Friday, February 12, 2010
Guest Post by N.D. Wilson, Part 2 (Exploring One of the Cupboards)
Tired and sore, I, Richard Hutchins, again face new journeys. Anastasia, your grandfather’s tattered and filthy bed invites me to rest my weary bones and nurse my wounds (I still have a pinch in my hip from yesterday’s dangling). But onward I intrepidly press. Cupboard #63 awaits—along with glory, discovery, and the possibility of a grisly and unnatural end. I have already set the combination in the attic.
After yesterday’s sudden drop, I have decided to investigate this cupboard with more of my traditional caution. On all fours, I approach the small door, pencil in hand, sliding this journal ahead of me.
Darkness. I see no sun. No harbor. But I can hear . . . splashing?
I apologize. I had no time to write more in the suddenness of that moment. Sour, warm, sea foam just slopped through the cupboard and onto the carpet. I leapt backward, forced to scramble across the room or become moist. (And I would apologize for damaging the floor, if Henry and your sister, Henrietta, hadn’t already done enough to destroy it years ago when we first met—your father’s bloodstain is still visible).
Should I choose another cupboard? Water has never been my friend, particularly when connected to anything oceanic. No. Courage, Richard.
The wash has crept out again. Wherever the other side of the cupboard is, it is clearly within the reach of waves. When the next wave recedes, I shall make my move. . .
Perhaps after the next one . . . Or the next . . .
I don’t want to do this. But I can’t go home now. You’ll know. You’ll see it on my face. Forward. I’m leaving the journal on your grandfather’s bed. If that’s where you (or any other) find it, then Richard Hutchins has been lost at sea. Do not mourn me unless you mean it.
Never mind. I’m bringing the journal. I need something to hold.
This place is dark. And cold. And wet. Excuse my penmanship, I am writing by the light of a weak moon, perched on a damp rock with very wet feet and trousers clinging to my stinging ankles. In a moment, my eyes will surely to adjust.
The tide seems low by the sound of things. But there is also a clattering with each wave, I don’t know why. Perhaps it is the rattle of tumbling pebbles.
I appear to be in some kind of ruin. A long mound of rubble stretches away into the sea, and I am seated near what must have been the base of a great tower—I’d wager it’s the remains of the lighthouse noted by your grandfather. I can make out ships now, most without sails. Oared ships, but big. No engines. No smokestacks.
The clattering again. The foam is rising. Black objects are rolling around the foot of my pedestal.
Ah, there’s an engine, and a fast one, gauging from its roar. No! Wave!
Horror. Horrible. Anastasia, I shiver. The pages are ruined. Can you read this? Why am I even writing? The water swept me off of my seat, and it is only by luck that I dove for the cupboard—I and ten thousand crabs. They were the rattling pebbles, Anastasia. I have been pinched and snipped and covered with viciously clicking legs. The soaked carpet is swarming with them. I may not be able to leave the safety of this bed. Big crabs, little crabs, and sinister medium crabs. Side-walking villainy surrounds me. Black and green crabs—hungry, I’m sure. Smelling me, no doubt. They want my meat.
What would you expect of Richard Hutchins? Fear? Inaction? Well, I acted Anastasia, and the cannibal crabs can feast on each other tonight—not on me. I jumped from the bed and into the hall (and oh, the awful crunch beneath my feet). Upstairs, I reset the combination and again, I had to face the pinching hordes—this time on my knees. Crunching shells and crushing lives as I crawled, my soft hands easy targets for their revenge, but I overcame. I am home. The streets of Hylfing greet me, though I am afraid that your grandfather’s room will soon be a foul-smelling graveyard. It may be a week before I venture through the worlds again, but when I do, I have chosen my path:
#72. Collected 1907. White ash. Tarnished copper corners. First report: Collector in Constantinople dismayed at having lost items within a locked cabinet. Tested repeatedly, always confirmed. Invited examination. Acquired easily after a rich supper and at the cost of only one drugged bottle of whiskey.
[Southern Cit./Boghazk/Alt pas. Back 4C]
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews