The Hole in the Sky

by Roderick T. Long

[Around 1975 (age 11), in Idaho Falls. The influence of the Narnia books is evident.]


The rain came down in torrents, splashing against objects and then exploding into little puddles on the ground. The puddles filled up with rings, signifying the arrivance of more drops. The water ran down the gutters along the side of the street, sweeping everything along with the current. A piece of paper, a chewing gum wrapper, and a ticket to a movie that had been playing last month were part of the items swept up by the raging little stream of water.

The sidewalks and the streets were shiny with the water. The thunder rumbled, and lightning cracked across the heavens.

“Of course it would be raining,” grumbled Myrna. She was angry because today was her birthday, and they had been going to have an outdoor Picnic-party, but now they could not. [“]All summer it hasn’t rained, and now on August 14th, we have a cloudburst!”

“You’re lucky, Myrna,” chided Lila gently. “I have my birthday on January the Seventh, when there’s usually full snow on the ground!”

Myrna, who was seven – today she was eight – had short black hair and brown eyes. Lila, who was twelve, had long blonde hair and blue eyes. No one would ever know they were sisters, but they were. Anyway, Lila’s twin brother, Rob, didn’t look like her or Myrna. He had spiky red hair, freckles, and – surprisingly enough – green eyes – just to be different. He had been sent on a trip to a neighbouring town to visit with his grandmother. Instead of all going together, they usually went separately.

Last year, and the year before, Grandma had lived right in Leedsford, but now she had moved to a huge country house in Twin Forks.

“I wonder what Rob’s doing in this rain?” said Myrna.

“In that huge house he’s sure to find something,” said Lila.


Rob stood looking at the huge house. The shutters were falling off, an old rickety fence ran behind it, there was an owls’ nest in one gable, and the rooms behind the windows were dark and forbidding.

“It’s sure to be haunted,” thought Rob, and was delighted at the creak the door made when he opened it. He was even more pleased when Grandma showed him the cobweb-covered living room. And he was simply in ecstasy when she led him down a sinister-looking corridor and up a scary flight of stairs to his bedroom.

The bedroom had a large, dusty mirror, an antique dresser, a bookshelf of strange volumes with weird titles, and a four-poster bed in one corner. There was also a closet which, when Rob finally succeeded in opening it, contained a large metal framework, the use of which he could not determine. It looked like this.

[Illustration A]

“Oh, boy!” said Rob, “It looks just like a spaceship.” He got inside at sat down at the pilot’s seat. “I wonder what would happen if I pulled the lever?” he thought. He decided to try it. The little control-box went “click.” A high-pitched hum was heard. The transporter glowed a bright, dazzling red. The humming sound turned into a roar! The whole ship vibrated! The whole room vibrated! When everything finally went back to normal, the machine was still there – but Rob was no longer inside it!


The next day, Father came up to Myrna and Lila and told them that Grandma had called, saying Rob had mysteriously disappeared. Also, at the same time, she had heard a roar that shook the house. She could not imagine what it was. Father had said that he, Mother, Myrna, and Lila would be right out.

When they got there, the first thing they did was go to Rob’s bedroom. However, there were no clues there. They left the room – all except curious Myrna. She opened the closet to see what was inside.

“Wow!” she said. “What a wonderful toy Rocket ship! I’ll pull the lever!” And she did.

*     *     *

“What’s that noise?” said Father suddenly. A roar was heard, shaking the whole house!

“It’s just exactly like what I heard last night!” cried Grandma.

“It’s coming from the bedroom,” said Father, “I’ll go see what it is.”

He rushed into the bedroom, and saw Myrna sitting in a shaking contraption. As he ran to get her, there was a blinding flash of red light – and Myrna disappeared!

“Now we know what happened to Rob” Father said grimly.


Rob watched the walls, ceiling, dresser, bed, floor, bookcase, mirror, closet, even the spaceship, disappear in horror. In their place he saw appearing a dismal landscape that looked like a desert, only with high mountains every few feet. In the sky shone an object that looked like a moon.

[Illustration B]

It was bitterly cold, and the icy beauty of the mountains bathe in the moon’s chilling light made it seem colder. Little brown animals s curried to get way from the cold. However, there was no place to go.

[Illustration C]

Rob counted ten different kinds of animals, and gave them all names. The names were –

Fleeper – a brownish creature with floppy tail, long legs, and a tuft of hair by the oval-shaped head that looks like an ear. The body is like an egg.

Torgu – This fat creature has stumpy legs and a fluke-like tail. It has small ears and large tusks, and long hair.

Gyrab – This creature looks like a rabbit but it has a long tail, a long neck, and spots all over it.

Rabbitack – This creature is more like the rabbit than the Gyrab. It has no long neck and no spots. It does have a long tail, though. Perhaps it is a baby Gyrab.

Homoflop – This creature is a monkey-like creature that looks slightly human. The head looks like a squash with two floppy ears on top.

Acor-punk – This creature has leathery skin like an elephant. It also has a long nose. It has scales along its back, four wings – two on each side – and is extremely long and skinny. It has a stumpy tail.

Waffle-Mop – This creature looks like a weasel, but has a large tuft of bristly hair down his back.

Sausage – This creature is well-named, for it is long and skinny, with two feet at one end.

Gloop – This creature is more like a gigantic bug than an animal. Its body is oval, and has only two legs.

Nutchitter – This last animal had a tail and body like a giant squirrels, and teeth like a beaver or woodchuck.

When Rob lay down to go to sleep, he was very cold. However, he was soon warmed up by a long fleeper who curled up beside him. They warmed each other, and went to sleep peacefully. Later, Rob and the Fleeper would become close friends.

When Rob woke up the next morning, it was not cold. It was hot. Not unbearably hot, as the night had been unbearably cold, but just right. Rob was surprised. He had expected it to always be cold. However, he was hungry – very hungry. He could hardly stand it.

That Afternoon, Rob got another surprise. Myrna Appeared, right before his eyes!


“Wherever Rob and Myrna are, they must be starving!” said always-practical Lila, once Father and Mother had left. “I’ll put some food in a package, along with a note. I’ll put it in the machine, pull the lever, and jump back so the ray won’t get me – just the package.” The plan worked fine except for one little thing – she didn’t move back fast enough. When the package disappeared, so did Lila.


Back in That Other Place, several days passed. Rob, Myrna, and Lila made friends with ten animals – One Fleeper, One Forgu, One Gyrab, One Rabbitack, One Homoflop, one Acorpunk, one Wafflemop, One Sausage, one gloop, and one nutchitter. They ate the food in the package and had fun.


Back on Earth, several days passed. Finally, the scientist who had lived in the house before Grandma bought it was found, and he admitted he had invented the thing. He showed the only possible way to bring Rob, Myrna, and Lila back. He took some tools and adjusted the machine. Then, he tied a string to the lever and stood faraway – so he wouldn’t get caught by the ray – and pulled. The string pulled the lever, but this time the ship itself disappeared from the face of the earth and reappeared in That Other Place. The, the scientist took remote-control machines and made the machine #150; wherever it was – go back to normal – that is, transporting what is inside it but not the vehicle itself.


“Look!” cried Rob. “That’s the spaceship – it’s appearing!”

“Now we can go back!” said Lila.

“Not without our ten animals!” said Myrna firmly. So the animals – along with some seeds to grow the plants that they had discovered that the animal ate – were bundled into the spaceship. (Once on earth, they could take some seeds from the plants, plant them, and get more plants so that the animals would always have food.)

Then, Rob, Myrna, and Lila got in, Rob pulled the lever, and suddenly, there was no trace that humans had ever been in That Other Place except a strange, glowing, metal framework.


The Father, the Mother, Grandma, and the scientist were overjoyed when Rob, Myrna, and Lila came back – and startled when they saw the strange menagerie they had brought with them. However, Grandma agreed to keep the animals in her home – and she did.


If you ever pass through Twin Forks, you will see a mansion that looks like a haunted house. You will be greeted by an Old grandmother, a Fleeper, a Torgu, a Gyrab, a Rabbitack, a Homoflop, an Acorpunk, A Wafflemop, a Sausage, a Gloop, a Nut-chitter, and possibly three happy grandchildren that have come to visit. As for the transporter, it never caused any more trouble – stranded in That Other Place!


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