Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! If you’ve been following this site, then you have experienced the sum of my writings and have been enjoying them! At least, I hope. This is the latest micro-chapters of my work Left of Midnight. If you’re new to all of this, well, welcome aboard and thanks for taking time out to read my work! I’m doing the best that I can to deliver the most quality material possible. Certainly, I have an eclectic imagination! So, thank you. Thank you for being here. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer. As such, I’m not going to waste anymore time with drawing this out and say let’s just get into it now!
Without further ado, Left of Midnight:
SHŌTŌ WAS IN the middle of cleaning his pants (for whatever reason there was for it, he wasn’t sure; he was just feeling dirtier than usual) when the American returned from wherever it was he’d been spending his time for the last several weeks. He didn’t really care too much. It wasn’t like there were too many places the man could run off to. And if he did happen to take off and not come back, well, he didn’t figure that was too hateful of a thing either. Maybe he’d have a little peace for once from the man’s constant urge to blather on incessantly about one thing or another. The only plus from listening to him always talking was that he was beginning to pick up on some of the man’s language. So, when he returned, he was able to get the gist to a degree of what he was suggesting and he started to feel a little embarrassed as a result.
“Alright, mister…” what he said next sounded like a strange guttural utterance, but Shōtō assumed he was just calling him by a nickname. “(something, something) up the hill and (‘and…’ this seemed to be a word that connected other vocabulary conditions)… can shelter there… (too fast to understand, but he assumed the American wanted to stay up the cliffside for now on rather than the lake; he had to admit, constantly being pelted by the storm rains wasn’t doing his sinuses much good). We can live there and (concentrating very hard on what the man was saying netted Shōtō the idea that he definitely had an idea for a new home; though the words he was using still evaded him for the most part, they were still gruff sounding and heavy yet simple in their utterances). What do you say? (What do I say? I haven’t said anything yet; what does that mean?) …come and see?”
Okay. He wants me to join him to see what he’s been working on. I can do that. “You call me, ‘Shōtō’. No… uh… grunt?”
“Hey! Gotsasomawordseh!?” Huhn? No. That wasn’t what I said at all! “Come on, Shoot toe! Lookiternewdigs!”
Did he say… shootow? Mmm. Guess close enough. “Shōtō. What you do?”
“Larninsomaangliseh?” the American said really quickly. Shōtō was beginning to get a headache and let it go. It was enough to understand the man wanted him to follow him up the way towards whatever new home he had in mind. “Aberry you kincawmee. You are really gonlykdis.”
Oh, God! Stop talking!
Aberry, he thought the American said, led them across the shoreline and through the ringed forest to his raft he’d made some time ago. Shōtō had seen it once before and thought it was pretty clever. Aberry would latch it up on the southern shoreline of the ringed river and then use the current that flowed around the western edge to reach the raised stony plateau where the twin pathways rose up to the surface above. Whenever he returned, he’d ride the currents leading to the edge of the forest flowing northward and then pull the raft up on shore with him to tug along back to his resting place on the southern end. Shōtō found the back and forth totting of the thing nauseating and resisted any suggestion he get on the thing. He just new Aberry would ask him to help transport it back to its position for the next journey and he just didn’t feel up to it.
Though he guessed this time he’d be helping.
They got atop the raft, which was sturdy enough to accommodate them both though Shōtō had no idea how. It seemed ragged and unsafe. Aberry pushed them off and they floated around the river bend and up towards the stony overhang of the wet plateau. Once there, Aberry tied the vessel up to a wooden peg that he had somehow driven into the stony floor and he helped Shōtō up onto the slippery surface. They walked up the northern slope leading in the direction Shōtō had seen when initially coming down into the chasm that first time but had decided not to investigate. He noticed a strange addition to their left and along the floor. It was a long, narrow trough not even ten inches wide and six inches deep running from the bottom of the incline (where its open end hovered over a riverlet chiseled into the stony surface of the plateau that ran out into the river) and up alongside the incline tunnel wall’s base. He wanted to ask why Aberry put that there, but decided it was too much effort to try and make out whatever response would be forthcoming.
“Hey, what did you put this for?” Shōtō decided to say in his native tongue instead. Aberry only look back at him with a smile and a thumbs up. Shōtō shook his head as the American turned back to walking up the incline towards wherever he was headed.
Bastard can’t even be bothered to learn anything I have to say. Oh, I take the time to learn what his language is about, but he can’t make even a trivial effort. Shōtō frowned as he followed Aberry upwards. Can’t even get my name right.
They walked upwards for almost fifteen minutes until Aberry stopped beside a narrow crevice in the wall leading off to their left. Here, the narrow trough ended just beneath another trough hanging over it.
It’s some sort of gutter… Shōtō looked at the makeshift trough running all the way down the decline of the floor. Is it to drain water from wherever we’re headed?
“Wait tilyagitta load of this,” Shōtō looked up at Aberry who was smiling broadly and waved him on to follow him into the interior. The man grabbed a lit torch that was affixed to the wall beside the entrance and led the way inside.
Shōtō followed. It was a narrow passage. Aberry’s broad shoulders were nearly touching each wall but still it allowed him to pass fairly easily. Shōtō was a good foot shorter than Aberry and considerably smaller. His passage was like walking through the doorway back at home.
A sudden pain shot into his heart as he remembered his home. Now dark, he supposed, and uninhabited. It filled him with a renewed sorrow and there was a darkness reaching for him again. He fought hard to push that feeling down deep and focused only on his trek towards whatever it was Aberry had to show him. He didn’t want to be ruminating on his losses now. Or ever again, if he was being honest with himself. However, the sensation that he was just taking a prolonged holiday grew hotter in his chest. No, he didn’t want to be there. He wanted to be back by the lakeside pretending he was never going to leave there again.
He found that his focus was so much on that sullen ache he almost ran into Aberry’s back when he stopped at the end of the tunnel. He heard a creak as something was pushed aside and then Aberry was stepping through into the interior of a larger area of the tunnel. It was then Shōtō noticed that there was a doorway before him. A doorway built into a wooden wall fully covering the end of the tunnel from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. There didn’t even seem to be any break or space between the wood and the stony walls of the tunnel. It was like the wood ran straight into the rock surrounding it. Aberry turned back to look at him, his grin that of a madman’s.
Great. What did you do, Aberrysan? Build a cabin into the mountainside? Shōtō pursed his lips and stepped through into a well lit interior. If it had been a cavern before, he wouldn’t know it by looking around. The gutter trough to his left and along the floor ran into the complex and through the wooden wall. Inside, he saw that that trough ran up a ramp and into the bottom of an enclosure. He wasn’t sure what was in there, but it looked like a large wooden box rising from the top of the ramp’s end to the ceiling. Like the rectangular box was sitting on a platform.
Shōtō ignored it for the time being and took in the rest of the interior. There was a wooden wall with a door in it to the rear of the spacious interior. That door was closed right now but he figured Aberry would soon be showing him what was behind it. To the forefront and his right, he saw what look like a pair of seats with a table between them along the wall. The table was spacious enough for four people to eat at. The rest of the room was bare. The floor was stony but covered in a thin layer of dirt. The ceiling of the cave couldn’t be seen for there was another ceiling blocking it out. One of wood and reed. Lining the wooden walls (there were some reeds twining the slats of wood together but they were more to the ends of the room where the platforms met. Which was probably good as there were two torches on each wall at equidistance from one another). The whole room was cast under the bouncing orange, yellow, and red light cast by the torches. It was almost homey, Shōtō realized. And actually pretty warm despite it being a cave interior. He figured between the thick wooden slabs of the wall and ceiling and the torches across them, the heat being put off was more than enough to keep them toasty.
Aberry walked to the center of the room and did a quick swirl with his arms outward, torch still in one hand. “Well, watchathink?”
“I think I’m shocked…” Shōtō said not bothering to try any English just yet.
“Ah, Mister Grunt! Come on seethisunbidrumovahar.”
Aberry rushed over to the back of the interior where the wall with its door stood. He opened it up and looked at Shōtō with a look at this expression. Shōtō walked across to the freshly opened doorway and looked inside. There were two beds in small rooms divided by a wall. Hanging across both of those tiny bedrooms was a sheet of vines per domicile making curtains. There was a narrow hall of sorts before those bedrooms and the doorway with its wall. On the interior walls of each bedroom, was a wooden hook for affixing a torch. Shōtō had to admit, he was impressed with the American’s ingenuity. Though, it was basic. However, it was definitely a step up from sleeping out along the lakeside with all the animals and elements ready to pounce on them at a moment’s notice.
“So? Eh? Whaddyathink?”
Shōtō looked up to Aberry who was obviously very pleased with himself. “Look good. Nice. Need bed.”
Shōtō indicated that the mattresses were little more than just wooden slabs lain across the floor. Though, he imagined that if Aberry could make curtains, it was possible to make mattresses from the vines in the forest and reeds running rampant along the lakeside as well.
“Ah, (dee tails? Did he say he needed ‘tails’?) Lookitthis!”
Aberry rushed over to the rectangular box Shōtō had seen upon entrance with the trough running out from underneath it. He followed the man over to it and he opened up the door in front. Shōtō had a moment to realize that there was another box behind the crate looking structure that was up on stilts and raised nearly to the head of the rectangle box. Shōtō looked inside the open door and saw, to some surprise, a makeshift toilet. It was of the Western make though squarish with just a hole in the top to do one’s business. There was a collection of water in the ‘bowl’ of the seat with what seemed to be a small tunnel running off towards the trough coming out of the bottom of the whole unit.
“Watch this!” Aberry said and pulled a string made of vine at the base of the toilet side. The water ran out of the bowl and down into the trough. There, the water raced downwards and out of the whole place via the gutter ductwork. Then, Aberry let go of the string and he heard something shut. He turned towards a string behind the toilet and pulled it. More water filled the bowl and it sounded like it came from the box behind the whole fixture.
“Yeah? Got ersehveswerkibletolet!”
He had to admit, the man was proving more clever than he thought initially. Shōtō supposed he had his moments after all. He looked back to Aberry and gave a thumbs up just as the man was wont to do. Aberry walked around in a circle again, arms held wide, torch still in his hand.
He uttered something else excitedly that Shōtō figured meant he was ready to move in and live out of the cave. Shōtō however sighed inwardly and frowned. Yes, it all looked perfectly livable. But it would require him being closer to Aberry and he wasn’t certain he really wanted to deal with the literal headache that came with trying to understand the man. Besides, he wondered about the smoke from the torches. Sure, there was the open tunnel leading out to the pathway running up and down from the surface, but would there really be enough air circulating to not choke on?
Shōtō shook his head. You’re just making excuses. The truth is, you don’t want to think about the darkness. It’s easier to stay outside always fighting for survival in the elements themselves. But here, you’d have to face your demons in the face.
He felt a hand clasp his shoulder and he looked up to see the bright smile on Aberry’s face. There really wasn’t much of a choice, he didn’t think. So, he nodded and said, “Okay.”
Aberry seemed ecstatic over this development and Shōtō knew they would soon be retrieving what few belongings they had to make themselves at home in the place the American obviously put a lot of time and effort into.
I suppose I can make some mattresses… Shōtō sighed and the two of them exited the new abode to go get everything ready. He tried to ignore the aching regret clawing its way once more through his gut. Tried not to think about the nightmares that had consumed his existence as of late. It was a more challenging task than he cared to admit. He stopped then and stared at the torches. Then turned to Aberry as he was making his way down the tunnel.
“What about torches?”
Aberry paused and twisted towards him. “Fine. Fine! Lasedisongbefinewyillinger.”
Shōtō wasn’t sure what he just said but he deduced that the man just wasn’t concerned about them for now. Curious given how much effort he put into designing the whole place.
“Whatever. You want it to burn down, that’s no sweat for me. I’m fine living out by the lake.”
Shōtō grumbled to himself and then followed the man down the tunnel and towards the lakeside.
The summer rolls on
AVERY STOOD AT the summit of the hill overlooking the expanse of the forest rolling up and down invisible hills and valleys until it collided with the base of the volcano far to the north. He wasn’t sure how far north it was, but far enough to put it in the miles away category. Where he stood, was the stony extension of one of the many treacherous hills and peaks found all across the island. Between him and the pilot he’d come to know as ‘Shoot Toe’ (mostly because he couldn’t hardly understand the man; though he himself seemed competent enough to have already picked up some English vocabulary), or sometimes ‘Show Toe’ depending on how quickly the pilot spoke to him on any given day, they’d explored already a good expanse of the island. But whenever Avery tried to convince the man to head towards the volcano, he began getting agitated and speaking faster than normal.
Maybe it’s some sort of superstition involving volcanos, Avery rubbed his chin. There was a small smattering of rough hairs here and there. It never got any worse than that, but it was enough to irk him. Shaving with a knife wasn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. Does he have any volcanos where he lived in Japan? I’ll have to ask him. I might not understand the answer, but I’ll wager he’ll get the question down pact.
He frowned with a sigh and turned back down the narrow path he’d forged up the hill. The path was craggy with forest coming up around a good portion of the hill base. The very tops of which barely reached a few feet below the hilly summit. The path itself (of which he’d hacked away vines and skinny trees to create) wound around and down through the thick forest until it met the meadow leading across and towards the ravine entrance. He had to admit, he was impressed with his choice of a home location. Nothing was likely to disturb them there. Not that there was anybody around, he reminded himself. The truth was, the island was deserted save for wildlife and rampant flora. A few things were deadly. But not much. Some venomous snakes, vicious beasts with tusks, the huge and cumbersome fish he’d caught the week before (well, caught was a rather generous term; the truth was, it almost caught him and had he not dropped his makeshift rod, it would have as it twisted over itself and dove back down into the murk of the lake) with a long mouth full of what could only be concluded to be razor sharp teeth, and a few chubby plants that seemed to engorge themselves off the local fauna.
All in all, they were getting better at surviving off the land and lake. Neither of them had gone hungry since initially arriving and both had some small attribute to bring to the table when it came to hunting. Avery was more capable with more aggressive tackling sessions when bringing down those creatures not so easily trapped, and Shoot Toe rather clever with traps and techniques in acquiring food resource that weren’t so keen on becoming food.
However, his dreams were becoming more insistent on investigating that volcano. He kept dreaming he was that Neti guy and could never get to the tower at the center of the desert. Could never find that cave the voice in his head told him to find. Insisted was nearby. Instead, he’d walk out into the desert and get lost, starve to death out in the elements with no sort of shelter to speak of and the most egregious heat he’d ever experienced. Avery kept awaking expecting to be burning up with a fever. Only to feel completely fine save for a few cold sweats that the small fire in the center of the cave was more than capable of warming up.
Avery paused about five steps down the path and turned back towards the hazy view of the volcano at the north end of the island. Today, there wasn’t a cloud around its summit and he could see the flat angle of its great caldera at its dome. A portion of the mountainous feature was shredded away and downwards some hundred feet or so. At least, he assumed it was that large. It was a dominant feature on the island, nearly three times as large as the mountain he’d crash landed within (which, from where he stood, seemed as insignificant as the hill he was already on), and blocked out much of the ocean view to the north. But, somewhere in its depths, he was supposed to accomplish something. He could feel it in his bones as he stared at the monstrous shape. Not one tree grew along its hide (Yes, hide… it reminds me of a hide…) and the angle of the structure wasn’t entirely steep, though it would be a real beast to climb. The slopes were almost gentle towards the base as it rose up and grew ever more steeper until it reached a peak that look to have once been a spire before the entire topped half had been sheered off by whatever explosion had to have occurred deep in the past.
It’s calling to me and I must respond… Avery chuckled then and turned back down the path. Jesus, Ave. That was ridiculous. That volcano isn’t calling to you. Just the same, though, I’d like to see what is so special about it. And I want… He paused and stared down into the shadows of the forest path awaiting him. No, I need Shoot Toe to join me. I… I don’t know why. But he has to be there too. Now, if I can just convince the stubborn bastard.
And there we go! Another week come and gone! Man, time flies, doesn’t it? So many offerings I’ve put up here and still the calendar plods along without a thought for our needs, hopes, and dreams. Annnnndddd…. the year is also almost over. Go figure. I do hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day, however. And I hope you’ll be back next week for more Left of Midnight. I can’t wait myself! Read to you again soon!
~Timothy S Purvis
PS: While you’re here, why not check out my author’s page on Amazon? There’s a lot of writing available and I’d really appreciate your supporting the cause! https://www.amazon.com/Timothy-Purvis/e/B085Q62XRP?ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-drs1_0&qid=1603107921&sr=1-1-f6b8d51f-2c55-4dc3-89ad-0c3639671b2d
Also, also… why not check out one of my latest books while you’re at it?: