We get a call to do this job. My dad and I. It was one of those days, gray skies, windy, air heavy like it wanted to rain but couldn’t.
Looked like a septic sinkhole had opened up underneath the amphitheater. Ain’t no septic tank there, but all right. A big pit spread out underneath the right side of the stage, and the whole floor had a thin crack running through it. The foundation had shifted, and the town council wanted to prevent any more damage.
A second hole started showing around the back. We were sticking measuring rods down into the sludge at the bottom to see how deep they went and how much clay we’d need to fill them in.
Well, Dad gets to prodding the main hole, and I go around back to the little one, back by the morbid display. The hole’s right underneath these blue track pants and yellow soccer jersey, probably from a kid no more than eight years old. His little Vans were stapled up to the wall.
I get the stick down there into all of it, it goes really deep, and there’s no firm resistance. I’m trying to figure out how I can get an extra arm’s length down when my dad just starts howling like the devil himself got him.
Around front, he’s got his flashlight shining down into the hole and damn near his whole head underneath the lip of the stage.
These kind of sinkholes are dangerous. The ground can just shift underneath you and that’s it, you could just be gone. Muck down there’ll swallow you up.
So, my dad’s the smartest guy I know, and there’s no way he’d be putting himself into this position without a good reason. He looks at me, pale white, and he says, “Get over here.”
He shoves his whole shoulder underneath the foundation, trying to get that light under there.
He’s not afraid, but something’s got him real upset, so I give the ground a wide pass around him and go to the other side of the hole.
It’s dark inside, and what his light shows isn’t much more than the gray/brown stuff that I could see on the other side.
“There’s a kid down there. Can you see him?”
John Pedersen is a writer from Northern Arizona. He is currently shopping his second novel, The Archivist, a cyberpunk western. Fitting the mashup nature of the story, he is now scripting it for production as a hybrid audio book/radio drama.