Sunday, October 23, 2005

Solace is overrated when it's the only thing that you have. While my friends were getting through grad school, there I was sitting on a 19th century sofa drinking brandy 'till I passed out. No amount of the manor's walnut paneling and marble flooring would make me forget the comfort of my cork board and poster clad walls back home. Nevermind that I'm pretty much banned for life from going back there: I got caught holding some "borrowed" goods for a friend that was going through a rough patch. My dad laid down the law on that one and kicked me out. After that, I entered into community college for a brief stint. History might be my thing, but I can't get enough of film school. However, you'd think that I could sustain some kind of forward motion, but I keep falling into this gap I call my mind.

I was so lost after receiving the letter from Dr. V. Sure, It was nice that I was suddenly lord of the manor, but I felt surrounded by ghosts. Upon telling my roommate Jess that I would be leaving, he blew up. Not that he was going to miss me or anything, but he was worried about having to find someone else to split the rent with. I'd asked Jess to come and stay with me, but I didn't want to break my trust with Dr. V, even if he was off to see the wizard.

It was still the middle of winter in Brighton Hill. The feeling of vague doom penetrated through the doors and window sills. Grays, browns, interrupted by patches of frost and snow burnt my eyes more than the sun. I didn't leave the Manor much. I kept expecting the Doctor to show up and take this dreadful place off of my hands. This is crazy, all of my life I wanted my own space. Now that I had it, I was overcome with fear. Granted, this wasn't a normal situation that I was in. Why would Dr. V mention anything about there being any danger? I kept thinking. Who the hell does he think he is anyway leaving me all of this? What's he up to? Where in God's green earth did he go to? My best guess at the time was that he hung himself in that secret room. He cracked from working too much and figured that he would include me in on his sick joke. I'd stopped hanging out with my friends because I didn't want them to get involved in whatever game Dr. V's had going on here. Plus, I couldn't bare for them to have seen me as a drunken recluse.

I'd gone through all the apple brandy (this was from the Dr.'s stash) and moved on to his pear brandy. I didn't dare rip through his wine just then; it's probably very expensive. So, I just stuck with the burnt, fermented fruit juice for then. I never really drank at all before, but at the time it gave me a handy excuse to blame all that I was seeing and hearing here on the drink. Just like that Ramones song, I didn't want to go down to the basement. But, the knowledge of that secret room had me thinking that whatever had happened to Dr. V (and thus granting me this demented fairy wish) had everything to do with that room. I had to go down or I'd end up dead by alcohol poisoning first.

Before going down the spruce skeleton, as Dr. V called it, I had to crank the master switch. It was one of those Dr. Frankenstein touches that old V was so fond of--a big toggle with three exposed blades that snapped and shot blue light when making contact. The spruce skeleton was an exposed frame staircase that followed the side of the stone foundation then did a switchback before touching down. The spruce beams were painted white and looked like the bones of some horrid monster in this poorly lit portion of the basement. I was still a little tipsy and had to hold on to the hand rail like an old man to keep myself from pitching forward. It took a while to get down to ground, but the trip and cold damp air had put me a few more degrees toward sobering up.

The basement was deep. I always did marvel at that. Most of my time down here, though, was spent around Dr. V helping him out. I really didn't like it too much, but it was tolerable because I knew that V was right there with me. I took out his letter and headed down the corridor that led to the well. I had to keep reminding myself that whatever was behind door number three wouldn't be a brand new car. The well room reminded me too much of Buffalo Bill's holding area from Silence of the Lambs. I never had to go in there before. Dr. V told me that it was pretty much dried up and served no purpose for him. He said that he had no more wishes anyway.

The well was certainly dry. The crank handle to lower and raise the water bucket no longer had anything to hoist. Before I started the sequence on the handle, I wondered if I was really up to finding out whatever it was--the secret. I thought, What if it was a bunch of ladies underwear and evening gowns? Now, that would be a secret room! I felt maybe that I should go back upstairs and cook some eggs, have some toast, and black coffee. I needed something to eat and I knew that if I was sobered up that I wouldn't be breaking my commitment to Dr. V by doing this so soon. It was too late: nine clockwise, thirteen anticlockwise, seven and five eights clockwise again.

A hydraulic rumble tickled my feet. It was coming from the well. I could see down in the well water foaming up higher and higher, until after a few minutes, it finally hit the brim of the stone circle. Floating on top of the water was a bottle with a note in it. I quickly grabbed for the bobbing vessel, missing it a few times. As soon as I had a firm grip on the bottle, I pulled out the cork and shook out the contents onto the stone floor. I picked up the message and it said only, "float".

"What the...float?" I murmured aloud. As I said this, the water started to drain fast. I didn't have enough time to respond, it had gone down too far. I then figured out that I was supposed to float down with the water, so I repeated the procedure again: nine clockwise, thirteen anticlockwise, seven and five eights clockwise again. The water rose again with predictable speed and hit the top right on time. I sat on the edge letting the water creep up my jeans until I felt comfortable with going in all the way. I'm not afraid of water; I'm actually a great swimmer, but this was a little claustrophobic. I started to shiver uncontrollably as the water covered my shoulders. It wasn't because the water was cold, either. It felt heated. I was just freaking out--what if the thing breaks down and I get trapped down at the bottom of the well?

The descent down wasn't too hard. I kind of just guided myself down the one side of the stone cylinder as the water supported most of my weight. It must've been about thirty feet before I felt solid ground. A great sucking sound echoed up the well as the last dregs of the water disappeared into a brass grate. Before my eyes was a stainless steel vault door recessed back about eight feet into an entry way. There was no combination or key needed; it had a wheel like you see on bank vaults. I got a hold of the wheel and started off the wrong direction, then got it going the right way. The wheel's travel ended with a firm "click" followed by a slight drifting back and forth after it was positively engaged.

The door had considerable mass to it, but it was well balanced and opened quiet easily. I couldn't see anything. It was dark and musty. I searched around for a light switch and found a pushbutton switch just to the right. The lights flickered revealing a long stone corridor. I followed this down as far as I could go. Dripping wet, I really felt uncomfortable. There was air coming through the bottom of a steel door that felt warm. I stood over the warm draft for awhile, going over in my head all that had just transpired. Feeling sober now, definitely, I remembered thinking. I figured that I'd have to be. I knew that once I opened the door that there was going to be some heavy stuff waiting for me on the other side. I was still certain that I'd see old Dr. V hanging from a rope or worse, his head blown to bits. I don't know why I was fixed on such morbid images. The whole situation was getting to me, and I had to find out once and for all what was going on.

I slid my hand over the door knob and gently turned it. It was like a slow burlesque strip tease. I didn't want to be shown everything all at once--that would only ruin the suspense. I then cracked the door a little. More warm air came through blowing my hair a little (I managed to keep my head dry at least). Even with the light coming in from the hallway, it didn't seem to light up anything in there. I opened the door all the way and still could not see anything. I felt around again for a light switch, but couldn't feel anything. Getting a little anxious this time, I went ahead and stepped down into the room.

As soon as I stepped into the room, a beam of light came down through the center of a high, domed ceiling. This strange light started to slowly gain power and brought the entire chamber to a rich amber glow. The chamber was round, or rather, spherical. I really couldn't describe it. It's like nothing I'd ever seen before. The best I could say was that it was like being trapped inside a big, hollowed out bowling ball. A satin black film lined the entire inner surface of the room. I closed the door behind me and slowly descended the slope towards the bottom of the sphere. There was a trap door at the bottom. I lifted it up and there in a small compartment was a large binder full of files, a jumpsuit, and what I call "the device." The device is what makes everything happen: time and space manipulation. But, I had no idea at the time what it was or what the reading material was that I would have to bone up on for the next few days. This is where things started to get interesting.

6 Comments:

Blogger Brdfrd11 said...

Good reading. Makes me want more. Thanks for the break from reality, man.

1:14 PM  
Blogger jen said...

It's coming on well, congrats to you!

4:03 PM  
Blogger maura said...

Can't wait for the next one...

4:51 PM  
Blogger The Grunt said...

Hey, y'all! Thanks for the encouragement. I need it from time to time. Glad to see the infamous "Incorragable Vagabond" (brdfrd11) gracing this blog. Check his blogs out everyone, you won't be dissapointed.

10:15 PM  
Blogger West of the Sun said...

Grunt, I'm so sorry that I've been away from here for some time. I have to print these out so I can read them in a more timely fashion.

But I had to say, this is brilliant:

"The feeling of vague doom penetrated through the doors and window sills. Grays, browns, interrupted by patches of frost and snow burnt my eyes more than the sun."

Not that the rest isn't worth note, but these caught me in particular...

Nice work.

8:45 PM  
Blogger The Grunt said...

Thanks, Wots. Now, I'm gonna have to get off my butt and write some more.

11:36 AM  

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