Thursday, February 9, 2017

Short Story - The Pit is a Lie

The Pit is a Lie
Words: 1318

“Kershaw, hurry up!” Arenado watched as his friend wove through the brush, dodging limbs.
Kershaw’s face went slack when he saw it. “You found a cave? How deep is it?”
“I don’t know, I was waiting for you.”

They peered into the hole, seeing nothing more than a few feet of dirt floor. Kershaw popped Arenado in the shoulder. “What are you waiting for, go in.”
Arenado looked from Kershaw to the cave and back. He nodded curtly and took a step forward.
“My eyes haven’t adjusted, I can’t see anything.”

Kershaw could hear shuffling steps, but had yet to step in himself. As his eyes acclimated he could make out that the cave wasn’t very deep.
“There’s like a…” Arenado started.
“Like a what?”
“Man up and see for yourself.” Arenado chuckled.
Kershaw could see it after just a couple of steps. Jagged rocks jutted out of the floor into a small oval shape. “Is it a hole?”
“Looks like it.” Arenado bent down and swept his hands over the floor, selecting a small rock. “Alright, shut up and and don’t make any noise.” He dropped it as both boys held their breath. Finally they both gasped almost simultaneously.
“Did you hear it?” Kershaw asked. Arenado shook his head, “No.”
“Is it that deep?”
“Maybe there’s water.”
“Yeah, but we should hear a splash.” Kershaw said. “Let me try.” He had to exit the cave to find a slightly larger rock. “Let’s try this one.”
They both waited, but heard nothing. “Maybe it’s an acoustic thing, the way the pit is shaped.” Kershaw said.
“Could be water muffling the first impact and it’s really deep.” Arenado offered.
“I don’t know, just seems weird.”
“Jump in.”
“I’ll get right on that.”
“Do we know anyone that’s a mountain climber? They could climb down.” Arenado said.
“Nah, let’s come back tomorrow, bring a flashlight first.”
Arenado nodded. “Ok. Sounds good to me.” He exited the cave, squinting in the sunlight. “You think anyone will find this place?”
“I doubt it. Not like we have people roaming my parents property.”

---

Arenado climbed up the hill towards the cave. Kershaw was already down there, at least that’s what his mother had said when he asked. As Arenado was nearing the mouth of the cave he heard a voice, freezing him in his tracks.

“Hello darkness my dear friend, so we meet again.” It had to be Kershaw, but it sounded deep and echoing.

“Kershaw?” Arenado shone his flashlight into the cave. Kershaw squinted, batting at the light with his hands. “Cut it out, what are you doing.”

“Who were you talking to?” Arenado asked. “Were you talking to the pit?”
“I was just goofing. I heard you coming.”
“The cave, like, amplifies the sound. It’s crazy.” Arenado shone his light into the hole, but saw nothing but a deeper hole.
“Can’t see anything.” Kershaw stated.

“It looks just like the caves you see in movies.” Arenado said.
“Looks like a cave period.” Kershaw replied.
“You think the pit is man made? Seems strange the way it looks like a well or something.”
“Yeah.” Kershaw nodded. “But there aren’t any seams. It’s all one big slab of rock. I don’t know, maybe water helped form it over the years.”

“A lot of years.” Arenado ran his hand across the walls. “Christina rock climbs or mountain climbs. I don’t know what you call it. She goes outdoors and has harnesses. Maybe she’ll scale down.” Arenado said.

“Maybe.” Kershaw didn’t sound too sure. He looked straight into the hole. “What depths do you hold? What secret are you hiding?”

“Are you talking to the pit again? It’s kind of weird.”

“That I’m talking to the pit?”

“Yeah, it’s kind of weird.”

“I was just making a joke. It’s funny. It’s a deep dark pit and I’ve always wanted to say that. This is my opportunity.”

“How do we find the bottom? Do we drop another rock? A bigger rock should make a bigger noise.” Arenado said.
“We need to drop a light. Light travels faster than sound.”
“I’m not dropping my flashlight.”
“We should light something on fire. That way we’ll see if it goes out. If it does, it might be water.”

---

Arenado crept up the hill yet again, this time with a backpack full of paper and lighter. As he neared the cave he heard the voice again.

“I look into the deep dark void, and nothing reflects my gaze. It’s empty, a black hole emerging deep from the earth. Cold calculated darkness that sends a shiver through my spine.”

Arenado sprinted the last few steps and burst into the cave. “What’s going on? Are you talking to the pit again?”

Kershaw was sitting on the ledge. He calmly looked up from the pit. “I’m going to jump in. I’m doing it.”

“Why?”

“We haven’t heard anything.  There must be a stasis or something. Whatever it is, I won’t get hurt.”

Arenado slung his pack off his shoulders. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, you don’t know that. I thought I was the one with bad ideas. You don’t know what’s in there.”

“We didn’t hear the rock hit.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“What if it’s a hole to the other side of the Earth. If I jump in, I’ll pass the core and gravity will pull me back, bringing me right back to this opening. I’ll just hop out. That’s possible.”

Arenado rubbed his forehead with the palms of his hands. “No, that’s not possible. That’s not possible at all. Suppose the Earth has a hot molten core, let’s ignore that. Lets ignore the magma beneath the Earth’s surface, let’s suppose all that is contained somehow, that there’s a shaft or tunnel lining, and that can be done. The biggest flaw in your plan is that the rock didn’t come back.”

Kershaw’s eyes traced the room, thinking about Arenado’s argument. “It’s dark, maybe we didn’t see it and it is coming back, just yo-yoing back and forth. Maybe it’s still coming back.”

“Wouldn’t we hear it? Wouldn’t it make a sound?”

“Well no. It’s the whole sound thing. Gravity pulls it and when it gets to the surface it’s going slower, stops, and then goes back to the other side. We never hear it. There’s nothing for it to hit. It might not even get above the surface on the return trip.”

“Yeah, okay. Sure. Other than that one crazy part and the other impossible part, I completely buy that.” Arenado waited for a response that didn’t come. “If you even jumped in, how would you get out? How long would it take?”

“If I stretch my arms up, I’m sure they would be above the surface. You can grab me. The only way to find out how long is to jump in.”

“So what do we do?” Arenado didn’t wait for a response.
“I think we should invite Christina. She has the rock climbing or rappelling… I don’t know. She has harnesses. Whatever that's called, she does it. We invite her, she climbs down at least part way, and maybe she can see something.”

“Yeah, but I was thinking. What if it’s something magical that defies physics, gravity, science or the space time continuum? What if it’s a wormhole or a vortex? A portal to another dimension? If it does one of those things I‘m not sure i want to cut someone in. We’ve got the finder's’ fee or first right of discovery. This is ours. We could be rich. We have a claim, and I’m not sure i want someone else involved. “

“Space time continuum. Okay that’s not a bad point. I see what you’re saying. You’re bonkers! It’s a hole in the ground. It has a top which we can see and a bottom somewhere.

“We need to figure this out so we can value it accordingly.”
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