Author's Note: All my Holes fanfics tie into each other...you may have noticed, or not. ;) George, who appears in chapter two, was also in my last fic Murderers, and he was in Innocent too, although he wasn't named back then. You don't have to have read those fics to understand this, but it helps I suppose. :)
Author's Warning: Really quite scary. Especially
if you don't like the yellow-spotted lizards.
Deep in the desert, there lives a girl with no name.
She lives in a cabin, an old one. It used to be next to the lake, but there isn't any lake anymore. It dried up years and years ago. The girl is staring out of the window. All she can see is sand. Her older sister walks in. She may have had a name at some point. But if she had she's long forgotten it.
"Father says you should be digging,"
"I don't want to dig. They aren't digging."
"That's because Grandad's dying."
The girl looks up in horror. "Dying?! They didn't say-I didn't know!"
"Neither did I until five minutes ago," the older girl says. Her eyes are darker than her sister's, and her face more wretched. "If you want to see him, go to the other cabin. If not, you have to go out and dig." She picks up a spade and goes outside.
The younger girl follows her through the door. She is very young...although she doesn't know her name she knows her age: twelve years old. She heads for the other cabin, the new one. Her father built it. There used to be several trees here, though they were old and deadening. But they were cut down to build the cabin with. Only two old oaks remain.
She goes inside.
Her grandad is lying on the bed. There were only ever two beds, one was for Grandad, the other was for whoever got to it first. Her grandad raises his head feebly as she comes in.
"You should be digging," he spits.
"I wanted to see you."
The girls parents look at her cooly. "If you want your grandad to die happy, go and find him the treasure," her mother says in a dreamlike way. The girl doesn't move.
"Go away, girl," he snarls. She doesn't move. "Go! Spoiled brat. Never worked hard enough. You two didn't teach her well," He turns his attention to the two other people watching him. "Or her sister. Lazy, foolish little brats..."
He stops there and for a minute it looks like
he's dead. But then his eyes pop open.
"You find it," he mutters. "and the lake will come back. We're in the right, don't you forget that, Joseph."
"I won't," the girl's father says.
The girl doesn't hang around to hear the rest of this. She has no desire to watch someone die. She returns to the first cabin. She can see her sister outside, hacking at the sand with her spade. She seems angry. She isn't angry often.
There is nothing to do in the cabin, in the desert. It is no place for children. It is no place for anyone. The cabin has a few blankets and pillows on the floor, a pair of turquoise-studded black boots in the corner, a cupboard containing some dirty clothes, some spades hanging up on the wall, and a box. The box is shared between the two sisters. There's not a lot in there. There's a diary, but it doesn't consist of much. June 1st-Went digging. June 2nd-Went digging. June 3rd-Went digging. There's a book...a collection of Shakespeare's plays. That was how both girls learnt to read. Their grandmother taught them, before she died. She wasn't a bad teacher. And lastly, there's some paper and pens. None of the pens work. None of them do any writing, anyway. No time. Not when you have to dig every hour of every day, chasing a dream which you don't like under the orders of parents who hate you.
We're in the right.
She isn't sure what that means, really.
She wonders if her grandfather is dead yet.
She sits in the corner and draws in the dust. The whole place is filthy. There's the odd scorpion, although she's not afraid of them. She isn't afraid of rattlesnakes either. She is afraid of lizards...but they all keep away.
The family car is outside. It's very old, but it works. Once every month or so her father drives down to the town for food. There's never any money, so she doesn't know how he gets it. Maybe he steals it. It's been three weeks since he last went to town, so they're running low on food. There's a few apples and a can of soup, she knows that much. It won't last long though. There might even be some chocolate, but she knows it's not for her. Her mother is the only one who gets the chocolate. Her father buys it specially for her and smiles as she eats it slowly, savouring every bite. Once she stole a piece of chocolate...a tiny, tiny piece. But she didn't even get to eat it. Her father hit her round the head for it and made her sleep outside. So she opened the car and slept in there. She liked that better. The seats were comfortable.
She sees her mother outside, and sees her sister ignore her. She walks out of the door. Her mother sits on the dusty ground, her eyes empty, as usual.
"Is he dead?" the girl asks.
"Yes," the woman says dreamily. She plays with the sand. "He died painfully, I think."
The sister, far away, digs her spade into the sand viciously. The others can hear her.
"We're running out of food," the girl says.
"I know. You can't have my chocolate."
"I don't want it."
The woman stares at her daughter, decides she's telling the truth and takes a small piece of the stuff out of her pocket. It's already melting, and it has sand stuck to it. She throws it a small way away, never taking her eyes off it.
The girl has seen this done before...ever since she was very young...but it never fails to unnerve her.
Her mother, the woman with black hair and blue eyes, watches the chocolate melting into the sand, watches it form a small brown pool. A few more seconds, and then it comes. The lizard. The yellow-spotted lizard.
The girl backs away. She wonders how her mother will react if the lizard bites her. Will she yell? Will she cry? Will she burst out laughing?
The lizard approaches the chocolate. It doesn't look happy. The girl is standing much too close to it. She is close enough to see it's yellow spots. She knows the danger she is in. She hears her grandmother's voice in her head: I know what the lizards can do, I've seen it happen. Stay away from them.
There is the smell of smoke and the slamming of doors. The girl can see flames, and she realises her father must be burning the body of her grandfather. And her sister has gone inside.
The lizard has had it's fill of the chocolate, and is moving. It walks up to the woman, and crawls up her arm. The girl reminds herself again that she's seen her mother do this many times, and the lizard has-obviously-never killed her. But there's a first time for everything.
The woman coos and pets the lizard, running her finger down it's back. Putting her fingers in it's mouth, even. The lizard doesn't mind. It's under her spell. Anything the woman told the lizard to do, it would do. If it jumped on the girl and bit her, it would be because her mother told it to.
The girl turns and runs back to the cabin. The door bangs against the wall and leaves a dent. Her sister is sitting on top of the cupboard, purposely not looking out of the window.
"Is Mother with the lizards again?" she asks.
The girl nods. The sister sighs.
It is hot outside. Even hotter now, because the fire is burning. Outside, the woman with dark hair laughs as she lets the lizard go. Her husband is watching the fire with his face blank, barely thinking of his father, because he was nothing but trouble while he was alive. He did this to them. He made all their choices, he destroyed all their lives, because of some strange thing that happened years and years ago, when all this was still a lake and not a wasteland. Some strange thing involving a man who never did anything to anyone, a girl with bright blonde hair who did, and a love and a hate that shouldn't have happened.
But it's all in the past.
It is hot outside.
But inside the cabin, the girl feels freezing cold.