Hole Under Outhouse
‘I’m sure he’s fine,’ Herr Biar said. ‘He’ll be checking on the cows after that nasty storm. And he’ll be milking them. There’s plenty of cows to milk all by himself. I think there was a pregnant one too—the shock may have sent her into calving.’
Herr Biar caught Joseph’s eye and then jerked his head to the door. He then spoke again to Frau Biar. ‘Jane, you go up to our dear Wilma and I’ll go and see how Friedrich is.’
‘We’ll go and see if Friedrich needs any help,’ Joseph tugged Amie. ‘Come on, let’s go.’
Joseph and Amie trailed after Herr Biar to the paddock. The cows seemed as calm as they did before, when Joseph had viewed them from the window just a few minutes ago. There were no pregnant females in distress.
Joseph, Amie and Herr Biar wandered along the fence. They scanned the cobalt coloured hills. After the storm, the pair of suns burnt through the clouds, bleaching the sky, and splashing the landscape in vivid hues—like a Van Gough.
‘Not a bad place to live,’ Amie remarked.
‘If it weren’t for that Boris creep,’ Joseph said.
Herr Biar shaded his eyes. ‘I can’t see Friedrich.’
‘Where’s Myrtle?’ Amie asked.
‘Who?’ Herr Biar seemed distracted.
‘The pregnant cow. Where is she?’
‘Oh—her,’ Herr Biar said with a chuckle. ‘Actually, she doesn’t exist—between you and me. Friedrich and I, since all this with Boris, made her up—she only exists when we have Boris-business and we don’t want to alarm the women-folk.’
‘I see.’ Joseph knew exactly what Herr Biar was getting at. Like when his father on the pretext of going to the local hotel to watch the football, told Joseph’s mum he was going fishing. ‘Maybe Friedrich’s in the barn.’
They trooped over to the barn and poked around in the bales of straw. No Friedrich.
‘Perhaps he’s in the outhouse,’ Amie said.
‘Or under it,’ Joseph added.
‘What do you mean?’ Herr Biar asked.
‘He might be in the cellar underneath,’ Amie said.
‘The one with the glowing blue light,’ Joseph said. ‘Maybe he’s hiding there.’
‘Or gone to the other side,’ Amie said.
‘What do you mean, other side?’ Herr Biar scratched his forehead.
‘Where we come from?’
‘What? You think the outhouse can take us back home?’ Joseph waved his arms around.
‘I don’t think so, Amie. It’s more like where Boris has his office and a heap of nasty demons to keep the likes of us out. Or in.’
‘Think about it,’ Amie said. ‘He’s blocked off the cave so the likes of us can’t get through—but that means he can’t get through either. But somehow, he knows everything about our families. How do you think he knows? Besides, where is he? Hiding in some cave licking his wounds? No, he’s gone back to Earth, to check on them. Don’t you reckon?’
Joseph shrugged. ‘I just assumed he flew back to the cave and rolled away all the rocks.’
‘Well, I guess that’s a possibility.’
‘And have you considered he might’ve taken Friedrich?’ Joseph kicked a stone.
‘Shhh!’ Herr Biar said. ‘Let’s not alarm the Frau.’
Joseph turned and stomped from the barn.
Amie and Herr Biar scrambled to catch up to him.
‘Hey, where are you going?’ Amie called. ‘What are you doing?’
Joseph mumbled. ‘Arguing about it isn’t going to get us anywhere.’ He marched towards the outhouse and then entered it. Amie and Herr Biar were right behind him. ‘S’pose it’s closer—we’ll try this first.’
Joseph was forced to admit Amie had a point. Maybe—just maybe, Boris had taken Friedrich and was holding him captive in his den. Maybe, just maybe, the moans and groans he heard were the voices of other prisoners Boris held down there. And he dreaded to concede there was a distinct possibility Amie was right—that the cellar was a conduit to other worlds, including Earth.
Joseph groped for the handle and then pulled open the trapdoor. It was dark down there.
Herr Biar looked on. ‘We might need some light.’
‘Hey! Yeah! Where’s the light?’ Amie said. ‘The blue light.’
Herr Biar reached over Amie to a ledge. With his large hand he collected a candle and some matches. He struck the match against a grey stone by the door. Then, with his palm cupped around the flame, he lit the candle.
One by one, by candle light, they climbed down the ladder.
The group huddled together and shuffled around the small room, more like a miner’s dugout than a command centre of an alien creature. With the feeble glow, they averted their eyes and noses from the pungent sludge pile ripe for compost, and scanned the dusty and broken bits of furniture that resembled remnants ready for rubbish collection rather than tools for interstellar warp-transportation.
Herr Biar picked up a hammer from a broken shelf. ‘Oh, that’s where it went. I’ve been looking for that for ages. How did it get down here?’
Joseph traced his hands over the dirt wall, now damp from the recent downpour. ‘I don’t understand—it’s just nothing.’
‘Maybe Boris has blocked this too,’ Amie said.
‘How? The wall’s rock solid.’ Joseph squatted and continued to examine the wall. ‘I’m sorry—but I think we have established Friedrich isn’t in here.’
‘You’re right.’ Amie sighed. ‘Boris must’ve gone to the cave in the mountains. And he’s taken Friedrich with him.’
‘This can’t go on.’ Herr Biar slumped on a bench which collapsed under his weight. ‘Just what I need!’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Photo: Cows in Mole Creek Mist © M.E. Trudinger 2011