26 Aug


SINKHOLE photo: citrus wma 7-3-11 IMG_2761.jpg
When Jeffrey Spangle was fourteen he had an experience that changed his life for ever, and for ever is an awfully long time for anything to be changed.
He was on his way to school (a mild comprehensive in the suburbs with quite a lot of green, trees and grass and plants and stuff, all round) when he fell into a hole that hadn’t been there yesterday. Nor had it, in his own experience, ever been there before.
Yet it had. Before he was born. Thousands of years before he was born. Millions even.
It was an old hole that had been covered up by a thin layer of time and he was the first (and only) person unfortunate enough to be not looking where he was going properly when he fell into it.
When he got into it, really deep down so that he was a mass of bruises and, fortunately, no broken bones, he found himself in the kind of place most fourteen year old lads might relish finding themselves in if (and note that if) they were deeply involved in the sort of computer game that deals with alien places and holes in the ground.
“Where in the name of everything am I?” he asked himself in a hoarse teenage whisper. And he might well ask that question because, although he had fallen into an unsuspected hole the things that his rapidly adjusting eyes saw had nothing to do with the inside of a hole.
He felt, indeed, a bit like Alice might have felt when she tumbled down a rabbit hole, but that was fictional and as far as Jeffrey was concerned he was not.
There was a room, nicely and accurately carved into the solid rock with lovely smooth walls that seemed mirrored like marble and a solid-looking table in the middle of it and then any light left behind faded to blackness towards the corners.
“I was wondering when you would come,” murmured a voice from the shadows, for there were shadows, as I said, every corner of the room was clothed in shadows.
“Who…?” he croaked, wanting to ask who was there but unable to by the time he’d completed the first syllable.
“Who am I? That’s a broad question! And a long one!” whispered the voice. “I’m surprised you managed to find the will to ask such a question so soon after tumbling into Errifice.”
He had never heard of Errifice before, and he’d been good at geography at the mild comprehensive school he attended.
“Who…?” he repeated, the same question stumbling to silence at the end of the first syllable yet again.
“I’m Angel Eyes – rendered in your language,” sighed the voice, still wrapped in shadows. “I’ve been here so long it’s a miracle we didn’t meet before… but I suppose the sink hole took too long to implode and bring you to me. Tell me: are you the King?”
“What a ridiculous question,” thought Jeffery, “schoolboys aren’t ever kings, not even prince schoolboys, and I’m still at school and I’m a boy so ergo I’m a schoolboy and certainly no prince.”
“No,” he replied, and much to his own surprise managed a few more syllables. “Boys aren’t ever kings,” he added, shaking his head.
“Oh. How disappointing. And to think I was hoping to meet a King at the very least after all this time,” shivered the voice. “I’ve been in Errifice ever so long, unbelievably long if you must know, and I thought it must be about time I met a real live King, especially seeing as I’m a Princess…”
And there was a rustling sound and the Princess emerged from the shadows.
And what a princess! He’d seen a nudey-book showing monochrome images of undressed bored-looking models that his dad had somehow kept secretly from his own boyhood, and even though he had managed to feel some excitement from the sight of retouched bosoms and faded-out naughty bits he’d never dreamed that a Princess could look anything like as eye-catching as this naked delight, despite her colour.
For a start, she had green skin. And not the kind of green that might be mistaken for any other colour. It was, to his mind, greener than the cricket square at school, and the groundsman made sure that was very green. And it was nothing like the wishy-washy green his dad had painted his bedroom, pastel he called it but it was the colour of bad dreams. No this Princess (and he didn’t question that was what she was) had a perfectly toned green about her.
Besides that he found himself becoming excited in a way he secretly enjoyed because she was beautiful. There could be no doubt about it. Take away the green, replace it with a more normal skin colour – white or black would do – and he would have accounted her as beautiful.
“Why are you clad in fabric?” she asked. “I don’t see why you need be clad in fabric when the temperature is controlled so perfectly…?”
And he noticed it was pleasantly warm in this down-a-hole underground place. He could feel warmth in a slight breeze that swirled around and past him.
“It’s my school uniform,” he replied. Syllables were coming much more easily now that he could see the person he was talking to. “Why are you green?” he added, thinking it might be his turn to ask a question.
“It’s the copper in my blood,” sighed the Princess. “I can see your blood is based on iron,” she added. “But mine is copper.”
“Oh,” he replied, not understanding properly, biology not being one of his best subjects.
“Where am I?” he asked, and she giggled. It was a lovely sound, that giggle.
“You’re in Errifice,” she said, quietly. “We’ve been here since my people crash-landed quite a long time ago. We built this world beneath the ground because of the big creatures. They frightened our forefathers, the way they stomped around and had vicious battles and made the whole world seem to shake. So we delved down here and waited.”
“What for?” asked Jeffrey, suddenly too interested to stop himself from being nosey even though his mother had told him times-many that his curiosity would be the death of him.
“For the big creatures to go somewhere else, I suppose,” she sniffed. “But it was a mistake. By the time the giant creatures had gone we had become so adapted to being underground that going above, into the air and all the nasty rain and mists and fogs would totally destroy us! It’s what turned us green! Some tried and never came back. So we’re here for the duration.”
“We?” he asked. “How many are you?”
“Oh,” she smiled, “there’s only me. No, by we I meant you and me. The two of us. We’ll breed, of course, create a family, have loads of children, I’ve always wanted children, sweet emerald little ankle-biters. Yes, you and I, we, are here for the duration all right. It’ll be fun, you know.”
And that’s what happened.
That’s what changed Jeffrey Spangle’s life for ever after the council filled the sink-hole with rubble and concreted it over.
© Peter Rogerson 26.08.15


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