The Secret Passage

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The futility of understanding everything.

Submitted: April 17, 2009

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Submitted: April 17, 2009

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In the Church, Gunter, tour guide third class, led his initiates through the maze of corridors that made up the interior of the landmark nestled plainly in the southern corner of Gillanden Keepe. He had made the trip through the halls many times and long ago gave up admiring the decorated halls and ornate woodwork of the walks. He smiled plainly many times in his robes as he twirled his neck chain to keep time.

What disturbed many of the brethren was that Gunter held his tours, quietly whistling and pointing out some of the more prominent features of the halls whether he had anyone with him or not.  It was decided long ago that Gunter not only marched to the beat of his own drum, but that he had also enlisted a full orchestra complete with gong and triangle ensembles.

"Wait!" Gunter held out his arm to stop his guest from proceeding up a short staircase.
"What's wrong?" Leopold asked, concerned.
"Nothing, we have to go this way." Gunter answered. He reached up and pulled on a small shelf. There was a faint click as a section of wall slipped on a hinge and turned to reveal a very foreboding passage. He pulled a small copper lamp off another shelf and walked confidently into the shadow of the hall. He waited for Leopold to follow.
Once in, he quietly pressed the wall back into place. It became very dark. Leopold did his best to follow the sound of Gunter as they began to walk.
"Why are the lights out?" Leopold asked timidly.
"It sets the mood." Gunter answered.
"What mood?" Leopold asked again, sidestepping to avoid something he had knocked with a wide footfall.
"A dark one." Gunter replied.
"Shouldn't we –OOF– have lanterns?"
"I have one." Gunter said, as he jiggled the handle of the lamp.
"Are you going to light it?" Leopold asked again, less timid but more nervous as he felt something brush against his leg.
"No."
"Why not? Wouldn't it make walking a bit –THUD– easier?"
"The demon doesn't like it." Gunter replied, nonchalantly.
Leopold stopped.  Though in a hall as dark as the one they were in, you wouldn't really be able to tell that he had stopped, other than he wasn't bumping into things anymore.  But he had, mainly because he had now received some clue as to what those things he was bumping into might be.
"Demons?" Leopold whispered, trying hard to not move... more accurately, trying hard to not have anything move into him.
"Just one." Gunter answered calmly. The sound of his steps on the stone floor continued into the distance a short while before stopping. "Did you stop back there?"
"Yes, I stopped." Leopold said as he looked over his shoulder.  It was still very dark. He didn't see anything, or his shoulder.
"Oh, don't do that," Gunter said, "he doesn't like that either."

There was the sound of a shallow gasp then rapid footsteps.  Then there was the sound of more gasping, more footsteps, the hollow sound that might be made when someone breathing in gasps and walking rapidly in the dark hits a heavy piece of wooden furniture with a knee.  There was a soft groan, more footsteps, and finally, a last gasp and soft thud as Leopold ran into Gunter from behind.
"He?" Leopold asked, as he leaned down to rub his knee. It took a second try to find it in the dark.
"I think so, yes." Gunter said, turning around to face where Leopold might have been.
"You don't know?" Leopold asked, hitting his head on the bottom of the oil lamp as he straightened up.
"No. It's dark. I've never seen him." Gunter replied.
"Then how do you know there's a demon in here?" Leopold asked, as he rubbed his head.  That only took one try.
"Greetings." a deep, raspy voice drifted up from the vicinity of Leopold's belt.
Leopold looked down, though in the dark he may not have, and nodded, maybe.
"A'TCHU." Gunter said calmly.
"Bless you." Leopold offered without missing a beat.
"No, that's the demon." Gunter corrected.
"Ah, pleasure to meet you." Leopold suddenly realized what had just happened and began to run again.  A half step later he ran into Gunter's lamp face first, fell to one knee, realized it was the same knee that had hit the piece of furniture, grimaced in the dark, and then felt a short blast of foul smelling breath on his forehead.
"You need some help?" A'TCHU asked.
"No, thank–" he jumped up, tried to run, hit the top of his head on the lamp again, fell to the other knee, and grimaced again.
"You sure?  Gunter could move the lamp."
Leopold felt a set of tiny fingers, or maybe finger-like things, on his elbow as he was helped back up. He flinched as he came into lamp range but nothing happened.

There was the sound of a latch being unlatched as Gunter reached the end of the hall and opened the door. Leopold looked down to catch a glimpse of the demon in the dim light but only caught a faint blur of a leg moving back into the shadows, or maybe it was a horn.
"Atchoo!" Leopold said as he felt the rush of air from the doorway.
"Yes?" A'TCHU replied.
"No, sorry. Just a bit of dust." Leopold said apologetically.
"Don't worry about it, happens all the time."  A'TCHU said. The sound of tiny footsteps faded back into the dark.

The two of them emerged from the passage at the top of the staircase.  Gunter politely held the door open as Leopold emerged and took stock.  He looked at the staircase and admired the intricate carvings on the banister then paused and turned to his companion, "isn't that where we just were?" he pointed to the bottom of the stairs.
"Yes, yes it is," Gunter nodded, "oh, one moment." He turned and trotted down the stairs, straightened the crooked shelf and replaced the lamp.  He turned again and trotted back up to Leopold.
Leopold stood slack-jawed, "we could have taken the stairs?"
Gunter smiled and nodded politely.
"Then what purpose does the secret passage serve?" Leopold asked, slightly confused.
"None, whatsoever." Gunter answered, still smiling.
"Then why?" Leopold asked.
"It seemed like such a shame to ignore a secret passage once we found it."

Leopold nodded helplessly as Gunter began to walk on without him.


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