The Hole: A Short Story
One day the hole appeared out of nowhere, a hole in the ground. Each time the hole appeared the townspeople gathered together in the local bars, hairdressers or wherever people were prone to gather to contemplate the existence of the hole.
Jakes Bar was a charming little place, a place where the fortunes and misfortunes of the town were discussed. Of course the topic of discussion today was the hole and it’s ramifications for the town. Of course most of the people had no clue what the word ramifications meant so they just played it by ear and tried to sound knowledgeable when they talked.
“I m telling you Jake I think the hole was caused by groundwater”
“I don’t think so John, Jake shook his head, I think the hole is some kind of weird supernatural phenomenon. I’ve owned this bar for thirty years now and every time that hole shows up it means trouble.”
“Yeah, something weird happens”
“I don’t know if people are changing or gone missing. Stuff like that.”
An unknown patron sitting in the middle of the bar just smiled and took another sip of his beer.
“You know Jake I think most of those stories are just made up because people just don’t understand the comings and the goings of the hole. It needs to be studied more. Maybe we should call in one of those geologist types to investigate.”
Remember the last time we did that the hole was gone before he got here and the city council had to pay his fee, but the worst part of the hole thing was that you knew the guy was thinking we were some kind of idiots.”
“Yeah” said Old Hal who had been stoting quietly up to this point. “I heard him say as he drove out of sight. “What a bunch of fools. Not wrapped too tight””
“See what I mean John we can’t call anyone. We are on our own this time.”
The unknown patron looked like he was ready to jump out of skin with joy, thought nobody else in the bar seemed to take notice.
Dora’s beauty salon, which was normally the town hub for useless information, was rrally abuzz with all the women trying to get one last perm in order to look their best just in case something should happen. You never wanted to go out of this world not looking your best.
“It will only be a couple more minutes for that perm Madge, Ok?”
“So Dora what do you think of the hole?”
“Like what Madge?”
“Like what caused it”
“I think there was an earthquake”
“Don’t you think we would have felt the earthquake Dora?”
“Isn’t it possible we might have missed it? Maybe the earthquake hit while we were sleeping or something.”
“I don’t know'' seems possible I guess. I just think if there had been an earthquake it seems to me somebody would have felt it. Maybe we could call the sheriff’s station and see if they have any information. How come Mabel does not seem alarmed?”
Mabel who had been sitting under a hair dryer across and down to the left of Dora and Madge was sitting there seemingly oblivious to what was going on, but she wasn’t really. She was taking it all in and the more she thought about the hole the more a smile came to her face. Dora and Madge interrupted her pleasant thoughts, which were few and far between at her age.”
“Hey Mabel you’ve lived in this town for what forty or fifty years, what do you think of what’s going on around here?”
“Well dear if you ask me there are too many people riled up about nothing. I mean the last time the hole showed up there was a lot of fuss about people changing and all but when get right down to it none of those people were changed for the worse. No,they was all changed for the better.”
Jakes bar like all the rest is a place of decision making, but like all decisions made in a bar few of them are ever carried out.
“Hey Bill. How was your day?”
“You know Ted, fill a few, pull a few.”
“Ah, the exciting life of a dentist. What are Jake and John talking about down there?”
“Since John came into the bar they have been discussing the hole.”
“What about the hole?”
“Trying to figure out what to do about it.”
“I do not know if there is anything you can really do about it Bill, except like wait until it goes away like the last time.”
“I don’t know Ted, I’m not the experts but couldn’t you just throw some dirt in it or something?
“ I don’t know Bill, me being a landscaper and all and seeing as how the hole is really deep I don’t think there is enough dirt in the whole county to fill in that hole and besides if it like the last time the hole seems to just go away after a day or two”.
“I don’t know Ted seems to me that if you got a whole lot of dirt”
“I don’t mean to interrupt Bill but is that whole or hole”
“Whole with a w”
“Ok I got it now a whole lot of dirt”
“Yeah if you got a whole lot of dirt sooner or later that hole would be filled in.”
“Were you listening to Bill when I said that there is not enough dirt around here to fill that hole in. Beside you know as well as I do that eventually the hole goes away. Things change but the hole goes away.”
“That is what I am worried about Ted, the changes that come with the appearance of the hole. It gives me the creeps what happens when that hole appears. It is as if the town is one giant ball of nerves.”
“Do you mean bundle of nerves Bill?”
“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”
“I don’t blame you. I remember back in 1985 when that hole opened up for a week there were a lot of people around here that changed. Old man Jones who used to be the crabbiest person in the town suddenly became the nicest person in the word. And that one girl, what was her name? Oh yeah Lois. She was the quiet shy type. After the holes appearance she became foot loose and fancy free. If you know what I mean?”
“Well Ted all I can say is I hope the hole disappears as fast as it appeared.”
“Amen to that Bill, Amen to that.
The unknown patron sitting to the left of Ted and Bill smile with delight as if eh knew what was coming.
Ever since the appearance of the hole the sheriff’s office was being bombarded by phone calls, which is not really that unusual since people are prone to call their local law enforcement when something is just not right.
“ I know Misses Jones the hole is back. You’re about the 200th person that has called the Sheriff’s office today. Yes Misses Jones we are looking into it, but I don’t know if there is anything we can do about it. Yes if anything changes I will get back to you” “Hey Jonesy do know where the sheriff is?”
“Yeah he went home for the day. Said that this hole thing is driving him crazy.”
“I can see what he means. I came in at four and the phone has been ringing off the hook ever since”
“I know what you mean Sarah this whole hole business is driving me crazy”
“You know Jonesy, that's “funny whole hole”. Sometimes I wonder about you. Now get out on the road it is time for your patrols.”
“Yeah, I know I was just heading out”
“If you go out by Big Al’s place try to stay away from that hole, it gives me the creeps”
“Ah are you all worried about me Sarah?”
“No, just don’t want anything to happen to the patrol car those things are no cheap to replace.”
“Yeah sure. Talk to you later Sarah.”
“Hey Jonesy, I was only kidding, be careful. I don’t want you to go and start changing on me”
So ends the first day of the holes existence.
The dawning of the second day of the holes existence found the townspeople gathered around the latest appearance of the hole not because it was there. No, the sudden excitement of the townspeople was the result of the strange noises the hole was making. Again the townspeople started to contemplate the strange noises like good townspeople are apt to do.
“Hey Jake what does that noise remind you of?”
“ I don’t know Bill but if I were to venture a guess I would say it sounds like one of those sirens.”
“ A siren?” Chimed in Dora
“Yeah you know those mythical Greek women who lure ships to their doom.”
“Jake you’re nuts, you know that? He asked and then added “What makes you think that is the sound of a siren?”
Well Dora, to me it sounds like some kind of beautiful song and it kinds of makes me want to venture closer to the hole”
“And just what do you base your analogy on?” Dora was always one to challenge people’s theories.
“First off Dora if analogy means what am I comparing the sound to then I guess I am basing my analogy on nothing.”
“Well Jake I hate to tell you this but as far as I am concerned in order to render and analogy there must be at least one person here who has actually heard a siren sing.
“Hey you don’t have to pick on the guy.” Chimed in the Bill the dentist.
“ No, Bill I will settle this once and for all. Ted turned and faced the crowd. “Has anyone here ever heard a siren sing?”
Not one person answered but there were a few more questions and concerns.
“Hey Ted can I ask you something?”
“Yeah go ahead Pete.”
“Well doesn’t it stand to reason that in order to the song being sung by a siren then we should be close to water? Also if it is a siren singing then does that mean the hole is filling up with water?”
“Well” said Ted, “As to the answer to the first question I guess you’re right. As to your second question I have no idea. Does anybody here know if the hole has water in it?’
Well this prompted a lot of murmuring from the crowd. Which is normal because crowds are prone to murmur but in the end a number of people including Dora were skeptical that it was in fact a siren they were listening to but there was even more skepticism because they were not near water and
Now Big Al, who owned the local convenience slash hunting and fishing store located not two hundred feet from the hole had, had enough. He was tired of the crowd hanging out in the parking lot of his store and not buying anything. He threw his towel on the counter, walked out the door and across the parking lot to where the crowd was gathered by the hole. Big Al cupped his hands around his mouth because he had heard that you could amplify your voice that way and yelled.
“What do you people think you are doing? Either buy something or get off my lot.”
Now Big Al was called Big Al by the townspeople not because of any great stature because truth be told he was only about five feet ten inches in shoes and weighed about one hundred sixty pounds. No matter when you saw him Big Al was sporting an ever-present grin that could usually be spotted through his unkempt beard. No big Al was just big Al because people decided the name small Al just did not sound right and besides Big Al has such a big mouth for such a little guy. Now Big Al who was never at a loss for words and was always one for stating the obvious said to no one in particular,
“Hey that hole sure is making an awful lot of noise.”
Which resulted in a few people in the crowd like Ted and Bill to sarcastically reply, “Do you think?”
“Hey! Said Big Al “I was only making an observation. By the way is that the song of a siren I hear?”
With that question the crowd let out a resounding “NO!!!”
A woman with blonde hair in the back of the crowd who went by the nickname Sweet Sue shouted up to Big Al,
“We’ve been observing for quite a while now, why don’t you tell us something we don’t know”.
“Yeah” said another man in the crowd trying to remain inconspicuous but who was the unknown patron from the bar, “We want to know what is going on. Are we in danger? Is the hole going to explode or something?
Big Al sensing the nervousness of the crowd decided to take matters into his own hands. He raised his hands in the air and said in the loudest voice possible;
“ Since I live the closest to the hole, I’m going too mosey over to the hole and take a peek to see what is going on.”
“Well it’s about time,” said another man Big Al did not recognize.
“Show us what you are made of, Big Al” said a seemingly unimportant man named Tom Daughterly, one of Big Al’s best customers.
Big Al was getting annoyed with his so-called friends. What did he ever do to them that they should be treating him this way? Not wanting to appear like he was afraid, Big Al rose to his full height of five feet ten inches and sauntered over to the edge of the hole, then took a deep breath.
Why he did not know, but maybe to calm his nerves. He had noticed that the closer he got to the hole the more calming the sound had become. Sure he was still afraid but he was also not afraid. He stood there looking into the darkness of the hole pondering how someone could be afraid and not afraid at the same time.
Big Al could not see anything in the hole that could make the sound like he was hearing so he moved a little closer to the edge. Still there was nothing to be seen. He noticed that his sense of fear had abated so he took a couple more steps and stood at the very rim of the hole. Big Al leaned as far out over the hole as possible being careful not to lose his balance.
What he saw in the hole was amazing. Down in the hole about twenty feet or so from where he standing was what appeared to be a scene reminiscent of laying in the grass and looking up at a clear blue sky but the most amazing part of the whole scene was that gazing back at him while he was gazing at her was the most beautiful blonde women he had ever seen.
At first Big Al thought he was hallucinating or seeing some kind of a mirage but then the blonde woman did something that Big Al thought for sure a mirage would not do, she blew him a kiss and then motioned for him to come to her. Then Big Al noticed that standing next to the women was what could be nothing more than a mirror image of himself.
Now Big Al was in a quandary, and he was not even sure what a quandary was. He would love to go to the women as he had never had someone so lovely to flirt with him, but to do so he would have to jump into the hole. Big Al stood there for what seemed like a few minutes trying to decode what to do when fate stepped in like it usually does and made the decision for him.
Turning back to look at the townspeople who were now quietly anticipating what was to happen, Big Al lost his balance and fell into the hole. The last thing he heard as he fell was what to his ears seemed like a cheer then everything went black and Big AL was not more. Once again the hole had done its job and the town was rid of one of the humans so the hole fell silent.
As the crowd parted and headed back to their respective homes that patted Big Al on the back and welcomed him to the town. Big Al turned back to take one last look at the hole, saluted, then headed to what he presumed to be his convenience slash bait and tackle store since the name on the sign said Big Al.
As Big Al walked back to his new home the hole seemed to fill itself in from the inside out. Now to the casual observer the hole would appear as nothing more than a shallow depression in the ground but to Big Al and a few others in the town, the hole was gateway to a change
On the other side of the hole Big Al also turned from the slowly disappearing hole and looked at the beautiful blonde who also was changing right before his eyes. No longer beautiful, now hideous the creature beckoned for him to follow. Seeing no other choice Big Al surveyed the desolate landscape and proceeded to follow the girl, creature, whatever back to the ramshackle town in the distance.
Notes On: The Hole
I originally wrote this story back in the early 2000’s for a writing group I belonged to. I recently found it in some old writing files from an old computer. I refined it a little and now I offer the story here. I hope you enjoyed it.
© 2020 T B Whitt