There’s a Hole in the Middle of the Bar

“Move, Cr…” the Sheriff began to say, but he was too late the suction of the portal had taken hold of his deputy. He couldn’t escape from it. The deputy was pulled violently backwards into the portal and was gone just like that.

But he wasn’t the first or the last to be caught in the portal’s suction. We were all beginning to feel its pull. “Run!” the Sheriff screamed. “Everyone get out of here!” The trolls that weren’t already running, ran. Or at least the ones that could did. Many of them were finding it difficult to get away. The Sheriff among them. And so was I.

Toleuk was the next to be sucked through. And then two of the trolls I recalled from the bar, who cheered to have me dunked, were pulled in. I was smaller than all of them, so my chances of escape were looking slim. I had been pulled off my feet almost immediately and was being pulled in toward the hole. The Sheriff reached out and grabbed a hold of me. “I lost Gnomegnasher. I’m not going to lose you.”

I held his hand as tight as I could. But it didn’t seem to be doing much good. The room was mostly empty now, just the two of us remained in the tavern. Everyone else had either escaped or been sucked into the portal. It was looking like I was going to be joining that latter group very soon. Every second, I slipped closer and closer to portal’s event horizon. “You’ve to get out of here, Sheriff. If you don’t the portal will pull you in, too.”

But the Sheriff stayed right where he was. “I’m going to get us out of here. I’m not going to give up on you, boy, so you don’t you give up on me!”

“I’m not giving up,” I told him, holding his large hand with both of mind, but I could feel the pull on my feet, the portal tugging me closer. I knew about pulling out wins from the jaws of defeat at the last second, but it was starting to feel like this wasn’t one of those times.

Then the Sheriff began to slide forward. He reached out with his free hand and grabbed one of the pillars holding up the roof. I could hear it creak under his weight. “Then neither am I!”

The portal was showing no sign of closing. We couldn’t just wait it out. The only way to keep from being pulled in was to get away. If I didn’t do something soon fatigue would start to set in. Unfortunately since my feet were up in the air, I had very choices. I saw only one real option. I had to climb up the Sheriff’s arm. So, I slid one hand up his hand to his wrist. Then I freed the other hand from his grip and slid that one up just above my other hand. I continued that way, sliding my hands inch by inch up his forearm. It wasn’t easy, but at least I seemed to be getting somewhere. When I reached his elbow, I started to fell like maybe this would work, that maybe we had a chance at getting out of here.

But then I heard a crack.

I looked up at the Sheriff and by the look in his eyes, he had heard it, too. We both looked at the pillar. It was buckling under our weight. The Sheriff began to pull against the pillar, trying to get us past it. Obviously he was hoping we would be able to find something else to grab a hold of and work our way out the back door. It was best plan we had. Unfortunately, the pillar couldn’t take the pressure any more and it snapped in half. Without the pillar to hold us, we were both sent flying backwards into the cracked hole in the world.

It was like being stuffed violently down a very thin pipe. I didn’t fit, but the portal didn’t care. It just kept pulling me and stretching me out until I was through. I would have let out a pained scream, but I didn’t have the breath to make a sound. It must have been even worse for the Sheriff, but I didn’t have the awareness to think about anything else except my own agonizing pain.

And then I was through, sliding down a psychedelic kaleidoscope of terror. I was bumped up and down and all around. I plummeted and rose and was spun over and over and turned inside out. It felt like it’d never end and had been going forever. It was the worst thing I’d ever experienced and I’d experienced quite a bit. And then, just like that, it was over.

to be continued…