Under The Rug
Two weeks passed and it happened again.
There I was standing with feet to the sunken edge of the rug thinking 'this is it, I'm going to die. I'm going to be yanked beneath like everyone else and never find my way out ever again. It, is going to devour me and leave only hard floorboards for my best friend to find.'
Why it won't take my friend I don't know but I am sure that it has a reason. I was staring at its eyes on December 31st, except it had no eyes so really I wasn't sure what I was staring at. I was also unsure why I bothered staring at it. There was nothing I could do.
However the carpet hangs sunken into the hole it remains covered, hidden, a small indentation.
'I could tell people' I had been already thinking 'That I'm just having some foundation issues. That's it, tape it off and leave it at that. No one will be none the wiser.' I consoled myself, yet the coffee mug in my hand felt sure to crack from the pressure my fist was putting on it. Perhaps, I thought, if I stare at it then it will go away. Maybe then it will all be a dream and everything will be normal again.
Normal. Everything from the last three months churned out to be a sad accident. Many sad accidents, rather. Little did I know was that everything was just the beginning of the end.
It all started eight months ago when I got home from work one day. I had come in jangling keys and sliding my feet from a job horribly done. As I slid off my shoes, thoughts of water filters and mattresses spilling from my mind I looked up to see my wife in the hallway.
She, despite it being much too late tonight was still dressed in jeans and tee, cardigan thrown over her shoulders. I hadn't noticed her creep up on me and stared a moment too long for it. Because something was wrong.
She held my favorite coffee cup in both of her hands, yet she stared into the sloshing full cup of steaming liquid with eyes as hazy as my grandmas cataracts.
"Sllafesh, what is your problem?" I spoke. Rather I may have snapped, bitter words tacked to my back after a moiling day full of sweat and toil. A cockroach slithered across the floor and that had caught my attention too quickly to hear an answer though. I moved to grab up my shoes again and flop to the floor lighting quick. "God damn it!" I had shouted, chest on floor as the broken legged creature scrabbled beneath the bright violet trim of the hall.
"Why didn't you grab it woman!?" I snapped again to my beloved, craning my neck from my place on the floor. On Sllafesh's face was gone the hazy look as she stared at me. One eyebrow was risen. I knew I'd pissed her off and half expected a slipper to my spine for I am a dog of a husband and she knew that all too well.
I was pleasantly surprised when she shrugged and turned to walk off. Silence settled, until-
"Detnawnu, my dear, I found something."
I was to my feet in a moment, worried, following in a few moments just so. I found her standing in the living room and taking a sip of my coffee, which I had glared at her for as she stared on at nothing.
"Isn't that mine?" I said, grit teeth. I wanted to go to bed, kiss my brat of a daughter on the head and fall asleep to tumbling dreams of mattresses and other over-priced knickknacks.
"it is." Sllafesh said, still staring at the carpet. I blinked, dumbfounded as I watched her lips loudly slurp another slurp of my coffee.
But then I realized she wasn't talking about the coffee, for she pointed to the carpet. That's when I noticed the shadow. The unusual-
The skittering of tiny legs distracted me for a moment, for I had swung around throwing myself to the floor without a thought one again. My chest hit wood and my hands grasped around frantic creature gleefully. My breath was knocked out but I still was able to shout "Sllafesh, I got it!" Then I had turned my head back to look at her and she stared back the same as before.
Again I was reminded that something was wrong, especially when it clicked after my thumping and shouting. 'Don't wake the kids.' She would always say to my admittedly delirious tendencies but tonight-
"Sllafesh… where is Eloh?" I spoke uncertainly and she shrugged. Then I noticed her empty hands. "Sllafesh, where is my coffee?" I questioned and she had the nerve to shrug. Worried, I began again. "Sllafesh? Where is the coffee table?" But she only shrugged again. I blinked. Then I kept blinking.
"Sllafesh? Where did you go?!"
I looked around in frantic motions. Then I moved up to my knees and did the same. Then suddenly it occurred to me to look down. Down, deep into the blackness beneath where there should have been only floorboards. Floorboards where the wood cracked and churned and disappeared in the darkness.
Eyes wide, I held the cockroach in my hands to my chest and finally, I approached the hole.
When I looked into the hole, suddenly, there was no hole. Instead a small yellow note rested against the polished hardwood and in scratchy blue writing like that of a toddler's the note read;
Don't tell anyone.
I didn't. For the next three weeks I went on as normal. I made myself a cup of coffee and then I dreamed about sink faucets and that old lady who always convinced me to sell her a mattress for only two cents.
"But miss Sevigohw!" I protested in my dreams. "If I give you this mattress for two cents, I won't have enough money to feed my family!"
"That's not my problem young man." She'd reply though I was clearly in my late forties. "You need to sell this mattress, and I have two cents. Well actually I have three cents but I need to save up for my cat's bed next week so do an old lady a favor, huh?"
"Well, what do you need another mattress for?! This is the seventh one this month!"
Then she would stare at me, take a step back and wave into her house. Usually, I stopped her. I didn't want to see! But this time I had stared, curiosity taking hold of my functions as my eyes darted inside. Inside and over the welcome rug, over the beaded doorway and flower bouquets, over the piles of crochet tablecloths and yarn stabbed full of needles piled too high. My eyes led further and further until finally, laying upon a rug. Not elsewhere in her house was a bed, or a counter, or a sink faucet or a cat or so much as a toilet. Yet there was also, no mattress.
So, I finally built up the courage to ask "Miss Sevigohw… is it… do you… did it… I mean-"
"No!" She cut me off. "Now give me that mattress, now! Before…" Her eyes flit to the side and then I knew. I knew that she too, had been spoken to by the hole.
Then I woke up.
But when I woke up, I realized, that I hadn't been dreaming. When I got home that night, my house was empty and then I realized too that I still hadn't been dreaming. For every plant pot, every egg pan and fridge door and bed frame wheel was in fact missing.
So, wary, I had approached my bathroom, opened the door and peaked in ever so slowly. I didn't want to see. I didn't want to know the truth.
But my toilet was there. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I thought it was odd that the hole allowed me to keep my least favorite mug. Everything else, it took. Soon I grew used to sleeping on the floor. I grew used to giving it my garbage for it took my garbage can as well. I didn't question what the hole wanted. I didn't question why the hole visited miss Sevigohw as well. I never saw anyone else who was a victim to the hole. I myself denied the hole. For me, during those first three months, everything was fine.
And soon, I stopped seeing the hole. I was reluctantly optimistic by its absence. I didn't question where my wife was, or my daughter. At night I offered my spare lunch to Neila, usually just bread crumbs for I didn't want to tempt the hole to come back. So I usually ate dry toast that I left out to harden in the sun while I worked.
I didn't wonder why the hole wanted my mattresses. I explained to people that my wife divorced me and nodded while they appeared unsurprised. I just didn't want to let them in, because the hole might come back if it knew that I had visitors. So I spoke to them quietly and closed the door as silently as possible behind me, locked it, then I looked back to the darkness inside my home.
And it occurred to me, that at least despite all this misfortune I wasn't alone. In the dark, I could hear the crackle and tick of Neila's little legs pattering around. I wasn't in denial, I thought. I just did what any successful adult did. I accepted what I could not change.
But then after nothing for two weeks, the hole came back.
The next two months from there are, I'm afraid, a blur. The hole sent me another letter. 'Bring me more.' It said.
I cried that night, but in front of me appeared my landline where the hole was just moments before and through my tears I managed to dial the number.
"Hello? Yes, this is Detnawnu. Yeah, yeah, I'm good. So I was thinking, I haven't seen everyone in awhile so we should have a meeting. Oh, at my place is fine. Yeah, let's bring all of our merchandise. That will work. Okay, see you tomorrow. Yeah, goodnight."
I don't want to explain the next day, or the day after that. It's too much. I'll will tell you that on the 7th of December at 5:26 I received another note. It read, 'I feel that Timber avenue is too noisy. A dinner party is in order. You have five days.'
Then a knock sounded at my door. While I was wondering how in the world I was going to bring together that many people I crept to the peep hole and looked through. It was miss Sevigohw and I knew in that moment that the hole had supplied me all I needed. Now. I just had to speak where the hole could not.
I thought it was easy. I thought I could do it. I thought that I could accept all of this as I stared at the hole.
It was December 30th and four months since the hole first appeared. On that day, I grew scared. I thought that me and miss Sevigohw could do this but then the hole took her by accident. Or, it said it was an accident.
So I had been panicking. In twenty-two minutes guests would arrive and I was all alone so I was much too nerve-wracked to function. The months had all come rushing back to me as I glared at the hole.
Then the guests arrived, only, they had a police officer with them. He wanted to inspect the premise. In that moment I, with Neila clinging to my shirt and my hair oily and greasy from the months had a revelation.
That I didn't have to be a slave to the hole. In my delirious sleep deprived state I thought that I could sneak up on the hole, reveal its identity and before it took the officer I could radio in. For a moment, there was hope.
"Please, come in." I told the man shakily as I led him to the living room. There he inspected the hole and I made my move.
You can't hear the screams when they fall in. When I radioed in might not have been so quickly noticed if not for the bystanders who ran, shouts and curses and surprise abound. It was only a few panicked hours before more officers arrived.
I realized my mistake then.
A group of three arrived. The hole took them. Next, a deputy with a couple other officers. Over the course of one day the whole took over twenty of them. Everything went so fast by then. It was all a blur that made me wish I fell into the hole that day on December 31st. I had thought I was being saved by the hole, but now as I write this I know the hole has used me.
Everyone is gone now. The streets are quiet. It's been too long. The hole took all of the calendars, so I don't know how long it has been. I don't know when I realized that the hole took everyone. When I realized that I was the only one left, sitting here in my room on my only chair with my only lamp as light.
Once it was so noisy, with police cars and helicopters and scientists and news reporters. Now the silence hurts me. A moment ago, I became angry. Angry of being alone. I finally told myself that nothing can be worse than staying here and so I was about to leap into the hole. I was about to find out where they had all gone, what the hole is and maybe even why it's here.
But now the hole is gone and from my anger my chair rests crooked on a broken leg.
Now I know that the hole has used me and worse yet, that the hole doesn't want me. Now I feel rejected. I wonder why the hole took miss Sevigohw. Was it really an accident? If it were I might have been able to tell myself that the hole only forgot me but I know in my heart that it isn't true.
The hole doesn't want me. It took everything but four walls and the dirt, everything but a broken chair and a few books, me, and Neila.
But I guess that's okay. Now I know that the hole needs me, but I don't need the hole. We can be alone together, Neila and I. I'm okay with that.