The Hypersonic Gopher from another Dimension

Reads: 41  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 1

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

I know it doesn't sound like it from the title, but this story is absolutely true. And no gophers were harmed in the making of it. Oh, and I don't normally swear this much, but it happened in a construction setting and in order to maintain realism I had to.

THE HYPER-SONIC GOPHER FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION

I was working as an insulator in Burstall, Saskatchewan, another job my brother Jimmy got me hooked up with. This was my first day working at the top of the “Stack”, a 200-foot tower designed to bleed off excess gas if there were a buildup and this was about my fifth trip up the damn thing. I’d had to make so many trips because of all the materials and tools I needed to reinsulate the access hatch I was working on and couldn’t carry everything and climb the ladders.

Normally, I would be able to tie everything to the bottom of a rope and haul it, or most of it, up in one go, but because this was Saskatchewan and it was such a long way up, I couldn’t safely tie off that much stuff and hope the wind wouldn’t catch it and either tangle it in the stairs and ladders, or bang it around until it came untied then strew it all over the plant below. Plus, the weight of the rope itself would be heavy, add that to the weight of the tools and equipment and then add in the tug from the wind, and, well, fuck that nightmare.

So, to make it work, I’d had to do it in stages, the only thing I really had to worry about was the last stage, the thirty-foot ladder to get to the very top platform. It was a caged ladder, which is a normal ladder with a round metal cage welded around it for safety, and it was a real bastard for hauling stuff up it.

I had to go up and tie off the rope, then back down and tie the stuff on the rope, then back up to haul it up. But, the fun part was…I had to risk certain death to get the stuff up. In order to haul on the rope, I couldn’t just stand back on the platform and pull, all the stuff kept getting snagged on the ladder, or it would bounce off the ladder and get snagged on the cage.

What I ended up having to do, which was probably breaking a bunch of safety rules, not to mention scaring the shit out of me in the process, was to step across the gap above the ladder and brace one foot on the cage itself, then, with one foot still on the platform I’d have to bend over, look straight down the thirty-foot drop and haul the stuff up. It would work great if the cage didn’t break off and send me tumbling out over the platform below and into the void beyond.

This wouldn’t have been too difficult if this wasn’t Saskatchewan, the wind was a constant thing and it was a stone-cold bitch in this situation. The stuff would sway back and forth and every once in a while, it would get snagged on either the ladder or the cage, a snag meant that I would feel a huge jerk on the rope that would throw off my balance, and with both hands being used to haul on the rope I would be in danger of falling down the inside of the cage.

If this happened, I would either get caught in the cage or the ladder on the way down and break an arm or a leg, not good. Or I could tumble straight down the gap between, bouncing off everything on the way down and landing hard on the steel grate of the platform 30 feet below and break my neck, or back, or both legs, or rebreak the limbs that I’d already broken on the way down. REALLY not good.

If any of that happened I would be screwed, there’d be no way for anyone to hear me screaming for help way up here, not with the shriek of the turbine down below masking any sound I could make, and of course, I didn’t have a radio. That would have been a nice idea, for a guy working on his own, way up here, too bad nobody had thought of it.

If I did fall, I’d be stuck up here for at least three hours until I didn’t show up for coffee and someone came looking for me. I could bleed to death if I’d managed to get really mangled, or I could just die from shock from all of the various and gruesome injuries I would have.

But, all of the above would be the bright side of this awesome equation, the dark side would be if I took an unlucky bounce off the ladder on the way down. You see, the cage doesn’t go all the way to the platform below, it ends about eight or ten feet from the bottom. If for some reason I was to bounce off the ladder, right around where the cage ends, it could mean that I would bounce out, and over the railing of the platform below, and that would mean a long one hundred and fifty foot plus, fall to the ground below, and there’d be no way I could survive that.

I somehow managed to haul up all four loads of stuff without dying or being severely hurt. I found out that if I braced my outside foot against the cross brace in the cage, and my butt against the side of the cage I would be stable enough to handle all the jerks from snags, and there were a lot of them.

And even though I’d managed to take most of the danger out of the equation it didn’t stop my mind from going over and over all the things that could go wrong, or my eyes from looking down, through the grating of the platform 30 feet below, to the ground, a long way below that.

I’m normally not scared of heights if I have somewhere safe to stand and take them in, but this precarious perch was nowhere near safe, and I had to fight against my fear and vertigo to keep this part of the job moving along. It took every ounce of courage and work ethic I had, but I did it.

After the last load was up and tied off to keep it from blowing away, I laid out on the platform grate and puffed and wheezed and shook until I could move again, and then I got back to work. I know what you’re thinking, wow, what a guy, he must be some kind of superhero, and must make a fortune for all of that, nope, not really.

I’m just a guy trying to keep the money coming in and keep his brother from getting pissed off or embarrassed by me taking a job I couldn’t handle. Most of the brave parts of my life aren’t really about courage at all, they’re just scary situations that I plow through to avoid embarrassment or shame, sad huh? I’m pretty sure that most of the bravery that’s occurred throughout the ages has happened because someone didn’t want to face an embarrassed big brother, or son, or father or wife, etc. I guess somehow, death is preferable to living with the shame of not having tried.

I had taken off the external headphone-like sound suppressors, so I could turn my head a little easier and not feel like I was going deaf, I hate not being able to hear. They were just meant to get me past the turbine down below without damaging my hearing, so I didn’t need them up here. Besides, I still had on the foam earplugs I had in underneath. I had set up a place to put all the stripped-off materials, so they wouldn’t blow away and was just starting to get into the rhythm when…

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to the prairies, but there’s a certain sound that’s very distinctive to a small furry animal that’s everywhere out there. The high-pitched whistle-like scream of the gopher. I guess it's supposed to be some kind of greeting, Helloooooo; or maybe it’s a dire warning to the other gophers about a predator nearby, the gopher version of HEY DUDE, THERE’S A HAWK!!!

Whatever it was, I just heard it. But, that was im-fucking-possible. Like I stated previously, I was up two hundred feet in the air, above the screeching blare of an industrial-sized turbine, AND I still had earplugs in my ears!

There was no way a gopher could be heard way up there with all that going on. NO…FUCKING…WAY!

I Stopped working and listened for a bit, but the sound wasn’t repeated. Thank God, that’s all I needed, to lose my shit at the top of a tower, while I was on the job.

I gave my head a shake, mentally reset, and then got back to work. Two minutes later…

“THWEEEEEEEEP!” what the hell?

I stopped again, and listened, nope, nothin’

I knew it couldn’t be happening, it was just my imagination, or maybe some kind of leftover ringing in my ears from that damn turbine. I’d just about convinced myself that I wasn’t losing my mind and there must be some kind of rational explanation for it, when…

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

FUCK! I couldn’t believe it, this couldn’t be happening, but…it was. If it was just once or twice, maybe it could be explained away, but now, nope, no way, it was real, and it was happening.

Regardless, I had to get this job done, so I kept plugging away, and every once in a while…

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

As I continued to work, I started to try and come up with a reasonable explanation for this latest weirdness. They say truth can be stranger than fiction sometimes, and I’d seen more than my fair share of this little nugget of homespun wisdom playing out in my life over the years to start doubting that now. But, no matter how weird things got, there was usually some sane justification behind it all, if you looked hard enough. So, I put my hands on automatic, kept working, and set part of my brain to trying to figure this mystery out.

By the time the first break came along, I was still no closer to an answer, so I stowed my tools and materials, so they wouldn’t blow away if the wind picked up and headed down for coffee.

Because I was working the tower, they let me come down ten minutes early, so I would have a proper break after doing all that climbing. I made it into the lunch trailer a little early and was halfway through my first cup of coffee and working on my second cookie when the others started coming in.

I must’ve had a pretty concentrated look on my face when the other first and second years sat down at our table because one of them asked:

“Hey, what’s wrong, can’t figure out a cut?

Some of the miters and weird angles we had to work with could involve some pretty serious math, but that wasn’t it. I really didn’t want to talk about it, he would think I was nuts, but it was really bugging me now and it might help to get somebody else’s input.

People always think I’m a little weird, from all the books and stuff I read, so it didn’t bother me to have someone add another layer of strange to my character. But I tried to keep it down anyway, I didn’t want the journeymen to hear what we were talking about, and have my brother be embarrassed.

That didn’t work out very well, because no sooner had I finished describing where I was working and what I thought I was hearing than one of them boomed:

“NO FUCKING WAY!!” oops, shit.

Now, most of the journeymen were looking over from their tables, and a couple of the first years were laughing at me. So, of course, one of the journeymen has to ask:

“What’s the joke?” shit, double shit.

I tried to shrug it off and say “nothing” but it was too late.

The first year with the big mouth says, “Go ahead Chris, tell them that crazy shit you’re trying to lay on us!” fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck

So, I told ‘em.

The whole time I was talking I could feel my face getting redder and redder from embarrassment, it even sounded crazy to my ears now, and I could see Jimmy over in the corner glaring at me. Again, fuck, fuck, fuck…etc.

After the laughter died down a bit, there were all kinds of variations of “Bullshit man” and I could see Jimmy hanging his head and shaking it from side to side. Now they all thought I was nuts.

I couldn’t let them get to me though, I knew what I heard, and no amount of chiding was going to change that, but no matter how adamant I was, they all couldn’t believe me, not one of them thought it was true.

After the break, as I was trying to get out of there with the shreds of my dignity trailing along behind me like some kind of weird comets tail, I heard my brother Jimmy come up beside me and whisper sternly in my ear: “You fucker, just couldn’t keep it to yourself eh, I gotta work with these guys you asshole.” He shouldered me aside and went back to work and I proceeded to head back to my area and climb my tower of shame.

I got to the top, threw my ear protectors in the corner, and tried to get back to work, and sure enough, not even two minutes in:

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

“COCKSUCKER!!!” I was glad nobody could hear me up there swearing a blue streak all by my lonesome.

I kept doggedly working away, to the sporadic, periodic accompaniment of the dreaded:

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

 

Interspersed with some of the most imaginative swearing I could come up with:

“Shit, shit, shit, cocksucker, motherfucker, etc., etc.”

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

Mumble, mumble, mumble….

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

“GRRRRR, mumble, mumble…

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

Arrrrrrrrrgghhhhhhhhh, it was driving me nuts. Fuck it, fuck it, just keep working Chris….

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

As I worked away, my mind was working furiously on how the hell this could be happening. I mean, how could it be possible to be able to hear that little fucker all the way up here, above the din of the turbine, and straight through the fucking earplugs still steadfastly plugged into my ears.

Then I came up with it, maybe, just maybe all this brainstorming had come up with something I could live with, maybe even something I could tell the guys to get them off my back. Because I just knew they were going to ask. No fucking way they were going to let me off the hook for this one.

So, when my watch told me it was time to go, I once again stowed my tools and stuff away, donned my ear protectors, and slowly made my way down the tower and toward the trailer. Hoping against hope that the feeble idea I’d come up with would somehow appease the guys or at the very least, quiet some of their chidings.

I didn’t even get my first sandwich opened before, as I had feared, fucking mouthy boy opened his big grease-stained lips and with a mouth full of day-old chicken, said:

“So, Chris, hear any gophers lately?” fuuuuuuuucker.

After the laughter died down I screwed up what little courage I had left, and forged ahead. I knew this was going to sound even crazier if that was possible at this point, and I also knew it was a bit of a stretch and they probably wouldn’t buy it for a second, but it was all I had.

“What if, bear with me for a second, but what if…ahem…what if the sound that gophers make, is somehow super-sonic, or hyper-sonic or something, and, and that sound kind of, I don’t know, pierces all that other noise out there and cuts through it somehow…” I dwindled off, even more, ashamed now, and more embarrassed than ever. It even sounded crazy in my ears, coming out of my own mouth.

Buuuuuuuuttt, I don’t know if they felt sorry for me, or the earnestness of my earlier convictions had somehow swayed some of them or whatever, but they, some of them at least, seemed to buy it.

Whatever it was, they were split now, half of them were starting to believe it was possible, and the other half were adamantly against the idea. It was feasible after all, my little brainwave somehow managed to hold water! Yaya, gimme an Amen brothers and sistas!

 

As I was basking in the glory of their indecision and reveling in the fact that I just might not be as crazy as they’d previously all thought, I noticed my brother in the corner, grimacing and holding his hand over his eyes. Poor Jimmy, not only was he going to have to live with the fact that his little brother was a nutjob, but he was also going to have to deal with the fact that this little nutjob of a brother could still somehow convince a large percent of the room that his insanity was barely believable, and now it had become semi-contagious. I didn’t care, I loved my brother, but I also knew I had heard that fucking gopher, and against all odds, they were starting to believe it too.

For the rest of the lunch hour, there was a rousing debate amongst all those present, as to the super-sonic, or hyper-sonic abilities of gophers, it was funny as hell, and I loved all of it. Of all the arguments put forward, my favorite would have to be one that had never even occurred to me, which was really weird, because this whole thing was my little brainwave in the first place.

Gophers, it was postulated, send out this alert signal, which is meant to warn all the other gophers of an incoming threat, like a hawk, for instance. This high-pitched whistle-like chirp was designed and perfected by nature to be heard over a pretty wide coverage area, but not just that, it had to work, and be heard, underground.  It wouldn’t be a very effective early warning system if it wasn’t heard by all the little gophers that just happened to be running through the underground tunnels. If they couldn’t hear it, they could be popping up their little heads directly in the vicinity of Hawk-central, not good. So, if this was to work, this sound they made, had to be loud enough, or piercing enough, to travel through the dirt and rocks covering the tunnels themselves. Wow.

Suddenly this and the other varied theories that were being lobbed back and forth through the lunchroom that day were making my little hyper-sonic gopher sound, seem more and more plausible. I was vindicated, but Jimmy wouldn’t even talk to me as we headed back to work. It still felt pretty great.

So, hi-ho, hi-ho, back to work I go. I’m smiling now, and there’s a spring in my step. I get back up the tower, start working away, and sure enough…

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

I smile and continue to work, I’m making pretty good time, all things considered, so I take a little break to bust out my happy dance and take a little victory lap around the platform at the top of the tower. Top of the world ma!!! Woohooo! Vindication!

I got back to work, and things are going along swimmingly, interspersed with the occasional…

  “THWEEEEEEEEP!”

But now, instead of the trumpet of doom, signaling my slow spiraling descent into madness, it had become a happy little sound, the sweet-tweet of exoneration, a gift as it were, just for me, from the universe that can seem so cruel at times. Yay.

My mind, however, is not so easily convinced, it’s like that sometimes, it always has to take it one step too far. Everyone else in this situation would have been perfectly happy at a time like this, content, even a little blissful. But no, not me, not this guy. Something about his whole situation was still bugging me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Dammit.

I continued plugging away nonetheless, trying to ignore all those little irksome signals my mind was sending me about the unknown, unwanted wrongness inherent in this situation.

Like, why did the noise seem to stop, when I started to focus on it. There were times during this ordeal when I’d begun to doubt my sanity, the very essence of who and what I am, and also, my hearing, which had always been accurate and trustworthy to a fault. At those times, I’d put down my tools, stood up, pulled out my earplugs, and held my breath to listen, to make sure that I was hearing something, to have some undeniable proof, if only to myself, that this sound was actually happening. And nothing.

How was this possible? Did the fucking gophers somehow sense that I was listening and keep quiet, so I couldn’t pinpoint them? Was this some kind of built-in sixth sense that they were using, so that a predator wouldn’t be able to find them after they’d warned their brethren?

And why was there only ever one little

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

at a time? There had to be hundreds, if not thousands of the little bastards out there at any given time, surely, they weren’t polite enough to take turns, and wait for just the right moment to put in their own

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

gopher equivalent of their own two cents. How was that possible? How would they each know when it was their turn, and the exact moment to sound off? Suddenly this seemed very fishy indeed.

I could buy the fact that this sound could somehow travel the distance, and even that it could pierce through all the cacophony of sounds produced by the turbines and the plant itself. But how could the timing of it be so perfect, so selective, so elusive? I could give the little guys a lot of credit, but not that much. Shit.

I tried to ignore all these niggling little doubts and get back to the business at hand, but every time I heard the little

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

It bothered me a little more. I decided to try a little experiment. The next time it happened I was ready.

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

I quietly stood up, pulled out my earplugs, held my breath, and listened with every fiber of my being. Ten seconds, twenty seconds, thirty seconds, fooooooooooph! I let out my breath in one big blast. Nothing, not one damn thing. What the hell?

As I stood there puffing away trying to get my breath back, I put my gloved hand to my mouth to wipe away a little drop of errant spit that had escaped during my explosive exhalation, and while the back of my gloved hand was just brushing against my closed mouth…

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

I froze, and my mind went into overtime putting together all the little clues that I’d been running in the background for the last little bit, plus this new, latest piece of the puzzle.

HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHAHAAHAHAAA!!

AAAAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAAAHAHAHAAHA!!!

HA HA HA HAHAHAAAHHHAHAHAHAAHAAAHAAA!

I was laughing so hard I almost fell over, and I was beginning to see little flashy spots in the corners of my tear-streamed eyes. My guts hurt so much I thought I might’ve torn something, but I couldn’t stop.

I somehow managed to finish the rest of the mid-afternoon shift, sprinkled throughout with bouts of almost-maniacal laughter. On the way down, I had to stop a half dozen times to grip the rungs of the ladder or the railings on the stairways, or risk serious injury or plummeting to my death, as the laughter overcame me.

I was still laughing in uncontrollable spurts as I walked into the lunch trailer for afternoon coffee. Everyone was looking at me with unrestrained curiosity, but I waited until they were all seated before I spoke. I stood up, cleared my throat, fought off the latest giggle fest, and somehow managed to find my voice. They were all rapt, I had their complete and undivided attention.

“Well, I, uh, I figured it out. Uh-haha-um, ahem, the gopher thing. While I was up there working, it was bothering me still, so I tried to really listen for it, and I stopped working and held my breath… and when I let it out I was huffing and puffing, and I put my hand to my mouth to wipe some spit off my lips, aaand weeeellll…”

I slowly lifted my hand, placed it firmly over my lips, and breathed in deeply through my nose.

“THWEEEEEEEEP!”

There was a moment of absolute and utter silence, so deep and all-encompassing, that I could begin to hear my heartbeat, and then….

HAHAHAHAHAH, A FUCKING FLAPPER!!! HA, HA HA HAHAHAAA, AHAHAHHAAAHAHHHAHAHAAHAHHAHA A GODDAMN BOOGER!!!! AHAHAAAHAHAHHHAA, AHAAAHAHAAHAA,HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA,HAHAHA NOT A FUCKING GOPHER AT ALL!!!

AAAAHH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

WE ALL BELIEVED IT, ALL OF US!!!!

BAHAHAHAHAHAAHHHAHAHAAHAA!!!

People were rolling around on the ground, holding their guts, a couple of guys had to run out to use the washroom or risk pissing in their coveralls, the sound was loud, long, and uproarious. It just went on and on. I could see my brother in the corner, shaking his head and through gouts of laughter mouthing the words, CRAZY MUTHERFUCKER!!!

Somehow the hilarity of the moment had overshadowed any embarrassment that the whole situation had created, plus I did end up getting the damn job done in the end, so Jimmy was fine. Plus, he had a story he could tell his buds at future jobs, something to liven up the lunchroom maybe.

So, in conclusion, let this be a lesson to all of you, keep your noses CLEAN, especially at work!

THE END


Submitted: September 27, 2021

© Copyright 2021 chrispy. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Danni Lee

I love the way you can make me laugh. I laughed so hard at this story. You're killing me Chrispy, you are killing me. I love this story and the humor of the moment and how it unfolds. Great story, love all the laughter. Thank you.

Tue, September 28th, 2021 6:36am

Author
Reply

glad you liked it Danni, I love making people laugh.

Mon, September 27th, 2021 11:44pm

Facebook Comments

More Non-Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by chrispy

Short Story / Flash Fiction

Short Story / Non-Fiction

Short Story / Flash Fiction