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Kevin`s Point of View - Chap. 6

by Colonist 

Posted: 14 July 2004
Word Count: 1493
Summary: Now that the silly pastie/pasty discussion has effectively been put to bed, here's the next chapter of Kevin's Point of View.

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Kevin's Point of View
By Del Shannon

Chapter 6

The taxi pulled away and left Pudge standing on the sidewalk in front of 1635 Maple Street, Black Hawk, Colorado. The house was like most in town, an old, two story Victorian, painted white with elaborate trim hanging from the awnings. Many of the other Victorian houses in Black Hawk had been remodeled and turned into Bed and Breakfast Inns or gift shops. A black, wrought iron fence surrounded the small, neatly trimmed lawn and a small gate opened to a narrow walkway that led to the front door of the house.

Pudge reached down and picked up the bag he had hurriedly packed, slung it over his shoulder, and walked toward the gate. As he reached down to open the gate he noticed a small note on the handle that read, “Leave all deliveries on front porch. Pudge, come to back door via path on right side of house.”

Pudge looked to the right side of the house and noticed a narrow pathway overgrown with lilac bushes a week from full bloom. Shrugging, he walked down the sidewalk, turned onto the path at the end of the fence, and began to squeeze his way through the unkempt pathway. He quickly disappeared into the lilacs.

“Why can’t I go through the front door like any other human being,” he grumbled as he scratched his way along the side of the house. “Ouch.” he yelped, as a branch scraped across his arm. “That’s it. After this stupid Influxitron thing is finished I’m retiring.”

He was too busy swatting aside branches to notice the old piece of plywood lying on the ground in front of him. As he stepped onto the plywood it swung suddenly open and Pudge disappeared in a cloud of dust and lilac branches.

The plywood trap door covered an old ventilation shaft of the Hardscrabble Mine. The shaft dropped 500 feet where it connected with the Telluride tunnel. From there it ran horizontally along the tunnel for 25 feet and then fell another 400 feet to Devin’s work area. It was capped in the 1980’s to prevent people from falling into it but when Devin bought the house he promptly removed the cap and installed the trap door.

Pudge twirled uncontrollably down the dark hole for the first 100 feet. Too scared to scream, he wriggled his arms and legs as he fell. His mouth gaped like a dead fish in a market. As he passed 200 feet he dog-paddled through the air. When he reached 300 feet he realized he couldn’t swim through air and tried grabbing the walls. His hand brushed against the wall but felt only polished metal, smooth as a bowling ball. As he passed 400 feet the shaft lurched inward, pinning his shoulders against each side, but also slowing him considerably. At 475 feet the friction of the sidewalls had slowed him enough to where he thought he actually had a chance to survive the fall, and then there was nothing. The shaft, which had tightened in around him, vanished and he was free falling again. Convinced he would die, he screamed as loud as his lungs could blast air out of his body and fell the last 25 feet into a large pile of foam rubber on the floor of the Telluride tunnel.

For at least two minutes Pudge lay panting in darkness and foam rubber, too afraid to move. He finally gathered the courage to slowly raise his left hand. No pain. Next he gingerly lifted his left leg a few inches. A slight twinge but nothing felt broken. Gaining confidence Pudge rolled onto his left side and gingerly sat upright. A few more minutes of stretching and flexing proved that at least his body had survived the fall. He wasn’t as sure about his nerves.

Still in complete darkness, Pudge crawled awkwardly through the foam rubber maze. He crawled with one hand outstretched, trying to feel his way toward the edge of the pile. It took only a few seconds to reach the limits of the foam rubber landing pad and, touching the rough rock floor with his hands, cautiously stood up. Unsure of his surroundings, he shuffled slowly forward. Directly in front of Pudge, a wire stretched a few inches off the floor. He bumbled through the wire without noticing it, and a single light bulb, dangling from the ceiling 200 feet in front of him, clicked on.

Startled and partly blinded by the sudden addition of light, Pudge stopped for a few seconds and squinted down the tunnel at the lone light bulb. He could think of only two reasons the light might be there, either to point the way out of this Swiss cheese maze or to confuse him. Too disorientated to care, he continued shuffling toward it, his eyes fixed on the bulb.

After walking only ten feet the light suddenly went out and the tunnel was again thrown into inky darkness. Pudge stopped. He tried to recreate his surroundings but the only thing he remembered was the solitary light bulb somewhere ahead of him. He inched forward again, hoping the light would come back on but after walking another 15 feet he fell into the second ventilation shaft.

Spinning helplessly he rattled the walls with his scream as he plummeted down the metal lined shaft, sure his life would end at the bottom rushing to meet him. As if cued by a director, memories of his childhood swirled like clouds around his head. He remembered the raspberry poppy seed birthday cake his mom made for his eighth birthday, and the trip his family took to Niagara Falls when he was 12. He remembered his father walking off the airplane when he came back from Vietnam and seeing the hook that replaced his left arm for the first time. He remembered the feel of the hard plastic and cold metal as his father wrapped his arms around him.

Caught in his memories, Pudge stopped screaming and relaxed, letting gravity pull him down. Even the sound of the wind whistling past his ears was drowned out by his thoughts. All that remained was a man drifting in a void. It was a perfect moment. A moment when everything fit just as it should. A moment interrupted by a canvas tarp.

The tarp stretched across the shaft 125 feet above the bottom and was anchored to the walls by five precisely measured bungee cords. Wrapped like a butterfly in a canvas cocoon, Pudge’s free fall slowed to a stop only 10 feet from the granite floor and he immediately shot back up like a slingshot. Up and down he bobbed, wrapped in the canvas tarp until finally he bounced to a stop.

For the first time he noticed a flood of bright lights around him. Through a tiny seam in the tarp he saw he was being slowly lowered. It took a full minute for the tarp to reach the bottom of the shaft where Pudge rested on the rock floor, too terrified to move. Suddenly, the canvas covering his face was torn away and the large head of Devin Talon stared down at him. “Thank you for testing one of my intruder traps, Pudge,” Devin said quietly.

“N-n-n-n-n-n-no p-p-p-p-problem,” Pudge squirted back.

“Were you followed again?”

Pudge blinked at the question. He had just plummeted nearly 1000 feet down two abandoned mine shafts, nearly breaking every vital part of his body. “Of course I wasn’t followed,” Pudge stammered, ripping the canvas away from his body. “I took four flights under four different names, three different cabs to the airport, five suitcases all sent to different locations, and when I get here I’m nearly killed by one of your stupid booby traps.”

Devin folded his arms and stared at Pudge.

Pudge continued. “I’ve been doing your dirty work for five stinking years now and it’s about time it stopped,” he yelled, jumping to his feet, pointing a plump finger at Devin’s nose.

Staring at the finger, Devin smiled. Then he shot up his right arm, grabbed Pudge by the throat, slammed him against the cold rock wall, and lifted him three inches off the floor. “Listen to me, Pudge,” Devin growled, his face inches away. “I pay you to take my orders when I give them. I don’t pay you for your opinions. If that means I want you to fall down a mineshaft, then you’ll fall down a mineshaft. Do you understand?” Devin finished, tightening his grip around Pudge’s throat and narrowing his eyes.

Pudge’s eyes bulged like a frog’s. In a tiny voice he squeaked, “Yes.”

“Good,” Devin said, dropping Pudge and whirling around in one motion. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to find the Influxitron, so let’s get started.” Pudge wobbled to his feet and walked after Devin, suddenly thankful to be alive.

End Chapter 6

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Comments by other Members

eyeball at 09:53 on 15 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Del

First thing that caught my eye was

'lilac bushes a week from full bloom'

That's a very real detail ~ very precise. I like that.

The ride is great ~ characterises Devins sadistic imagination perfectly. And since the ride is most of the chapter, you have a wonderful chapter on your hands. Pudge's sections, this in particular, sound more assured than Kevin's, probably because you are in one POV all the time and don't have to cope with POV switches, and because Kevin is a more complicated character.

Very enjoyable.


Colonist at 16:19 on 15 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Sharon,

Thanks for the read. It's appreciated.

I keep meaning to go back and get caught up on your Terrestrial work, but haven't managed to yet. Sorry. The summer is the construction season and when I'm busiest. But I'm going to try and find time next week. It'll give me something to look forward to in the middle of all the problems I'm dealing with (retaining walls tipping over, pavement cracking and sinking, foundations settling, etc.). Ah, the glamorous life of the civil engineer.


eyeball at 17:59 on 15 July 2004  Report this post
Thanks, Del. I'll certainly appreciate it if you can, but I know it's a big time committment. Cheers, Sharon

scottwil at 18:11 on 16 July 2004  Report this post
Yep, yessirree Bob. I think this is top class writing. It's very visual, humorous and well constructed. I actually enjoyed it more than the 'pizza' episode because I think it's not trying so hard to be funny and just is.

Small thing - and please understand that I'm as fond of a bit of plywood as the next man, but for me there's a bit of overlogging in this extract:

'....the old piece of plywood lying on the ground in front of him. As he stepped onto the plywood it swung suddenly open and Pudge disappeared in a cloud of dust and lilac branches.

The plywood trap door covered an old ventilation shaft..'


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