This story is by Tom Housden and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The alarm clock beside Benny’s bed went off at 6.55. He didn’t know why he had it set for so early in the morning, especially as he kept on turning it off every five minutes that the alarm rang, hoping to use that time to get another little mini nap.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
Benny yawned as he turned off again, cursed the beeps under his breath, turned over to face the wall, hoping that somehow it wouldn’t beep again.
Beep! Beep! Beep! “Get up, you lazy git!”
Startled by the talking clock, he got of bed, panicking, and ran to the bathroom to splash his face with water. “Am I hearing things? Did the alarm clock just talk to me?” he said out loud, to no one but himself. “I guess I should get out of bed.” Even though he said that now, it took him a while to get out of bed, as he was waiting for another ear-bashing from the talking alarm clock, but nothing came.
He opened the curtains; the sun beaming through the window. He could see the patches of frost on the lawn, but there was a cloudless sky, and the sun was shining. Despite his slightly disturbing start to the day, he felt upbeat about the day ahead.
Benny stepped out into the sunshine. It was mid-morning, and it was getting warm, making the frost of earlier a mere memory. The birds were singing, in a cacophony of brilliant song and if Benny could whistle, he would whistle along with them, instead, he sang, partially to them and to himself. Like a Bat Out of Hell, Like a Bat Out of Hell, yeah! He was half expecting the sarcastic comments from his neighbours about his singing being off key and out of tune, but they didn’t come. In fact, the street in which he lived was quiet. It was very eerie. What made it even weirder was that it was Saturday, and the village should be flourishing and filled with people out and about, either walking the dog or having picnics. But not today. Where had everyone gone? It was like a ghost village – it sort of seemed like Armageddon; no wind even, trees stood still, no movement. It was like a scene from 28 Days Later, except in a tiny village!
Benny walked to the shops, climbing over the railway stiles, but there was no sign of trains. The houses were still standing, devoid of people though. In fact, everything was still there – but no people! The little stream he walked by was still flowing. Everything showed that life was going on as normal!
He got to his local newsagent. The door was open, but the shop was virtually empty, apart from a book. A book in a newsagent? The book was Alice in Wonderland. He had read it when he was a child, but something compelled him to take it home. There was one lone paper on the newsstand that he hadn’t even noticed when he came in, but all there was in terms of news was a big headline on the front page – GIANT RABBIT HOLES APPEARING ALL OVER THE UK. There was smaller text under it which read ‘See Page 2.’ He turned the page – nothing. 80 pages of blankness, apart from the front page. Deciding not to close the door, he began walking home.
“That was strange. Surely there can’t be rabbit holes popping up everywhere in the UK, or I would have fallen down one, and I haven’t, let alone seen one! Mind you, everything is strange about today, a talking alarm clock, the village deserted, the newsagent with the door open but empty inside, whatever next?”
As if to tell the paper off for printing such a ridiculous headline, he shouted “I’M STILL HERE SO THERE!”
When he got back, he made himself a sandwich, and sat in the garden in the gorgeous sunshine to read Alice in Wonderland, all the time wondering why it was on a shelf in a newsagent! He didn’t dwell on that though, he just read.
After a brief nap, he took the opportunity, in this wonderful emporium of sunshine in which he found himself, to go for a walk with Bob, his dog. The field at the bottom of his street was nice at this time of year, long winding paths of grass, lovely flowers to digest with your eyes and admire, and woods to explore. And it was great to have the field all to himself, this marvellous expanse of greenbelt in which to walk without a care in the world! With the thought of solitude, he sat down on a bench which seemed to appear from nowhere. “How odd.”
He glimpsed something out of the corner of his eye, but couldn’t figure out what it was. All he could tell was it was round and big. “Am I dreaming? Perhaps if I close my eyes and count to 10, it will go away.” However. when he opened them, it was still there. Was it a trick of the sunlight, or was it real?
Feeling nervous, Benny edged towards the hole. It was the shape of a vast circle; it looked like one of those crop circles Benny had seen on the news. Except crop circles were just that, circles. This one was a hole, not that big, but from what he could see, it was deep.
As he was getting nearer and nearer, he was feeling increasingly nervous and scared. And he could see another one in the distance. He thought he would take more of a walk around the field to see if he could make see any more. “Bloody twigs on the floor.” He tried not to fall over them.
The next thing he knew, he was falling down the rabbit hole.
After what seemed like an eternity, he heard a great big thud.
“What is that noise?” he said out loud. No-one was around to answer him, though.
“That thud was you falling to the concrete floor.” He could hear a voice in the distance, but he didn’t know where it was coming from.
“Is anyone there?” Benny asked with trepidation.
“We’ve been here for quite a while.”
“You can’t have been. I have been walking in this field for a long time and I’ve never seen rabbit holes before.”
“Rabbit holes? These are much more than rabbit holes, um, Benny is it?”
“H…. h… how do you know my name?” Benny said with nerves in his voice.
“We have been listening. Nothing escapes us, Benny. We know you come down to this field once a day, to walk your dog, Bob.”
Benny was getting a little frightened at this creature, or whatever it was, knowing both their names.
“And what day is it, um, what should I call you?” He realised he sounded ridiculous as there was no one in sight.
“We do not understand what I think you humanoids call time. And we haven’t got individual names, we are just elfoids and goblinoids.”
“This is all very surreal. I am stuck, at least I think I am, down a rabbit hole and allegedly frozen in time.” Benny was trying to make sense of it all, but failing rapidly.
“Um, and can I ask what you did with my dog?”
“Nothing. Your furry creature is back on the surface.”
Well, at least Bob is fine, Benny whispered.
“So, you’re some sort to talking animal then are you?” Benny enquired.
“Talking animals, yes. Five elfoids and five goblinoids. I am their spokesperson.”
“Why can’t I know your individual names?”
“What are these names you speak of? We’re all elves and goblins, we don’t need names.”
Benny was having trouble understanding this concept, but he definitely didn’t want to confuse matters.
“So what happens in this hole then, and why can’t I see you?”
“We guard the tunnels under that green, um, what is it, grass that you walk on, and you can’t see us, because we avoid human contact as much as possible.”
“Ok, but why? And why I haven’t noticed these holes before?”
“Stop asking questions. We need to go back to guarding this field against invaders. That’s all for now.”
Benny wanted to know more, but before he knew it, he was sitting upright on a mound of grass. Bob was casually sniffing around. Everything was back as it was as if the hole never existed. Benny was looking for answers, but will he ever get them?