The Hole in the Closet
by William Quincy Belle
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Jack walked back towards the other trees, looking up at his closet and trying to estimate which would be best tree to swing from. He studied each of the high trees, trying to imagine the vine tied to a branch like a pendulum. If he hung off it and kicked his legs, he figured he could increase the arc to the point where he could reach his closet. That was his theory, in any case.
Jack laid out one end of the vine and uncoiled the rest of it as he walked towards the bush, which was almost directly underneath the opening to his closet. He wanted to estimate the length necessary to match the distance between the tree and the opening. He dropped the other end of the vine at the bush and then paced back the length. It seemed to be eighteen feet long.
He looked up at his closet then at the trees. Swinging seemed like a risky way of getting back to his closet. It would have probably been preferable to tie both ends of the vine to trees on either side of the closet and then slide across it, but the only trees higher than the closet opening were on one side. He would have to swing. The problem was getting a clear swing. He needed a high branch that stuck out far enough to allow for an unobstructed movement.
Choosing a tree, Jack re-coiled the vine and walked over to the trunk. He peered up into the branches to see how high he would be able to climb. There was a long, sturdy branch a little higher than the closet opening. He hung the coil over his shoulder to free his hands, then reached up to a low-hanging branch and climbed up.
Fortunately the tree had a lot of branches, and climbing was fairly easy. In some places, however, the branches were sparser and it took a bit of planning to figure out the best route up. Periodically, Jack stopped and looked over at his closet. He wanted to make sure he climbed to the right height.
Once level with the closet, Jack looked up. Just up a bit was the large branch that projected out farther than the rest. This was the one to which he would tie the vine.
Jack climbed onto the branch and laid himself out flat. He started to half-crawl, half-slide farther out on the branch. He looked down. Whoa, bad move. It wasn’t that high, but it would be high enough if he fell. Jack went back to concentrating on the matter at hand.
Checking the clearance, he knew this was the spot. He carefully balanced himself as he took the vine off his shoulder, tied off one end, and let the rest drop. It hung down clear of the lower branches. Taking a last look at how well he had tied off the vine, Jack slid back to the trunk and climbed down to the ground.
He grabbed the end of the vine, which was a few feet off the ground, and looked up at his closet. This just might work, he thought. He tied a knot in the vine about six feet off the ground to make it easier to hold onto as he swung back and forth. He also wanted to be off the ground so he wouldn’t scrape it with his feet.
Jack took a few steps back, then ran forward and jumped up to grab the knot. He swung towards his closet a bit and came back. He twisted, kicking his legs to increase the swing. Fortunately, the vine remained fairly fixed even as he turned, so he was able to keep swinging towards the closet.
With each successive swing, the end of Jack’s arc came closer to the closet. He was starting to feel pretty certain he would be able to get back. All he had to do was get a leg and an arm through the opening and grab onto something like the door jamb, and he would be able to pull himself back up. If he missed, he pictured himself doing what he had done to get there in the first place: falling fifteen feet onto a sponge bush. At least he would have a soft landing.
Jack was swinging back and forth faster now, each time bringing him higher. He was getting close. He heard a noise off to one side and turned his head. He briefly saw the vacuum creature wandering through the trees. No matter; Jack kicked his feet. His goal was in sight. Just another couple of swings and he’d be there.
He arced up. He could see inside his closet. It was just out of reach. One more swing would do it. He swung back down, but just as he reached the lowest point in his arc, his feet struck something. The force of the impact jarred his body, so much so that he lost his grip and fell to the ground. He lay there a moment, the wind knocked out of him.
He sat up and looked behind him. The animal was on its side, not moving. It must have waddled by the tree, directly in his path, and his feet had slammed into it. Jack wasn’t sure whether he’d killed it or just hurt it, but whatever the case, he had to get back to swinging. He had been so close, and he didn’t want to miss his chance to get out of this crazy place.
He got up and straightened the vine, then ran and jumped up to grab it again. He kicked his feet to build up the pendulum motion. He could do this. He had to do this. He had to get back home.
After a number of swings, he glanced down and noticed the animal was no longer lying on the ground. He tried to look around, curious as to where it had gone, but he couldn’t see it, so he concentrated on swinging.
With renewed vigour, he kicked his legs with each swing and was once again almost to the proper height. He readied himself for the final swing and the effort it would take to hook his leg and arm inside the opening. This was it. He arced back, but then felt the vine jerk. He looked up and saw the entire tree sway. He panicked, confused. The branch had been stable up until now.
As he swung, he tried to look at the tree trunk. He spotted the animal standing close by. There was a cloud of vapour around the trunk, and Jack could now hear hissing. His eyes widened. The creature had sprayed its acid onto the trunk of the tree. It was going to knock the tree over.
With one arm, Jack reached for the opening, but he wasn’t quite close enough. He swung back down and felt the vine shake. The tree was going to fall over. He swung back up and kicked his feet with all his might. Now or never. He had to make it.
He felt himself surge forward. He knew this was going to be it. He swung up to the top of the arc and managed to get one foot and an arm in the closet. He grabbed hold of the door jamb and held on tight. Just then, he heard a loud cracking sound. Jack looked back and saw the tree slowly topple over. He let go of the vine and watched it being pulled away from him by the force of the falling tree.
Turning back to the closet, he strained to pull himself up. Twisting, he tried to get his other arm closer to the opening so he could use both arms. He moved in spurts. He grunted. He pulled. Finally he got his torso over the lip of the opening, and the balance of his body completely changed; the majority of his weight was now back in the closet. He had made it.
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Copyright © 2014 by William Quincy Belle