“Sometimes the most unexpected things happen at the worst possible time. Many people say this is fate intervening, others say its nothing more than coincidence. What would say this is in today’s story?”
Falling in Love
Nothing’s nicer than a warm spring day. Unless you have to do something, which fills you with fear and anxiety. Something that could cost you everything.
Harley had been at his friend Beth’s house for an hour. They’d chosen to sit on her lawn and enjoy the sunshine. He watched her turn enchanting cartwheels before arching into an elegant crab position. The sun seemed to gleam upon the smooth skin of her abdomen. She was as mesmerising to him as the stunning repeating shapes of the daffodils in the flower bed behind her. It was all he could do to stop himself from fondling her belly and kissing around her navel. “Beth, I need to talk to you …” he began tentatively.
Beth kicked her feet into the air, pointed her toes, holding an elegant handstand for a few seconds. She must have seen the adoration in his eyes as he watched her. She gave him a demure smile. With a relaxed breath, she flipped neatly back onto her bare feet. “Of course, we’re best friends. You can talk to me about anything,” she said while adjusting her little denim shorts and T-shirt.
“Thank you.” Harley rose to his feet. “I — I er …” He swallowed himself to silence. This was it, no going back.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” she asked with growing concern.
“I don’t want to be your friend anymore,” he blurted and immediately cursed himself for being so blunt.
Beth covered her mouth with her hands, her eyes growing watery. “W-what do you mean?”
“I’ve gone over ways to say this for weeks. I want to be your friend. I want so much more. When I’m with you I’m happy, it’s as if I have no troubles and you complete me.” Harley crossed the lawn to stand in front of her. “Beth, I want you to be my girl—ahhh!”
Beth screamed as a hole opened in the lawn.
Harley fell, his head slamming into a solid surface as he landed amid a pile of rubble. For what felt like an hour, he lay there watching the repeating shapes of brightly lit squares whirling about in his vision.
“Harley! Oh, Harley — are you okay?” Beth called.
He heard her land softly beside him and tried to shake off the cobwebs. “I think I will be.” Forcing himself into a sitting position he, swore through a wave of pain in his lower back. “Bloody hell! You never told me you had a trapdoor in the lawn.”
“Ha! Funny guy —I had no idea.” Beth helped him stand and hugged him for a moment. “You scared me, Harley. You sure you’re okay?”
Harley hugged back, holding her for a moment. Allowing his soul to absorb her energy like a healing aura. Her floral scent and the feeling of her body close to his infusing him with life. “I have a few bruises, but you’re already making them feel better.”
“Oh, that’s good” Beth freed herself and took out her phone, engaging the torch function. Where she stashed it in her skimpy outfit was a mystery. “Look at this place!”
Harley followed her light beam. He’d fallen into an eerie space with thick grey concrete walls turned green with damp. Old piping and electrical conduits ran along one wall. “Holy crap! A couple of metres that way and my fall would’ve been much worse!”
Beth had followed the piping to a radiator hung above a set of ten stone steps with a low ceiling. They descended deep into the darkness within the underground building. “Yeah, I’m relieved you did fall further. What is this place?”
“This has to be a fallout shelter.” Harley saw Beth rubbing her shoulders. He removed his hoody and approached her. “Here, put this on for me and we’ll go have a look.”
“Thank you,” she smiled while allowing him to help her with the garment.
He softly freed her ponytail and smoothed it onto her shoulder. “There that’s better, right?”
Their eyes met for a moment before she nodded and broke the gaze, “So, what? Was this built during World War II?”
“Most likely. We need a historian and some artefacts to date to be sure.” Harley took out his phone and groaned. “Ah, shit! I broke the screen.”
“Aww, I’m sorry.” Beth rubbed his shoulder and grinned. “At least you have an excuse to get an upgrade now.”
“I love how you always find the bright side.” Pocketing his useless phone, he curled his fingers around her hand, “You’ll have to lead the way with your light.”
“Okay.” Beth descended the steps illuminating the double doors at the bottom. The right-hand one was shut and padlocked, the left missing entirely. Inside the corridor curved around to the right.
“Look there’s a wall between these two doors. I bet that was an in and out so they could control who came in,” Harley guessed.
“No, doesn’t work for a fallout shelter. They’d just get everybody in here as fast as they could when bombs fell.” Beth step through the door and followed the corridor. It opened to the left revealing a sizeable room. Six rusted metal bench tables filled the space.
“Look! There’s a hatch in the wall beside that door. This is a mess hall, making this an underground base.”
“This is incredible!” Beth approached one of the benches and gingerly picked up a corroded can. It was difficult to read but she was able to ascertain enough details. “This was condensed milk. It’s best before end date was 1943.”
“Unbelievable! You’ll never be able to enjoy your garden in peace now. Everybody will want to see this!” Harley remarked.
Beth returned the can and rolled her eyes. “Yeah, there goes my naked sunbathing!”
“I’m surprised you don’t have an audience already if you do that!” Harley replied with a grin worthy of a Cheshire cat.
Beth giggled, her mirth abruptly catching in her throat. She snapped her light down the room. “D-did you hear that?”
Harley felt beads of sweat trickling his forehead as he nodded. “Sounded like somebody laughed with you. Nobody’s been in here for eighty years so we must be imagining things.”
“Yeah, that’s it.” Beth agreed although she pressed closer to him as they explored further. Passing through another door they found a small bunk room complete with mouldering bunks. Beyond that was a room full of steel tables. Each contained ancient technology from CB radios to Morse code machines and more the two didn’t recognise.
“That’ll be the locked door at the bottom of the steps.” Harley pointed to the thick door at the end of the room. “Only military leaders would be allowed in this room explaining the dividing wall and locks.”
“It does.” Beth steeled herself to look in the final room and she shrieked. Her cry of terror echoing through the bunker.
“Beth! What is it?” Harley called as he joined her.
“I — I think I know who laughed with me.” Beth put her light back over the single bed in the room. “This must be the commander’s bedroom and he’s still here!”
Harley couldn’t believe his eyes. There in the bed was a skeleton. The unseeing eyes looking straight at the doorway. Beside his head was an olive-green World War II officers cap confirming his rank. Harley realised he must have given the order to abandon the bunker at some point and never left. He’d maintained his post until he died. “We thank you for your service, Sir. The Allied forces won the war. I promise you will be laid to rest with full honours for your service to our great country,” he said with a shaky voice as he saluted.
Beth turned to face him half-smiling with tears glistening on her cheeks. “There was beautiful, Harley. Thank you,” she said.
“It’s only what he deserves. Come on, we should get out and call the museum.” Harley took her hand and led the way.
Back at the top of the steps, they realised they had a problem. Neither was tall enough to reach the hole in the lawn and climb out. Harley dragged a bench from the mess hall. That enabled him to scramble out, then leaning back inside he hauled Beth onto her lawn. “You okay?” he asked.
She smiled and nodded with sparkly eyes, “That was quite an adventure.”
“Sure was,” Harley returned a grin. “Your dads here right? We should show him first.” He turned to go inside but she held his wrist preventing him. “What?”
“Before you fell into the fallout shelter, you were telling me some lovely things. You wanted me to be your girlfriend. I …”
“Yes, Beth.” Harley felt his chest go tight as he took both her hands and kissed them. “I understand if you just want to be friends. Please, don’t let that ruin what we …”
Beth reached and silenced him with a finger on his lips and a cute smile. “Shh, it’s okay. I’m not mad. You always make me feel so happy too.”
“Really?” Harley’s knees were shaking as he moved his head a little closer.
“Really,” she reached on tiptoes brushing her nose against his as their lips met in a soft loving kiss.
“Now, this is a welcome surprise,” remarked her dad coming outside with a broad smile.
Harley jumped away from Beth as if expecting a thumping.
She giggled at him, “Oh good, you won’t be pissed off by the hole in the lawn then will you, dad.”
Have a great day!