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Chapter Twenty-two

Morning dawned. I had not slept the entire night as I was fixated on the broken contraption, trying in vain to figure a way to repair it

Apprehensive and nauseous from fear and constant worry, I stood and went to sit on the porch. Fitz sat beside me, looking equally petrified. As we both stared out into the desolate valley, our minds filled with the terror we had so recently experienced, I asked, “So, what now,” I asked.

I looked down on Fitz as he sat beside me, looking out at the distant glow of the candle.

“You know, I always wanted a dog.”

Fitz turned his gaze towards me.

“I’m serious. I saw the other children with their pets, and I always wanted one of my own.”

Fitz whimpered and scooted closer to me.

“Don’t worry; we still have some time left.”

I stood and glanced once more at the burning candle in the distance, as it slowly dissipated. A raindrop fell on my nose. I looked up to see dark clouds forming in the sky.

“Come on Inside little one,” I uttered to Fitz, as we hastily entered the house, closing the door and barricading it.

“Are you hungry?” I inquired.

Fitz began wiggling his tail as the rain pelted against the side of the house.

As Fitz and I made our way toward the cellar, we passed by the useless contraption and Fitz halted.

“Fitz?” I called out to him.

He seemed to be staring down at the machine, sniffing around it.

“Do you want to eat or…” I was interrupted by Fitz running off into a dark room behind me. “What? Fitz!”

Following him into the dark room, Fitz repeatedly clawed at a peculiar wooden box.

“What is it?” I slowly approached the wooden box.

The box had a Chinese letter embedded on it. I attempted unsuccessfully to pry it open with my hands. I looked around to locate a tool to assist me with the task.

Fitz persisted on clawing at the box, when at last, I found a crowbar.

“Step aside, Fitz.”

As he moved over, I inserted the crowbar in the gap and vigorously pried it open. As the lid burst open and dust filled the room, I fell backward nearly crushing Fitz.

Tossing the crowbar aside, I stood up and inspected the unusual wooden box. Fitz and I both stood above the box, gazing in at its content. The box contained cylinders filled with an amber liquid carefully cushioned with sawdust. As I examined these cylinders trying to discern what they could possibly be, Fitz snatched one of them in his mouth and ran out the dark room.

“Fitz, bring that back here!” I shouted angrily.

As I approached him, he dropped the cylinder next to the contraption. Perplexed, and thinking that my furry friend was trying to convey a message, I tried in vain to make sense of it.

“Don’t take things that aren’t yours!” I quickly snatched the cylinder from the floor and went back to the crate.

Fitz growled lunging at me, retrieving the cylinder and nipping my arm in the process. Running back to the contraption, he once again set the cylinder down next to it.

“WHAT IS YOUR BLOODY PROBLEM?” Angrily, I smacked Fitz on the head then immediately halted. Staring down at the cylinder which rested next to the machine, I at last began to understand. Hastily I knelt and examined the contraption. Taking the cylinder in my hand, I tried to locate where the box was screwed together. Quickly gathering my tools, I began to open it to see what might be inside.

The ominous clouds began to advance quickly, and the candlelight was growing dim. I must act quickly.

Opening the metal box, I noticed four empty cylinders inside.

“Fitz!” I turned to him. “Go fetch four more of these!” I said slowly, pronouncing each word, as Fitz went back into the dark room. Twisting the cylinders left I was able to quickly pry the empty cylinders from where they were attached to the bottom.

One by one, Fitz brought the four cylinders and set them next to me. My first attempt at replacing the cylinders did not go well. Attaching the cylinder to the latch which was on the bottom was extremely difficult, but with persistence I at last was met with success. As I proceeded to twist it into place the liquid inside spilled out on the floor

“Damned thing! Fitz get me another!”

Fitz halted and whimpered.

“Do I have to do everything myself?”

Entering the dark room, I checked the box in vain for more cylinders, frantically, searching for a hidden cylinder, throwing sawdust all over the room in my anxious quest.

Screaming in anger and frustration, I kicked the box and punched the walls. Fitz watched me nervously gazed at me from the entrance as I continued my temper tantrum, shouting and kicking the wooden box.

Collapsing on the ground I began to laugh, slowly at first, escalating until I sounded clearly insane.

“Imagine this, Fitz!” I laughed. “Imagine at last finding, a probable tool for a grand escape, only to clumsily spill it ALL OVER THE DAMNED THING!”

Fitz slowly approached me in my deranged fit. Taking a mouth full of my shirt he attempted to drag me from the room.

“Oh, piss off, Fitz!” I pushed him away.

Persistently, Fitz proceeded to bark at me.

“What do you want, a steak?”

Fitz continued barking, attempting to get me on my feet.

“Just leave me be, Fitz,” I uttered.

He stopped his barking and returned my stare.

“Oh, please. Don’t even try and…”

He interrupted me with a menacing growl.

Fitz and I stared at one another until at last I gave in. Sighing, in frustration, I lay back. Fitz grabbed my shirt in his hand then proceeded once again to bark.

“I’ll get up! Just give me a second!”

Reluctantly, I returned to the contraction, kneeling in fatigue.

Cautiously I attached the remaining four cylinders and put the lid back on.

Finally, feeling I had done all I could do, I stood up and looked down at the contraption.

Now was my moment of truth. With hesitation I put my hands on the cold wooden lever, closing my eyes I counted. “One, two, three!”

I pushed the lever down and the house began to shake. Gears began rotating, and the pipes began to creak.

The sound of wood and metal moving was, oddly quite comforting. As the house slowly ascended, I leaned up against the wall, exhaling in exhaustion.

“Let’s get out of here,” I drowsy uttered.

I looked out through the window, and noticed the sun was beginning to set behind the mountains.

Quickly heading to the captain’s chamber, I attempted to steer the house forward, but it unfortunately would not budge.

“What now?” I fumed in irritation.

The steering mechanisms were working fine but, the propellant was not.

“We need a head start.” I muttered to myself.

From the porch I threw down the knot which I had used for the trap and began my descent.

“It’s ok, Fitz. I’ll come back, just stay put.”

The impact of hitting the ground shocked my entire body.

Taking hold of the rope I took a deep breath and with a loud shout pulled forward dragging the house behind me. As the house slowly moved, I began to hear a sound which filled my entire being with terror.

The ground shook, and in the casting shadows, hundreds of starving shadow hounds ran towards the house.

“C’mon. C’mon! C’MON!” I shouted to myself as I pulled onwards, in the direction of the great opening.

The red eyes pierced fear into my soul as I soon recognized that I was surrounded on all sides with their presence.

Fitz barked at me, as I desperately attempted to think of a solution.

“Is this it? Is this how it all ends?” The professor uttered as I clenched tighter to the hanging rope.

“It can’t.”

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