Sunday 28 November 2010

This Pit

Between number fifty-three Fox road and number fifty-seven should have been number fifty-five. Obviously. That stood to reason. It had been there yesterday. They had witnesses.

There was certainly the space for it. One house-sized gap. There just wasn’t a house. Or the land it had stood on.

Just a hole. A gaping pit.

Detective Sora Tanaka leaned over the edge and looked down. It was just like the picture in a book she had as a child, a cross-section of the top layers of the Earth’s surface. All it was missing were little colourful fact boxes by each of the strata.

Actually, that wasn’t all it was missing. It was missing a house. And Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne, their son Jack and their Bulldog Lady Eleanor von Chocolate (Chocks for short).

“Careful boss, don’t know how stable that is.”

“I can’t see the bottom.” She replied without moving back.

Sergeant Browning left the constables keeping the crowd back and walked across the lawn to his detective. On the way over he picked up a chew toy, a red rubber Winston Churchill, and then he tossed it over the edge.

Sora looked at him and raised an eyebrow, “What part of ‘not disturbing the crime scene’ and ‘vital evidence’ involves throwing things into a one hundred percent genuine bottomless pit?”

“Hardly evidence, boss. They had a dog.”

“Attended many house-nappings have you, Browning? You know what constitutes evidence here, do you? And what’s up with your fingers?”

“Counting, boss. The evidence still hasn’t hit the bottom yet.”

“Genuine bottomless pit. I told you. Or, you know, it was made of rubber.”

Browning at least looked a little cowed at that. He picked up a red tricycle that was turned over beside him. It had a moulded smiling cartoon face on the handle bars and someone had stuck stickers of skulls on the seat.


He put the bike down. And this was the most promising sergeant they could assign her...

“So how do you go about stealing a massive hole, boss?”

“They didn’t steal the hole, sergeant. That’s the only thing they left behind. The question is, who even could steal a house?”

“Close.” A new voice commented. “Still not quite the right question though.”

They both looked to their left, where a stranger now stood peering down the hole. He had unruly dark hair, stubble and a tan trench coat. He looked like a TV detective. The constables at the cordon didn’t seem to have noticed someone had passed them.

“Who are you? What are you doing in my crime scene?”

“No.” The stranger said slowly, pondering, “No, someone has stolen your crime scene, detective. And the question should be, why?

“Hmmm...” He patted his pockets and looked around, as if he had misplaced his keys.

“Sergeant, escort this gentleman from the scene, would you.”

“I don’t, um,” The stranger carried on as if Sora hadn’t spoken, “I don’t suppose you’ve seen a rubber toy around here? Probably a primary colour, probably a political figure.”

Browning actually blushed as he glanced at the hole.

“Oh, you didn’t...”

(John Xero talks Strangers and Pitfalls in micro-fiction.)

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