Fiction: My Secret Place by Brian Joseph Johns

My Secret Place

By Brian Joseph Johns

Snaky Cake

"I said... gimme your Snaky Cake!"

The morning sun just having risen above the horizon cast its light down through the trees onto the rural schoolyard playground. It was early September. It was just like any other school day and much like any other rural school playground. There were the predators and there was the prey. On this day at morning recess, the roles of two students were being determined as such.

Dander's grip on Corgi's shirt tightened, pressing his back against the playground fence. There was a moment of pause as Corgi considered his options. Dander was much bigger than Corgi and two years his senior. Corgi would have little chance physically against Dander, not to mention that Dander was captain of the wrestling team. Corgi's small and thin frame would have quickly collapsed under Dander's weight.

Corgi on the other hand, could give in to Dander the local bully of  Pine Heights Public School and be freed from another day of torment. All for the price of just one Snaky Cake. The perfect and most tasty snacking cake ever to grace the inside of the lunch pail of any child.

The Snaky Cake by brand name was a long and winding strawberry cake. Its interior was filled with whipping cream and its surface was scaled with chocolate icing and sprinkles. It contained enough sugar to power the energy needs of a small country, never mind the energy needs of a growing child. They were big enough to share as well, adding to their popularity as a schoolyard currency for friendship.

Corgi considered offering half to Dander, something he'd tried prior a few days earlier. At that time Dander had just grabbed both halves of the Snaky Cake and quickly gobbled them down right in front of Corgi before laughing a mouthful of crumbs into Corgi's face.

Alternately he could keep his Snaky Cake, the one his own Mother lovingly placed into his lunch pail after having carefully crafting his sandwiches and protect her dignity. The dignity of his family. Protect the rest of the school from people Dander's malice and appetite.

Corgi was the kind of boy many would call stubborn but mostly for the wrong reasons. He was fixed in his belief of right and wrong and firmly believed that what Dander was doing to him was wrong. He thought of his mother, who woke at 6 in the AM every day to make sure her boys all ate well for the day. He thought of his father slaving over the machining lathes at the factory where he was employed as a toolmaker so that he could ensure his family would have a roof over their head eat every day. Corgi doubted that Dander's mind ever considered factors such as those. That would imply compassion, which he believed that Dander lacked entirely.

Corgi considered this carefully and then made up his mind.

"You can't have this one but if you wait until after school, I'll show you where all of my Snaky Cakes come from. Not only that, once you know where they are you can help yourself to them any time you like." Corgi spoke, quickly running out of breath.

Dander loosened his grip allowing Corgi to catch his breath.

"You're serious? You'll let me have as many as I want?" Dander towered over him.

"When you want." Corgi nodded his head still breathing heavily.

There was another pause as Dander's eyebrows tightened around his eyes in the scrutiny of Corgi.

"...but I get to keep the one in my lunch" Corgi reminded Dander tactfully.

"Where are they?" Dander asked.

"Meet me here after school and I'll show you" Corgi answered brushing himself off.

"Why not now?" Dander interrogated Corgi.

"Because..." Corgi answered cryptically.

"Because?" Dander's eyes pierced Corgi's.

Corgi paused again before speaking, only saying one thing before leaving Dander and heading back into the school.

"...they're in my secret place."

School Day's End

Corgi arrived to find Dander leaning up against the fence where he'd pinned Corgi earlier in the day. He was talking with a couple of his wrestling teammates when he saw Corgi.

"Sorry guys, gotta go. I've got someone to deal with." Dander told his teammates as he stepped towards Corgi.

"Don't forget we've got a match tomorrow. You might want to leave some of Corgi for tomorrow so you can at least have a cake before the match." one of his teammates suggested.

"Don't worry boys. I'll bring enough cake for us all." Dander smiled feeling very much like the cat who swallowed the canary.

"Ready?" Corgi asked Dander.

"Yep. Lets go. No tricks either. If you run for it, I'll get you tomorrow and it will be the last time you trick me." Dander replied.

"Don't worry. I have exercise induced asthma. I can't run very far." Corgi said pushing his glasses back up to their seat on his nose.

"So that's how you got out of track and field?" Dander laughed, pushing Corgi.

"Precisely." Corgi replied as they began to walk under his lead.

"I always thought it was because of Giordi. You remember. The other guy who used to beat you." Dander smirked at Corgi, perhaps disgusted by his weakness.

"I remember him. The truth is that my asthma's improved a lot. I guess I kinda used the Doctor's note to keep me safe from him. I actually changed my class because of him. From Mr. Tebersol to Ms. Perina's class. All because he told me he wanted to beat me up every day. Just for fun he said." Corgi told Dander as he continued walking towards Myer Laneway.

"I guess you lucked out when dropped out of school for good." Dander pushed Corgi's shoulder almost sending him sprawling to the pavement.

Corgi caught his step and contined along.

"He didn't drop out. He disappeared." Corgi told Dander.

"That's not what I heard. I heard he dropped out. He left for a sports opportunity in the minor leagues." Dander said firmly.

"Whatever you say. I guess he did. He's just one less person to..." Corgi began before stopping himself.

"...bully you? You dufus. You bring it on yourself. You practically walk around with a target on your head that says pick on me and beat me up. Wolves prey on the meat. That's the way its always been. You just act like the meat all the time. Kind of like when a Wolf sees a rabbit. The rabbit bolts, and the Wolf chases it. Not because its hungry. Simply because the rabbit ran. You're the rabbit man." Dander pushed Corgi, though Corgi sidestepped enough to deflect it.

Dander almost fell to the ground as they entered Myer Laneway.

"Are you trying to be smart with me rabbit?" Dander suddenly got angry.

"No. I just want to make sure we get to my rabbit hole. I think you'll feel much better when you see my secret place." Corgi answered.

Myer Park 'Afore The Dark

After half and hour of walking they'd come to the end of Myer Laneway which opened onto the park. It was lush green and filled with a large array of maple and pine. The trees started out thinly scattered to either side of the foot path. As their walk progressed, the density of the forest grew until even the early evening sun could not penetrate its canopy.

"Are we close yet?" Dander asked sounding a slight bit jumpy.

"Very." Corgi replied.

"So why would you keep a collection of Snaky Cakes out here in the middle of Myer Park?" Dander asked Corgi.

"Well this place is kind of ...  special." Corgi replied struggling to keep his breath paced.

He stopped and pulled an inhaler from his pocket. He put it to his lips and drew a deep breath of ventolin. The pace of Corgi's heart picked up from the steroid. He then walked off the path and into the woods.

Dander cautiously followed him.

They remained silent, walking for another ten minutes until the forest around them completely muffled the sounds of the small town and the light from the sky.

"Alright Corgi, stop screwin' me! Where is this place?!" Dander demanded of Corgi.

Corgi almost immediately stopped and lower himself to the ground where he sat making himself comfortable.

"We're here." Corgi smiled.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Dander asked him sarcastically, half expecting a trick.

"This is my secret place." Corgi answered, ruffling through his knapsack.

Dander suddenly became suspicious and grabbed Corgi's pack from out of his lap.

"You trying to pull a weapon on me?" Dander barked at Corgi.

"No. I'm just looking for my key." Corgi replied shrinking away from Dander.

"I'll keep this. Wait, there's nothing in here but this water bottle." Dander responded angrily.

He pulled the water bottle out, unscrewed the cap and sniffed the contents.

"What the hell is this? It smells like..." Dander demanded nearly gagging after inhaling from the bottle.

"Its my key." Corgi replied innocently.

Dander shook his head in disbelief. He'd been played by Corgi and now he knew it. Dander poured the liquid on the forest floor and threw the bottle away.
Now there was only one thing left to do.

"You tricked me you little bugger! Now you're going to pay!" Dander reached out for Corgi just as the forest floor erupted.

Dander was thrown throught the air at least ten feet before landing with a thud on his side. His experience in wrestling helped him to avoid any serious damage, especially given his weight. The forest rumbled as a gaseous mist spewed from the ground through fissures.

Dander could barely see Corgi through the mist while Corgi kept his eyes focused on the focal point of the gaseous formation.

The gas congealed and a flare of bright light and blackness emerged in the shape of a doorway. The gas slowly settled and the quake ceased. Ice crystals beaded and fell in droplets from around the door shaped blackness.

"What the hell is that?" Dander asked now shrinking away from the doorway.

"That's the door to my secret place." Corgi replied.

"The place with all of your Snaky Cakes?" Dander asked in awe.

"One and the same." Corgi replied.

"How do we get in?" Dander queried Corgi cautiously.

"We just walk through it. Walk into it." Corgi assured him.

Dander laughed aloud his eyes wide in mania and shock.

"You are going to make me rich little Corgi rabbit. All because I chased you when you ran." Dander approached the doorway.

The heat of his body seemed to condense the water vapour in the area which quickly became ice droplets, falling like snow in front of the doorway.

"I think I'll get myself a Snaky Cake." Dander said shakily.

He closed his eyes and stepped forward into the blackness.

There was a moment of incredible silence. Silence as he'd never experienced in his life. Then it felt as if the entirety of his body was turned inside out. He could feel the air upon his innards. He could smell a found odor far more pungent than Corgi's elixir. The key as he'd called it.

Dander opened his eyes expecting to see a mountain of Snaky Cakes. Instead what he saw brought his innards spewing forth through his mouth, ejecting his breakfast and lunch in one fell swoop.

There were bones. Bodies. Some halfway through decomposition. Others completely bleached by time and the air.

Dander's eyes watered and he wiped them trying to regain his sight. In looking around in the darkness he stumbled upon a body donning a football jersey. Lucky 11. The number on Giordi's football jersey.

"Corgi you bastard! Where the hell are you? I'm going to get you! You little..." Dander screamed.

Corgi's voice answered, distant and echoing through the darkness.

"You know Dander, Giordi said the same thing to me. So did Mr. Beirbeck. They all did. You see, in about half a minute this door will close. It will meld back into the dimension from whence it came. Into the interior negative space of the universe. Something I've been experimenting with at home with my chemistry set. I won't be able to open it again because you used up all of my key. It would take me a year of work at the ice cream store just to earn enough money to buy the amount of deuterium that I would need to make another key. So this is goodbye, Dander. Maybe next time you won't go chasing rabbits just because they run. Maybe you won't take Snaky Cakes from people who would otherwise share them. Maybe a lot of things could have changed for the better even with you around, but you chose to take everything from me rather than waiting for me to share." Corgi's voice ceased.

"Corgi! Please... don't leave me here... I don't want to die... I am so sorry for what I did to you... please... please... don't leave me..." Dander's voice pleaded and cried, slowly fizzling and disappearing with the door through which he'd stepped.

Dander was gone. Forever.

Gone But Not Missed

The school playground was filled with laughter. The third graders were busy on the swings while the fourth graders mostly played tether and volley ball. There was sense of peace and happiness. The freedom to be young and enjoy life and learning. There was Corgi and his best friends. They sat on the adventure playground together finishing the last of their lunch.

"I'm a bit surprised." said Ellen.

"Surprised about what?" asked Kuan-He.

"Just how quiet and peaceful it has been since Dander went missing." Ellen replied.

"I know. This is the first time in a long time that I could go to gym class without getting a wedgie every day from him. It feels good to be able to sit down safely." Kuan-He noted aloud.

"I certainly don't miss him breaking my bra clips like he used to when he was seated behind me in biology. Brought my poor mother to tears paying for new bras so often." Ellen nodded in approval of the recent improvements.

There was a moment silence as they chewed their food.

"What about you Corgi? What do you think?" asked Ellen.

Corgi fixed his glasses, perching them correctly on his face and then reached into his backpack pulling forth a Snaky Cake.

He paused a moment and looked at his friends before speaking.

"You know what I think? I think that I want to see if I can split this cake three ways..." Corgi smiled, doing his best to wink at Ellen.

The End

Copyright 2019 Brian Joseph Johns