Amie snuggled into her bed she shared with Wilma. She sipped her hot cup of cocoa, enjoying the chocolatey taste of “Mutti Liebe”.
‘I love cocoa,’ Wilma said. ‘It’s made with Mother’s Love’.
Amie nodded and tipped the cup to her mouth ready to take another sip. A lumpy bit of cocoa floated on the surface. Amie slurped it into her mouth and swirled it with her tongue. Nothing like chocolate bits.
But the “bits” seemed to wriggle like they had legs. What the? Amie gulped. She choked. The lump seemed to claw her throat. She coughed…and coughed…and coughed.
‘What’s wrong?’ Wilma asked.
The lump slithered down Amie’s throat into her stomach.
Amie wheezed. ‘I think I swallowed a spider…’ It jiggled inside her like some giant bug. A sickening feeling sloshed in the pit of her stomach. Not a cockroach—not just any cockroach—a Boris-roach…Oh, no, I hope it’s not going to grow and breed in my stomach.
Amie jumped up and out of bed. ‘I’ve got to get it out.’ She snatched the cup and then tossed the remaining cocoa out the window. The she scrambled down the stairs and forgetting to take a candle, bolted to the outhouse.
Amie, head down, hands stretched in front of her, charged at the outhouse door. It didn’t budge.
She rammed it again. This door was tough. Must be wedged tight. Or someone was in there sitting up against it. She butted against it using the side of her body. No movement.
‘Look mate, I’m not letting you in, wait your turn,’ a voice distinctly Joseph’s said. Well, not distinctly, obvious, as the voice spoke English.
Amie stopped door bashing and replied in English. ‘Oh, sorry,’ she paced, ‘Can you hurry? I need to vomit.’
‘Use the garden.’
‘You don’t understand—I swallowed a cockroach—one of those Boris ones—I need to get it out—now!’ Amie banged on the door.
‘I don’t want it growing and bursting out of my chest. I need to barf it out before it takes over my body,’ Amie said. ‘I can feel it crawling in my stomach.’
‘Chuck in the garden, if you’re that desperate.’
‘No, it has to be flushed down.’
‘No flush here,’ Joseph said. ‘It’s a long drop.’
‘Oh.’ Amie pictured the contents of a sewerage pit. ‘Never mind, that’ll do the job.’
‘If it’s a bug, I doubt it, and if it’s a Boris one, definitely not.’
‘But better stuck in a deep hole that getting into chickens. Come on! Let me in!’
‘You’ll regret it.’ Joseph opened the door and gestured for her to enter.
The pong overwhelmed Amie, the fruity atmosphere causing her eyes to water. ‘Phew! Was that you?’
‘No, it’s a long drop—probably only gets emptied once a week, if you’re lucky.’
‘Aw!’ Amie waved her hand. ‘I can’t believe anything, even a cockroach could survive in that. It’s gross!’
‘We’ll see about that.’ Joseph shifted to the side of the small room.
Amie glared at him. ‘Well, aren’t you going to leave?’
Joseph shook his head.
She could just see his profile by the light of the nebula.
‘Why?’ she asked.
‘What do you—’
He clapped a hand over her mouth. ‘Quiet, hear that?’
Joseph pulled her out of the doorway and to the side. Amie obliged, staying still and silent, against him. His heart beat against her spine, fast.
They heard a quick succession of clicking sounds.
Joseph pushed the door slowly until it shut. Then he pushed himself against the door.
Amie crouched by the door and peered through a crack. ‘What’s out there?’ she whispered.
‘Boris? But this’ll be the first place he looks.’
A wave of nausea hit Amie. ‘I think I’m going to be sick.’
‘If you have to, try and be quiet about it—I don’t want to attract his attention.’
Amie bent over the hole in the wooden slats and heaved. The lump along with cocoa and water, and other stuff with the consistency of peas and carrots she didn’t recall eating, hurled into the stinky abyss and made a distinctive plop way down below.
‘I said, “be quiet”.’ Joseph sounded like he spoke between his teeth.
‘I’m sorry.’ Amie wiped her mouth with her sleeve. ‘Any water?’ She smacked her lips together, the acidic taste making her grimace.
‘What do you think?’
Something whirred near the door.
They stopped in their poses like stations of the cross. The whirr faded.
They heard knocking. ‘Oh, Herr and Frau Biar, Boris here, just wondered if I could have a word.’
‘It’s late, make it quick,’ Herr Biar snapped.
‘Pardon the lateness of my visit, but—you haven’t seen two young people—a young female, and a young male, have you?’
‘They’re gone, we have no young male or female here apart from our children.’
‘Oh, but, I beg to differ—now come, tell the truth, or I’ll take drastic action and you don’t want me to take drastic action, Herr Biar.’
Amie touched the door.
Joseph placed his hand on hers and shook his head.
Amie looked at him in the dim light. ‘But I don’t want them hurt.’
‘They’ll be fine—he’s bluffing,’ Joseph whispered. ‘He doesn’t know we’re here.’
‘Tell you later. Now shush.’
Amie peered through the crack.
Candlelight flickered as the men ambled in the garden. Boris hunted high and low, his laser torchlight shone into bushes and up trees.
At the back of the house, Boris bowed to Herr Biar, who then went inside closing the cottage door. Boris made a final sweep of the yard and then marched around the side of the house, to the front, and then out of sight.
‘Amazing,’ Amie said. ‘He didn’t even give the toilet a second look.’
‘Must’ve been satisfied by the first,’ Joseph snorted in a brief laugh.
‘But how did he not see you?’
‘This.’ Joseph crouched and then traced the floor. He tugged at something and opened the trapdoor a little. Pink light filtered through the crack.
‘What is it? Some sort of cellar?’
‘So, you hid there?’
‘Yes, sort of.’
‘What’s the light?’
Joseph shrugged. ‘Glow worms? A buried space ship? I don’t know.’
‘And Boris went down, looked, and didn’t see you?’
‘We’ll have to investigate further.’
Amie moved to climb in.
Joseph held up his hand. ‘No, not yet.’
‘Why? Maybe it’s a ship or perhaps another portal—we must find out.’
‘No, we have to be careful.’
‘It’s creepy down there. I wasn’t alone. There was something down there. I could feel its presence.’
Moaning echoed from below. Sounds of agony filled the little toilet. Amie and Joseph looked at each other, eyes wide with terror.
Joseph slammed the trapdoor shut.
Amie stood, then stepped and stumbled over the bucket. Her knees crunched on dry leaves. She grabbed the bucket and flung it behind her. It clattered on the bench. Joseph crashed open the door. Leaves whirled in their faces.
The two teenagers scrambled out, and raced to the house. Reaching the back porch, Joseph looked around and then tapped on the window. The door opened and Herr Biar appeared. He glanced over them and out into the night. ‘Hurry,’ he said, ‘before Boris catches you.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Photo: Mutti Liebe Cup of Cocoa © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017