The Works of Philip Kaveny
Slime Pit an Unlikely Glimpse of Redemption
By Philip Kaveny c 1984 2017
The slime pit was about a hundred meters along and twenty meters deep. Its mirror like sides were perhaps twenty meters high and both glass like in smoothness and as slippery as wet ice. They were impossible to climb a taunting in their smoothness.
The bottom of the pit was covered with slime and rocks and mold and littered with rotten corpses and skeletons. He was not in hell and this was no nightmare. The place was real. The weird thing about the slime pit was that when Ivan regained conscious He was not certain how he got there. He was just there and that was it. Perhaps he had offended one of the gods who knew why; it was clear to him that if he stayed to long he would join the other corpses.
Nothing stinks like a rotting corpse and he felt as if his lungs were filling up with this same fetid substance. As he walked it was as if he were wearing weighted boots each step was stymied by the sucking ooze which grasped his feet and only grudgingly. Ivan beat his hands against the smooth slimy surface of the wall each blow made a muffled slap. When he tried to climb the wall: He only slipped back into the miasma on the floor of the slime pit. Was there a way out or was he to join the rotting company. There was no way out and death looked very ugly. Ugly certain and immanent.
Just at that instant he heard something slap into the slime a few meters away from him. He dragged himself over to. He could not believe what he found buried half way in the slime. There was a coil braided rope thirty meters long, and half buried in the floor a black iron three talented hook. The hook was twice as large as his hand, and it was attached to the coil of the rope. He struggled to his feet and with all the strength left in his body the hook and the rope make a swishing sound as they cut through the air. His arms and shoulder burned as he released it.
The hook banged hopeless against the side of wall and slid back into the morass.
One more time and then the sucking oblivion of death. He wished for it as a hurt hawk wishes for the hunter’s gift of lead. For the last time, he spun six times above his head and released it. It caught on the edge of the pit.
How long did it take? How much skin did he have left on his raw blistered hands. Would his heart and lungs burst from the strain? They did not. One last pull and he was up on the grass next to the pit. He saw the hook it had caught on the gnarled roots of a dead tree.
He crawled three more meters and tried not to look his bloody once beautiful hands.
“Where did it come from? Why was I brought back?” Ivan was only able to crawl a hundred yards before he collapsed into the sleep that borders on death.
When he awoke his only thought was to get as far away from the pit as possible. It was late afternoon and the shadows from the few trees were very long due to the season. But first he must find water to cleanse himself. Now he would trade all he had owned in that other life for a pool to cleanse his flesh and bath his wounds.
Infection would mean a slower death than suffocation, he thought. Then he heard an old woman’s voice boom.
” This way, stupid, over here.”
” Over where? Who are you? Where are we? “ Ivan asked.
” Hey pork face over here. For the last time, over here behind the shrubbery.”
Ivan thought I have nothing to lose but this slime, so he followed the booming voice into the shrubs. There he found an old gnarled woman who look a lot like the tree that the hook had caught in. She was sitting next to a shallow spring fed pool. The woman tossed him a bar of lye soap and gunny sack to dry off with.
“Avert your eyes while a strip and wash crone|” Ivan Barked
“School girl modesty Ha, I have forgotten more than you will ever see in four score and seven years. Now get that slime off you and then breath this powder or your lungs will rot.”
He ripped off his clothes, which she promptly set a fire, and dove with soap in hand into the shallow pool. He could barely hold the soap which burned his wounds in his hands.
” You must get that filth off your skin and out of those wounds before it kills you. Come here pretty boy and I will wash clean.”
He walked to the edge of the pool and submitted himself to her rough touch. She cleaned his skin as if she were scrubbing down the floor of a legion’s latrine. She was systematic through and quick.
Her voice softened a bit.
” Good Christ your hand your hands have almost no skin left on the palms or finger tips
” Easy crone that soap burns my finger to the bone.”
” You may not ever wish to hold a pen again after what happened, but if you try again, you would probably just as soon not have to hold the quill in your teeth.” She said.
” What is your name crone? “ Asked Ivan
” From now on my name is Cleo to you she said. Now let me bandage your hands and then breath this powder to save your lungs, if, there is anything left to save.”
Ivan felt the white powder explode into his lungs as if he had been kicked by an ox. He could not look at what he coughed up. It reminded him to much of the floor of the slime pit. “You may be the one that lives at least you were able to pull yourself up. Follow me now and we will go to the village. So that’s the last thing you remember, until you awoke in the slime pit. Said Cleo.
What now, what happens next, who threw me the hook? “ Asked Ivan
” About time you asked that question |” She said. When you are trapped on the floor hell a something offers you a chance out you do not ask any questions. When they throw you a hook you do not ask where it came from.