired, this is very strange and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m talking to a four foot rabbit. If this is a dream, it will be on my terms and if this is reality, then I will at least attempt some kind of control, here.” The young man was regaining his composure, despite the intense absurdity of the situation.

 

“First of all my friend, ‘where your at’ is a bit of a sticky question, and ‘who I am’ might come as a bit of a shock, so perhaps we might just enjoy each other’s company for a bit.” The rabbit looked intently at the young man, but with the graciousness of an English gentleman hosting a party.

 

“See here, beast. I am a private in the English Army. I have a revolver in my hand and I am in charge. I don’t know exactly what you are, or if perhaps that’s some type of costume you’re wearing, but I am growing tired of…” The young man trailed off. This strange corner his life had turned was weighing heavily on him.

 

The young man slumped to the floor and just stared at the ground. His uniform was splotched with mud and still slightly damp from his trench on the eastern front. He was not only physically exhausted but mentally as well.

 

“My mind has gone. I am sitting here talking to a four foot rabbit. I was in France, I was supposed to lead the charge tonight. Now, I’m in some type of metal box, hopelessly lost in an illusion of my mind’s own creation. Jesus.” The young man was despairing and quickly.

 

“Have hope, my dear friend, have hope! I can assure you, I am no illusion! I too, am a bit tired, these days, but always have hope! Now, say, you look like you have taken a nasty wound, there, dear fellow.” The rabbit pointed towards the young man’s left breast, where his matched had resided.

 

Next to the matches’ pocket, almost in the middle of his jacket was the hole, the young man had felt earlier. By the light of the small candle, the young man could vaguely make out dried blood on his chest, around the hole and in it. Removing his jacket, he found the same hole on his shirt, but his skin and breast were intact. No blood on his body, but blood stained on his clothes. Odd, the young man pondered.

 

A loud and low metallic clink erupted from the floor and the entire metal room shook abruptly.

 

“Ah! Here we are!” The rabbit jumped to his feet and scrambled to the other side and began banging on the wall.

 

“See now, wait a minute, fellow.” The young man grabbed the candle and moved to where the rabbit was clanging on the wall.

 

There was a slow click, of gears grinding and an outline of a door appeared.

 

Looking at the young man staring at the glowing outline of a framed door, the rabbit gently pushed on the wall and the outline of the door, became a lighted passageway. “You see, my young friend, you inquired earlier of where you were. Well, to gently put things into proportion for you, well, you’re dead.” The rabbit smiled slightly and proceeded through the doorway.

 

“Dead.” The young man traced the hole in his jacket with his fingers.

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