The Cottage – Part Seven – (Short Story)

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Part One –Click Here | Part Two – Click Here Part Three – Click Here | Part Four – Click Here | Part Five – Click Here | Part Six – Click Here

The basement was impossible to open from the outside. It was as stealthy an aperture as the access in the kitchen. Presenting itself as nothing but a flat slightly raised patch of wild grass.

‘I just don’t get this place.’ Jim shook his head as he looked at the pile of logs, he’d cut to replenish the ever-dwindling supply.

Sighing he made his way into the house. Making sure to flip the external switch by the nearly invisible door before descending into the basement.

He crossed the ample floor and ascended the opposite stairs. He cursed aloud at the convoluted lock as he worked the odd latch mechanism and swung the heavy grass bearing door open into the Kentucky sunshine.

‘Fuck.’ He said massaging his shoulder from the strain of exit.

It took almost as long to carry the logs down as it did to procure them.

A satisfied fatigue set in. He’d never felt this way in Boston. Though the feeling was similar to coming home from the various construction odd-jobs he’d done; there was a subtlety in providing so directly for ones needs which city life just couldn’t match.

So, as he settled into the couch with the now familiar thistle tumbler, he felt sublime. He felt downright esoteric.

The mountains were a throng of steeples. The hills a fragrant incense giving worship to the host of heaven. Which gleamed its blessing in return.

He was lounging on a celestial pew. A parishioner in a hurtling temple that arced its grand procession round manifold and Holy gifts. It was a sacrament to live.

So were his thoughts as he settled into slumber.

The owl, and the Whippoorwill, were joined by some novel pleasant chirping in a nocturnal hymn that sent Jim to dreamlands wilder than he’d ever dreamed before.

He saw glints of blue grey luminescence on the opposite shore of a subterranean lake. A lake in whose crystal clear and balmy waters he felt no hesitancy to bathe.

He dived. And oh, the depth of the thing made his heart race with an electric joy.

There was a moment of confusion when he realized that he could breathe. And he swam on into illimitable depths.

There were islands. There were stones. Stones with glyphs that sat among vague ruins that tantalized.

All the surfaces were smooth so perfect smooth. As perfect smooth as the crystal water that slipped through his fingers as if it were just another form of air.

He woke with a sweet feeling of steady energy. He was hungry but the hunger was secondary to the overpowering urge to wander.

So, with a sip of water, a ruck full off food, a canteen, a flask, and a flashlight he set off into the late morning etching notches and tying ribbons round the trunks of trees.

He was keen on knowing the whole of the valley.

Since he lacked a compass, he improvised his own system of cardinal navigation.

The three peaks, big blue, horizon, and broken pine were his north, south, east, and west. As his first formal foray he picked big blue.

Maybe cause he was a yank and the south was more exotic.

The wood thickened, the wood thinned, here and there were groves, gullies, and ditches. He delighted in the wonderful variety of landscape. But he did not allow it to distract him from marking his path.

A city wasn’t entirely different than a forest. Graffiti, broken sidewalks, and construction cranes were comparable navigational aids to ribbons, oaks, and streams.

It was midafternoon when he came on an odd collection of rocks. A few of these were so chair like that he couldn’t help but pause. The sudden stop made him recall the rumbling in his belly. And so, he ate the wild turkey sandwich he’d brought.

After a while he noticed how odd his picnic spot felt.

Was the air here cooler?

He walked well beyond the perimeter of the granite formation.

Yes. It was warmer there.

He walked back to the rocks. Yes. It was definitely cooler round the stones.

Jim circumnavigated the geologic caprice. This exploration yielded a discovery. There was current of the strange cool air which seemed to come from the opposite side of the stones as the last marker he placed.

He followed it for maybe a quarter of a mile when he suddenly shrieked. He was sliding. Sliding down fast through damp leaves and mushy moss.

“Shit…shit…shit…shit…!” He cursed as his descent accelerated.

Finally, after what seemed like an aeon he caught sight of an approaching rock. Though he knew it was going to hurt he swung his foot to catch it as he flipped onto his belly and dug his screaming fingers into the hard black twig littered earth.

As he sat on his haunches giving himself a damage report he gasped.

At the foot of the hill that had almost killed him sat the mouth of a cave.

‘How the hell does cool air rise?’

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