The Nineteenth day of September My ninth day in the cabin The year is unknown I was outside pulling water from the well in the pouring rain when I had my epiphany. I wasn’t so excited that I dropped the bucket but I certainly hastened my pace enough to lose half its contents. The deluge of water falling from the sky more than made up for my sloppiness and, by the time I stepped inside, the bucket was brimming with water. I quickly set the bucket on the floor and went about shouldering the wall perpendicular to the fireplace. After pacing the inside the cabin most of yesterday afternoon (the rain began almost the moment Akil had departed) I’d walked past this section of wall at least four dozen times and couldn’t see that which is obvious to me now. The planked walls, each plank a slightly different shade, formed a familiar shape when viewed at just the right angle in just the right light. An entry way-an archway –a tunnel –the tunnel from the map. After my shoulder began to rub raw, I stepped back to make sure I wasn’t going mad. There it was. The tunnel entry was plain as day. I turned and quickly opened the trunk, removed the map unfurling it as I stepped back to the spot just left of the window and beside where the lug pole dipped down in a U to hold the pot handle. The archway was there. Beyond the archway, the depths of the tunnel. I held up the map, the shape was identical. This could not be a coincidence, I thought. I stepped forward, placing the map against the wall. The outline on the wood planks immediately vanished. The topographical markings surrounding the tunnel drawing had disappeared when the map rolled back onto itself as Akil left. I stepped back allowing the early morning sunlight to hit the paper while enjoying its warmth on my back. In retrospect it clearly had stopped raining. As I moved back, the outline of the wall came into view. I faltered having never seen it from this position . After taking a breath, I lifted the map, holding it just off to the right of the outline on the wall. The light hit the map. The simple ink design began to glow, superimposing
its outline onto the wall –matching, line-for-line, the image already on the wall. Then, as if an invisible pen were writing the letters, a word scrolled across the map just below the drawing. Ireki I whispered the word as I read it from the paper. A noise, stone-on-stone drew my attention away from the map. The wall –the formerly wood planked wall, had somehow transformed into the stone archway drawn on my map –only this archway was not rudimentary in design but absolutely magnificent. Foreign glyphs were cut deep into the emerald stone that arched above my head. Vines wrapped the pillars that faced the front of the archway. They appeared to be inlayed with gold. Perched atop the pillars sat two of the most lifelike sculptures I’d ever seen. They were birds for sure but of which species I know not. Their long necks dipped down then up again like a serpent’s body. Their faces were clearly that of a bird. The rounded beaks suggested a seedeater however the feet, (both stood identically positioned) one lifted in defensive posture, revealed long, sharp talons. The wings were tucked in and extended past the rear of the body by twice its length. Their feathers were mottled black and red and their eyes were both a deep purple. The pupils, more cat-like than bird-like were narrow vertical ellipses –black, ever watching those who pass through. Between the columns positioned just above the peak of the arch was a recessed trapezoid. Cut in to the stone was not the strange glyphs carved beneath the arch but lettering in English. The letters leastways. The words were completely unfamiliar. Zehartu ra hasi As I studied these words, I heard something in the distance. It was coming from somewhere on the other side of the archway, which was shrouded in darkness. Echo distorted the sound but as it grew louder, I knew what it was. Someone was screaming
â€“and they were getting closer. Quickly. I stepped back as the noise grew, looking for something to defend myself. I spotted Akilâ€™s blade perched in the corner beside the fireplace and quickly moved to pick it up. By the time I had it in my hand, the noise went silent. I turned back to the archway. Beneath it stood a man. Old, gaunt and breathless. He looked at me, inhaled deeply and said, about bloody time, then ran out the circular door and into the field. I gave chase, calling after him but he, this skinny old man, was too fast. He disappeared into the forest before I made it past the well. I turned, slowly retreating back inside the cabin where the two winged sentinels looked down on me as I reflected upon my first encounter with another person since meeting Akil Karanis. The brevity of the meeting made it all the more peculiar and raised my apprehension about crossing under the archway.