Thursday, September 15, 2011

Excerpt 7 from TUNNELS


Sneaking past the weapon-laden sailors got my heart beating faster than when I took a wrong turn out of the suburbs and found myself driving past boarded up crack houses at dusk. My fears seemed caught in my mouth, along with that knife, the handle of which I was sure now held a firm impression of half my teeth. The last sailor passed and I duck-walked toward the captain’s quarters. I hunched under some porthole windows and took up my post crammed between a pile of rope and a couple of casks that held a brew stronger than my morning coffee.

“One more thing,” a deep voice, hushed with secrecy, intoned, “There’s been too much blabbing already.”

“Far too much,” a second voice agreed.

“I’ll tell you what I’ve heard myself . . . that you have a map of an island, that there’s crosses on the map to show where treasure is, and that the island lies . . .” I had my recording gear on again, but I was just fast enough pulling out paper and pen as well to copy the longitude and latitude that the captain now divulged. The knife fell from my lips to my lap, so aghast was I at what I heard that my jaws had slacked of their own accord.

The further conversations I heard, the mutinous plans, kept me busily writing in my cramped hidey-hole. The ship set to sea and my customary struggle to keep from tossing my cookies from motion sickness was apparently blocked by my unusual circumstances. I expected to be launched through another tunnel at any point or find myself lurking around giant clothes dryers, once again on the lookout for radicals bent on stopping my quest.

The thought gave me pause. My quest. My hazy memory was sharpening, pointing toward the absurdity of my situation and the bizarre surroundings, and yet everything seemed to make sense. My quest was noble. I had only to think of Jackson’s sturdy hand, her determination, the righteous tone in her voice when she had said to me, “They trust us; we’re doing good here.” I knew my mission was good. Everything was flooding back into my memory banks just as I heard that cursed seaman yell “Land ho” and everything went dark.

(Tunnels is a work in progress. Feedback is appreciated.)