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The Riddle


This selection is part of NonBinary Review Issue #8: The Art of War. Get NonBinary Review #8 from the Zoetic Press website. 


I moved to the right and dug beside my first hole. Once it was as deep as the first, I removed the thin wall of dirt between the two holes to join them. I expanded the hole this way until it was satisfactorily wide, and roughly circular.

I deepened the hole. I dug on the left side and then I dug on the right side. I wanted the base of the hole to be flat.

When I could no longer reach the bottom from the edge, I stepped into the hole.

The dirt I tossed out of the hole formed piles. The farther I dug, the larger the piles grew. The hole appeared quite deep from the inside.

After another few feet my shovel hit something hard, and suspecting a rock or a tree-root, I tried to find the edge of the object with the shovel. Each time I tried, the shovel struck the object again, and at the same depth, as if I had come upon a floor.

I climbed out of the hole and got a spade from the shed. I used the spade to clear away the layer of dirt covering the surface. It appeared to be bone.

I climbed out of the hole and got a pickaxe and chainsaw. I splintered the bone with the pickaxe, and managed to puncture it in one location. It was about four inches thick. There was no blood.

Beginning at the punctured part, I used the chainsaw to cut out a square. The section of bone fell downward into an abyss. I bent down and looked intently into the hole. I could not see inside. Getting on my knees, I stuck my head in the hole.

Once my eyes adjusted, I could make out an incredibly large picket fence. The fence extended into the darkness.

I pulled my head out of the cavity, and shifted into a sitting position on the edge of the bone, letting my feet dangle inside. I placed the heels of my hands on the side of the opening. I stretched my feet out until they found a crossbeam on the fence, and shifted my weight onto it. I slowly entered the cavity.

I descended the fence like a ladder— first lowering my left foot to the next beam, and then my right. It did not shift at all under my weight.

The air was still. It was very dark.

After some time, I looked back up to the surface. The square of light had become very small. Through it I could make out the blue of the late afternoon sky. The square of blue light seemed to be hanging in a void of infinite depth.

I descended further. I did not jeopardize my balance by twisting to look around the cavity behind me. I descended further still without reaching the bottom, and then I stopped to look.

With small movements, I carefully turned enough to look around the cavity. A square of light was below me, not far out from the fence. It seemed to be very far down. It was a dull red, and it shimmered like liquid.

I reached one hand out from the fence, palm downward, wanting to see the light shine up onto my palm. I slowly waved my hand through the air to find the spot, but when I passed through it, the light vanished for a moment. I moved my hand back to be directly over it, and again it disappeared.

I wondered if the light was a reflection of the sky, now red with the light of the setting sun, off of whatever lake lay below. But neither side of my hand was lit as I held it there. I looked up, but I could not find the square of light shining through the entrance I had made. With horror, I retracted my hand. The light above immediately returned, as if it was a reflection of the light coming up from below.

I began hurrying upward, and I looked toward the light, the sky, after every new rung, praying that it would remain.

I tried to drown out my fear, but the thought that I might not return drove me into a stupor.

I realized I could not hear my own breathing. I knew I was gasping only by the feeling in my throat.

And the dull red of the evening light, which widened in view as I got closer, was fading with the approach of night. And I began to cry. The light seemed to shimmer through the water clouding my eyes.

And my groping hands grew numb as I crawled, like an infant, upward into the darkness, which swallowed all light and sound. And I mutely called out to the vanished light.

There is nothing to see in this dark world, and there is nothing to contradict the mind’s eye. In the delirium of the void imaginings become vivid and bright.

I am crawling out back, in the yard. And the dewy blades of grass shine brilliant in the late morning sun. I’d like to sink my fingers into the soil, and to feel it in my fist.


NBR8StreetsmallMiles Street has authored two books recently, para.docx and Making Sense Of Myself In Public. Para.docx is a documentation of activity related to a fictional profile called Elle Bee. Making Sense Of Myself In Public is a collection of prose poems originally posted to Facebook, that have since been taken down and compiled into a book.