Chapter 16: Dragging along.

Sartoris made his way through the darkness, pensive and afraid. The walls were not pressing against him, but he could feel the enclosure moving in. He kept walking forward, but had very little sense of the direction that he was giong, and occasionally he stumbled. REgardless of the position of the wall, he never seemed to hit it, but could not escape it. The ground seemed to vibrate slowly with a slight hum beneath his feet and the surrounding rustling continuned unabated.

Finally, in frustration, he dropped to his knees. The path had led from the sunshine into utterly dark black despondence. He collapsed into a pile, and sighed deeply. Ignoring the rustling in the distance. The darkness was subduing him, and he fought the urge to lie down and give in completely. If he had managed to hold on to his bag, he could have at least eaten some dried meat and gotten blind drunk in the darkness. It wouldnt have made a difference.

SItting and wallowing in his own misery, he paid no mind to the dragging sounds around him. There were scratching and dragging around him. He put his hands on the ground and his fingers felt around, practically on their own. His index finger fell into the grooves of the ground and walked around the scrawled patterns. Behind him, he could hear some pieces of metal dragging across the side of Junk Ridge. His fingers walking the patterns lulled him into a meditative state and his problems flew from his mind, which had become one with the darkness around him.

The ground beneath him hummed softly, and the walls away from him rattled. Around him, small pieces of detritus fell from the ceiling and plopped around him. He breathed deeply again, paying no heed. The vibration below him abated, but the walls still shifted and rattled. Filth sprinkled around him, and landed in his hair and added to the filth he had already accumulated. He inhaled again and pinholes of light began to shine through the thick thatching that had accumulated around the coarse discarded materials making the ridge. He opened his eyes, and saw light for the first time in 2 chapters. Slowly, he looked up towards the sky as the rumblings of the wall reached a crescendo. Directly above him he saw the outline of a tricycle handle tumbling towards him.

The rubber hand grips had long since worn away, and the edge was just a cookie cutter, with a dull, rusted edge. It landed right between his eyebrows and bounced harmlessly on the ground.

“OW! Damnit!”, he stood up, clutching his face and stumbling in circles. The roof continued to collapse, flooding his eyes with sunshine and littering the area around with with a convulsing trash pile. More chunks of discarded rubble bounced off him, broken glass shattered across his back, and the sheet mass of the crumbling collapsed him down into the ground. Almost instantly, he found himself buried alive and face down bent awkwardly in the midst of the now re-collapsed ridge. He was stuck without a purpose.

“Damn”, he said again. He was completely pinned, and only had the slightest bit of wiggle-room in either direction. It was light out, and he baked in the sun, sweating against the coarse felt uncomfortably.

Somewhere, deep down, a piece of wire fencing poked against his inner thigh. He flexed his wrists and fingers to try to find some more space, but there was a lightweigh sprawling mash of random crap dumped right on top of him. Each time he moved, the pile shuffled around. He flexed his legs, and the pile seemed to suck him in further, like a post industrial quicksand. He Flexed his arm, and more filth dumped directly on the back of his head. He felt completely stuck, but resolved to try harder. He dug his left arm deeper in to the pile and groped blindly around in the pile trying to find anything solid to land on. The pile shifted subtly around him. At last, he grasped some kind of iron bar, sticking directly up, and seemed to hold its place more than the endlessly shifting sands of crap underneath him.

Pulling his arm up he managed to drag upwards through the mountain of junk. Struggling, he dragged his right arm close and managed to clutch to his chest. He gripped along the length of this other arm and found his way to the pole. Finally having a firm grasp, he held tightly, as the shift pulled his feet down towards the ground, and he clung until he was practically standing, hugging the pole, held off the ground, with no where to go in any direction. The collapseĀ  was still settling, and the mountain of junk fell in collapsing. His weight around the pole was driving it into the ground, giving stability, but losing height. The footing around someones clinging to a small pole is treacherous, and he spent most of his time trying to just stay stationary, occasionally moving around his elbows and watching the flutter of stuff rumbling underneath him. Finally, feeling brave, he struck his fist straight up, trying to reach the top of the ridge. He couldn’t quite tell where that was, so again he reached blindly around for any kind of stable way to grab but was too far from the ground for anything to have any real solid ledge. He was still buried alive in a mountain of junk.

Retracting his hand, he then punched it out the otherway, and managed to smash his fist into a heavy piece of lumber. More pain, of course, and more obscenities. To a passerby, it would have seemed there were profane daytime ghosts in the ridge.

As an act of sheer desperation, he barely leaned to the right, tipping his weight on the bar trying to lean out. The pipe fell quickly, and his sprawling form shook free from the bar and he pulled in a free fall. He collapsed inwards and found himself encased in a womb of broken metal and wood. With the last of his effort, he pulled his right arm to his chest and pushed directly outward. Unfortunately, he just managed to punch himself in the chin. Regaining his senses. He tried again to punch out and felt his fist break clear of the garbage. He could see daylight! He trained his eyes towards the whole out, pushed his other fist out and moved to shake the whole open wider. He flailed and squirmed to drag himself out. His forearms wriggled first, then he worked his upper arms out and struggled until the tip of his head broke free.

Sartoris drank in the fresh air, smiling for the first time in days and managed to wriggle further sideways outside the hill. With a clear view he could find a saner place to grab, and prepared to heave his way out the hole.

And then he heard a snarl, and a viscious tug against his leg. As quickly as the had appeared, his arms and heads disappeared back down in the hole.