The halo child and I stood motionless for seconds that dragged on ages. While I couldn’t know his thoughts for certain, I supposed them to be similar to my own. In the wake of the dreadful Invader, bringer of ruin, my best weapon was secrecy. If we remained quiet enough, hid well enough, perhaps It would wile the hours of night away in search, and the day would reclaim us. My attention was drawn to the skipping music player; surely it would incite the invader, draw it to us.
“Where is that music player?” I whispered, cautiously.
“The thing making that annoying skipping sound! Where is it? I can’t tell with all the crap everywhere!”
“We gotta hide!” The boy’s harsh whisper was frantic.
“What good will hiding do if that thing hears all this noise coming from here?”
“Hey! You…you…you s’posed to be helpin’ me! You come on!” He yanked desperately on my fingers. “Come help me hide b’fore the kids take…b’fore the kids, they takes all the spots!”
“This is insane!” I responded, allowing him to drag me further down the trail. With the clutter dictating our path, there was no need to guess the halo child’s route, making his incessant need to clutch and tug my hand with his own clammy fingers unnecessary and annoying. The path led us straight to a wall, and until we came within touching distance, it appeared we would be trapped in the corner, but upon reaching the spot, I could see there was a narrow space at the end of the row of boxes that the child fit through easily; however, for me it was necessary to straighten my back to the wall and stand on tip toes, shuffling along the wall. Dismay fell over me like something rotten when I realized the course caused me to become nearly cinched between what turned out to be a seemingly endless pile of those aged, yellowing boxes, stacked high above my head, and the unyielding wall behind me. I feared that the boxes – so close that my face occasionally brushed against the stray documents protruding from them while the musty odor of neglect attacked my sinuses – that this collected pile of trash would fall over on me, pinning me to the wall and trapping me until terror should arrive to devour me.
My thoughts flitted and landed briefly on a scene from Star Wars, when Han and Leah and Luke had fallen into the giant waste compactor and were about to be flattened to death or eaten alive by a garbage eating monster, and this was me – soon to be crushed in a mountain of garbage. Luke Skywalker’s frantic shouts bounced through my brain. “3PO? Come in 3PO! Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!!” R2D2 bailed them out in that scene, like he always did. If it weren’t for R2, I swear the Dark Side would have won. I wished that little dome headed droid was here to bail me out, too. Obi Wan, my ass. It should have been, “Help me R2D2, you’re my only hope!”
From the bowels of the stationary house, a cascading crash sounded like a wrecking ball. Considering the clutter I was shifting through, I trusted the basement was similarly adorned, and I imagined something hideous was clubbing aside boxes and furnishings stacked to the rafters, growing in frustration as it cleared a pathway to the steps. An angry voice snaked its way up from the stairwell and from the heat registers and from every hairline crack between floor and ceiling – a groan of sorts that was much like a forcible yawn. It was the sound of a creature in suffering, its only recourse to heap suffering on everything else because it was all the thing knew in its entire pained existence.
The child’s sticky grip tightened, and he yanked my fingers from their sockets; were it not for my impingement against the wall, I would have fallen, and our location would have been made obvious to the killer below. I stumbled awkwardly behind the path of the child, who was now veering into a rift in the cardboard wall. My left foot was late in catching up with the rest of me, and when it found a place to touch down, I was without my shoe. I glanced behind, considered going back for it, but thought better, knowing the halo child would likely throw a fit if I turned back, and he would make a ton of noise in doing so.
Meager relief touched me when I emerged behind the halo child and found that the space opened up considerably. Behind the ceiling high stacks of boxes, there were at least half a dozen tables of various sizes and chairs – some upright, some turned sideways or stacked on the tables themselves, and there were large pieces of old artwork covered in sheets, leaning against the furniture. In all this jumble, I saw hiding places in plenty, and I now understood the child’s unyielding desire to gain access to this place. Glancing again at the wall of boxes, it was obvious. They were set up as a barricade. This was Jericho.