11-29-12 Use this quote “It is not down in any map.
True places never are.”
Ishmael, in Moby Dick
I thought it was a gopher hole. More legs have been twisted and more horses put down because of gopher holes than I can possibly count. I stumbled forward, and stretched out my hands to catch myself and prevent serious damage. Oddly enough, there was nothing there to catch my fall. The forward momentum continued, and I was head over heels before I knew it. What the hell?
The fall was much too long to be a normal trip. One second, one full and surprising second, was what it took. The thud at the bottom shook the wind out of me, and I gasped at the suddenness of it all. The first impression was the smell of warm damp earth. The second was of darkness. It wasn’t full darkness, as there was a small circle of light overhead. “It must be a hole I fell into,” I thought.
The third impression was of eyes. Lots of eyes. Mostly in pairs, but some in shocking ones and threes. As I sat up, the eyes resolved into little faces, moving forward out of the darkness to explore the intruder, me. They were faces of wonder, with little open mouths all going “Ohhhhh!” The bodies were small and deformed to my eyes, but these little people had no problems with them at all. They crowded around me and chattered, touching my skin and clothing and plucking at me.
Sweat began to pour off my brow as I wondered what I had gotten into. Where was I, who were they, and most of all, “Why me?” One of the little people, for I thought of them immediately as at least humanoid, brought forth a cloth and wiped my brow as he stood on my knee. I smiled a perplexed, wondering smile, and he grimaced back at me, showing teeth and a hint of pointed tongue. It wasn’t the warm affectionate smile of my Love, but it welcomed me and bade me not to worry.
Another of the creatures came forward and chattered to me, cocking its head to the side and spreading its hands. I was being asked a question, but not having any experience such as this before, I could do nothing but shrug. The creature turned to the others and chattered, and they all surrounded me. Hands small but strong held me gently. I sat straighter, and felt borne to stand in the narrow confines of the hole. Fully upright, the opening over my head was still out of reach, though I could probably jump up and touch the edges. I dared not, as there were small creatures surrounding me. After the care they had shown me, it would be poor manners to squash one or two of them.
I looked about for a stone or two to stand on, but the walls of my earthen prison seemed to be pure loam and roots. I crouched carefully and looked at my small companions and asked a silent question by raising an eyebrow and cocking my head to the side. I looked up and pointed to the source of my predicament. All the little heads tilted back and followed my direction. Thirty three eyes or more followed my finger, and a small chattering ensued. As I stood there, the hole began to fill even more with the little creatures. It was crowded before I could exclaim. Two little ones, one with two eyes and one with three, linked arms, and a third creature climbed up onto their shoulders. The crowd seemed to get it, and there was a mad scrambling that would have put a traveling circus to shame. Bodies linked together, and climbed onto each other. Piles formed, and pyramids of smiling, grimacing, chattering creatures formed two piles coming to the height of my waist.
It was an impressive feat, but I had no intention of stepping on my little companions. I surely would crush them all. How could I treat them so badly? A tubby little fellow stepped forward, grimacing up at me and blinking his one eye. He reached up to me, and I bent at the waist to hold out a finger. His grip was extraordinary, and he tugged at me, almost unsettling my balance. He let go, and pointed to the two masses of little bodies waiting expectantly for me. His grimace bade me well, and I turned to climb. The first pile settled a bit under my cautious step, and the second held strong. There was a burst of chattering cheering me on, and I reached up to the opening, and the portal to my world. With a burst of strength, I pulled myself through to a blue sky. I rolled over onto my back, aware of the warmth of the grass and the distant sound of cheering. A three-eyed head popped up out of the hole, chattered a grimacing chatter, and disappeared into the earth. I smiled to myself, and set once again on my way.