Simon's Journal

Volume II



Thirteen Nights -- After the Crusade



Written by

Author of Thirteen Days



Chapter - 13

Part 1 -- Friday, March 12, 2004 -- And the Flames Went Higher

Sometime in the night, I have no idea exactly when but I woke after having a kind of funny sort of dream. I had been dreaming that I was asleep and felt like something or someone was sitting or holding my legs. Even in my dream I could not see who or what it was because the room was still pitch black. When I woke up, I thought I could still feel the pressure on my legs but after thrashing around a bit, the feeling totally vanished. Somewhat weird I know but I cannot help what my brain does when I am asleep.

Now that I was awake I felt like I needed to go poop and had I been at home I probably would have just let it go right there in my diaper and let mom or dad cleaned me up in the morning. However, I am not at home and I honestly don't want to give my five bunkmates any more reason to not like me.

So, I slowly got myself out of bed and managed to find my way through the darkness to the door of our room. It was by sheer luck that I made it to the door that lead into the bathroom without getting lost. I had held to the wall and followed it around to the right until I found a door. The whole time I was trying to remember if I had seen any other doors before the bathroom door but couldn't pull up the image in my mind.

Given that I have a very slender build, the diaper slipped right off my hips like underwear and fell to my ankles softly. I had not wet the diaper so far this night but I put that down to the fact that I had so little to drink yesterday and had sweated out probably ten times what I took in.

Just as had happened the previous morning, the second my butt cheeks hit the toilet seat my bum opened up and out fired a continuous stream of diarrhea.

"Whelp there goes whatever water was left in me!" I whispered to myself.

Wiping my backside proved to be a challenged when I was finished, wiping proved impossible this time for two reasons. The first was because; once again, I was wearing my armor, which was restricting the amount of movement I was able to perform. The second reason was that my body ached so desperately from having been forced to shovel trash all day yesterday.

Now I know my backside was pretty filthy after the way the diarrhea had splashed all over me and I knew I had to do something. I sat for several minutes thinking and thinking before the solution came to me.

Not wanting to get the diaper all poop covered, I chose to not pull it back up but instead slipped my feet out of it, rolled it up and tucked it under one arm before leaving the bathroom and heading for the room where Cho had bathed and diapered me the last two days.

Oddly enough I was very thankful for all the darkness because even if someone had been up, there was no way they could have seen me streaking my way through the halls.

When I reached what I was sure was the door to the kitchen, I took hold of the knob and turned it. It opened but not quietly. It gave out an eerie creak, as it swung open. I froze and listen for the sounds of someone coming to check out the sound but no other sounds could be heard.

I backed into the kitchen and slowly as I could to keep the creaking sound to a minimum, I pushed the door until it was almost latched.

When I turned around, I discovered I was not in the kitchen at all but was in what appeared to be an office that was totally out of place here in the Banachelli Orphanage.

The room was decked out with expensive furnishings of the finest quality. A huge cherry wood desk sat in the middle of the room backed by a wall of shelves filled with all sorts of odd trinkets each displayed under a glass dome.

Sitting to the left side of the desk was a long goose necked desk lamp which was on and allowing me to take in all of what I was seeing now.

The floor was a polished wood that seemed to reflect everything that sat on it like a darkened mirror. Directly above the floor hung an expensive looking chandelier from a cathedral style ceiling with exposed beams and white painted boards. The room with all of its furnishings and decorations made me feel like I was in a castle rather then the Banachelli Orphanage for Boys.

Suddenly I was very aware of my nudity and the fact that I was no longer clothed by the darkness. I decided to leave and go find the washroom so that I could hose off my backside.

As I was about to open the door again, I heard what I thought was the sound of someone walking toward the door.

"Someone must have heard the door after all!" I whimpered to myself.

I turned and quickly looked for a place to hide but the only place that might offer any concealment was the desk. I scampered around it and just in the nick of time had ducked under it as the door to this office swung open.

"Come in and bring the boy with you!" I heard the voice of Mr. Wriggle say.

"I 'av never been in 'ere before!"

I knew that voice. It was the same voice I had come to know as belonging to one of my captors. I was sure it was Segal.

"I don't mind telling you that I don't like this at all! No notice of your arrival! No message from Madam-M that you were bringing this boy to us! No I don't like it at all!" Mr. Wriggle said as his voice grew closer and closer to where I was hiding.

I nearly fainted dead away when Mr. Wriggle sat down in the desk chair and pulled in close enough that his left knee was only inches from my face. But what was even scarier was the fact that apparently in his haste he did not have time to put on pants for under his robe I was left me with excellent view of his old shriveled manhood parts. Had I any food in my belly at that moment I probably would have vomited on his crotch.

I closed my eyes and prayed that I would not be found.

"Scon are terribly sorry Mr. Wriggle but given dat 'e's so 'ot an' de peelers an' fbi are doggin' us so much roi nigh, madam m felt it safer if yer man were in yisser care." Segal said sounding almost humble.

"Well I still don't like it!" Mr. Wriggle grumbled and pounded the desk.

I could hear the whimpering sobs of what sounded like a very young child followed by the sound of flesh against flesh.

"Stop dat yer filthy wee shoite!" Segal grunted sounding more like a bear then a man just then.

"That will be quite enough of that!" Mr. Wriggle had jumped to his feet at the sound of Segal hitting the child. "You have done your duty; I will take the boy from here! Now get out and tell Madam-M that if she ever sends you here again our dealings are threw!"

Segal said nothing and I only knew he was gone by the sound of angry footsteps, the door creaking open and then closed again.

Mr. Segal sat himself back down but thankfully did not pull himself in close again. Instead he sat, reclining back and was motionless for quite some time.

When the door to the office creaked open once more, I quickly recognized by the sound of his voice that it was Fyer the cook that had entered.

"Oh I'm glad to see you Fyer!" Mr. Wriggle said standing up again, "It's very late and I am very tired. Please see that this boy is entered into the books and found a bed at once."

"Tha'z non m' job!" Fyer said angrily.

"Fyer just do it!" Mr. Wriggle said sounding very weary.

Fyer sounding as big as he is small said, "Ain't non room! All filled up!"

"What?" Mr. Wriggle moaned loudly.

"Non no room!" Fyer repeated.

Mr. Wriggle's voice rose to shouting, "I don't give a dam what you do with him; just put him somewhere! I'll worry about him tomorrow!"

Fyer did not respond but it did sound like he left and took the boy with him because I could no longer hear the sobbing of the boy.

I sighed a huge relief when Mr. Wriggle left the office to, turning off the desk lamp and closing the door behind him.

I waited several more minutes before moving just to be sure no one would be returning. I crawled out form under the desk, reached out to where I knew the lamp was and clicked it on again.

Assuming Fyer had taken the boy to be washed before taking him to bed I figured I could not chance going that way and resigned myself to going to bed with a poopy bottom. Also deciding the risk was too great at being discovered wondering the halls naked, I unrolled the diaper, held it open and stepped back into it.

Maybe I shouldn't have done it but as I was about to leave I notice sitting on the desk. It was a yellow tablet of paper and a very fancy ink pen. I am not sure what made me reach over and scoop them up but I did just before escaping form the office and making my way back to the room.

The hallway lights were all on now, which only made me move all that much faster for fear that Fyer or Mr. Wriggle were still out of bed. As I descended the steps, I realized the lights below were not on and exhaled another sigh of relief because I knew I was safe again.

Back in my bed, the tablet of paper and pen safely stashed under my pillow, I lay staring into the blackness and breathing hard from having nearly been caught. I thought about the boy Segal had just delivered and how scared he must be right now.

I realized after laying there for quiet some time that I was not going to be able to get back to sleep anytime soon so instead I decided that I would go ahead and get up again. Now that I had the paper and pen I decided I was going to go back to the toilets where there was light and attempt to write down everything that had been happening since leaving home. I figured that if I could record everything and keep it hid from everyone, when I did manage to escape from here I could give it to the police as evidence against Segal, the Wriggles and everyone else.

I also decided that just in case it was closer to morning then I thought, I would get dressed. So I once again stripped off my diaper, leaving it rolled up and laying on the floor by my bed before carrying all of my clothes and shoes to the bathroom with me along with the pad and pen where I could dress myself and see what I was doing.

Boy was I right about getting dressed because as it turned out, I had spent the rest of the night writing. I was sitting on the very last toilet all the way at the end of the row writing when I heard the first bells.


Brrrannng! Brrrannng! Brrrannng!


As quickly as I could, I stuffed the tablet under my shirt and slipped the pen into my right shoe. I had just got my pants pulled down and my bottom back on the seat when the second bell rang out followed by three of my five bunkmates entering into the toilets all sleepy eyed.

"Oi, der `e is!" Jonathan had said when he saw me, "Told ya he di'n' run'way!"

Aside from this small observation by Jonathan, the boys paid no attention to me at all this morning. No one even appeared to have notice the top of my plastic armor peaking out of the collar of my dirty, smelly shirt or at least, if anyone did, it was certain that no one said anything about it.

When I left and returned to our room to, once again, stash the notebook and pen, nobody looked at me and I tried not to look at them as well. It seemed, after all, that there was nothing I could do to change how they felt about me, which I still could not completely understand.

There was still, however, one thing I could try to do and that was not to be the last one to arrive in the dining hall that morning. And though hurting all over and by now, weak from hunger as well, I somehow managed to dress quickly enough to find boys still in the hall when I arrived there. Several boys arrived behind me in the food line, panting and trying there best not to draw attention to themselves.

If only I could have done something about the meal itself! Once again I was presented with the same bowl of oatmeal, which was by now almost as hard as the bowl itself. I could barely dig my spoon into it, and three more bites were all I could manage to break off from the oatmeal rock. I told myself that at least I would have the dry lump of corn bread at the noon meal.

I was almost prepared mentally for a repeat or yesterday at the plastic factory; however, I had not counted on one thing; that as grim as yesterday was, today would be even worse. What I had done the day before was to shovel trash into the fires with an odd sort of shovel to keep them stoked and thus allowing those working overhead to be able to melt the plastic pellets for a reason that I still do not understand.

When we arrived for work this morning at the plastic factory, Harpo announced to me that I would be doing something different.

"It's a promotion, you might say." He said with a leer that announced just what he thought of the promotion he was about to bestow on me. "You're about to take a hand at bein' a little carrier pigeon!"

He turned his head to one side and spit, "Ain't that nice?"

I smiled up at him; I actually smiled at him for taking me away from that flesh burning oven job! Oh and I wasn't the only one that Harpo pulled aside either, there wear three of us that were going to be acting as "Carrier pigeons".

With a throat clearing snort and another spit Harpo educated us to the fact that yesterday we got off easy and that today, instead of playing `Trash Boy', we were to carrying two buckets of plastic pellets at a time up nineteen steps to be gradually dumped into the cauldrons by other boys.

I know the exact number of steps because, with every trip, I counted them in my head and by my third trip up the stairs I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion and not just from the carrying but also from the lack of proper rest, food and water.

"Carrier pigeons?" One of the boys' groaned to me as we passed on the stairs.

"Oh, what a lovely, friendly sounding name for such a wonderful job!" he said sarcastically as he continued climbing, "Well if I am a bird, then I should just fly myself out of here!"

By the time Harpo was lining us all up to take us back to the orphanage, I was hurting so bad that I just wanted to find somewhere quiet to lie down and die. I don't mean that lightly, I mean that I honestly and truly wanted to die.

I think I might have been sleeping while we were walking through the damp evening air because I don't remember the first half of our procession back to the orphanage. I did however notice that the pavement beneath my feet was wet and I guessed that it must have rained while we were toiling away in the factory.

When we turned a corner after emerging from one of the alleys, two notable things happened; the first is what drew me to the second.

I was watching how the laces of my right shoe seemed to fly around with each step almost as though they were alive and thoroughly enjoying the brisk walk. I had to take a small hop to avoid a puddle of water when out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving very fast. When I looked, there was nothing there except a couple dented metal trash dumpsters and an old black homeless guy lying next to it curled up in a ball and covered up with newspapers to keep warm.

I probably would not have even remembered the black man had I not seen this mangy cat come from out of nowhere and jump right on the man scaring him near to death and causing him to scatter his paper blanket everywhere. Now, I only saw the cat for maybe three seconds at most but it was long enough for me to get a good look at him. For some reason I felt like I had seen that cat before but couldn't remember ever seeing a cat since I had arrived in this town, wherever it is I am at now.

In a flash the cat was gone leaving the homeless guy scrambling on hands and knees for his newspaper blanket and swearing in muttered gibberish at being disturbed.

While watching the man curl himself back up into a ball, I happened to see a girl sweeping in front of a small shop only a few doors away. Three rough looking young boys had picked a quarrel with her, and were now pulling on her broom to get it away from her. However, since they were not all pulling together, she was still able to keep a hold of the one end while scolding and threatening them.

I had not thought, I just reacted to the injustice of what I was witnessing and before I knew it, I was out of line and running to the aid of the girl. I got hold of the broom at her end and pulled along with her. This action only served to agitate the boys, driving them to take rougher measures, and that is when one of them hit me dead on the sneezer and made it bleed. Since I couldn't let go of the broom to mind my nose, I was soon a dreadful bloody figure to behold.

Harpo must have heard the scuffle, looked around to see what it was and saw that I was missing. I am sure he had to look twice before he could be sure that I was one of his lambs who had strayed from the flock and was now in the middle of the tumult of wolves in boy's clothing. I had not seen him coming but a mater of seconds after one of the boy's had jumped on me, Harpo had rushed in and sent the delinquents flying in all directions. I remember how the boy, the one who had hit me in the nose and who was the one that was taunting the girl the most, went flying through the air and made what looked to be a very painful landing in the same puddle of water in the middle of the street that minutes ago I had hopped over.

The girl, without thanking Harpo or me for helping her, began sweeping as if nothing had happened while Harpo drug me back to the other boys who were all huddled together staring at me with mouths open and eyes bulging.

With the help of a leaking fire hydrant, I was soon washed into a mild decency and Harpo put me back into line and stuck a finger into my face.

I was talking before I realized that my mouth was even open, "I couldn't let them beat up that girl?" It came out sounding more like a question then a statement.

That stunned Harpo for several seconds before he dropped his finger, reached into my jacket pocket and retreated the dirty rag that had contained my lunch earlier today. He put the rag in my hand and put my hand to my nose.

"Pinch your nose and keep your head tilted back. It will stop presently." He said and without another word, we were off again.


Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!


The sound of Mr. Wriggle's spoon beating on the tin cup suddenly rang out in the dining hall. This was not the usual three beats signaling the end of our meal, nor were any of us boys finished emptying our bowls of our evening stew. Nonetheless, we all set our spoons down, every head swiveling with fixed, wary eyes to face Mr. Wriggle. Every head that is, except the one belonging to me, sitting seemingly paralyzed in my seat. I had not set my spoon down beside my rock hard bowl of oatmeal either, because I had never picked it up in the first place, being half dead—no, more like three-quarters dead—when I had arrived back from the factory. All the while, I had just sat motionless, with my eyes fixed vacantly on the remaining lump of oatmeal before me.

Oddly enough, I can remember that a few minutes before Mr. Wriggle had banged on his tin cup, I had seen and even over heard him talking rather animatedly to Fyer the dwarf cook about the boy that had been delivered last night. Up until then, I had completely forgotten about the boy and about my late night adventure.

"Fyer?" Mr. Wriggle had called the cook over to where he and Mrs. Wriggle were sitting.

When he arrived at their table Mr. Wriggle had said, "I don't see that boy."

"Wha' boy?" Fyer grumpily replied.

Mr. Wriggle rolled his eyes, "The one from last night?"

"Oh! Yeah, got `im tak'n care'a!" Fyer said motioning over his shoulder toward the kitchen.

At this, Mrs. Wriggle began to pay attention to the two men's conversation. She had been sitting and staring at us boys with a loathing like that of a child who's parents are trying to get them to eat vegetables.

"What do you mean by `taken care of'?" Mrs. Wriggle asked in her usually drawn out tone.

Fyer got a queer look about him, peered over his shoulder at all the boys and then back to the Wriggles, "Wot ya `ink dey eat'n?"

In an instant Mrs. Wriggle began to turn a brilliant shade of green while Mr. Wriggle just sat there looking dumbfounded. Fyer, unable to keep a straight face broke out laughing so loud that nearly every boy had looked up momentarily from his bowl.

With hands on his large apron clad belly Fyer laughed and rocking back on his heals.

Merrily he bellowed, "No, no!" and continued to laugh, "He in da `it!"

Fyer was wiping at his face with his sausage like fingers in an attempt to wipe away his tears of laughter.

In a serous huff at being tricked, Mrs. Wriggle threw a fork at Fyer who amazingly caught it right out of the air and stopped laughing in that instantly.

Mr. Wriggle, with head bent slightly forward, was holding the bridge of his nose and shaking his head from side to side.

"You put him in the pit?" he asked dolefully forgetting to keep his voice down.

"Yup!" Fyer said again smiling.

"And he's been in there all night and day?" Mr. Wriggle continued to question.

"'Magine so." Fyer said picking at his teeth with the fork that Mrs. Wriggle had thrown at him.

Dawning a look of exasperation Mr. Wriggle sat back in his seat and asked, "And don't you think maybe you should go and get him now?"

"'Ope! Tain't m'job! Ya wa'em, g'gee `em!" Fyer said slipping the fork into the pocket of his apron and walking away still chuckling merrily to himself for having put off Mr. Wriggle in front of everyone.

Not needing to be asked or told to do so, Cho ran from the room, well ran isn't exactly the right word to use; I suppose it would be better to say that she slunked hastily from the room, hardly allowing her lame foot to hinder her.

I think Mr. Wriggle had forgot why he had banged on his cup because as soon as Cho had left the room he and Mrs. Wriggle both sat facing one another and whispering so quietly that it was like watching TV with the sound turned all the way down.

We boys had all gone back to eating, well not me, I sat there staring at the Wriggles and not even considering my petrified oatmeal.

It wasn't long before Cho could be heard returning from retrieving the boy Fyer had disposed of last night. However, even before she reentered the room, a smell like nothing I have ever smelled began to ooze in ahead of her. Mrs. Wriggle had stopped talking to her husband who was still muttering on about something. She had raised a napkin to her nose and was looking toward the door to see where the smell was coming from.

Gasps and groans from the boys could be heard as the stench permeated their nostrils. Mr. Wriggle had stopped talking and turned to look in the same direction that his wife was gawking toward.

From the opposite direction I heard a clank and a small splash that caused me to turn my head just in time to see Fyer was lifting his pot and escaping to his kitchen. I was astounded that such a small man could lift such a big kettle. It was just last night that I, along with one other boy, had struggled to get it to the kitchen to be scrubbed clean.

"Oh good heavens!" Exclaimed Mrs. Wriggle.

One of the boys closest to the door instantly got sick into his dinner bowl just as Cho was walking back into the room dragging what resembled a small child.

"What on earth?" Mr. Wriggle shouted while jumping to his feet again.

Two other boys, at seeing the first boy get sick also lost there dinner but managed to miss their bowls and nicely covered the table in vomit as well as several other boys in the process.

"Mus'a fall'n in!" Cho said looking worried that Mr. Wriggle might strike her.

Mrs. Wriggle rose from her chair and raced from the room with her cheeks bulging and both hands clamped over her mouth.

Mr. Wriggle was looking in a bit of distress himself. He had an expression on his face which said that if he were to open his mouth to say another word, he to would be sick. With one hand covering his mouth and two fingers from his other hand pinching his nose, he somehow managed to groan out a broken sentence.

"Go ... hose ... now!"

With a couple very colorful words thrown in for added drama of course.

For some reason, the smell and the boy, though very grotesque did not make me sick in the least. Maybe it was because there wasn't really anything in my stomach for me to vomit out. I sat looking at this—well boy, though he barely looked to be human in his current condition. The reason being was that every single bit of the boy was covered in, what I was guessing was, human, or maybe animal waste. From the hairs on his head to the tips of his toes, he was caked in the filth. In many movies I have seen, when someone was covered in mud, the movie people always seemed to leave the area around the eyes, nostrils and mouth clear. However, this boy was obviously the real deal. I could see one eye was caked over with poop and it seemed to be dripping out of his nose too. As for his mouth, I couldn't even make it out though I assumed he did have one. What amazed me more then the fact that Cho had brought him in to where we were dining while looking and smelling the way he did, was that the boy, despite being head to tow in poop, he also appeared to be completely without clothes.

No sooner had Mr. Wriggle ordered Cho to take the boy away then she was leading the boy back out the door with Mr. Wriggle hot on her heals.

This fact seemed to escape the notice of all the other boys, as they were all appearing to be on the verge of being sick themselves, some from the stench and some from the vomit that covered our table. I think I was the only one that realized we were no longer being watched by anyone of authority.

However, that didn't last long, because maybe ten seconds later Mrs. Wriggle came rushing back in looking extremely put out. She quickly took charge of the growing pandemonium by sending two of the older boys to go get mops and buckets to clean up the vomit from the floor and tables as well as the trail of filth left by the boy.

Needless to say, dinner was over. No one was interested in eating anymore but we were still not dismissed. Every boy was made to stand up and stay standing while the messes were cleaned up. One of the boys that was mopping the vomit from under our table looked like he was right on the edge of breaking out laughing and I am sure if anyone made so much as a peep he would have lost control.

Mr. Wriggle's return was preceded by vulgarity that echoed through the corridors of the orphanage and the words he was spewing out would have made a sailor blush and in fact did make Mrs. Wriggle turn red. However it wasn't from embarrassment but from anger.

Mr. Wriggle burst through the half open door with a furry, passed through cursing all the while and exited through the door that lead into the kitchen where several more poisonous words were thrown about by both he and Fyer. The yelling finally stopped when the sound of a large pot or pan was heard clamoring against the wall, soon followed by the retreat of Mr. Wriggle from the kitchen.

One of the boys that were gathering up our bowls happened to be within reach of Mr. Wriggle and for no good reason he received a shove that sent half a dozen bowls and their remaining contents careening to the floor.

Curiously enough, the boy did not seem to react to this treatment but instead dropped to his knees and began picking up the bowls again while one of the other boys who was wielding one of the mops helped to clean up the bits of leftover dinner on the floor.

When I saw the bits of potato on the floor my stomach gave out a gurgle of longing. I suppose that is a sign of just how hungry I was after two days of hardly anything but a little cornbread and water for nourishment.

I'm probably a pretty demented person because unlike all the other boys who were either green or looking scared or both; I was finding the whole thing quite amusing and couldn't wait for what would happen next.

I didn't have to wait very long before Mr. Wriggle, who had been standing facing his wife, and had now spun around with an extended finger as though he were wielding a gun and spat out three words.

"Empty your pockets!"

The words seemed to explode from his mouth as if from a cannon and caused his red face to quiver from the reverberation.

Immediately, all of the boys thrust their hands into their trousers' pockets and pulled them inside out. Anything that might have been residing in anyone's pockets was then laid on the table before each boy. Still in a daze, I mimicked the actions of the others and pulled out my own trousers' pockets. They were empty of course, but I was surprised to see that others from around our table were not.

Pitiful evidence of young boys' interests appeared on the table: a bent nail, several uninteresting pebbles, a length of dirty twine, a medium sized black feather probably from a crow, a shard of blue glass, a chain made of assorted paperclips, a faded and worn photograph and several bits of torn paper.

I couldn't help but notice that there was only one thing that was dug from a pocket that had any value at all; it was a quarter. It was not bright, not new, and was tarnished and dented, but nonetheless a quarter.

It had come from Micky's pocket, and it now lay on the table in front of him. Well, not quite in front of him since at dinner he had been sitting next to me, it now lay halfway between him and me, or close enough to halfway that who could tell the difference?

A quarter! A miserable little, near worthless, quarter! However, at that moment, in this horrible place, it seemed to be more important than a stack of hundred dollar bills or a bar of solid gold.



Part 2 -- Friday, March 12, 2004 -- The Pit of Despair


Standing at the head of our long table stood Mr. and Mrs. Wriggle looking out over the boyish treasures.

"Are you ready my love?" asked Mr. Wriggle in his almost normal sounding voice.

"Oh yes, quite ready!" replied Mrs. Wriggle while still holding a napkin over her mouth and nose as though at any moments she might be sick again.

The two of them proceeded down the sides of the table, Mrs. Wriggle taking the far side while Mr. Wriggle, with hands behind his back, took up the position opposite his wife, which happened to be the same side I was on.

Both sets of narrowed eyes were darting sharply from boy to boy and examining the objects that had found their way onto the table from some unfortunate boy's pocket.

Slowly they made their way down the table. I was not thinking about the quarter at this point but was thinking how glad I was that my bowl, with the rock hard lump of oatmeal, had already been spirited away.

I glanced across the table at the boys in front of me. Every pair of eyes was fixed on the quarter lying on the table between Micky and I. It was as if they were attempting to will it away but it did not budge, and then I heard Mr. Wriggle come to a stop directly behind me. Across the table stood Mrs. Wriggle, an icy statue with eyes fastened on Mr. Wriggle anxiously awaiting his next action.

A terrible, expectant silence fell over the room. It seemed the very walls had stopped breathing and were listening to the drama as it played itself out.

I, for one, was no longer enjoying the evening's performance.

"Okay, I'm ready to change the channel now! Who has the TV Clicker?" I thought in a failed attempt to lighten my own mood.

I heard Micky suck in a quick breath and hold it, so I did the same since I did not knowing what to expect. I later figured out that he was just panicing.

"And what have we here?" Mr. Wriggle extended his hand between Micky and I so that he could bang his fat knuckles on the table a fraction of an inch away from the quarter.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, went his knuckles, four times before being withdrawn with a snap of his fingers.

"My love? Doesn't that look like capital to you?" Mr. Wriggle asked.

"Huh?" I thought to myself, "What's capital?"

In a shrill throaty squeal she replied, "Yes, yes it does indeed!" she had pushed herself between two of the boys opposite Micky.

Continuing their little game, Mr. Wriggle raised his voice loud enough for all to hear and asked, "And are Banachelli boys supposed to have capital?"

With a snort of laughter behind her hand, Mrs. Wriggle replied, "Absolutely not!"

His voice changed to sound very animal like, "And yet my dear wife, it seems that a Banachelli boy, in fact, does have capital!"

Mrs. Wriggle snorted louder this time, "Oh but which one?" She was obviously enjoying this too much as her gaze kept jumping from me, to Micky and back to me.

Mr. Wriggle paused to slam his fist down on the table so forcefully between Micky and my that the quarter flew up and returned trembling to the table with a clatter.

"Now I expect a declaration at once."

I felt several blasts of spittle hit my right ear and cheek but somehow I managed to keep my hand from attempting to wipe it away as I wondered what he meant by `declaration'.

That darn voice inside my head chose this moment to speak up, "Uh, don't know what it means but get me a dictionary and I will look it up!"

"Oh hush you!" I mentally chastised the voice and surprisingly it did.

When no one volunteered any information Mr. Wriggle shouted so loud that I though my eardrum might burst, "Whose is this?"

It seemed like a century passed as I waited for Micky to confess, but it was actually no more than the time measured by a few quivering heartbeats before a trembling voice, barely audible answered.

"I-it's m-m-mine."

The voice inside my head screamed, "What the hell are you doing boy?"

"What are you talking about?" I asked the voice.

"That quarter isn't yours!" the voice continued to scream.

"I know that!" I thought back, confused as to why the voice was yelling at me to.

"Did you hear that my love?" asked Mr. Wriggle, his voice now returning to normal, "It belongs to one of oyr newest wee lil' tots." and he made a giggling sound that was obviously fake before grabbing my right shoulder.

He spun me around so that my legs twisted around themselves.

"What is your name?" his hot breat blasted me right in the face.

Now I was really confused and I grunted to show this fact to my inquisitor.


"Your name? What is your name boy?" He repeated as his spittle landed on my cheek just below my left eye.

For half a second I nearly blurted out, "Simon!" but just as the `S' was about to roll off my tongue I managed to catch myself and roll it into an `R' sound.


It came out so softly that I hardly heard it myself.

In a strangled cry Mr. Wriggle screamed into my face, "WHAT?"

"R-R-Ron!" I said louder but still hardly loud enough to be heard.

I could see out of the corner of my eye that Mrs. Wriggle appeared to be positively enraptured while watching her husband interrogate someone as dangerous as myself.

Mr. Wriggle had straightened himself back to a more dignified poster and pulling on the lapels of his coat he said, "Well my delightful buttercup! It appears that the culprit is R-R-Ron," he was mocking my stutter, "the newest addition to our little family. Further more he has admitted to the crime of thievery."

"Crime? What Crime?" I wanted to shout but somehow managed to hold my tongue.

Bending toward me again he put his mouth so close to the side of my face that I received the full effect of a breath that might well have come from an inhabitant of a swamp.

"And where, may I ask, did you obtain this coin, R-R-Ron?"

"I ... I ... I ..." I tried to answer but faltered.

"Well? Come—come, where?" ask Mrs. Wriggle shaking me violently.

"I ... I f-f-f-found it!" I blurted out as best I could and not really knowing what else to say while thoughts of `why' were still whirling within my head.

"Oh you did, did you? And, of course, you put it right into your pocket to keep for yourself," he patted the front pocket of my pants was several times as he spoke and I couldn't help but notice his fingers were dangerously close to my boyhood parts, "instead of seeing that it came to Mrs. Wriggle and myself as you should have done?"

Not knowing if I was supposed to answer that or not, I chose to keep quite.

Without removing his hand from the front of my pants he asked, "What do you think of that, Mrs. Wriggle? A Banachelli boy fallen into evil, thieving ways and not here two full days. We feed him, clothe him, give him a bed and teach him and what thanks do we get for such kind-hearted treatment?"

I was so glad when he stopped speaking and lifted himself back to an erect posture once again.

With a heavy, exhale through his nostrils he continued, "The question is -- what are we to do about it, eh?" which was then followed by a long pause before deciding to ask his wife for a suggestion.

"Would you ..." he started to say but stopped himself mid-sentence. The way he had suddenly stopped made me think that maybe Mrs. Wriggle had somehow managed to pass a thought to him. I had not been looking at her at the time so I imagine that since I did not hear her utter even a peep, she must have signaled with her eyes or something. Whatever the method of transmission, Mr. Wriggle had received it and in mid-sentence changed his mind about what it was he was going to say.

"Ah yes, right then! Do you think a touch of the pit might be in order, my dear Snookems?" He asked while patting both sides of my face from behind me.

Just the re-mentioning of the dreaded pit, whatever that could be, had once again turned Dear Snookems a rather nice shade of grass green. Through lips tightened over clenched teeth, she partially lowered her hand away from her mouth, sucked in her breath with revulsion and with eyes glittering madly with anticipation she answered.

"Yes! Most certainly!"

I was suddenly frightened out of my skin, as were Mrs. Wriggle and most to the other boys when Mr. Wriggle exploded with, "CHO! DAM YOU GIRL WHERE ARE YOU?"

The force of his voice was so strong that I could have sworn I felt the floor shake beneath me.

With the gentle insertion of, "Hemm—Hemm" by Mrs. Wriggle, he was reminded that he'd only just sent Cho off with the other boy to hose him down.

Releasing my face and stepping to his right I could now see him again.

"Oh ... uh ... right then!" he said putting his closed fist to his mouth as though he had coughed but he had not.

"Yes, forgot is all!" and he waved a hand in the air as if he were wiping his words off a school chalkboard.

"Well then, if you will remain to make the changes?" He said as charmingly as if we were all at a tea party.

"Oh certainly!" She answered back equally as charmingly and with a new expression on her face.

"And, don't let this one fall in?" she added smuggly while leaning across the table and snatching up the quarter.

With excruciating force, Mr. Wriggle had seized the base of my skull and once again dawning the vocal guise of some animalistic beast, he snarled into my ear, "Now, move boy!"

Being dragged by my neck, I clogged along in my oversized shoes and felt certain that my shuddering legs would fail me at any moment. The only thing that kept me from falling, aside from Mr. Wriggle holding my neck was the fear of what he might do if I suddenly fell to the floor in a heap. I was led from the dining hall and through the kitchen where Fyer was sitting on an overturned pot, while smoking a stinky cigar nearly the size of an average boys arm. The look Fyer gave at the sight of us entering his kitchen was one of pure loathing. When Fyer picked up a butchers knife with his left hand and quietly laid it in his lap, Mr. Wriggle gave me a thrust out one of the two other doors.

We were scarcely passed the dreaded hallway painting of my two hosts when a door to our left swung open and out strode Cho with a youthful boy cowering directly behind her. At first, I think I was stunned and a little embarrassed to have Cho and this boy observing me dancing there on the tips of my shoes while suspended by my neck from Mr. Wriggles firm grip.

I was staring right at the boy, who was doing his best to remain hidden behind Cho and seeming to be very interested in the floor beneath his bare feet. I could only guess that this pail young boy was the same poop covered boy who had caused such a scene during dinner. His blonde hair was still damp and plastered to his head, while his pale white frame seemed to glow brilliantly in the faintly lit passage. Furthermore, I was able to see clearly that Cho had clad him in a dingy white cloth diaper that was so thick that I wondered how he was managing to keep up with Cho despite her physical limitations.

In a moment of excitement, distress and fright, the boy lifted his head and peeked around Cho's crippled leg and for the first time allowed me to see his face. My heart skipped several beats as recognition dawned in both our eyes.

I blurted out without thinking of what I was saying, "LOWELL!"

Lowell's eyes exploded with exhilaration and in that brief moment in time, I read in his eyes that he could not believe I was still alive and actually standing there before him.

Sadly, that was the full extent of our reunion. In an infuriated wrath, Mr. Wriggle had hoisted me completely off the floor and pitched me through an open door where I smashed into a big, round wooden pole. I was lying flat on my stomach attempting to regain my faculties, not to mention the wind, which had been knocked out of me.

I heard him shout, "Get that little beast a bed and don't be all night about it! The Misses needs your help with the others!"

With my head still spinning from the impact with both the pole and the floor, I suddenly felt myself lifted from the floor once again. However, this time I was hoisted up by the back of my clothes and, hanging nearly lifeless was carried down a spiraling staircase; further down then I had been thus far, all the while having to listen to Mr. Wriggle's invoking every cursed word he could think of.

Though it was hard to breathe while bent nearly in half, I was still able to puff a few ragged breaths while weeping from the pain. When we finally reached the bottom of the stairs Mr. Wriggle stood me upright and gave me a firm slap across the face, just for good measure I am sure. But if there had been any cobwebs left in my head, that slap would have cleared them out. Through tear blurred eyes I realized I was looking down a long corridor that seemed to go on forever. As we made our way down the hallway, of course with Mr. Wriggle clutching the back of my hair with his claw like hand, I could once again smell the horrible odder that had been emanating from the boy back in the dinning hall, the same boy who I now knew had been Lowell under all that unspeakable filth.

A single hanging light bulb several feet away from the bottom of the steps was all the light that appeared to be down in the dreadful place. It was now shining behind us as a marker for where we had come from, it now caused huge shadows to go before us, eclipsing whatever was only a few steps further on.

When we had come to the end of the hall, which turned out to be a dead-end, we stood looking at a wooden wall. Despite the fact that hardly any light at all was making its way this far down the corridor I could still see that the wall appeared at one time, to have had shackles fastened to it. There was a distinctly human shaped stain and ware pattern in the wood, which lead me to believe that they had been used quite often in the past and though I could see no shackles now, I was praying that this was not going to be my fate.

It was only then that Mr. Wriggle let go of my hair, but not without giving me a violent shake and a warning, "It will be much worse for you if you were to attempt to go anywhere boy!"

"Go anywhere?" I thought, I was now about as able to "go anywhere" as a tree stump!

Rubbing the back of my head, I watched Mr. Wriggle remove the padlock from one of three metal grates in the floor, then with a groan he reached up and took a hold of a rope with a frayed knot at the end. As he pulled down on the rope, the hinges on the grate groaned as though they had not been used in over a decade. Once open, curiosity motivated me to lean over slightly to see nothing but a gaping black pit, which oddly enough reminded me of the tomb in Lowell's Egyptian story. Even as scared as I was feeling and knowing that Mr. Wriggle intended to send or even drop me down into that pit, I still found comfort in my memories of Lowell and his young Indiana Jones style of pants wetting adventure story.

Breathing heavily from his effort to open the grate, he reached up high over his head and thankfully pulled on a chain that lead up to a single, dim light bulb that hung over the now open pit.

As the light came on, from the closed grate several feet to my right I could hear a dry, raspy moan followed by a faint plea for, "Waaaterrrr!"

The cry did not sound like it came from a child but maybe a man. However, acting as if he had not heard anything, Mr. Wriggle reached out to take hold of my neck again. Unfortunately, I flinched which earned me another slap to my face. He rapped his whole arm around the back of my neck and head, pulled me in so close to his face that I thought he was going to kiss me but instead he snarled, "Strip off them clothes!" and giving my head a firm squeeze he added, "And be quick about it!"

I looked up at him as if he had gone mad, which he obviously had because, when I did not budge he ripped the shirt off me. Breathing hard and foaming at the mouth he shoved me to the floor and yanked the pants right off of me without even removing the shoes. As loose as they were on my feet, I was surprised that they had stayed on.

Reached down and lifting me to my feet by my ears he growled, "What is that?"

He was running a single hand over my plastic armor trying to determine for himself what it might be.

Sobbing and rattled with fear I managed to say only two words, "P-P-Please sir!" while wrapping my arms around my chest in hopes of stopping him from taking it away from me too.

I'm not sure why he didn't remove my armor as well before sending me trembling and naked down into the pit. Maybe it was my plea that thwarted any intentions he might have had about doing anything else to me.

I was clutching the rungs of a perfectly vertical wooden ladder that were as smooth as only wood can be from years of hands and feet rubbing against it, all the while trying to keep my clumsy shoes from slipping off as I descended into the fowl smelling darkness.

Mr. Wriggle was kind enough to leave the light on over the opening long enough for me to reach the bottom and discover that I was now in a cold, damp space, where the air was filled with the over powering fragrance of human waste and only enough room to squat down, though just barely. Given how far down the spiral stairs we had come, I was guessing that this was probably the very belly of the boat. From the smell, it was likely to be the place where all the toilets, sinks and who knows what else flowed into.

When I had reached the bottom, the light went out and Mr. Wriggle bellowed down the ladder, "A few days down there and you'll be more then willing to fall in line! If you want to stay at the Banachelli Home for Boys, you best learn and learn well!"

The next sounds I heard were the hinges groaning as the metal grate was slammed shut; followed by the padlock being replaced and finally Mr. Wriggle's boots drumming out a hasty retreat on the wooden floor above me. All sound soon disappeared into the echoes above leaving behind a dreadful silence that was occasionally interrupted by the sound of water flowing and splashing near by. To all intents and purposes, I was now imprisoned in the lowest reaches of the loving, caring Banachelli Home for Boys and was completely without hope!

With a whimper, I turned, put my back to the wooden ladder and lowered myself to the floor. I could feel each rung scraping against my plastic armor as I squatted in place.

With a single mournful sigh I whispered to the darkness, "Why did I say it was mine?" and then I began to weep, which quickly became a full out howling.

I have no idea how long I sat squatted against the base of the ladder and hugging my knees to my chest, in an attempt to keep warm. The smell had long since become mute for me as long as I continued breathing through my nose. If I stopped and held my breath, even for a second the smell would come back to molest my sense of smell. Sobbing and feeling as desperate as I have ever felt, I sniffled and rubbed my dripping nose on my arm just before I heard ...


I froze instantly and listened but the sound was followed by more silence and I was just about to dismiss it as a figment of my over active imagination when it came again, stronger this time...


My mind quickly conjured up the most horrible image of a snake that it could manage and my entire body tensed up expecting at any moment to become dinner for the scaly monster.

"Sssst! Sssst!"

There it was again and the fear was more then I could cope with as I felt my bladder release what little fluid there was within it.

"Sssst! Sssst!"

My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it moving my plastic armor.

My head began to swim as if I was going to faint. I shook my head hard, took in a deep breath and held it so that I could listen for any sound or movement from the snake, or whatever it was trapped in the dark with me. I concentrated, and listened but I did not hear any more hissing but I did think I could hear something else.

From directly above my head I heard faintly, "Think he's a goner?" which was followed by, "Ah, shush-up!"

"Nah, I t'ink he's dead f'r sure!"

"I done said ta shush-up!"

"Well, `e ain't say'n not'n."

"Might be e's sleep'n."

"I recon e's dead!"

"An' I say he ain't!"

Then all went quiet again for several panicked heartbeats until finally, "Sssst! Sssst! Ron ... Hey Ron! Are ya alive down dere?"

There was a short pause before the voice added, "Ron, It's me Micky."

Though cold, frightened and hurting for the two days of slave labor, having been knocked around by Mr. Wriggle and imprisoned at the bottom of a cold black crap pit. Suffise it to say that I was still curiously able to feel a flash of anger at the mention of his name; the same boy who had thus far given no sign that he felt anything but hatred for me. Micky, seemed to be the one who had been influencing all the others to feel and treat me as if I were dog crap to be scraped from their shoes. Micky; the boy who had tossed the quarter so far over on the table that I had no choice but to confess to its ownership.

And then the voice inside my head began to speak again, "Why not just let him and the other whisperers up there think you're dead? You know, it would serve them right to fear that you died down here."

I have to admit it, I was buying into the logic of the voice inside my head, and after all, the tone of their whispers did sound a little scared.

"Yeah, serves them right!" I thought, agreeing with the voice. "And what if I did say something to let them know I am still alive? Maybe they are just here to tease me about getting put in this horrible place?" and with that last thought, I determined that I would not give them the chance!

But oh how hard it was to hold my tongue when I so desperately wanted to talk to someone; anyone! I had to clench my teeth together and dug my face into my knees in order to keep silent.

"See, Micky? No'a peep; dead, dat's f'r sure."

"He ain't!" There was a note of desperation in the whispered voice from Micky, "I'm tellin' ya dat `e ain't dead!"

"Sssst! Sssst! Ron, say somethin'! Please!" and did I detect a hint of genuine remorse in Micky's voice just then?

"Aw, it's no good, Micky! `Mon, we best git back ta bed 'fore we git caught down chere."

Micky's voices seemed to quiver slightly as he answered, "Yeah, I guess y'r right, Peter. Maybe `e ain't even in dere. Let's git goin'."

So they were leaving; my only connection to anything human would be gone in a matter of seconds, leaving me to die here alone in the terrible black pit under the floorboards.

And then the voice within my head quickly changed tactics on me as it said, "Better them, then no one at all right?"

"Oh make up your mind!" I mentally groaned at the voice and had the voice had its own body I probably would have reached out and choked the life from it.

I took a breath and nearly choked from the stench, "I-I-I'm n-n-not d-dead!"

I could only hope that the small quavering noise that came out of my mouth was loud enough to still be heard by the boys over head.

My announcement was first greeted with silence; then I heard an excited whisper.

"There, told ya so!" Micky said and I heard the sounds of bare feet scuffing around the metal grate.

"Ron is dat you?" Micky asked.

"Y-y-yes," I stammered.

"Hey, if y'r fin'ers ain't too frozed, come up da ladder so y'r closer; less chance a som'un hearin' us. It's me Micky, with Peter and a couple oders."

My legs by now were so cold and cramped that it was a great effort just to stand up let alone attempt to climb. Nevertheless, I somehow managed and dispite the pain in my cold tight muscles I began to crawl back up the ladder. I had to accomplish this in total darkness, although when I neared the top of the ladder I saw that there was the faint glow of a small flashlight, so faint, however, as to be almost non-existent.

"Sorry we gotta keep da light covered." Micky said as I drew close enough that we could now see each other.

"Cho ain't ne'r yet come 'round af'er she checks we're in bed, but nothin's certain `round dis place."

He paused long enough to take a breath.

"An'ways, I... I only wanted ya ta know I ne'r meant f'r dat quarter to land where'n it did. Clos'ta you I mean."

"Dat's the truth!" Peter broke in, "He ne'r did!"

"An' I would'a fessed up but'cha beat me to it!" Micky exhaled loudly.

"He would'a too!" said Peter.

"Once ya said it an' Ol' Toad Face had it fixed in his froggy brain dat it were y'rs ..."

Micky was interrupted by Peter, "Yeah `e a real toad face!"

Not paying him any attention Micky went on, "I could o' yelped my danged ol' head off like a cry'n hound-dog and it woulda done no good, no how."

And Peter added, "Nope, wouldn't done no good t'all."

There was another short pause before Micky added, "Should be me down dere! Why'd ya go and say it were y'rs?"

Micky's voice failed him at the end and I could see he was biting on his bottom lip to keep from loosing all control of his emotions.

I hesitated; this whole dialogue was so astonishing and staggering that it was hard for me to get my thoughts together and remember why I had actually said it was mine.

I took a breath before speaking, "Don't much matter; I'm going to die here anyway."

I paused expecting one of them to say something and when they didn't I added, "It's okay, I know that I am."

And that explanation was exactly the truth as far as I was able to see.

For the longest time no one made a peep until finally in an almost explosive cry Micky said, "No!" he stood up and stomped his bare foot and at the moment it did not registered that I'd seen he was wearing a diaper under his night shirt.

"No! No! No! You ain't gunna die!" he dropped back down so that he was right over top the grate, "Y'ear me, Ron? You ain't gunna die! We won't let ya."

"Wh-wh-why?" I asked in a disbelieving tone. After all, I was still finding it difficult to accept that the issue of me wearing diapers at night had not been brought up.

"'Cause we done said so!" Micky grunted, "An' you might well know I ain't proud o' how mean I been. None o' us is!"

"Da's right!" Peter added after Micky prodded him with his elbow and the other boys added their agreement as well.

"You just make certain you stays `live t'night, Ron!" Micky said fiercely.

"Do me a favor?" I asked not sure if I could rely on them or not.

"An'thin'!" Micky said.

"Yeah an'thin'g!" Per added.



Part 3 -- Friday, March 12, 2004 -- Not so Superman


"M-my f-friend is up th-there s-s-somew-where." I said quickly.

"Yeah we know." Micky said before I had even finished speaking, "Cho put `em in y'r bed. He's been tellin' us all 'bou-cha."

"Really?" I said with such excitement that I nearly lost my footing on the ladder.

"Yeah, e's scared and cry'n a bit but he's okay!" one of the other boys added.

I had to swallow hard to keep from crying myself.

"Would'a brung 'im but 'e cried 'imself ta sleep." Micky said to reassure me, which it did too.

"D-did he t-tell you how h-he g-g-g-got here?" I asked.

"Said `e and some'n was tryin' to find ya." Micky said.

"S-someone else?" I queried.

Micky looked over at the others, "'Member who `e said?"

I could see Peter shrug his shoulders and then one of the others answered unsure of himself, "Said `is name were DJ didn't `e?"

"B-B-BJ is here t-too?" I blurted out instantly realizing that Lowell must have said BJ.

The boy that had told me it was DJ that had been with Lowell spoke again, "Nah, Trey done said `e must'a got-way." And made no notion to my correcting him.

"Who's Trey?" I asked.

"Oh sorry, Dat's da name they done gived y'r friend." Micky answered.

"Say, ya need an'thin'?" the one boy who had remained silent up to this point had spoken up.

"Yeah, I'm really th-thursty." I had spoken the words before I had a chance to think about them.

"Oy!" the boy closest to Peter chimed in, "O'er da udder side dare's a bunch'a pipes. Find da one dat `as da rag tide `round. It leaks loads an' dat's good ta drink."

Micky added, "Yeah, der's a ledge goes `round da sides!" and pointed down to show the way.

"Dat's right, ya ..." added the ever-ready Peter but he didn't get to finish whatever it was he was going to say. It seemed from my poor vantage point that a sharp jab with a fist to the jewels, might have taken place; courtesy of Micky, who wished no more interruptions.

"Enough, after all, was enough." I thought to myself.

"Now, stick y'r hand up chere, Ron," Micky instructed, "Ya ain't put `way `nough for a flee since'n ya been `ere. Put dis in y'r pocket."

I didn't bother to point out that I didn't have any clothes let alone pockets but did as he said and extended my trembling hand through the grate.

"It's a corn cake; ain't `portant where it's from." He gave my wrist a squeeze, "We gotta git. See ye soon! 'Night, Ron!"

"'Night, Ron," echoed Peter though he still sounded to be in a little bit of pain.

All the boys said their goodbyes and I listened to the fain sounds of their feet which made no more sound than cats' paws as they padded away, leaving me alone in darkness again. Alone to think about what had just happened, and somehow finding it hard to believe it had happened at all. However, it seemed as if I might now have friends in the Banachelli Home for Boys. Oh yes, and a corn cake!

I was half way back down the ladder intent on finding my way to the leaking pipe when everything kind of hit me at once. I stopped to put my head against a rung as a lump lodged in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes spilling past my eyelids and rolling down my cheeks in a great deluge.

I must have continued to lower myself back down because after a while I found myself sitting once again with my back to the ladder and sobbing onto my knees. The corn cake was gone now and I only knew I had eaten it because I had little bits of ground corn granules stuck between my teeth.

It was then that I heard the same hissing sound again, "Sssst! Sssst!" However, this time I knew where it was coming from. I looked up to see the faint light shining down through the grate again.

The boys must have returned; I could not imagine why, but one thing I knew; they must not know I had been crying. So, I swallowed hard, wiped my eyes and nose on my bare arm and tried my best to pull myself together.

"Sssst! Sssst!"

"Hey Ron! Come'n an' answer! We know y'r dere!' Sssst! Sssst! Sssst! Sssst!"

Then came what sounded to me to be Peter whispering, "Bet e's dead now!"

"Maybe `e falled in?" another boy offered.

Peter changed his mind and said, "Maybe e's escaped!"

I thought I was beginning to recognize Micky's sighs as he once again exhaled sharply and groaned "Don-be a `orse's rump!"

That seemed to shut everyone up and Mickey again hissed down to me.

"Sssst! Sssst! "Hey, you sleep'n? Say somethin'! You there, Ron?"

Oddly enough, I found this slightly amusing but could not contain myself any longer and called up, "Y-y-yes!" And to my dismay, the word had come out in a betraying sob! There were more whispers above, while I waited to hear the jabs about me being a little baby for crying and having to wear diapers.

There were several whispers that I couldn't make out but I did hear, "He's been cryin'."

"Wot if `e `as?" One of the other boys commented and sounded as if he were ready to fight someone.

"He gots a right, don't `e? We all done it one time or 'nother. An' who's to blame `em?" That sounded like it had come from Micky though I had to strain to hear him.

"I ain't blamin' `em!" someone said sounding offended at Micky's words.

"An' you ain't to say nothin' 'bout it nee'ver. None o' us is. Micky wouldn't like it."

"Micky would not like it?" I though to myself. "Then these whispered voices were not those of Micky and Peter? Who then?"

"Ron? Ron, this `ere's Tyler. I come to say I'm sorry. T'ain't y'r fault y'r `ere no more'n any o' us."

There was some silence before, "I'm Jonathan, an' I'm come'ta say I was a jerk too!"

"Me too," came another eager whisper who I figured I had mistook to be Peter before, "I'm Timmy. An' ... an' if ya was wearin' diaper where ya comed, den comin' chere's worser f'r ya more'n any o' da rest o' us I spose."

"See here!" Jonathan jumped in, "We wasn' spose'ta say nothin' 'bout ..." he trailed off before adding, "Now look whatcha gone and done! Micky's been flip'n crazed e'r since!"

A long silence followed this exchange as if, having made a mess of the confession, no one quite knew what was to be said next. Of course, with all this eagerness to confess their wrong doings, I had hardly had a chance to put in a word edgewise but even if I had, I didn't know what to say.

"Can ya come upda la'er? We done brung ya some'n t'eat." Jonathan asked.

Despite having had the corn cake only a few minutes before, I was still ravenously hungry and was up the ladder in a second.

"'ere, we done snuck'n got ya dese." Jonathan said as he reached through the grate and handed me two whole potatoes and an enormous carrot wrapped in some kind of rag.

"Well, see ya later!" Tyler said.

"'Night, Ron!" Timmy sent down next.

"Oy, G'night!" Jonathan added followed by, "Ouch, hey dat was ma foot!"

"Well don't be puttin' it un'r mine." Someone else teased him back.

I heard one of the others say from further away, "If'n y'r walk'n on da bottoms of y'r feet, why can't `e walk on da tops?" and more then one laughed at this.

I laughed quietly to myself too as I sent back up, "G-good night everyone." but it was too late, they were already gone.

As soon as I was certain the boys had left, I shimmied back down and laid the goodies there at the base of the ladder. My tears were all dried up be now, and I did not think they would be back, at least not anytime soon. Feeling a little energized by my two groups of visitors, I then managed to find the ledge Peter had told me about and with my back to the wall, I made it all the way around to the pipes. I had a hard time finding the rag but when I did, I nearly shouted as I placed my mouth under the dripping water and tasted the fresh cool water. I must have drunk ten gallons before my arms and legs began to feel like they could not hold me in place much longer.

When I made it back to the ladder I dropped down onto the floor, crossed my legs, and rested the rag in my lap. I took a big bite from one of the potatoes and was surprised to find it was not raw. It made no difference at all to me that I was sitting alone in the dark, in a deep pit, beneath the floorboards at the very bottom of the Banachelli Home for Boys. What did matter was the fact that I was enjoying one of the best meals I had ever had in my life!

After eating I must have drifted off to sleep and began to dream but unlike any dream I had ever had before, I somehow knew that I was dreaming this time even though it seemed so real and the images in my mind were so vivid.

It all started when the phone rang one day and I, who at the time was six picked it up.

"Hel-l-llo?" I said into the receiver the way I had seen mommy and daddy do so many times before.

"Hello Simon." This is your Auntie Catherine.

My heart jumped at the sound of her voice, "Hi A-a-a-aun-n-tie C-cath-th-ther-r-ine!"

"Simon, I want you to spend the night." She had said it so quickly that it startled me for a moment, "Would you get your mother and I'm going to talk it over with her. Would you like to do that?"

Drawing in a huge breath, I released it with tremendous force, "Y-y-yes! I w-w-would, I-I-I r-r-really w-w-w-w-would! I-I w-w-will g-get m-m-m-mommy!"

When I got my mom, she talked it over, hung the phone up, and called for me, "Simon?"

Bouncing excitedly on the tips of my shoes I nearly shouted, "I-I'm r-r-right h-here m-m-mommy!" I had been standing directly behind her the whole time.

"I've never let you spend the night alone with your Aunt's because ... well you break things and still wet your bed. I'll let you spend the night if there's no trouble and you promise to wear your special pants when you go to sleep. Your Aunt Catherine will be very upset if you pee on her new couch.

Seeing how it hadn't even been an hour since I had broken the towel bar off the wall of the hallway bathroom and earlier in the day had overturned mommy's cup of tea, I stuffed my hands guiltily into my two back pants pockets. Looking down at my shoes I shook my head and I weakly said, "I-I W-won't b-b-be a-any t-t-t-twoub-b-ble! I p-p-pwom-mise m-m-m-mom-m-my!"

I looked up just in time to see her smiling and saying, "Alright then, let's pack your bag and I will drive you over."

I lunged forward, wrapped my tiny arms around my mommy's leg and squeezed her with all the might that was in my little body.

I ran so fast to my room that I beat mommy and even had enough time to find my little red suitcase that was filled with my matchbox cars, which I promptly dumped out on the floor beside my bed.

When mommy had arrived, we packed my things into my little red suitcase; I think I was surprised that she had not said anything about my cars being on the floor. I wanted to put in eight t-shirts but mommy said I would only need one. When I tried to put in a pair of black socks she said they were too warm for summertime and put in a pair of white ankle socks instead.

"What else do we need?" she asked while looking linguistically at me.

"My toothbrush?" I asked in return.

"Why don't you go get it from the bathroom AND BE CAREFUL!" she had to shout that last part because I was already halfway down the hall by then.

I was back in no time at all with my toothbrush trapped between my teeth and my arms outstretched as I flow into my room and came in for a landing next to mommy.

I looked into my red suitcase and seen that mommy had placed three pairs of my bedwetters pants in along with two pair of pajamas and one pair of faded blue denim cut-off shorts.

And before I knew it, I was in the car and my mommy was driving me to Auntie Catherine's house. She warned me one more time, "Now Simon, I know you will be good but, if there is trouble ..." she paused only for a moment before saying, "I won't let you go overnight for another year or two. Now your Aunt can be a little difficult late in the day."

Fearing that she might change her mind and take me right back home, I quickly assured her, "I'll be good mommy!"

Well, I was so excited when we drove down Dogsong Drive, I remember it `cause of the funny name, and then we took a left onto Auntie Catharine's street. I knew it well and had been here many times but never overnight alone.

When we parked, I got out of the car and I ran up the steep concrete steps. Auntie Catharine's home was a huge three story wooden house; she had the second and third floor.

I pushed the door open and I stepped across the hallway. I had to stand on my tippy-toes to be able to reach the button and when I pressed it, "ZZZZZZZT"

A moment later there was a clicking sound it was my Aunt pressing another button and that meant I could open the door; it was magic! I pushed it open and way up at the top of the stairs was my Auntie Catharine.

"H-hel-l-l-lo A-a-aunt-ty C-c-cath-thar-rine!" I shouted up to her.

And as I waved, I could smell the wonderful smells in that hallway. It was a very dark hallway and the stairs were very steep. It was magic to me; I could have spent the whole time right there at the bottom of the steps.

But I was pulling my little red suitcase up those stairs quick as I could. When I got to the top my Auntie bent over, kneeled down and gave me a big hug.

"H-hel-l-l-lo A-aunt-ty C-cath-thar-tine!" I managed to say while she tried to hug the life out of me.

I kissed those plump red cheeks, Auntie Catharine was not nearly as humungous back when I was only six but she still seemed like a giant of a woman to someone as little as me. Her cheeks were red and smelled like peaches back then Auntie Catharine always smelled like sweet peaches.

She held me at arms-length, honked my nose with her finger and said, "Simon, you go on upstairs now. Go see the backroom; I have made it up just for you!"

With a squeal I shouted, "A r-r-room j-j-jus-s-st f-for m-m-me?" and was gone in a flash.

I ran up the back stairs and heard mommy down with Auntie Catharine and she was saying, "Simon, you be good!"

I shouted back to her, "I w-will m-m-mommy! I-I w-will! B-bye!"

Somehow, I knew just the room I was going to too. It was a small room with orange and yellow stars painted on the ceiling. It was the room I was always allowed to play in whenever we would come to visit. I stepped into the room and instantly saw the present my Auntie had left for me.

All the other times we had visited the room had been furnished with an old wooden desk and rolling chair that I would sit on and spin until I nearly puked. Over by the window, there had been a tired old loveseat with one leg missing. Auntie Catharine used a stack of magazines as a replacement for the missing leg. There had also been a small set of shelves to the left of the loveseat that had Lego's, stuffed animals and picture books.

However, not anymore! Now the room was furnished with an old white crib, a funny looking white dresser, a short white table with yellow legs that had been placed over where the shelf had once been and a big bright-red beanbag chair was now sitting in the space once occupied by the loveseat. I was shocked for several seconds before I noticed that on the floor Auntie Catharine had painted an entire city road map and had placed several Matchbox cars on the roads.

I forgot all about the crib as I got down on my hands and knees to play with the cars for a while. I was having so much fun driving the cars around the painted city and probably would have gone on playing had I not found the other thing Aunt Catharine had left for me.

On the short white table, the one with the yellow legs, there were two rosy-pink pieces of tissue paper, some small kiddy scissors, some Elmer's Glue and two sharp pencils.

I knelt right down and got the scissors, I cut two circles out of the rosy-pink tissue paper, and then I put glue on the back. I pasted the circles as rosy cheeks on my face.

I looked out the window and saw that my mommy was driving away. The corners of my mouth curled up as the thought crossed my mind, "I'm free."

I ran down the back stairs and my Auntie's eye lit up, "What cheeks Simon!"

"Y-yes they're nice!" I grinned and felt the glue pull at my skin as it dried.

She was beaming back at me as she said, "How about if you and I have some milk and cookies in the dinning room?"

"YEAH!" I cheered punching my fists high over my head.

"But," she continued and my excitement ebbed a little, "I'm going to do the wash and you're going to go on an errand."

"W-w-what's an e-e-er-r-r-r-rand?" I asked.

She smiled again, "You know Mr. Young?"

My heart did a flip-flop in my chest when I remembered him from my last visit. Mr. Young always gave me candy when we would come to visit Auntie Catharine.

"Oh, y-y-yes!" I answered, "He sells candy!"

She smiled, "That's right, and other things too. He's just three doors to the left."

She was reaching into her purse, "Here's some money. You're going to get half a pound of sugar and six red apples." She sat her purse on the sofa, "He's waiting for you."

"I'll get them, and I will get good ones!" I said excited to be asked to do something so important all by myself.

She was smiling, "I will trust you to get the best!"

"I will!" I added.

But before I could get out the door, she called after me, "Before you go, come into the kitchen with me."

I followed her so filled with joy that my shoes barely made contact with the floor.

She opened a cabinet and took out a cup with Superman on the outside.

"Oh c-cool!" I said since I liked anything that had to do with comic book superhero's on it.

"I saw this at a store and thought you might enjoy using it." She said as she filled it with water, "Now drink it all down. It is very warm outside and you always have to remember to drink plenty of water."

She handed the cup to me and after admiring the awesome image of Superman I gulped down every drop. She didn't let me drink alone though; she had pulled a bottle of some kind of peach smelling juice from the refrigerator and poured it into a fancy glass.

I handed the Superman cup back to her and was off and out the door before she could stop me again. I had never been on an errand in my life, not like this! I felt so important as I went down the front stairs and out to the sidewalk where I turned to the left, walked to the third door.

I counted aloud, "O-one d-door, t-two d-doors, th-three wonderful doors!" and proceeded to laugh my evilest laugh just like the Count on Sesame Street.

I walked into Mr. Young's store; there were funny smells here too. The floor was wooden and had a kind of wet look to it, almost as if someone had spilt water all over the place. Mr. Young, he looked older then the black bananas on display beside him; and he was round like an apple, so was his mustache and beard, though they were almost pure white. Aside from a few hairs over each ear, his head looked like a big melon with ears and eyes.

"Well Little Simon Jr! Nice to see you again; your Aunt said you were coming. Here I got the apples ready for you."

He tried to hand them to me in a white plastic bag but when I looked into the bag, I saw that they were red with green still around the stem.

"N-no, I-I d-don't w-w-w-want th-those!" I said.

"What's the trouble?" he asked sticking his face down into the bag.

"Th-th-they d-d-d-don't l-look r-r-ripe!" I said bolder then I felt.

He laughed and looked around the store before saying loudly, "Well, they're supposed to look like that! That's the best way Simon!" he laughed again, "Well, I'll give you the these instead."

He removed the red and green apples and replaced them with six shiny-red apples.

"Someday you'll know better!" he said handing the bag back to me.

I took the bag and with a timid peek into the bag I said, "I-I th-think I-I-I kn-now b-b-better n-now."

He laughed louder and pointed at my face, "I like your cheeks Simon!"

I felt the glue pulling even harder at my skin as I smiled before saying, "A-aunt-tie C-cath-thar-r-r-rine as-s-sk-ked m-me t-to g-g-get a h-half p-pound-d ..."

"Of sugar? Oh yes, I nearly forgot! I have it right here." He said handing me another bag.

It felt a lot heavier then I was expecting and it was all I could do to hold the apples and the sugar up off the floor.

"I think you're all set now. Just let me have the dough!" he said holding out his hand.

"D-dough?" I asked not understanding that he wanted the money Aunty Catharine had given me to pay him.

"The money?" he said pointing to the wadded up bill still clutched in my hand, the same hand that was trying to hold on to the bag of apples.

Mr. Young bent over and pulled the bill from my hand, "Here is your change!" he said after ringing up the total on the cash register.

I stood looking from the bags in my hands to the change in his hand not knowing what to do.

"Here allow me." He said and he bent over again, pulled open my pants pocket and dropped the change in.

I went out of the store feeling wonderful. I got the best apples!

I went to the back yard and Auntie Catharine was hanging the wash on the clothesline to dry in the summer sun. I showed her the apples and sugar and ran up the back stairs. I carried the bags into the kitchen but couldn't reach the counter so I pulled out the bottom drawer of a stack of drawers; it was filled with tools like screwdrivers and a hammer. I used the drawer like a stepladder and was able to place both bags on the counter and before climbing back down off the drawer I placed the leftover change next to apples for Aunt Catharine to find.

I felt so big now and important that I decided I was a businessman. And so I ran back up to the room Auntie Catharine had prepared just for me to get one of the pencils from of the little table. However, when I arrived I saw that I had left the glue open and lying on its side. Glue had dripped out and formed a fairly large glob on the table. Remembering my promise to mommy, I set the bottle of glue upright and not knowing what to use to clean up the glue I decided to use the t-shirt I was wearing. After all, it was pretty hot today so, I didn't need to wear a shirt and no one would ever know I had made a mess.

With the mess cleaned up and my shirt stashed in the bottom of my suitcase I snatched up one of the pencils and thought what a businessman did which was to make pencil marks on paper. I looked to the scraps of tissue paper left on the table from where I had cut out my rosy-pink cheeks. There wasn't enough left to use for writing.

Then I remembered the man that had come to our house only a couple of weeks ago to put in a new phone for daddy to use. That man had sure looked important and he made marks on the walls so that is just what I did.

I started going around making little pencil marks on the walls, but I made them were no one couldn't see them. Then I decided I should make an important one, something special just for Auntie Catharine.

I ran back down the stairs and into the dinning room where I slid one of the chairs over to the white wall and stood on the chair. I took the pencil and made a circle right in the middle of the wall but not too big!

I heard something that startled me and turned.

"Oh n-no!" I gasped.

As I had turned, I made a pencil mark that was more then two feet long on the white wall. I knew I couldn't do that, so panicking I started to erase it. The whole thing and it made an awful mess; it was much worse. So, I licked the eraser and erased again and now it was terrible. I wet my hand by licking my palm and I tried to clean the whole thing and ... and it was horrible.

I knew I was going to be sent home now. I jumped off the chair and I ran to the window. I saw Auntie Catharine who was hanging the last few stockings. I knew she'd be up in a couple of minutes.

When she saw what I had done she would send me right home. All of a sudden, I knew what I had to do! I ran to the kitchen, pulled open the drawer and took out the hammer and two big nails.

I ran back to the dinning room, pulled the tablecloth of the table and I stood on the chair again. With several swings of the hammer, I drove the first nail through the cloth right into the plaster wall; amazingly enough, I managed not to hit my fingers with the hammer. I climbed off the chair, moved it over and banged the other nail through the cloth and into the wall.

I jumped off the chair and looked at my handy work. It did what I had hoped, it covered the mess on the wall, but ... you could still see the cloth hanging there on the wall.

When I heard the back door close I suddenly felt the need to pee but there was no time for that. I slid the chair back into place, ran back to the kitchen, tossed the hammer into the drawer, and had just managed to sit myself down at the small breakfast table when Auntie Catharine came up.

"Well Simon! Good job on the apples!" she bent over and kissed my rosy-paper cheeks.

"Where's your shirt?" she asked.

"Uh, I-I w-was hot!" I answered quickly trying not to squirm or think about the fact that I needed to pee.

"Oh well we can't have you running around here half naked." She said and the way she said it made me believe she had already formed some kind of idea in her mind. "You just wait right there."

She was back before I had a chance to wonder where she had gone. She had something draped over one arm and was smiling wider then I had ever seen her smile.

"Okay, stand up!" she said.

I did as she asked while trying to keep my knees together so that I might not wet my pants.

"No, no, turn around. Face the stove." She said.

I turned so that my back was to her and bit my lip.

"Close your eyes." She said in a teasing sort of way.

I closed my eyes and lifted my arms instinctively expecting her to put a shirt on me.

"Put your arms down you silly boy!" she giggled and I felt her tying something around my neck. "I was going to save this for after dinner this evening but now is just as good a time as any. Ah there we go."

She turned me back around to face her, "Well open your eyes!"

I opened them and looked down to see a beautiful red cape hanging off my shoulders and draping down behind me to the backs of my knees.

"I-I-It's a c-c-c-c-c ..." I was so excited that I couldn't manage to get my words past my stuttering tongue.

"That's right, it's a cape! I made it myself!" Auntie Catharine embraced my rosy-pink paper cheeks with her hands and kissed my smiling lips.

I was so excited that I was on the verge of tears. I threw my arms around her neck and hugged her so very tight, "Th-th-th-th-thank-k-k y-y-y-you!" and I was so excited that I completely forgot that I had to go pee.

She kissed me again before going over to pour the milk and placing cookies on a plate while I soared around the house making flying and swooshing sounds.

"Hey, Superman?" Auntie Catharine called out, "Let's have our milk and cookies in the dinning room. Come on Simon, you get the cookies."

I froze in mid-flight, "L-Let's h-have i-it i-in th-the k-k-kitch-ch-chen."

"No, I always have it in the dinning room." She said back, "Come on now Simon!"

I didn't move; I just listened for her to explode with anger.

"Simon? The tablecloth isn't on the table. Do you ..." and her voice suddenly stopped—Silence!

"Simon, the tablecloth is nailed to the wall." She said it so calm, so without emotion that it scared me even more.

"W-w-what w-w-wall?" I stupidly said back to her.

"You come in and see what wall." She said in that same calm tone.

I hesitated for a moment before dragging myself into the dinning room.

"Oh th-th-that w-wall!" I said, which sounded just as stupid as my previous statement, "I-I-I n-nailed i-it o-o-on th-that w-wall!" which made it sound like the most logical thing for a boy like me to have done.

All of a sudden, I began to get very stiff, very stern, very red. I began to shake and the tears rolled down my face as my bladder gave way drowning my underwear and pants with pee. My tears rolled down and onto the rosy-pink tissue paper cheeks. My paper cheeks were getting all crumpled and wet. My Auntie, she was shaking like Jell-O, she got on the floor and she started to cry too, I don't think she had seen that I was wetting my pants yet. She pulled me into her and her tears were flowing right onto the rosy-pink cheeks mingling with mine. I rubbed one of the cheeks, it felt all crumbly and that made me cry even harder.

"I-I-I'm g-g-going t-to have t-to g-g-go h-h-home n-n-n-now!" I wept.

"It's alright Simon!" Aunt Catharine said, "It's all right! Look at the two of us, now. You'll be alright."

"I-I-I have t-t-to g-go h-home!" I sobbed.

"You don't have to go home." She said.

"Mommy said that you could be a grump!" I sniffled while tears still flowed down my face.

"Well your mother's no prize either." She spoke softly, "We're going to work this out."

"H-how w-w-we g-g-gon-n-na d-do i-it? M-m-mommy's g-gon-n-na kn-now!"

"Your mother's not going to know." She said while attempting to wipe the tears away from my eyes.

"Look at the two of us." And she smiled, "Come on Simon."

She sighed heavily and breathed as she wiped her own tears away.

"Now come on, sit down and have the milk and cookies." She motioned to the table.

I managed to calm down enough to get myself seated next to her at the table.

"She hadn't seen my wet pants yet!" I thought to myself.

"How many cookies?" she asked.

"I-I w-want f-f-five c-c-cook-kies." I answered with a whimper.

"You'll have two!" she answered back.

I drank half of my milk down in one big gulp and that calmed me enough to realize that the milk didn't taste like normal milk.

"What?" She asked when she saw the expression on my face.

"M-m-milk t-tast-tes f-fun-n-n-n-ny." I said with half way to my mouth.

"That's because it is special milk, it's good for you! Do you like it?" she asked.

I nodded.

"That's good." She said sipping at her milk.

"M-m-mommy's g-gon-n-na kn-now." I said swallowing the last bit of my second cookie.

"Your mother's never going to know. Now you watch." She said and not finishing her milk or her other cookie she got up, retrieved the hammer from the kitchen and like an expert, she pulled those two nails from the wall.

She folded the cloth into a perfect square and set it down on the table before disappearing from the room again only to return with a small tub of wall-spackle. She filled the holes I had made before turning to me and saying, "See, you can hardly tell the wholes were every there."

I sniffled, "B-but i-it's s-s-still a m-mess!"

She pressed the lid back onto the little tub of wall-spackle and then turned back to the wall. "Well, I suppose we better do something about that too. Come on, you can help!"

I followed without objection as she lead me back up the stairs toward the room she had put together for me but we didn't go to that room, instead she lead me to a door which I'd never seen open. She produced a key from her pocket, unlocked the door and ushered me in first.

The room was dark only until Auntie Catharine flipped on the light switch and I was nearly toppled over with shock.

"Y-y-you m-make th-th-these?" I asked while staring at the paintings.

There were probably twenty or more paintings, all of little kids about my age. They were not great, but they were good enough that when my eyes fell on a portrait of a young boy wearing a red cape and with a big red `S' painted on his chest, I knew instantly that it was a painting of me, only I was minus the `S' that the boy in the painting had.

"I-is th-that m-me?" I asked sniffling as my nose was still running a bit.

"Do you like it?" she asked.

I waved my cape, "J-just l-l-like m-my c-c-cape."

She petted my head and for a moment, I thought she had noticed the condition of my pants but then without saying anything about it she reached to a high shelf and retrieving a can of white paint.

"Can you bring those two brushes?" She nodded toward two large brushes lying on a wooden table that was covered with speckles of different colored paints.

I picked one up in each hand and followed back to the dinning room where we proceeded to paint the wall white again. Before she opened the can of paint she made me put on a fun kind of mask that made clicking noises as I breathed and it made my voice sound all funny like a machine.

We finished painting the wall and we stood back to inspect our work.

"Perfect!" She proclaimed.

I added, "Y-yeah, e-ever-ryth-thing h-as d-d-d-d ..."

"Disappeared?" she offered for me.

"Y-yeah!" I agreed.

While we had been waiting for the paint to dry Aunt Catharine sat down to sew those nail holes in the tablecloth. However, when she sat down on the sofa something was wrong with her hand, it was shaking a bit.

"Think I will mend these holes later. We'll just put it on the table and cover the holes with a bowl of apples and maybe some placemats.

"M-mommy w-will kn-now!" I whimpered again.

"No she won't." she answered back and before I could say anything else she asked, "Do you want something else to drink? I need something to wash the taste of paint out of my mouth."

And she was up and on her way to the kitchen that fast. I don't know why, but I followed her and when she was poring herself another glass of the peach smelling juice, I asked for some too.

"Oh you won't like this." She said making a face to let me know it was something yucky that only mommies and daddies and Aunties like to drink.

"Here have a sip of mine." And she held the fancy glass to my mouth.

I took a tiny sip expecting it to taste absolutely revolting but it didn't. It didn't taste bad at all; as a matter of fact, it tasted delightful!

"You really like it huh?" she said smiling.

I licked my lips, smiled and nodded that I did.

"Okay, just a small drink then." She said and pored about an inch of the fabulous peach juice into the Superman cup for me.

We returned to the Dinning room to drink and wait for the wall to finish drying. I don't know what sort of juice that was but it made me feel so very happy and warm inside, like there was a small happy fire burning in me.

We finished our drinks and after checking and seeing that it needed more time to dry Auntie Catharine asked if I would like to play a game.

"W-what k-kind of g-game?" I asked.

"How about Hide-and-Seek?" she said with the excitement of a child, "How about you hide and I will seek you out?"

"Alr-right!" I giggled and ran into the living room to hide behind the curtain but unbeknownst to me my left shoe was still sticking out.

Auntie Catharine was counting aloud, "... six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve! Ready or not, here I come!"

"Oh Superman were are you? I'm going to find you!" and even through she could see my shoe, she didn't let on right away. She sang out, "I know you are here somewhere, but I'm never going to find you! You're too cleaver!"

And then I heard her gasp, and her foots came closer and closer to wear I was hiding. She pinched my shoe, "I think I got you Superman!"

I jumped out from behind the curtain laughing and giggling gleefully.

"Oh y-you f-f-found me!" and I jumped around laughing and twirling about.

We played and played, each time Auntie Catharine let me hide and she would come to look for me. It was so much fun and I got so warm but I didn't care. And the fact that I had wet my pants didn't bother me anymore. I was having too much fun to worry about something like that and since Auntie Catharine had not said anything, I figured she had not noticed.

After several more rounds of Hide-and-Seek, we went back to the dinning room and found that the wall was now completely dry. I could still smell a hint of the paint in the air but we had all the windows open and Auntie Catharine assured me that by tomorrow the smell would be completely gone.

She tousled my hair, "You are all sweaty!"

"No I'm not!" I teased back.

"Yes, you are!" she gave me a bump with her elbow.

"No I'm not!" I said again, bumping her back.

She giggled, "You know something?"

"What?" I asked.

"You are not stuttering anymore!" she said.

Thinking we were still playing and not realizing that what she had pointed out was true, I said back, "Yes I am!"

"No you're not!" She said.

"Yes I am!" I giggled.

She grabbed me up and began to tickle me until all the laughter that I had inside of me was giggled out.

"Stop! Stop! Stooooop!" I pleaded.

"Are you out of giggles?" She asked.

"Yes!" I laughed.

"That sure sounds like giggles to me!" she said tickling my ribs.

"No, no, please!" I pleaded.

She finally let me go and I sat on the floor trying to catch my breath.

"Ah oh!" Auntie Catharine said pointed to my pants.

I was horrified to see that I had wet myself yet again and started to get upset but she said, "That was my fault! I shouldn't have tickled you so much!"

With a grunt she stood up and extended a hand to help me up. "Let's go get those pants changed and then we can think about making dinner."

I took her hand and followed her all the way to the small room she had prepared for me. But I was about to learn just how much she had really done to get the room ready for me to come spend the night with her.

Still feeling a bit giddy from whatever was in my milk and in that Peach juice stuff, I found myself not getting as upset as I probably would have any other time.

She walked into the room first, "Oh I see you have already played with the cars."

"Oh yes thank you so much! I wish I had my own city on my bedroom floor at home!" I said.

"Well you are welcome to come over anytime you want to play on it." She said reaching down for my little red suitcase.

Now I had completely forgotten about having used my t-shirt as a rag to wipe up the glue that I had allowed to spill out onto the table earlier. So when she opened it and found that there was glue all over everything she just smiled and said, "Had a little accident with the glue too huh?"

I didn't answer; instead, I looked down at the roads under me.

"That's okay, I think we can make due." And with that she closed my suitcase and sat it down beside the odd looking dresser.

She turned around and was looking at me; I glanced up to see her giving me an appraising eye, "Maybe we should get you washed up and then we will worry about what to wear."

I didn't know what to say so I shrugged my shoulders. Auntie Catharine bent down, hoisted me up in her arms and carried me out of the room, across the narrow hallway and into the bathroom where she deposited me on the counter next to the sink.

Auntie Catharine's bathroom was white and green. All of the walls were covered with white and green checkerboard tiles; the floor was all white tiles with a green tile boarder only around the walls. The bathtub and toilet were both white but the sink and counter were green with an old style white faucet. I had seen it before but only a couple times and only long enough to go peepee in the potty. This time I had enough time to take it all in.

After started the water in the tub, Auntie Catharine turned back to me and said, "Okay, time to get your cleaned up!"

"I-I c-can do it m-myself." I said.

"Ah oh!" she said and for a second I thought I had said something bad but then she smiled and sang, "Guess the magic Peach Schnapps is wearing off, you are stuttering again."

"M-magic w-what?" I asked.

"Schnapps, Schnapps, Peach Schnapps. That is what you were drinking, that is what it is called." She sang as she lifting me into the air and had me stand on the lid of the toilet.

She had my pants unsnapped before I could protest again, "I c-can d-do it m-myself."

I thought I might have made her mad at first but then she smiled and said, "You know something? I have always wanted my own little boy to take care of. How about just for tonight, you pretent to be my little boy?"

Confused I answered, "B-but I c-can't be."

Auntie Catharine looked sad, "How come? Don't you want me to be your mommy just for tonight?"

Not understand that she was only meaning for pretend I said, "B-but y-you're my A-aunty?"

She took a moment to think before saying, "You know how you pretend to be Superman?"

"Yeah." I answered.

"But you are not really Superman right? You are just pretending right?" she asked.

I thought for a second, "Yeah."

She smiled at this, "So how about if I pretend to be your mommy and you pretend to be my little boy?"

I didn't really know what to say so I shrugged my shoulders.

"Okay then! So you will call me mommy and I will call you ... what should I call you?" she asked.

I shrugged, this time with my arms and hands too, "Simon!"

This made her laugh, which I was glad of.

"Okay, but since you are my `little' boy," she put extra emphasis on the word `little', "Umm, what do they call really little boys? Oh, I know! I will call you Baby Simon! How's that?"

"B-but I'm n-not a b-baby!" I answered.

"Oh of course you're not! This is just for pretend! Like another game!" she said reached up again to unzip my wet pants. This time I didn't protest, through I was feeling apprehensive about all of this.

"Aft-ter m-my b-bath, c-can I-I have an `S' l-like in th-the p-painting?" I asked as he had me lift each leg so that she could remove my shoes and socks.

"Oh I think that is a grand idea!" she said reaching up and giving my nose a flick with her fingertip.

She had me stripped naked in no time and despite my efforts to get her to let me keep the cape on while I took my bath, she had untied it and hung it on a hook on the back of the door.



Part 4 -- Friday, March 12, 2004 -- Alone Together


I stood on the lid of the toilet stark naked with my hands cupped over my nudity. When she turned back around her eyes fell on me and she smiled.

"You are just the most darling baby boy." She had said and I felt my face go all hot.

When she lifted me into the air I could feel one hand placed firmly against my back and the other was cradling my bottom cheeks as she lowered me into the bathtub. The water was not too warm and not too cold; it was just the right temperature for a summer day like today.

At first, I sat stone still with my hands still placed firmly over my boyish nudity but then she opened the little cabinet door benieth the sink and brought out several bath toys.

There was a cool wind-up powerboat that skipped across the water. Also a really neat submarine with a tube to blow in so that when I blew air into it, it would come to the top of the water and when I stopped blowing it would sink again. After a few tries I was able to make it hang stationary in the water, not sinking and not floating. She also gave me this yellow duck to play with. It wound-up to and had little feet on the bottom that were like paddle wheels but I think I liked the submarine the most.

She let me play in the water until my toes and fingers started to get all prune looking. I was never left alone, she stayed right beside the bathtub playing along with me right up until she announced, "Okay, let's wash you up and then we can get dressed and go make some supper."

"Don't forget about my `S' for my chest!" I reminded her by drawing an imaginary `S' on my glissening chest with my finger.

With her finger she gave my nose a poke and said, "Beep!"

I grinned and made a splash.

I continued to play with the submarine while she washed my hair and body. I didn't mind it at all until she had me stand up and she began to wash my bottom. She took a very long time washing back there and it tickled a lot. I tried not to laugh but I couldn't help it. And then she started washing my front parts and at first I got a little scared but then it started to tickle too, but different somehow. She said something about how my mommy shouldn't have let the doctors cut me down there but I didn't know what she meant by that.

When she had all the soap rinsed off of me, she lifted me out of the tub but she didn't put me on the floor. Instead, she had me stand on the bathroom counter while she dried me off all over really good.

She had me raise my arms high over my head so that she could wrap the towel around me. It went around three times before she tucked the end into the top and carried me from the bathroom.

As we were leaving I shouted, "Don't forget my cape!"

I reached out and snatched it off the hook at the last possible second.

I was glad when she carried me to the room she had prepaired for me instead of to the painting room first. I would have felt more then a little funny standing there in all of my boyhood glory while she painted a big red `S' on my chest.

However, from the moment we stepped into the room, I had a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach and it only grew stronger when, instead of lowering me to the floor, she stood me on top of the odd sort of dresser and removed my towel.

Though I felt peculiar about being nude, I didn't bother with trying to cover myself now; I figured that she had seen everything I had, so what was the use.

Dropping the towel on the floor to the right of the dresser, she picked me up again and this time laid me flat on my back ontop of the dresser. She reached across me, pulled out some sort of yellow belt or strap and stretched it across my chest. I heard a click as she fastened the end of it to the front of the dresser before sinching it tight.

"W-what's th-that f-for?" I asked with my stuttering nearly back to normal now.

"So you don't fall off." She cooed.

With a single finger, she tapped my chin, "Open up for mommy!"

"Mommy?" I thought, boy that sure sounded weird but I did as she asked and opend my mouth.

She placed a pacifier in my mouth and slipped a strap around the back of my head so that I couldn't spit it back out. The sucky part of the pacifier was so big that it nearly filled my entire mouth and thus making it impossible for me to talk anymore. I attempted to reach up and pull it from my mouth but that attempt was thwarted when she took hold of both of my arms, raised them high over my head and tied them in that position with another strap from the left side of the dresser.

I was beginning to get very scared, actually I had passed scared and was right on the verge of a full out fear fest of tears and whaling.

Then just like that she was gone. She had abruptly turned on her heals and walked out of the room leaving me laying there naked and strapped to the top of the dresser.

With my wrists and chest both firmly strapped to the dresser, I attempted to buck my hips and kick my legs but it was useless. I couldn't even shake the dresser or make it bang against the wall.

With tears streaking down either side of my face and snot running down the back of my throat, I laid there waiting for my Auntie's return. Thankfully, I only had to wait about five minutes.

She came walking back into the room carrying something which kind of looked like a baby bottle without the nipple.

With a smile she said, "This will make my baby Simon feel so much better!" and proceeded to attach the bottle to the pacifier that was strapped into my mouth.

A second later I could taste the sweetness of peaches filling my mouth and I had to swallow to keep from choking. Auntie Catharine squeezed the bottle until I had swallowed down every last gulp before removing the bottle again.

It didn't take long before my head began to swoon and my ears sounded like they were filled with cotton. Auntie Catharine was singing something but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what it was she was singing. It was something about babies with beds in trees; at least that is what the words were.

Laughing ... I found myself laughing. "Why am I laughing?" I wondered.

I lifted my head so that I was looking down my exposed body. Auntie Catharine was singing her song while she put cake frosting all over and around my little pee-pee. Of course it wasn't cake frosting but in my current mental state of drunkenness it sure looked like cake frosting and it tickled more then the washing had.

I watched in wonder as she began to shake a bottle of powder over me. I tried to speak to ask her why but with the pacifier filling my mouth and all I was able to do was make funny little grunting sounds; not unlike that of a baby.

With a blink, I tried to focus my eyes on her hands. They were moving in slow motion and the words to her song seemed to hang in the air for the longest time.

Her face drew closer and closer to mine until I could not see her but I felt her wet lips against my forehead.

"Swimming, Swimming! My head, it won't stop swimming!" I heard the words in my mind but they were trapped there, unable to escape due to the pacifier filling my mouth so that words could not form on my tongue.

I don't know how long I laid there, it might have only been a few moment, it might have been a few hours. I honestly had no idea and it wasn't until I found myself standing in the middle of Auntie Catharines painting room, looking down at my chest while she painted a big red `S' on me that I realized I was no longer strapped to the top funny looking dresser.

It was weird but I couldn't see but a few inches past my nose. When I looked up, I couldn't see Auntie Catharine though when I looked down I could see her hand, which was holding a long wooden paintbrush with red paint filling the bristles.

"I know it tickles, but try not to laugh and move or mommy might mess up." I heard her say.

I tried to stop thinking and just listen ... I could hear someone giggling, it sounded like a little kid joyfully giggling. It was me, I was the one erupting with silly laughter.

"But it tickles so much!" I laughted to her.

"I know, I am almost done!" she laughed too.

I looked down, "It's upside down!" I observed.

She laughed and moved her face closer so that I could see her now.

She was grinning as she said, "You are a very silly baby!"

After one last stroke of her brush she announced, "Okay, all done!"

As I began to move my hand to touch it she smacked it rather harder then maybe she meant. "No don't touch it! Let it dry!"

"I wanna see, I wanna see!" I squeeled.

"Run into the bathroom and look in the mirror on the back of the door." She said.

Extreamly excited, I lifted my left foot to run but found I couldn't run, I could barely even walk. It was like my legs were somehow confused about how to operate.

"Does baby want mommy to cawwy him to the mir-wer?" she asked in a very babyish voice.

"I tell you what, cover your wittle eyes!" she said.

"But I want to go see!" I whined.

"Simon, I want you to cover your eyes first." She said in a slightly stronger tone.

"Alright, I gonna cover my eyes!" and I placed my fingers over my eyes, "Biiiig peeeeek!" I teased while peeking through my open fingers.

"No, no peeking!" she said with a grin that she was trying to hide from me.

"Biiiiiiiiiiig peeeeeeeek!" I teased again.

"Simon! No more of that!" she said sternly.

"Alright, I promise! No more peeking!" I giggled and covered my eyes proper this time.

She must have picked me up and carried me to the bathroom, but I don't remember for sure. I just remember standing infront of the mirror with my hands over my eyes.

From behind me, I heard her say, "Alright, take your hands away and open your eyes."

I did just as she asked and stood there admiring my Auntie's artwork on my chest. I was wearing my new red cape and it hung behind me so nicely.

"What do you see?" she asked.

"I see me! Handsome, handsome me!" I giggled.

She sounded amused as she said, "Never mind that!"

"So handsome!" I continued.

"Simon!" She said, "I-I just want you to look hard at yourself in the mirror."

"Alright! I'll look at myself, but I don't know why!" I giggled and shrugged.

Then I saw something that puzzled me. I was wearing some funny looking underpants ... and then I realized what I was seeing.

I looked disbelievingly into the mirror at the reflection that stood before me. The boy in the mirror, he had my face, he was wearing my cape, he even had my `S' painted on his chest but he was also wearing a big, puffy diaper!

I was so frightened that I jumped up and squeeled, "Aaahhh!" and tried to run from my reflection but I couldn't run. I fell to my hands and knees where I began to scamper over the white tiled floor, past Auntie Catharines legs and hid beside the toilet.

"Simon, come back here!" she yelled, "It was just you!"

"Was not!" I shouted back.

"Yes it was!" she argued.

"Was not!" I shouted again.

She was standing in front of the toilet and me, though I couldn't see any higher then her knees.

"Who do you think it was?" she asked.

"Don't know!" I grunted fearfully.

"Now look at yourself in the mirror again." She said stepping out of my range of view.

I swallowed and scuttled slowly out from beside the toilet. I waddled toward the mirror. When I came to within viewing distance and was able to make out my reflected form again, I shouted, jumped and fell down again.

I didn't make it to the safety of the toilet again because Auntie Catharine had blocked my way this time.

"Simon, now stop that!" she commanded, "It was you again!"

"Was not!" I started arguing again.

"Was too!" She said, "Who do you think it was this time?"

Unable to get past her I covered my face with my hands, "I don't know!"

"It was you!" she said bending over and getting me to my feet.

"Was not!" I struggled to stay clear of the mirror this time.

"Yes it was!" and she pushed me toward the mirror, "Now look in the mirror!"

I didn't drop my hands, "I don't want too!"

"Son! Look in the mirror for mommy!" she tried sounding calmer.

This time I opened my fingers a bit and peeked through and squeeled at my reflection, "Aaaahhh!" but Auntie Catharine had a firm grip on me so that this itme I couldn't get away from the boy looking back at me.

And the more I looked, the more I was able to bear looking at myself in the mirror and at the diaper. The diaper bulged out everywhere and rose so high on the boy in the mirror, that it covered his bellybutton.

I turned sideways and the boy in the mirror turned too. Though the back of his diaper was concealed by his long red cape, it was obvious by the way his cape was hanging that his diaper stuck way out in the back.

"I-I'm wearing a diaper?" the words, they came out sounding more like a question.

Auntie Catharines face suddenly appeared next to the boy's in the mirror. "Well of course you are, all babies have to wear diapers!" and I could feel and see her hands petting my hair.

"B-but why?" I asked and I watched as the boy in the mirror began to cry.

"Sshhhh, don't cry my precious little baby boy!" she hushed and kissed my cheek.

"B-but I d-don't want to be a baby!" I wimpered.

Staring at my reflection, I could see now why I was having such a difficult time with making my legs move a moment ago; there was so much diaper between my legs that it was impossible for me to stand normally. Instead, I looked like I had spent an entire day riding the penny pony outside the grocery store. I was so bow-legged that I bed Auntie Catharine could have crawled under me.

"Are you done looking?" she asked.

I nodded as she took my hand, opened the door and proceeded to lead me from the bathroom. It was all I could do to keep up with her and the harder I tried the more it made my head swim again. About half way down the stairs, she stopped and carried me the rest of the way down. However she again made me waddle from the bottom of the stairs all the way to the kitchen where she had me sit on the floor.

I watched as she took a normal looking baby bottle out of the same cabinet that earlier today I had seen her get the Superman cup from. She filled it about half way with milk and the rest of the way with something from out of a brown colored glass bottle which she had retreved from the refrigerator when she was putting the milk back away.

With the nipple screwed tightly on she bent down and instructed, "I want you to drink this all gone!"

I shook my head, "I don't want too."

She quickly adopted a very stern tone, "Do you want mommy to pull your diaper down and spank your butt?"

I began to cry again as I reached up and took the bottle from her.

"Put it in your mouth and drink it!" she ordered.

For only a second I hesitated as tears began to flow again. I lifted the bottle to my mouth and began to suck on it.

I sucked on the bottle, drinking down the milk while she began making dinner. She kept a very close eye on me to be sure I finished my bottle.

Dinner turned out to be a lot more then I had been expecting, though at this point I should have been expecting anything.

While sitting on the kitchen floor, I had finished my bottle and was feeling particularly well. I wasn't feeling as spaced out like I was after drinking the bottle of Peach Schnaups up in the room though its effects were still very prevalent. No, this new stuff, whatever it was, that came from the brown bottle was making me feel ... well happy and a little more clear-headed.

"Now doesn't mommies little baby feel better?" she cooed as she took the empty bottle away from me.

"Mommy's almost finished with dinner ..." she was saying when the door buzzer sounded from the livingroom.


Auntie Catharine wiped her hands on her aprin and rushed past me to answer the door.

"Oh hello, hello! Please come in! I have dinner nearly ready!" I heard Auntie Catharine say.

"Someone else is here!" I felt a twinge of panic within my small heart but it didn't last, whatever it was that had been in that bottle with the milk seemed to cancel out any concerns or fears in an instant.

"Oh please come-come-come-come-come!" I heard Antie Catharine smozing over a guest, or maybe more then one guest.

A strange sounding female voice, "Oh Catharine I do love what you have done with this place!"

Yet another woman spoke up, "Oh how precious these curtains look in here!"

And then there was a younger sounding voice, like that of a child that asked, "Mommy can I go pay with the cars?"

"Me too?" another asked though this one sounded younger then the first.

"Run along, run along, run along!" Auntie Catharine said in a sing-song melody and tittered cheerfully.

"Oh Catharine you must tell me how you manage to keep such a big home so well together all by yourself."

"Mommy can I go pway too?" another small voice asked.

Auntie Catharine seemed to explode into a surprised and loving tone, "Hello there Lowell! I did not see you hiding back there! Yes, go play, go play, go play! Have fun, have fun, have fun!"

There was the sound of someone thundering up the stairs and then someone asked, "So where is the little rascle?"

"He's in the kitchen. He has just had another bottle so I think he will be very pleasant." Auntie Catharine said, "Let me go get him."

A moment later she entered the kitchen and without saying a word lifted me off the floor and swept me away to meet her guest. I did try to protest by squirming a little but the moment I saw all three ladies I froze.

"Here he is, here he is!" she announced.

There, standing in the middle of the living room, were three ladies all looking to be about the same shape, size and age as my Auntie Catharine though their hair styles varied amoungst them.

"Oh he is such a darling baby!" the lady with the big puffy red hair said.

"Oh and look at his wonderful cape! Catharine you did such a good job on it. You have to make William one!" A lady with curly brown hair and way too much makeup had said.

The third lady with her blonde hair pulled tightly into a bun at the back of her head leaned in and pinched my cheeks, "Oh he has the cutest little cheeks."

I was feeling overwhelmed and felt the need to get the heck out of there but with Auntie Catharine holding me for all three women to ogle, I had no chance of escape.

"When did he arrive?" The red haired lady asked.

"Just this afternoon, shortly after lunch." Auntie Catharine answered, "He's staying until tomorrow but I'm sure he will be back."

"Oh what smells so good?" the blonde lady asked.

"Could you watch Simon for me while I finish getting dinner on the table?" Auntie Catharine passed me off to the Brown Haired lady who began to pat my diapered bottom and bounce me in her arms.

To my dismay, the three ladies proceeded to pass me back and forth, each taking turns cooing and fawning over me. Inside, I kept having moments of panic and in the blink of an eye those feelings were gone thanks to whatever it was Auntie Catharine had added to my bottle of milk.

"Dinner is ready! Dinner is ready!" Auntie Catharine announced.

"Boy's! It's time to come down for dinner." The red haired lady called up the steps.

I was placed on the floor where I sat watching to see who came down the stairs; to my astonishment, it was three boys, the first was crowned with bright red hair parted neatly on the left side. He looked to be a little smaller then me, I guessed he was maybe five and he to was clad in a big cloth diaper. He had not seen me and waddled around the corner into the dining room.

Hot on his heals came the second boy with brown hair cut into a summer buzz and looked much older. He looked to be at least eight or nine though no one could tell from the diaper he was wearing and the pacifier he was sucking on. He followed the red haired boy into the dinning room.

A full half a minute later came the third and last boy. I heard him tromping down the stairs as loudly as he had when he'd gone up them. Before I saw him, I had already guessed he would have blonde hair since the other two boys seemed to have the same color hair as two of the ladies. I was right, he hit the bottom of the steps with a thud; he had jumped from several steps up. He however did not go into the dinning room but instead waddled over to me. Unlike the other two boys, he wasn't wearing a cloth diaper, he had on a disposable diaper with little blue bunnies and yellow duckies on the front. It was also obvious from the smell and the way it hung so low on him that he had pooped and probably peed in it. I could only guess that this had happened after his arrival as none of the ladies had said anything before sending him up to play. He was smaller then the other two boys, heck he was even smaller then me. Out of the four of us, he was the only one that looked young enough to still belong in diapers; though only just.

He stopped in front of me and plopped down onto his diapered butt with a squish.

"What you name?" he asked souding like a toddler who had not yet learned to add verbs to his sentance.

I was suddently conscious of the fact that my mouth was hanging open and that I was drewling on myself but even though I was conscious of it, I couldn't seem to do anything about it.

"Hey!" he waved his hands in front of me to try to snap me out of my daze.

"Lowell honey are you coming down ... Oh there you are!" said the Blonde haired lady.

She came over to where the two of us were sitting on the floor.

"Boy's it's time to come eat." She said but stopped, bent down and then called out, "Catharine, I think you might have given baby Simon here a bit too much. He looks stoned out of his precious little head!"

Auntie Catharine and the red haired lady came out of the dinning room together.

The blonde lady said while helping her son up, "Oh my I think someone needs a change after we eat. Now you go in and sit at the table with Peter and Jasper like a biggy boy for mommy." Without question or comment, he took off waddling his diapered bottom just like a duck would its tail feathers.

Auntie Catharine picked me up and cradled me in her arms while the blonde lady used a tissue that she had pulled out of the front of her dress to wipe the drewl from my mouth and chin.

"Oh he just needs some food in his tummy and he will feel much better." Said the red haired lady as she pulled at the front of my overly thick diaper and added, "And I think he's going to need a change after lunch too."

From out of the dinning room, I could hear singing and it started out quiet and slowly grew louder and louder. I was genuenly surprised for about half a second until I realized what song it was that I was hearing sung, "Kirri a, kirri a, kirri a laisson! Kirri a, kirri a, kirri a laisson!"

I reached up and rubbed at my eyes with the backs of my hands. A groaned escaped as I yawned, trying to wake back up. I opened my eyes to see that I was still surrounded by the fowl smelling darkness and swiftly realized I had been dreaming the whole time.

I yawned and stretched again, remembering every aspect of the dream I had just had. It was all there in my mind, and then it occurred to me that it couldn't have been a dream at all. It must have really happened, all those years ago it must have happened ... "But how could it!" I asked aloud, "It's imposible!"

Had I not been distracted from my thoughts at that very second I would have broke down crying but the melodious words once again reached my ears and chased away any negative feelings in an instant, "Kirri a, kirri a, kirri a laisson! Kirri a, kirri a, kirri a laisson!"

My heart skipped several beats when I realized who was approaching. Taking a deep breath dispite the stench that surrounded me, I sang out as loud as I could, "Kirri, kirri, kirri, kirri, kirri, kirri, kirri, kirri a!"

Sounding much closer, the reply came, "Kirri a, kirri, kirri a laisson!"

From directly above me I heard the sound of two feet stomp hard against the wooden floor as Lowell called out, "Squad Halt!"

"Uh, too late, I'm done as halted as I can halt without going backwards!" I teased up at him because if I had said anything else at that moment, I was sure I would have broken down and lost all control over my nearly erupting emotions.

"Lowell!" I cried out not bothering to keep my voice down, I mean if we had not been heard singing then what was the chances anyone could hear anything else we said way down here.

"Sssshhhh!" He hushed with a giggle that warmed me to my very core.

"They say I got to go by Trey here." Lowell said with his face smashed against the grate.

Dispite the fact that my body was almost completely numb from the cold, I was to my feet and scurrying up the ladder in record time. I stuck my left hand through the grate and Lowell took a firm hold of it, intertwining his clean warm fingers with my filth covered ice fingers. We both began weeping but they were happy tears, well most of them were.

Lowell squeezed my hand super hard, "I knew you were still alive! I just knew you were! I knew, I knew, I knew!" and I felt his tears falling down on my face.

Lowell had laid himself flat on the grate and since I couldn't stay on the ladder much longer I went down to the bottom but we could still hear each other. We talked for the longest time. I learned that the police captured Bull but he is in the hospital because he was hurt bad. The police also managed to rescue eight missing boys, two of which were the boys that had been found in Bull's wrecked car.

"What about my brother Jamie and Mike and Tate?" I asked.

After pausing before answering he finally said, "Uh, the news said that there was a fire in a cave under the park and they say a bunch of kids and people were killed, and some police even got killed." and then he got really quiet.

"What?" I said stongly.

"Everyone thinks you and your borther Jamie and Tate and his brother Mike were all killed in the fire too." Lowell said unable to keep from crying.

"No! Jamie was in the car with Tate and the rest of us! We all were in the car, those two kids they found, Tater and his brother and my brother Jamie too!" I paused to take a breath, "Somebody took me someplace after the wreck, I don't know where but then they put me on a boat."

I was talking fast and crying at that same time.

"I know, I read!" Lowell sniffed.

Not understanding what he had just said I grunted, "Huh?"

"You wrote it down, I found it when that girl, uh ..." he stalled while trying to think of her name.

"Cho?" I offered as more of a question then a statement.

"Yeah, her. She put me in a bed and after she left, I found the note pad under the pillow. I read some of it but not all of it." Lowell said and coughed softly.

At that very second there was the loudest farting sound from above me. It echoed around the corridor for what seemed like ten minutes but in reality was probably more like ten seconds. When the echos stopped Lowell and I both busted out laughing so histerically that neighter could talk for some time. I don't think it was really as funny as our laugher made it seem but maybe it was fueled by our nervous fears over our capture and enslavement here.

Finally, when I managed to regain some of my composure, but only just barely, I said, "Don't let anyone else read it."

I had to stop to stifle a giggle and tell Lowell to stop laughing, "I am trying to tell you to keep it hid `til I get out of this place!"

The two of us continued talking for a while. Lowell was filling me in on what had happened since the night I went missing and I told him everything that had happened from my perspective.

"So they bring you here by boat to?" I asked when he had paused to catch his breath.

"Na, by plane! It was super loud and hurt my ears." He said coughing, "Man I hate this smell!" he added.

"Huh? Oh yeah, I learnt that if you keep breathing through your nose it goes away but don't stop or it hits you again." I instructed.

"Oh, okay then!" he said.

"So is this were they put you last night?" I asked.

"Yeah, that mean drunk little man pushed me down and I landed in the, uh water." He said and for half a second I thought he was going to say the `SH' word.

I don't suppose it would have mattered if he had. I mean who's going to tell our parents if we cuss down in this place?

We talked until there wasn't much left to talk about and we both grew quiet for a while before a thought suddenly hit me.

"Hey?" I called up to Lowell.

"What?" he said sounding like he might have been sleeping or at least dozed off up there.

"So did you finish your story?" I asked.

"Uh, yeah actually I did!" and the way he answered made it sound as if he had been surprised by my question.

I squeeled with delight, "Really?"

"Man I wish you had it with you! I would love to hear you read it to me." I said excitedly.

"Don't suppose you remember it well enough to tell me it do you?" I probed, hopeful that he would say yes.

"You don't want to hear it now. It's pretty scary for a place like this." He said with caution.

"Oh come on! Please Lowell! It will take my mind off the cold!" I begged.

After some hesitation he finally relented, "Oh okay, but I might forget some of it."

"That's okay, just do your best!" I tried to assure his confidence, which didn't sound very strong right then.

With a surrendering sigh he said, "Okay let me think here a second."

I could hear him russling around overhead and figured he was making himself more comfortable. By the way he sounded now I was guessing he was laying on his back talking into the air.

"Let me back up a bit first." Lowell said.

"Yeah that's a good idea, `cause I can't exactly remember how the last bit ended."

Lowell let out a funny sort of croaking sound that must have been his attempt to clear his throat, "Huh, my butt itches!"

"Lowell, stop stalling!" I said laughingly up at him.

"I'm not stalling!" he paused before adding, "That wasn't me farting that you heard. I pooped in my diaper!"

"You did?" I asked with no small amount of surprise at this announcement.

"Uh, maybe you should go find Cho to change you again." I suggested.

"No way! She gives me the creaps!" He neary shouted.

And I couldn't help but to tease him a bit, "Well, suite yourself but don't come down here crying to me when you end up with a nasty case of diaper rash!"

"Oh shut up or I will ..." but when he couldn't think of anything to say he just said out of frustration at being bested, "Just shut up!"

I laughed and so did he though not as much as I did.

"Do you want me to tell you the ending of Hamunaptra or not?" he said trying to get one over on me with his idol threat.

"Okay I will be quiet Trey!" I said using his Banachelli name.

I heard him groan and expected him to say something derisive back but instead he just said, "Okay then, I think the ending of the last chapter you heard, which was chapter 5 by the way, went something like this ..."


Uncle Max helped me back to my feet. We both looked up to the opening, expecting to see someone but no one appeared. I felt my legs going weak and I jumped as Uncle Max placed his hand on my shoulder.

"Uncle Max, don't do that!" I demanded as I clasped my chest.

Uncle Max gave me a look that said he was sorry, "Now we are in a real fix." He said.

I bent back down to look at the ladder and could see that it had been cut. I held the cut end up to show Uncle Max; he looked alarmed but seemed more concerned with Miss Lillian Hassley's body, or what remained of her body. Ignoring the fact that someone had just cutaway our only way out of the tomb, he knelt again next to her and just looked at her for a while.

Trembling with fear, it took me a moment or two to get the lantern to work but once I had it lit; my eyes began to dance around the room. I was breathless at the sight before me. I could see clearly now, that the walls were all covered in gold. As if acting as a welcoming or maybe a warning two Golden statues stood about twenty feet further into the room. One of the statues I had faintly seen last night and from above I thought they looked like some kind of creature that was half goat and half bird. I could now see that the body was more like that of a horse but with more powerful looking muscles and with a tail like a whip. The tail had to be at least fifteen or twenty feet long and rose up over the statue as if it were being lashed about. The head of the statues were distantly that of the dragons of Komodo but were covered in short stubbly looking feathers also cast in gold. What I thought was a beak last night was actually a single long jade fang that extended about eight inches past its lower jaw and curving under slightly. As I said, they were two identical statues that stood on either side of the room with their tails meeting high above and intertwining together.

The walls, though covered in gold, were also painted with a strange form of hieroglyphics that I had never seen before. The language seemed to have traces of Egyptian as well as a dozen other languages and I wondered to myself if it might be the lost language of Babel, the legendary first ever city and language of man before they were divided and scattered across the earth by the great god Jehovah.

The floor was indeed encrusted with red rubies that spanned as deep into the tomb as either of us could see. Several gold and silver sarcophagi with more red hieroglyphics inscribed on them were leaning against the sidewalls.

However, what really caught my attention was what was in the center of the room. An enormous sarcophagus, the biggest I had ever seen or heard of, ever! The thing that made it stand out as so odd, I mean besides its massive size was that it was made out of ordinary stone. Everything in this room was obviously made of the purest and greatest of treasured materials. The tomb itself was a treasure greater then even King Solomon had once possessed and yet here, laying in the middle of all these riches was an oversized and yet un-remarkably plain, stone sarcophagus.

"Uncle Max?" I whispered.

He was still leaning over Miss Lillian Hassley's body when I turned to look at him I saw that he was tapping the fingers of his left hand against his lips as if almost in some sort of meditative trance. I had to call his name three more times before Uncle Max finally looked up at me and I saw his eyes as for the first time he too was noticing the fabulous treasures of this room. I watched, as his eyes grew as wide as dinner plates. Slowly he lifted himself to his feet and gazed around the room. I would have enjoyed watching the wonder on his face more had I not been so anxious and troubled by the mystery of the sarcophagus in the middle of the room.

"Uh, Uncle Max?" My voice cracked as I pointed toward the stone oddity.

He followed the invisible line my finger made and when he finally saw it too, he grunted with an obvious amount of uneasiness in his voice.

"Last night," I started to say but had to stop and swallow because my throat was so very dry, "Last night, when we were looking in here, did you notice that stone sarcophagus?" I asked and the tone in my voice was beginning to scare even me. His eyes kept moving from the two statues and then back to the large sarcophagus.

He took one step and was at my side. Placing his hand on my shoulder he, ever so slightly, shook his head from side to side without speaking a word.

"Have you ever seen anything like that before?" I asked softly as if now worried that something might hear us.

"Never!" His voice broke as he attempted to answer me.

We looked at each other and we both knew the answer to my question. Uncle Max still had his hand on my shoulder and was squeezing a bit too hard.

"Uncle Max, you're hurting me!" I cried softly.

"What? Oh, sorry Jason." He said letting go of me and wiping his face with the same hand.


"How do you remember all this so well?" I interrupted him.

"I don't know. Guess `cause I wrote it and have reread it so many times." He said.

"You got a great memory for stories!" I complemented him.

"Thanks!" He said and as though I had not interrupted him he continued.


"Do you think Miss Lillian Hassley could have opened it?" I asked even through I already knew the answer.

"That cover must weigh better than fifteen tons." Uncle Max took a breath, "There is no way any one man, or woman in this case, could have moved it."

"Uh, you stay here." He said as he took a single step away from me and toward the sarcophagus.

"Are you mentals? I am not staying alone anywhere down here!" I knew I was not being brave but had anyone else seen what Miss Lillian Hassley looked like ... whatever did that to her was obviously big and powerful and there was no way I was going to be alone. Of course, I know the irony of it all, especially given that I was told to say up topside and I did not listen.

Uncle Max stopped, turned and looked at me. My expression must have been enough to convince him that I was seriously scared though I was doing my best to keep it hidden.

With a twitch of his head he said, "Okay, but stay close to me."

He took the lantern from me and we both walked slowly over to the center of the room. I could feel the wetness of my pants as the fabric touched the skin of my legs. It caused chills to run through me which only magnified the strong emotions I was already feeling.

After a few steps, my stomach let out a growl that caused us both to jump, "Oh crap I am sorry," I said grabbing my belly, "I guess I am hungry."

I gave Uncle Max a half smile hoping he would stop looking at me the way he was, but he did not return my smile. Instead he said, "How on earth can you be hungry?" he motioned toward Miss Lillian Hassley's body.

I shrugged my shoulders and we continued over to the edge of the stone sarcophagus. I had to stand on my tiptoes to be able to see down into the stone coffin and what I saw, I hope I shall never see the likes of again.

"Uh what is it?" I muttered under my breath.

He handed me the lantern so that he had both of his hands free. I could see clearly now that it was the mummified remains of a man, a very large man; he looked to be as wide as three normal sized men dressed in a robe of gold cloth. He was not wrapped in linen bindings, just a robe of gold cloth with strange symbols woven into the cloth. Moreover, his head was not a mans head, but more like that of some mythical beast with two rams horns protruding from his forehead and spiraling outward of either side of his head.

We both examined the mummified man-beast carefully; my heart was aching within my chest from beating so ferociously and sweat was flowing down my face as if they were great drops of blood. I moved to position myself so that I was looking up from his feet, across his enormous frame all the way up to those deadly looking horns.

When Uncle Max finally said something, he scared me so bad that I dropped the lantern. It hit the floor with a crash leaving the two of us in total darkness.

"Oh god, oh god, oh god!" I was mumbling in the dark.

"Do not move!" Uncle max said in a near whisper, "Do you hear that?"

I did not as much as breathe while I listened in the darkness. There was a sound; a very distant, an almost non-existent rumble that seemed to have originated from deep within the bowels of the earth. It was low and hard and seemed to grow stronger and louder by the second. When the urge within my lungs cried out for oxogine, I finally allowed myself to draw in a much-needed breath. When I did my nostrils became filled with the overpowering sent of sulfur mixed with cinnamon, myrrh and spikenard.


Right at that moment, as Lowell was telling his story to me, I couldn't help myself as I yawned rather loudly.

"You still awake down there?" Lowell called down to me.

"Oh yeah! Just listening is all." I sent back up.

"Alright, but if you get sleepy, just go to sleep `cause I can always tell you this later." He instructed.

"Okay but I won't. I want to hear it all now." I said trying to hide another yawn.

"Actually, I think that gets us up to where chapter five ended and chapter six started." Lowell then added, "So the rest went something like this..."

And he began, "Hamunaptra - City of the Dead by Lowell. Chapter six."

"No, no! That's not right!" I shouted up at him.

"What aint right?" He called down to me.

"It's by B.L.!" I jokingly corrected him.

He laughed and said, "Oh yeah! See I told you I might not remember everything just right!"

"I'm only teasing! Go on then!" I laughed too.

He began again, "Hamunaptra - City of the Dead by B.L." and with another laugh he asked, "That better?"

"Much better!" I giggled.

"Okay then, "Hamunaptra - City of the Dead by B.L."

"You done said that part!" I joked again.

"Shush up or I won't tell it to you!" he growled

"Alright, I'm sorry! Please go on." I tried to sound sincere.

I didn't interrupt him again as he begin once more, but this time with all the theater and special effects thrown in to make it even better.


of the Dead

By B.L.

~ Chapter Six ~



I tried to stifle a chuckle.

"SIMON!" Lowell barked in mock irritation.

"Sorry, it won't happen again!" I assured him.


Fumbling in the dark we managed to find the lantern and get it working again. I was never so glad to see light as I was at that moment.

I pulled the front of my shirt up and wiped the sweat from my face and eyes; as I pulled it back over my stomach my eyes again landed on the enormous creature that lay in the sarcophagus before us and a shiver ran down my spine.

A second later there was another rumble but this one did not come from deep within the tomb. It came from me again. Uncle Max was shining the lantern on me and looking both frightened and angry. I covered my stomach with my hands and made a grimace.

The odor of sulfur grew so strong that it overpowered the sents of cinnamon, myrrh and spikenard.

When Uncle Max moved the glow from the lantern away from me it reflected against a picture on another wall and for only a moment I saw it clearly.

I saw the most magnifince painting of a blue and gold dragon, the kind from childrens storybooks and Eastern Legons.

"Here take this!" Uncle Max said handing me a torch he had removed from a wall and lit using the lantern.

"And stay close!" he ordered but I didn't obey. I had to get a closer look at that dragon on the wall.

I was puzzeled by several things. The head of the dragon appeared to be that of a hawk with a mane like a lion, and it appeared to be wearing clothing. A blue robe or cloak that covered a great deal of its body and most increable of all, it appeared to have been painted in with tears falling from its eyes.

I stepped closer and noticed that the tears were actually blue saphired that had been set into the wall and at closer inspection the dragon was not a painting but a sort of statue that had been only partially carved from the stone wall.

And at that moment I saw another picture, one I had seen before. It was obviously done by the same hand that had created the image on the side of the Cliffside graveyard as well as the portrate back by the tomb entrance.

"Y-e-s..." I whispered to myself.

Yes of course I could recognize her face; I had seen her before, back at the hotel and again at the airport.

I glanced over to see Uncle Max moving closer to the sound emanating from somewhere deeper. Assured that he had not left me, I returned my attention to read the inscriptions carved below her portrate.



Part 5 -- Friday, March 12, 2004 -- Who Cares


"Yes," I whispered in a sort of fear gripping trance, "of course I can read the ancient language and yes," I wiped a large drop of sweat from the tip of my nose with the back of my hand, "I recognize the face."

Besides seeing it painted on two other walls, I had also seen it a top the body of the young girl back at the hotel.

There was another groan from deep within the darkness but I barely registered it. I was now so focused on the wall and the inscriptions, which were terrifying. There were secrets there that men would give their lives to possess and probably have throughout history. There were secrets etched into the stone that man has not yet begun to imagine.

And as though someone had questioned me, I spoke aloud, "Because I'm the son of a great archeologist! I just know!" and as soon as I spoke the words I began to question myself, "Or do I?"

"Jason!" Uncle Max called my name three times before I finally heard him and snapped out of my trance.

I looked over my right shoulder to where he was shining his light on his own face so that I could see he had his finger over his lips.

I placed my free hand over my mouth and whispered, "Oh, yeah ... Uh, right!" and took half a step away from the painting before stopping myself when once again my gaze fell on the young girls painted eyes.

I suppose we had forgotten about the thing in the sarcophagus and the lavish treasures that surrounded us in every direction and though I did not notice it at first, it had begun to grow darker around us. It was not because our lanterns were going out because they were not; they were still shining just as bright as ever. It seemed like the tomb or temple or whatever this place is or used to be, was devouring the light.

Despite the diminishing light, I read on and on. I stood before the painting of the young girl, long black hair, red lips that smiled at me and my heart stopped at the inscription under the portrait.

With lips trembling, knees knocking and my throat drier then the sands of the Sahara I read it over repeatedly...




It had been carved into the this wall of rock countless centuries before, however what I found so disturbing was my name was carved beneath it; wrote in my own native tongue no less.

It was clear that these words had not been carved by the same artistic hand that had carved the rest of the writings; I knew who had carved my name there.

"Be Not Afraid Jason Browning," I repeated aloud.

Despite the instructions... I was afraid, very afraid; so much so that when I was finally able to rip my attention from the wall to look to where Uncle Max was standing stone still almost completely engulfed within an enormous shadow, I suddenly because aware of a heaviness in the back of my pants. I took a single step and realized in that instant that my fear was so great that I had soiled myself without even knowing that I had done so.

With realization that I had just crapped my pants, my fear morphed into humiliation and tears welled up in my eyes as I watched Uncle Max with admiration. He always gave me the impression that he was a very brave man and as the shadow seemed to swallow him, he did not scream or cry out in the torrential darkness; somehow he managed to talk to me quietly, calmly, "It will be alright Jason."

Staring at the massive blackness before us, I tried to answer back, "I hope so ..." but the words were lost as I felt my bladder release and warmth consume the front of my pants.

Without looking toward me he spoke again, though this time barely loud enough for me to hear him, "We're going to be alright." And I think he was saying it to reassure himself more then for my benefit.

As if I had just blinked, suddenly there was no light at all. I held my lantern in front of my face, so close I could feel the warmth radiating from the flame and yet, not even a glimmer from the flame could pierce this darkness.

"Where are you?" Uncle Max asked.

His words came as though he had just finished running a marathon.

"Right here!" I answered, swallowed the enormous lump that was sticking in my throat and then added, "Torch is not working!"

"Well stand still!" He ordered.

More then slightly confused by this command I said, "I am standing still!"

Without delay and for the first time allowing me to hear the fear he too was feeling, he said, "I-I thought I heard you move?"

"No!" I said hardly loud enough for him to hear me.

He huffed out a small laugh and asked, "You afraid Jason?"

The odor from the mess I had unloaded into my pants finally reached my nostrils and mixed with the aroma of cinnamon, myrrh, spikenard and sulfur. My stomach churned and I waited for what seemed like a full minute before answering with my own question, "Are you?"

"Of the dark?" he laughed cynically, "Not particularly!"

Moreover, by the sound of Uncle Max's voice and the way he seemed to be mocking the darkness with his laughter, I believed him. Maybe if he had not spoke another word I might have been able to regain some control over my emotions but he didn't stop there, he continued, "but I ... the thing in the ..." and any bravery, any strength I had in reserve was devoured just as the light had been moments before.

Abruptly his voice changed to anger, "Where are you going?"

It was impossible for me to hide my fear now, "Uncle Max, I have not moved!" I said with tears flowing down my face and my heart was beating against the inside of my ribcage as though it were trying to burst through.

Distress growing a fair amount in his voice Uncle Max said, or maybe he was asking, "I-I thought I felt your hand on my arm?"

"No!" I whispered as thought I thought someone else might be listening in on our conversation.

"Well ... uh, sit still. Don't use up the air." He ordered, which I thought was a stupid thing to say given the size of the tomb and the fact that there was a faint sulfur laced breeze coming from directly in front of us.

I heard him taking several steps to the right, "Huh? Well you sit still too then!" I said back.

Sounding perplexed and a bit affronted, he shot back with a slightly higher tone of voice then normal, "What? I tell you I didn't move!"

We both listened for several seconds, "Don't move!" he said softly, "Just listen!"

Something was still moving and suddenly the words etched on the cover stone came back to me, "Seven orbs and seven nights. Seraph defends the entombment bleak. Contravene their seven clasps and issue forth mankind's end."

"Couldn't be!" I grunted.

"Uncle Max I think I ..." I never got to finish.

There had been a funny sort of sound; the only thing I can compare that sound to would be the way a bird sounds when its head is twisted off. It was quickly followed by two hollow thumps, the first was hard and loud, the second softer and then there was nothing.

I stood frozen in place, "Uncle Max?" I whispered through clinched teeth.

When he did not reply I raised my voice, "Uncle Max?"

I waited and listened for any sound at all. At first, there was only the sound of my own breathing and the thunderous beating of my heart but then ... I took a breath and held it.

Placed my hands over my heart in an effort to try to muffle it and I listened ... I could defiantly hear someone moving, moving slowly, and moving quietly.

I let go my breath and took another in; once again filling my nostrils with the stench of sulfur mixed with the mess in my pants.

I screamed, "UNCLE MAX!"

I had screamed so loud that my words seemed to echo for an eternity.


I waited, allowing my words to die away and when the last echo was heard, there was nothing but silence. The movement had stopped. I think my heart stopped to, or at the very least I could not hear it anymore.

Just as I thought maybe, just maybe my screams had scared away whatever or whoever it was that had been moving, I heard another footstep; it was close, very close.

I swallowed and whispered hopefully, "Uncle Max?"

I felt a hand on my arm and I screamed with terror. I am sure had I not already soiled and wet myself only minutes ago, I would have surely done so right then.

The touch, the hand was not firm or forceful but instead was a gentle, warm touch and though I could not see whom it was somehow I no longer felt like I was in any danger. In fact, I suddenly felt stupid for having been scared at all.

With just as much gentleness the owner of the hang that held my arm began to lead me away from the spot I had stood frozen to for the last few minutes.

We walked for fifty or sixty paces, it may have been further, I am honestly not sure but it was quite a distance. It was not until I bumped my left shoulder against something solid but not as solid as stone, wood maybe, that it occurred to me that the sounds of my shoes against the jewel-encrusted floor had changed. They were muffled now, and I thought that maybe we were now walking on a dirt floor. I drug my feet against the ground and confirmed that we were no longer inside the treasure rich tomb.

Despite a small, yet nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that something very bad was nearby, I allowed my escort to lead me blindly on and through what my mind determined was a narrow door that I somehow knew could not be there.

A melodious voice breathed into my right ear, "Be not afraid!" and I powerful sent of cinnamon, myrrh, spikenard seemed to have an almost hypnotic effect on me. That feeling I'd had left me, replaced with a renewed peace birthed by those three words; I followed obediently on.

When I felt as though we had walked for about ten minutes, I thought I could see the faintest glimmering of orange light directly ahead of me. Suddenly the hand that had never let go its gentle grip, release my arm and instead took my hand. I looked in the direction of my hand and though I could not see it, I did see the faintest shimmer as something extremely cold was placed in my hand.

The voice again breathed into my right ear the words, "Be not afraid!" and once again, the words from the cover stone filled every part of my brain, "Seven orbs and seven nights. Seraph defends the entombment bleak. Contravene their seven clasps and issue forth mankind's end."

Maybe it was curiosity, or perhaps some sort of trance that made me continue on alone, moving steadily toward the light that was no longer just orange but more like a tribal dance of reds and yellows. For every step I took, it seemed that the light drew twice as close.

My mind was racing; something about that engraving on the cover stone was nagging at me as though something inside of me was trying to tell me that I was missing something.

"Seven orbs?" I repeated aloud.

"Seven moons?" I asked myself and as soon as I said it, I knew I was wrong, "Not seven moons, seven months!"

Not taking my eyes off the light, I continued thinking and walking onward.

"And seven nights?" I again spoke aloud, "that must mean one week. Seven months and one week! Ok Jason, what else?"

Even before I said, "Seraph defends the entombment bleak." I knew what had been back in the tomb with me. Well not exactly what it was, "A Seraph is an angel, why would an Angel kill Miss Lillian Hass ..." The image of her body or what was left of her body lying on the jeweled floor was enough to cause me to hesitate in my thoughts, but only for a millisecond.

"But why would an angel of Jehovah be here, guarding this tomb?" I asked myself.

I had already crossed nearly half the distance to the light and though the darkness was still all around me I kept my eyes locked on the light.

"Not why ... who?" I said and in a mental flash it was as though someone had begun playing one of those moving picture shows except this one was of that first night, that night Miss Lillian Hassely had walked into our apartment and set into motion a change of events that would eventually lead to me shooting and killing my own father.


"We found it." She said.

"You found what?" my father asked.

Sounding a bit maddened she repeated herself pausing between each word, "Julius -- we -- found -- IT!" with a robust prominence to the word, `IT'.

"What are you saying?" my fathers voice was queer but sounded very urgent.

"You... you've got to be joking with me!" Father sounded quite disturbed now.

"This is no joke Julius," Lillian reassured.

"Where?" There was distress in my father's voice now, "Dam-it woman! Where is it?"

Lillian answered in a prideful tone that sounded as if she were in ecstasy, "It is right where you said it was all along, my old friend."

"My God!" father exclaimed nearly shouting, "I... I can't believe it!"


I shook my head trying to rid myself of the images of myself, hiding behind the door listening in on their conversation. It was odd and disturbing; I could see myself, as though I were looking at another boy. I was standing behind the door, arms raised to my chest, fists clenched tightly in excited bliss.

Yet had this been the entire image it would not have been the least bit disturbing. I threw caution to the wind and allowed the complete image to form. As it came into full clarity, the boy that was me, stood behind the door with the front of his pants completely soaked. Urine spilled out of one pants leg, pored over his shoe and was forming a sizeable puddle beneath him. After he noticed and looked appropriately disgusted with himself, his attention quickly returned to the conversation in the other room.


"Well you can believe it!" Lillian persisted, "We've actually found your lost City!"

All other emotions now fled from my fathers voice leaving only an almost childlike giddiness, something I had never heard come out of him before, "And is it, I mean is HE there?"


"That's it!" I said aloud, "That was an angel back there! Jehovah's angel; assigned to guard the tomb."

"Whom was the angel supposed to be guarding?" I asked myself.

However, my thoughts all flittered away like smoke from a fire - I had reached the origins of the light. It was a cavern, the likes of which, I have never seen, read nor heard of in my life. To say it was enormous would not be doing it justice.

The ceiling of the cavern, if you could call it a ceiling, seemed to be iridescent and the source of the lights that had pulled me here.

"Pulled me here?" I thought to myself, "Yes there was something pulling ... no, there is something pulling me!"

I continued into the cavern, never once thinking to look back to maybe see who it was that had lead me though the darkness and eventually to the light. Three steps forward and I found myself standing at the top of a stone staircase that did not twist or turn but descended down, farther then my eyes could see.

And something caught my eye; it was in my hand. I raised it up to see a flaming object that defies description except that it was emitting blue flames that encircled my hand and licked my arm.

The flames were blue and were not burning me; nonetheless I distinctly remember hearing the command from my brain to my hand to drop the object. However, when I tried, the blue flames appeared to become as ice, locking it within my grip. As soon as I surrendered to the fact that I could not let it go, the ice once again became flames.

While I stood examining the object, trying to wrap my young mind around it, to understand it; I remembered two things my mother had once read to me from a very old scroll. Later, after her death, I came across them again, completely by accident when helping my father with his research. They both come from the Holy Scriptures.

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."

"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Unsure why these passages came back to me now I couldn't help but wonder if they had something to do with this blue flaming object that I held in my right hand.

Lowering my flame-engulfed hand to my side, I once again allowed my eyes to drift down the seemingly endless stairs. The pull was unmistakable; with a single step down, I started my decent.


In the middle of Lowell reciting his final chapter and despite my efforts to the contrary I succumbed to sleep but not deeply; it was as if my conscious and subconscious minds were doing a sort of aggressively violent ballet. It was more then a little odd, because I could both hear Lowell telling his story and it also seemed that I had begun dreaming, but without images. I could hear a sort of confused muttered tune that could just barely be called singing and at the same time, it sounded like it might be in a different language though I thought I could make out a word here and there.

Still trying to listen to every word Lowell shared, I also tried to allow myself to lean in closer to the tune within my dream. I'm not sure if I actually spoke the words aloud or just thought them, but as far as my brain was concerned, it had registered the words, "Lowell, can you hear that?"

However Lowell did not stop, which could have meant he had not heard me or I had not actually spoken them aloud.

I shook my head violently from side-to-side in an effort to knock my unconscious mind off balance long enough to allow my conscious mind to one again seize control. I could still hear the butchered tune though it sounded distant and echoed.

Again I shook my head, harder this time to be sure I wasn't sleeping and called up earnestly, "L-Lowell, shush, l-listen!" This time I was positive the words had made their way out of my mouth.

Lowell fell quiet and I was not sure if he had heard me and was actually listening or had paused only to take a breath before continuing with his story.

"Sounds like someone's singing!" he said still using his normal voice, "And badly too!" he almost sounded fearless for the moment.

We both were quiet as we listened, "... an' I wan'go t'bed. I `ad a li'l ... I `ad a li'l ... Uh," there was a peculiar sounding croak, followed by a wet sounding belch that might have been someone puking. Seconds later the song was continued, "I `ad me more`n a li'l drin' `bout a'our `go an' ..."

"Sounds like, whoever it is, is getting closer!" Lowell whispered down to me.

As panic began to overtake me at the thought of someone finding Lowell out of bed, I whispered up again with all the urgency I could put into a whisper, "Q-Q-Quick, Hide!"

There was a moments pause where I thought maybe he had heeded my advice but then, "Now where am I supposed to hide?" and the extremely derogatory sound of Lowell's voice gave me the impression that he was both scared and exasperated.

" ... `go `n it wen' `ight to ma `ead."

The echo's and the high volume of whoever was singing made it impossible to identify who was coming aside from the fact that it sounded low enough that it was probably a man, but that did not much matter. There were only four men that I had seen since arriving here at the Banachelli Orphanage for Boys, and none of them seemed the type to look lightly on Lowell's presence in this vile place.

"Wheeeeeere e'er I may ... AAAHHH `ister `ary!" The ill tune was suddenly interrupted by an alarming cry from the one singing.

For several panic filled seconds I listened before I felt enough courage to ask, "L-Lowell? Y-you st-still th-there?" and the words seemed to trickle out of my mouth like water from a leaking faucet. A single second seemed to hang before me as if were a shimmering veil, distorting and hiding what was beyond.

I felt several dropped of water dance the top of my head that I dismissed from my thoughts as though brushing a hair from my eyes; and finally it was only by his faint whimpers that I guessed the answer to my question.

Though nearly frozen, and unable to feel my legs, I managed to somehow raise myself up, but that was as far as I could get. My legs just would not bend enough to allow me to scale the ladder, not that I would have been able to do anything if I had been able to climb to the top.

This time I could not dismiss it as easily when three more drops hit the top of my head, harder this time; and though it was probably my imagination, I thought I could hear the micro-splashes as they crashed against my greasy, filthy and matted hair.

I managed to look up into the void of darkness above me just in time to have another drop hit me directly in the right eye. It stung; no that's not right, it burned, like acid and had I not been so scared for Lowell I probably would have figured out sooner what it was that was dripping on me now. As it was, it would be several hours from now before I would finally work it out that the drops had come from Lowell's overly drenched cloth diaper.

As I rubbed at my eye with the back of my grimy hand, a connection was finally made within my brain. At that instant, I think my heart stopped beating when the thought, which started as just a faint purple vapor, began to grow and take form. I give my eye one last rub, blinked and finally figured out that the one who'd been singing was none other then the giant trapped within the body of a midget. And though the normal accent of Fyer the cook, whatever origins it might have developed from, was so bad that hardly anyone could understand him, it was obvious now that he was more then a little drunk.

"'od'am mang'd beas'!" came Fyer's echoed shouts, followed a low meaning sound that seemed to never end and the image of Fyer that had been foremost in my mind was suddenly replaced by a brutal lion.

Several broken curse words found their way to my ears followed by a crash that sounded like glass breaking against something metallic. Before those echoes had subsided, there was a brutal thud so loud that I could feel its repercussions though the ladder that my hands were nearly frozen to.

Just as I started to think that Fyer had gone, or maybe had passed out, the agonized and torturous groans of someone in pain could be heard mixed with more broken cursing, only louder, angrier and coming closer.

Fear filled my voice as I strained to whisper, "L-Lowell?"

Fyer's moans seemed to be coming from right above me.

"`od `elp ut `n `it m' `od'am `an's on't!" Fyer mumbled angrily above.

There was a momentary pause and then a sort of high pitched gurgling sound followed by a startled, "Oy!" from Fyer and then nothing.

By `nothing' I mean, I could not hear Fyer so much as breathing, nor could I make out Lowell's whimpered cries of fright or any other signs of what was playing out above me. It was as if someone had just sat on the TV remote and inadvertently paused the movie of my life; or maybe some greater being was deriving some sort of sick and twisted pleasure by toying with time so that they could watch me suffer for just a bit longer.

I actually remember feeling grateful when I heard, "Wot `ere ya?" Fyer asked; at least I think it was a question. At any rate, by the sound of him, something up there had him rattled but from my darkened vantage point all I could see was black on black with varying shades of black.

Without warning, an explosion of pain erupted within me, causing my legs to buckle and my knees hit the cold hard floor with a bony crunch. It was as if my eyes had suddenly burst into flaming balls of fire. Fyer had turned on the bulb that hung directly over my pit. With both of my eyes still burning, I squinted and tried to peek through my fingers.

Though it took several seconds for my eyes to begin working again, eventually I could see that Lowell was no longer lying over the grate. I could only hope he had found some place to hide after all and I had to fight to keep the worst thoughts from forming in my head.

Fyer asked his question again, "Wot `ere ya?" and this time his voice cracked like a pubescent choirboys.

Still trying to peek though my fingers I first heard what sounded like two shoe dragging across the wooden floor. Then I saw from a cockroach's vantage point as Fyer moved so that he was now standing on the grate directly over me. Regardless of being a midget, his ample girth provided enough of an eclipse to allow my eyes to adjust from the total blackness that now seemed to cower and hug the pipes on the far side of my human filth pit.

Clueless as to what Fyer was seeing or talking to, and concerned that at any second he would spot Lowell and attack him, I opened my mouth to scream up at him and get his attention. However, just as my lips parted there was another voice, a horse, dry, tired, almost inhuman sounding man's voice but it had not originated from above me; it came from within the pit that I was imprisoned in.

"Seeing things again are you Special Agent Fyer?" the voice had asked.

Though my legs were so cold I could not feel them, they still managed to respond to my brains commands and spun me around so that my plastic encased back was now firmly against the ladder.

With the light spilling down past Fyer, I quickly scanned the chamber. I still could not see the far wall where earlier I had found the leaking pipe and drank my fill of water. To my left was the wall and ledge I had moved alone to get to the pipes and with a snap of my neck I looked to the wall on my right. It appeared to be identical except for the narrow ledge, however I did spot something. Nearly centered between the ceiling and the surface of the stagnant, mostly liquid waste and between the still darkened wall of pipes and myself was a rectangular grid like pattern of holes in the wall. The holes did not appear to be much larger then a finger and they were about an inch, or more, apart. I could only guess that it was some kind of ventilation or maybe it was a runoff incase the pit were to be flooded. I looked back to the left hand wall and though it was mostly lost in the shadows where the light from above could not reach, I could just make out the lower corner of the same rectangular shaped grid of holes.

While trying to figure out where the voice had come from, Fyer spoke again, "'om?"

"What did he say?" I said only loud enough for me to hear myself.

As I took a breath after I had whispered to myself, I instantly realized that I had forgot to keep breathing through my nose for several fear filled breaths. Once again I was reminded just how horrible my prison cell reeked. I gagged, choked and nearly vomited.

"Oy! Shodup dun d're!" Fyer shouted; his fear shortly dismissed.

For added measure, he stomped on the grate above me showering me with years of accumulated dried human waste. I had not thought fast enough and as a result, I had sucked in a lung full of the dust.

I coughed, gagged and could feel an asthma attack coming on fast.

"You all right Simon?" the eerie voice asked with just a taste of human emotion.

I was unable to answer, not just because of the asthma attack that was nearly to full force, but also because the voice had known my name, my real name. My air passage had slammed shut after my second gulp of the dust, but I was still aware enough to recognize that the voice had come from the left hand wall.

With a third gasp that brought no air into my lungs; I crumpled to my hands and knees. Above me, Fyer fumed, regurgitating drunken profanities as though he were spewing flaming bile down upon me.

"Simon!" a high-pitched voice screeched very much like an attacking eagle.

Doing my own impersonation of a bird, I twisted my head on my shoulders as if I was an owl and suddenly time began to move in slow jerky burst. I saw Fyer moving away as the small form of Lowell took his place but he was only visible for a fraction of a second. I must have somehow stopped time while he was in mid stride, leaping over the grate apparently to attach Fyer because it seemed to last longer then a fractured second. I saw Lowell hanging in midair, one leg out in front of him the other trailing behind and between them hung a soaked cloth diaper with droplets of gleaming gold flying away from it in every direction.

Seconds before I blacked out I heard a blood curdling scream that somehow I knew came from Fyer and was accompanied by the piercing squalls of some kind of inhuman creature, mad for flesh. The last I can vaguely recall was Fyer howling about daemons as he ran screaming back down the corridor apparently pursued by the unholy beast and Lowell to.

When I came to again, I opened my eyes and was so relieved to find that the light had been left on when Fyer had fled. I was lying on my back with my left arm trapped beneath me while my left leg from my knee down was bobbing in the pool of human filth. It was in that instant that everything came back like a torrent of memories. I was not sure how long I had been out but the first thought I had was of Lowell. I opened my mouth to call out to him but the pain in my chest and throat prevented me from saying anything at all.

I took a breath and though the stench was offensive beyond words, the fact that air did enter my lung, albeit slow and painfully, I could breath. I took another breath and tried to speak again but scarcely was able to eek out more then what a mouse with laryngitis might.

After several minutes, I was able to get myself to a sitting position with my plastic amour covered back once again to the ladder. Desperate to find out if Lowell was still above me, I took several breaths in through my nose and tried to speak again.


It came out strangled and weak, but it was strong enough that had Lowell still been up there he would have heard me even if he had been sleeping.

My mind quickly returned to the mysterious and haunting voice, I had heard call my name just before I had that mental power outage.

"H-Hello?" I asked as strong and I could muster; there was no reply at all.

I tried several more times, each time my voice got stronger and louder but after several attemps, I began to wonder if I had dreamt the whole ordeal.

With no way to tell how long I had been unconscious or sleeping, I did not know if I could expect someone to come release me soon or if I would have anymore visitors.

I was sitting listening to the sound of the water pipe on the far side of the pit dripping when I realized I needed to pee. I don't know why but it struck me as funny and I began to giggle, which quickly turned into a painful, attack of laughter that inevitably became a frenzy of coughing.

The last cough was the hardest and most painful and it ushered forth the contents of my bladder with the force of a water cannon. The stream shot out in a high ark that glistened in the light from above me and dropped into the pond of chunky liquid green and brown waste with a steady rhythm. I watched the stream beginning to loose its altitude as the last my pee escaping from my body and I let rip a loud fart that sounded like someone had fired off several ultra fast gunshots.

Down in such a horridly disgusting place you wouldn't think that it possible to feel good about anything but the feeling of my bladder emptying and adding my own fragrances to the stench that hung in the air all around me, sure did feel good.

I was basking in that pleasant feeling when I felt something fall into my hair. I was reaching up to brush whatever it was out and could hear the sound of a cat purring pleasantly from above. I looked up and saw something lying on the grate eclipsing part of the light from that one bulb.

Sure enough it was a cat, and from the way the light seemed to cause the edges of its fur to glow, I could see that it appeared as though it had not been properly cared for and probably, like me, could use a bath.

The cat, sensing that I was looking its way, slowly, as if not trusting me, turned its face down toward me. The light from the bulb above us both was reflecting off the surface of the wastewater and was then captured within the glowing brown eyes of the cat.

The two of us sat motionless, staring almost disbelievingly at one another. The cat is not fat, but she's big and apparently fearless. I suspect that even a pit bull, gone bad and in a murdering mood, would have turned, and gone in search of easier prey; like maybe crocodiles

Though dirty and fur mangled she appeared to be the color of an unripe pumpkin, with black markings. Judging by the black-and-cream patterns on her face, you might think she was the devilish familiar of that old rock group, Kiss and probably was just as old too.

Perched on the grate above me, gazing toward the passageway, she pretended for a full minute to be unaware of my presence beneath her.

Being ignored was fine with me because I had already remembered that I'd seen this very same cat not to long ago on the street, attacking some bum or drunk. How she had ended up here and why she had decided to camp out above me was more then I cared to think about just then.

Finally turning her head, she regarded me appraisingly, with contempt so thick that I expected to be her dinner before too long. Then she shifted her attention once more to the corridor.

The long empty chamber that stretched between my cesspool and the stairs seemed to fascinate her and to put her in a somber, contemplative mood. Perhaps she had used up eight of her lives and felt a chill of mortality hanging in the putrefied air, or maybe it was just the methane gas given off by the human waste, that was mellowing us both out.

Within half a minute, she had put me on edge again with her threatening, angry hiss. All cats have this talent, of course, but this cat seems to rival both rattlesnakes and cobras for the intensity and the menace of her hiss.

Something in the corridor had so disturbed her that she rose to her feet on the grate and a small metal medallion that hung around her neck clinked as it brushed the grate. Seeming to double and triple in size, she arched her back, and bristled her hackles.

Although clearly I was not the cause of her agitation, I slid to the edge of my small precipice, poised to slide around the small ledge to the back of my pit.

She hissed again, and then clawed the metal grate. The skreeeeek of her nails on the metal made the fluid quiver in the hollows of my veins.

Suddenly I wondered if Fyer had returned, perhaps armed and prepared for a battle this time.

When the cat raked the metal again, I got to my feet. I eased toward the base of the ladder with caution, not because I feared that a bullet might find the center of my forehead but because I didn't want the vexated cat to misunderstand my motives.

Frozen, somehow my legs managed to raise my feet up the rungs and my arms managed to pull me up the ladder until I was only inches away from the now growling cat.

Due to extreme fatigue and my poor vantage point I could only just make out the silhouette of a large individual, obviously not Fyer, standing stone still and shining a light down on the cat and I. The light was much brighter then the light given off by the single bulb and I had to look away but strangely enough, I took comfort in knowing that the beast still stood guard over me.

My first instinct was to quickly move back down the ladder but instead I looked back up and the light from this stranger glimmered off the silver medallion that hung from what at one time must have been a fancy and expensive collar. I only had a moment to read what was engraved into the metal; I saw just a single word, `Vera'.