Disappear Hole by Slimebeast
I guess you could say I've always been a little less than adventurous.
Growing up, I didn't take many risks at all. I only played in the back yard because I knew a car could swerve off the road at any time, and I only played Little League for a week since the ball was getting dangerously close to my head.
That's why I didn't really want to go with Tyler and Kieren that day. Tyler wasn't so much a friend as he was a recurring problem. I told him about the cigarettes my Dad kept in the basement; ones he intended to sell out of state for a higher price. The next day, there was Ty and two of his friends. They asked if my parents were home, then helped themselves to a carton from the back of the boxes.
I don't know if he considered me his friend, but I felt more like he was refusing to leave me alone.
Kieren was a different case altogether. He was more on the meek side like myself, but he had the put-on façade of a tough kid. We'd play Battle Toads all weekend, then he'd brag about how he'd been breaking into construction sites and setting fires the next school day.
They were both trouble, but in different dosages.
That lie, by the way, was what brought us to the disappear hole. Tyler had finally called Kieren on his bullshit one day, and Kieren was forced into an agreement. He swore he'd bring Tyler to one of his dangerous "hide-outs" and prove he wasn't all talk.
I spent the rest of that school day wondering how Kieren would get out of his promise. He could fake sick, or he could simply not show up at the agreed upon meeting place. Either way, I never expected to actually go anywhere dangerous that evening.
"You're here. I didn't think you had the nuts." Tyler called out as Kieren biked toward us in the distance. We could barely make him out due to the setting Sun and the dirt his wheels were kicking up.
"I've got plenty of nuts!" Kieren called back, his voice cracking from obvious nervousness.
Tyler shot me a look and rolled his eyes, though I didn't get it.
"Well? Where is it?" Tyler demanded as Kieren let his bike fall to the ground as if he didn't care about it.
"Take a chill pill. It's right around here, somewhere."
Kieren dusted off his pant legs and strolled up to us as casually as he could manage... then he swallowed hard.
"This way." Kirern turned on his heels and, just as casually, he strode off into the tall grass.
"Watch out for ticks." I cautioned, echoing my Mother. "Pull your socks up over your cuffs or you'll get Lyme's Disease."
We walked for what seemed like forever... at least to a child. Kieren lead us up hills, then back down. He walked around a tree in a complete circle, then back the way he came. We stepped across a creek and pushed through a few red berry plants.
"You're taking us in circles!" Tyler finally laughed, "I knew you were full of it!"
"I'm not full of anything!" Kieren snapped back without even turning around, "I'm... confusing you so you can't find my hideout again."
"Yeah right." I chimed in, slowly turning against him.
Finally, Kieren stopped dead in his tracks. The move was so sudden and unexpected that Tyler pushed into him and nearly fell into a thorn bush.
"This is it!" Kieren cheered, his nasal voice cutting through the otherwise silent darkness.
We had come to a small dirt clearing encircling a squarish cement structure. It was essentially a dirty, chipped, and peeling white cube that stood no taller than we did.
"You got lucky." Tyler snorted. It seemed clear to us that we'd simply been lead around until our leader found something... anything... that would conform to his story.
"What is this, even?" I walked toward the thing and circled it. There were no openings in any of its four sides, certainly nothing that could called a door. The crudeness of the thing seemed more like a platform for something else, not really anything important in and of itself.
Still, Kieren refused to be deterred.
"I come here lots. I sit up here and this is my battle fort. It used to be part of a house, but then I burned the rest of it down and no one ever found out." He hoisted himself up onto the structure, talking it up the whole time.
"Oh," he gasped, "Wow!"
By the time Tyler and I climbed to his position, Kieren had regained his composure. He acted as if he'd never seen that perfectly circular hole in the top of the cube, but only at first. Now he knew everything about it.
"This is a water holder." Kieren proudly explained.
I peered down into the opening, and saw nothing but darkness beyond the stained, corroded metal lip.
"Rain collects in there so you can drink it." the boy continued.
"Nah, it's just a septic tank or something." Tyler shook his head, "That's where the poop goes."
Kieren and I laughed uncontrollably at this statement, though Tyler seemed to be sure of it.
Looking back on it, the smell should've solidified the fact that wasn't true. There was nothing to suggest any kind of decay whatsoever. The chilly air that softly blew from the opening smelled like... nothing. It wasn't just clean-smelling or in some way vaguely pleasant. There was actually an absence of any sort of odor. Nothing.
That, mixed with the complete blackness within, made the thing seem bottomless.
"One of us should climb down there and see if there's anything cool. One of us can hold the other's hands." Tyler seemed quite pleased with his idea, but after a moment it seemed as if there would be no volunteer.
"We should throw something in and see how deep it is." I remarked, thinking this information was somehow necessary.
"What about a pencil or something?" Kieren felt his pockets. We all did, and found nothing of the like to toss into the abyss.
"Nah, I didn't bring anything." I sighed. "Tyler, you have a lighter, right?"
He felt his own pockets. First his pants, then his jacket. Then he shrugged. "No, I didn't bring one."
"A flashlight, maybe?" I rubbed my head as we all stood around the pipe.
"Nope..." replied Tyler.
"Uh-uh." Kieren shook his head.
I turned to look down at the clearing, figuring we could find a rock or branch. This was an obvious choice we should've started out with.
"Hey," Kieren mumbled as he turned and looked around with me, "Didn't we have a flashlight?"
"Nope." Tyler quickly answered.
Then, we surveyed the darkness around us. Save for the moonlight illuminating the clearing and the shining white block we stood upon, everything was black. I wondered how exactly we had gotten to the spot without light, and it seemed the others considered this as well.
"No, I had a flashlight. At least I think I did..." Kieren's face contorted in the way it did when he was trying to think. "Yeah... yeah! There was a pocket light I found on the bus one time."
"I must have had a lighter, too." Tyler patted his pockets again. "I hide one under the mailbox before School and I pick it up when I get home. This is weird."
"Wait a minute." I turned back toward the pipe and leaned down, peering into the darkness. There in the sea of black was the smallest pinprick of light. It grew slowly dimmer, then dimmer still, as if it were slowly falling into nothingness.
"That's my flashlight!" Kieren yelled as he squatted to see what I was looking at.
"It's a disappear hole." Tyler stepped back, then awkwardly toppled to the dirt. "It makes anything you put in disappear forever and you don't even remember! This place is haunted or something!"
"Holy shit!" I called out, having no control over my tongue, "Get away fast!"
Kieren and I quickly rolled off of the cube and joined Tyler on the ground. The three of us ran all the way back to our bikes without uttering a word. We were too busy worrying about how cowardly we each looked to each other.
It wasn't until we reached our meeting place that Kieren finally broke the silence, his voice trembling and choked by breathlessness. Tyler and I could only stare, wide-eyed, as he spoke.
"Whose bike is that?"