The door in the basement floor was wide open. Apparently Kal and Vity had left it that way intending to return. “Can I go first Dad?” Vity hopped, her pleading hands clasped in front.
“Sure, princess. Watch your step Vity. Ord you go next and hold the flashlight.” Kal orchestrated our descent through the laundry room floor and down the stone steps to the landing where sure enough there was a new door on the right opposite the den door on the left. It was a rough wood door with black metal latch, rounded at the top. Very different from the den or cottage doors in this fantastic subteranean fantasy portal.
Kal lifted the latch and opened the door…darkness. “Come on Mom, I’ll show you.” Vity pulled my shirt sleeve and into the darkness we went. This kid who had a flashlight to go to the bathroom at night and insisted on keeping her lamp on until she fell asleep was leading me into a dark cavernous area that smelled of wet wood. Drips of water came on us and I wished I’d have brought rain coats or something. The air was quite warm, sounds of some kind of bird chirped a happy trill nearby. Ord an Reas pressed against me and Kal stepped in and closed the door. When the latch clicked tiny lanterns appeared around this petrified entryway with a tiny blue flame–similar to an LED flame but not quite, more…real.Was that possible? It flickered like firelight, yet it was blue and small. And yet, the light extended several feet from it’s source. Several gears ground when a round spere appeared ahead, a doorway or… “It’s a slide mommy. Come on.” Down we slide one at a time landing nicely in a large strange round room. Tree roots everywhere like columns, chairs, bedframes. In the center was a long table with roots as supports in three places moving up through it. Carved by hand, it seemed, with a design on three-inch thick edges. The top was so smooth, like the slide but not a sanded smooth, more like well-worn smooth. It had dips, it’s uneven surface would be difficult to keep a cup from spilling.
Each of the chairs around the table were unique, old stumps from different kinds of trees with still clinging rough bark; chairs of all kinds of metal work, what looked like gold and maybe silver, some copper and brass but mostly iron chairs with seats that looked made of rocks with seat depressions, the rock striations reminded me of the displays at the science museum. One chair was made of tires, several were ornately carved wood chairs,and one tractor perched across some roots. It was a small tractor like a lawn tractor but a tractor all the same.
Around the edges were several beds , a section that looked like a kitchen with cupboards and a sink, a large metal bowl atop a root with a wooden faucet out of bamboo like pole coming from the ceiling instead of from the floor. When I looked up I saw many wooden and copper pipes tangled among small roots and some cobwebs, an intricate design that wove through half the room. “Mom can I try the bathroom? I really got to go,” Ord said standing by a bamboo door near the kitchen area.
“Sure.” We soon heard a sucking sound like a toilet on an airplane.
“I wonder if it has a compost function?” I said mostly to myself. After Ord came out I peeked into the loveliest bathroom with mini rose bushes in pots in alcoves in the walls on either side of the square stone sink sticking out of the wooden wall, a wooden chair commode with lid and a pedal on the floor of brass near the base of the chair. Intricatly carved designs on the commode were either a story or directions for use. The highlight of this rose perfumed room was a copper tub lined with what looked like mother of pearl! Rectangle with the plug hole end narrower than the opposite, it was deep. A copper spigot protruded from the wall with a lever and a pipe that went up to a…Shower head?It was a half coconut shell with holes in it. I felt the pile of towels on a wooden stool next to the tub, a soft luxurious thick fine woven linen. Something I would never expect in such a rustic place. Sea shell soap dish with black soap. I picked it up and smelled it…licorice. Hmmm. I would of never thought of licorice soap.
Vity’s screams abruptly stopped my sensory bathing. Ord and Reas yelled, “Dad look out!” I stepped back into the main room to see a large snake hanging from the ceiling pipes eyeing Kal as he backed towards the children. It dropped to the floor so softly and swirled its body into a coil then unfolded and glided towards a bed in the corner, pushed on a tree root knob and a small round door about 12 inches in diameter opened before the green and yellow at-least-6-inch-in-diameter snake glided through it. We all began to look around for any more surprise occupants of the tree house. “What was that?” Vity ran to the little door that had closed. “I’m not sure. Let’s climb the ladder and show Mom, Ord and Reas this island,” Kal started to guide Vity up the ladder that was almost hidden from view by vines between the beds and the dining area near the slide door where we came in.
“Yea!” Vity hopped up the ladder as if she hadn’t seen a giant snake just moments before. The boys quickly followed.
“Don’t worry Ann,” Kal assured me as he waited for me to climb. “It will be alright.” He kissed me softly on my cheek then my mouth. I pulled him closer. It seemed we rarely had time to ourselves and I wanted to hold this moment jut a little longer.
“Moom. Come on.” Ord was persistent. I climbed the ladder feeling Kal right behind me. We all stood on a platform among the topmost branches and looked out in all directions over a spectacular island. I almost stopped breathing, taking in all that we could see around us. I could see a group of creatures, yes they looked like Yeti, gathered in what appeared to be a square at the center of an ice city. Maybe they were people wearing white coats with black boots. It was a distance. Kal handed me the binoculars. “Thanks.”
“You can’t believe your eyes can you?”
“Nope. This is more than any of our other adventures.” The white Chewbacca-like creatures in the ice city were beyond anything I could have thought of. Snow was falling over the mountain. And what seemed not far away, a warm beach at the edge of the sea. Near the beach was a town, with modern houses, no cars, but…where were the people? “Kal did you see any people in the town or on the beach before?”
“No. Just the Yeti Wookies up on the ice cliffs. Why?”
“A town without people is a bit strange. If this is a super hero hideout lets find some super stuff. We have to have some purpose here. The doors don’t open for nothing.” We looked around for any special gadgets but found none. We decided to go to town. How do we get to town? We couldn’t find a special doorway so we sat down to eat the snacks we had brought.
Soon we realized the table was sinking and something was coming from the ceiling. Hooks with clothes similar to our armored spy gear. They were silver and had a mask, each mask a different color. Kal’s mask was gray, mine green, Reas was Orange, Vity was blue, and Ord was red–almost exactly like the game pieces each of us would always choose when playing family board games. How did they know who would sit where? It didn’t do any good to question the how. No explanations ever seemed to materialize.
Each outfit had a matching silver pack with it. We changed quickly, after all these realms rarely had explanations and it was best to go with the flow. My outfit fit comfortably and very breathable, not what I had expected. We soon found ourselves sitting on the table as it sank to another level and we could se a tunnel through roots with some kind of light guiding the way. Outside the warm breeze and thick forest seemed surreal until a small path appeared before us. I saw a bear about 50 yards to the left of us. Pulling Kal’s sleeve I pointed. We kept to the path, crossed a large stream, saw two moose, several deer, squirrels, chipmunks, another snake and the forest cleared–we were on the edge of town.
I could hear the ocean, not so far away. I wonder if the bears or critters often come to town?
As we walked the streets we saw no one. A sort of horn seemed to blow as if from high above or out to sea. We were almost sure it was from out to sea but then not quite.
“It’s the Yeti,” Vity said.
“No; it’s a pirate ship,” Ord argued back. Kal pulled his binoculars up to look around. “We don’t know what it is. Everyone stay sharp.”
Soon we found ourselves on the beach watching the rolling waves. Reas found a spyglass in his pack and fumbled with the scope. “Tell us what you see buddy?” Kal said.
“I see a…ship like a sailboat, I think you need to see this dad.”
“Ok. Well….I guess the people of town are hostages.” He took the scope down. “How do we proceed?”
A bear sauntered onto the beach. Vity covered her mouth to squelch her scream. Ord and Reas moved behind Kal as Vity scooted near me.
(to be continued)