The Fox and the Pigeon hole Chapter 4
By M T M
4. Natures hand
“What now?” Lance asks Rafiel, they are still squinting down the narrow tunnel ,which seems to have been dug into the cliff face, “We can’t follow him down there” Rafiel replies, sticking his head into to hole to see if he can get the slightest glimpse of where it might lead.
“But, then what should we do? “ Lance asks, still a bit out of breath from their chase of the unknown man , Rafiel pulls his head out of the hole , “we?” he says , looking at Lance. “Yes, we, what...what do you mean? “
“So you believe me? “He says, the hint of a smile creeping onto his lips.
“well, yeah, I suppose” says Lance, a little confused, he is still not sure If he does believe Rafiel’s story, it seems to fit so well with his own, and it gives Rafiel a reason to be with Lance all the time, the government would not go to this much trouble for one person, Lance thinks, but still Rafiel’s story seems very convenient. It is still dark and morning is a couple of hours away, so they sit on the cool earth, talking quietly and listening to the sounds of the slowly waking forest, at last Rafiel gives in to his fatigue and decides that they should take it in turns to get some rest, while the other keeps watch. When they are both rested and watered, from the small trickle of water, which Lance had found on the previous day, they eat the last of the fish, and near the middle of the morning Rafiel decides it is time start trying to solve the dilemma of the cliff face, he gets up while Lance is still sleeping “Are you coming or not! “Shouts Rafiel from a little way along the cliff, Lance jerks awake and Rafiel laughs merrily, getting up and smiling, Lance rubs his eyes calling back “Yeah, I’m coming” and jogging to catch up, as he does so he feels the chill in the air and pulls his thick coat around him more tightly.
“So any ideas?” says Rafiel once Lance has caught up with him,
“Ideas?” Lance replies, still deep in thought,
“About getting over the cliff?” he says looking up at it in the sunlight,
“oh, no, sorry,” says Lance “I looked for a way over when I got here but I couldn’t think of anything,” he looks up apologetically “haven’t you got any ideas?” he asks, after all that has happened he is starting to rely on Rafiel for answers. “yeah, a few” says Rafiel, still looking up at the cliff as they walk “ Of course we could just keep walking and see if it comes to an end, but that could take days and we don’t have many supplies,”, most of the fish has been eaten, “Or we could try and look for way to climb it”. He stops, surveying the wall and then turns to the forest looking up in the trees and all over the forest floor.
“Can I help?” asks Lance, he would rather be useful than just standing on the sidelines, as he has done his whole life, watching as others risk their well being for his continued existence.
“Yes” replies Rafiel still scouring the forest, “you could help me, by finding some twigs”
“Twigs?” Says Lance, confused, what use could twigs be in scaling a cliff but he holds back his questions and starts to search the forest floor. After a couple of minutes Rafiel stops searching and straightens up, cracking his back he says “it’s no use, we’ll have to go to the river” he sighs,
“The river?” says Lance “why?”
“There is about a hundred Balsa tree’s up there” Rafiel replies matter of factly.
“Balsa trees?” says Lance, starting to get impatient with his own stupidity, but Rafiel, in no way snide or condescending just says “yep, there just what we need if we are going to get over this thing” glancing up at the cliff with something like, disgust.
“But what about the man?” says Lance insistently, he has not stopped thinking about the mysterious figure in the bushes, but Rafiel had not mentioned him once in their needless search of the forest.
“What about him?” he says absent-mindedly
“Well what if he comes back?” Says Lance trying not to sound like a child.
“So what if he comes back? Its better if we’re gone then isn’t it?” Rafiel says looking down at Lance, “We don’t want to run into him again do we?” and although there is no hint of patronization in his voice Lance can’t help feeling young and unintelligent.
“We’ll stay here for a while though” he says, maybe, like Lance, he is feeling his tiredness after their adrenaline filled chase of the stranger. “Come on” Rafiel says smiling and then looking up into the sky, “if we leave now we should make it to the river before nightfall” He turns and starts to walk into the increasingly gloomy forest. Lance looks up at the sun as well and, seeing that it is early afternoon, realizes that he has a long walk ahead of him, and he is still so tired. He sets off at a run and slows to a brisk walk when he reaches Rafiel; they walk in silence for a while, occasionally warning each other of a low hanging branch or a particularly thorny bush. It is just getting dark when they hear the first rumble of thunder in the distance, they stop, “we have to hurry, find shelter” says Rafiel looking up at the deep black sky with cautious eyes. They start to jog through the forest, where a thick mist is gathering from all directions, before long they hear the rush of water and stumble out onto a sweeping patch of clear grass, with the wide river running past it. A little way past the clearing the bank of the river becomes rocky and littered with large rocks, they rush towards it, glancing up at the sky, knowing that any second the heavens will open and the impending almighty storm will rage, around them. No sooner have they found a small cave inside a pile of six or seven boulders and squeezed themselves inside when the rain starts.
Lance has never known a storm like this with its brilliantly white forks of light momentarily lighting up the night sky, and the thunder that shakes the ground under their feet, “It’ll move on” says Rafiel encouragingly, shifting slightly in the tight and claustrophobic cave. But the storm does not seem to have any intention of, moving on, it seems to go on forever, and the rain is raising the already fast flowing river to a raging inferno of violent white water and strong currents that could sweep them away in a second. The river is also getting much higher, it is in danger of overflowing its banks, what hope do they have, thinks Lance, the cold winds and the frequent sprays of water from the river have reduced him and Rafiel to uncontrollable shivering and desperate hopelessness.