What would happen if a man dug a hole and then kept on digging?
I first heard about The Hole six months ago. Back then, it was just a small hole in the ground. No capital letters. No definite article. No big deal.
The Hole as I now know it came into being on September 30th, the day I finally set eyes on it. Before then, I’d heard rumours of its existence – I even saw a grainy photo once on my cousin’s phone – but I had no idea what it was. Or what it would become.
When my cousin told me he was digging a hole, I nodded and smiled. Sure. Everyone digs a hole at some point in their lives. Then it starts to rain and they go inside and forget about it.
Not my cousin. Not this hole.
As the months passed, the hole grew and grew. First it displaced the dank sediment. Then its centre began to exert a gravitational pull – one that kept luring me ever closer.
I tried resisting at first. When the texts arrived, inviting me to visit The Hole – and perhaps help with its excavation – I politely made my excuses. I’m a busy writer with shit to do. Like writing, and sleeping. Unfortunately, I had underestimated two things:
1. My cousin’s persistence.
2. My inability to say no.
For some reason, I am incapable of declining social invites. Drinks later? Yes. Quick blowie? Yes. Wanna inspect my hole? N– oh, why not. What’s the worst that can happen?
In the time it took me to visit The Hole, it had grown significantly. I hadn’t seen it – not unless you count that shaky pic from months earlier – but I knew it had grown because its nomenclature had changed. First it became ‘the lair’. Then it became ‘the mine’. Then it became this:
In a quiet village in the middle of nowhere lies The Hole. Hours from Edinburgh. Hours from all the things I ought to be getting on with in life: Work. Mates. Girlfriend. Sadly, I just couldn’t say no. I wanted to, but the yes man in me refused.
When I arrived at The Hole, I knew it was going to be deep. I just hadn’t expected this. There’s johnny deep, there’s baw deep and then there’s The Hole deep.
30th September 2013, 15:45
I peer into it cautiously, my feet dislodging a few stones around the edge. They topple into the chasm and clatter to the bottom. For a hole dug with nothing more than spade and sweat, it’s scarily deep. Not only that, but it smells. It smells of death. Of atrophy and decay. It smells dank. It smells of creatures that shun the light. Foxes. Badgers. Vampires.
I take hold of the rickety ladder and clamber slowly into the hole. As I descend into the bowels of the earth, the smell grows worse. I emerge into a hollowed out cave and a swarm of flies appear from the stony ceiling and buzz past my head. Using the torch on my phone, I locate the source of the smell – and by extension the source of the flies – at my feet.
A dead mouse lies at the bottom of the mine shaft, its body upturned, its paws locked in rigor mortis. It has been dead for a while, but not long enough to quell the awful scent.
“Just put the mouse in the bucket,” says my cousin. “I’ll haul it out.” I pick up a shovel and do as I am told.
The best laid plans
Before arriving at the locus, I had made two promises to myself:
1. I would not help dig The Hole.
2. I would not blog about it.
The first clause was obvious: digging a hole to the centre of the earth is a hazardous, time-consuming exercise. It’s dirty. It’s smelly. And it’s ultimately pointless, cos what is there to find at the bottom of a hole other than rocks and dead mice?
The second clause was out of kindness. I like my cousin a lot. He’s a good guy, even if he can be a little….eccentric on occasions. Out of respect for him, I wouldn’t blog about The Hole because if he found out, he might take it the wrong way.
By the time I’d seen my cousin and seen The Hole, however, it became apparent that I would not be getting away without lifting a shovel. And if I had to dig for him, it was only fair that I should get to write about it, as compensation for wrecking my Nudie jeans.
(Cous: if you’re reading this, my intentions are honourable. I ain’t trolling you – that sorta behaviour’s reserved for my gf. I just want to tell the story of The Hole.)
And so it was that we set about enlarging The Hole. How much bigger will it become? I have no idea. Why are we digging it? I have no idea. All I know is that we have two weeks before my cousin’s parents return from holiday. Two weeks to complete The Hole without bringing a ton of rubble, a garden shed and a semi-detached council house down on our heads.
The Hole gets bigger
A childhood flashback
And a survivor emerges from the rubble
All this in The Hole (part II), to be published this Friday on Ed Uncovered.
I’ve done some dumb shit in my time, but The Hole might just be the dumbest yet. How dumb are we talking? See for yourself in part two.