Nathanael Cameron Hood | Daniele Murtas
Ten feet up, catty-corned from the forest path I found the black hole one brisk autumn morning. From its center a thin, wizened arm poked out palm out-stretched and up-right. After a moment I shrugged, climbed an adjacent tree, and plopped a penny upon the palm. The fingers curled up like dead leaves and retracted into the dark nothingness. And the hole was no more.
That night monstrous dreams awoke me to the sight of the hole hovering above my bed, the pallid palm laying luminescent in the moonlight mere inches from my face. Upon it perched a crisp, clean twenty-dollar bill. Hesitantly, I peeled it off. Once more, the hand and hole vanished.
A week later I sat at work tepidly typing away my afternoon. Reaching down to my cabinet, I yanked it open to find a familiar arm floating within where my files and papers used to be. Blinking, I gave the hand my house key, closed the cabinet, and re-opened it to find my returned supplies.
Climbing out of the evening taxi, I started at the sight of my quaint townhouse replaced by a massive mansion, rich rococo walls etched with swirling, sprawling stucco. Only my old mailbox remained, the red flag standing erect. As the taxi sped away, my trembling fingers undid its black latch. The arm jutted out like a tongue, balancing a fresh pair of keys. Health had returned to the limb, its desiccated flesh revitalized with color and warmth. I closed the hand and kissed the knuckles.
“Thank you, but it’s too much.”
The hand slowly retracted. As the mailbox latch flipped up, I looked back at the mansion to find my old townhouse back. The door unlocked, I walked into the hallway, finding the hole drifting in place, the arm holding a single red rose with my keys hanging from a thorn.
“That’s better. Now, let’s find a vase.”