The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
A southerly wind began to blow, at first faintly, like the wist of a faint perfume, and then it grew so strong that they had to lean into it. Small shrubbery and trees were bending almost backwards from it.
"Quite a wind." Nanny noted.
Jimbo pulled out a snow cap and pulled it on over his ears.
Nanny did the same.
Jimbo looked at him.
"I need my ears free to hear things." Samuel said mysteriously.
Jimbo didn't ask. He'd learned by now that Sam ran by rules most other men did not.
Nanny saw a flat of rocks that leaned into a grove of trees. "There!" She pointed.
They made their way into the grove and the wind died down, though it still blew noisily through the tops of the trees, causing the golden brown leaves to toss and turn like bubbles in a washing machines, sending sprays of a light dust downwards and streaming into the breeze created by their tossing.
Finally, then threw their backpacks against the rocks and huddled together.
"It's actually getting colder."
"Think it snows here?" Jimbo asked.
Samuel looked over at Al, who made as if he were freezing, then grinned.
"I think we better prepare for the worst and hope for the..."
"Warmth!" Jimbo said, catching a small pile of twigs and grass on fire with his bic flick.
"Good old Bic when you need one." He grinned.
They moved the fire closer to the rocks, and that's when Samuel pressed his hand against the rocks. There was a kind of grinding sound, then the rocks levered upwards, to reveal an interior complete with bunks and some strange looking boxes.
"Some kind of way station." Nanny guessed. "We do that on the mountain. Lay up supplies in various strategic places in case we get caught out when it's freezing and can't make it back."
They lifted the fire, using a flat rock, and then Samuel went straight to a box on the right, and pressed his hand against it. It opened to reveal a kind of fireplace, with wood already inside. They dumped their fire into it and it caught the larger bundles of wood on fire almost immediately.
Samuel went to the interior wall near the entrance and pressed his palm against a section and the rocks swung shut, closing them in.
It because quite quiet then, almost too quiet.
Jimbo looked around in the dim light of the fire from the box. "Well, at least we won't freeze to death."
Samuel nodded and went to the another box. He palmed it and its top flipped open. A rush of cold air struck his face and light.
Nanny ran over and clapped her hands. "Dinner is served!"
Jimbo came over and saw cartons of rice and beans lightly frosted and various breads and pastries. Some frozen fruit that was a cross between raspberries and apples as well."
Jimbo pulled on out and tossed it hand to hand. "Imagine what kind of vine this thing grew on."
"Couldn't possibly." Nancy said with mouthfuls of cold rice in her mouth.
Samuel grinned at her, amused by her childisness and simplicity, then went to the last box. He palmed it and it revealed pans and eating implements, as well as an assortment of condiments.
In about half an hour they had a pot of rice, veggies and herbs mixed together and boiling. The fragrance from it caused them their mouths to water. By the time the food was done, they were practically rushing to gobble it down.
Samuel was the last to finish. He wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve, then sat back against the wall near the stove.
"We've got to come up with some kind of plan."
Nanny punched him.
He belched again.
"You're a pig!"
Jimbo grinned. "Oink! Oink!"
She raised her fist, then lowered it. "Forget it. You're not worth the effort. I'm stuck with you big dummies until we can get out of this place."
"That's just the thing." Samuel said thoughtfully. "What if there isn't?"
"Isn't what?" Jimbo asked, cleaning the pot with the last piece of bread they'd found, and munching it down slowly, his eyes watering with pleasure.
"A way out."
Jimbo yawned, then lay down on the floor, putting his head on his arm. "So when hasn't there been?"
Samuel thought that over. "Almost every time."
"And yet here we lay inside the earth, stuck inside a hollow set of boulders, eating giant food and trekking blindly after this young woman's mother with Nazi's chasing us, and giants sending us off in voodoo clouds of smoke and light."
"Yeah. Not bad for a week's worth of hiking." Samuel agreed, then yawned himself.
"Look, we gotta come up with a plan." Nanny said, also yawning.
She lay down. The warmth of the stove, and the food in her tummy was stealing her consciousness and lulling her off into the world of dreams. "We'll talk about it...in the....morning."
No one disagreed. No one was awake.
As they slept a radiance grew inside the room and Methusaleh and Darrell appeared for a few moments.
"Will they get out, grand father?" Darrell asked.
"They may be mortal, but their hearts are pure."
Methusaleh laughed. "Well. Mostly."
"Yes, the gruff one is kind of edgy, isn't he?"
"Oh, yes. Sort of like I was once upon a time. A long, long, long time ago." Methusaleh said softly, like a mother discussing her son. "I have seen a vision."
"And was he in it?"
"All of us were."
Methusaleh looked at Darrell. "You always did want to know the end of the book, before you read the way to it, my son."
"Take after my fathers."
Methusaleh laughed and Darrell grinned, then both vanished, but a soft radiance remained in the room. It spread until every corner of the room had a kind of gentle radiance to it.
The people sleeping there went into a deeper sleep, a restful one. One that none of them had had in quite some time.
All, except Samuel. Samuel had a vision.
He saw a gigantic hammer falling through the sky into his hands and he caught it, then looked down at the world beneath him. He towered over it like a god.
"What shall I do with this world?" He asked himself.
Then his vision shattered into a thousand sparkles and he was lost in the euphoria of sleep and dreams of gentler times.