Free Fall

Free Free Fall by William Golding

Book: Free Fall by William Golding Read Free Book Online
Authors: William Golding
raged at me out of the darkness, raged weakly, vilely, cleverly—my brother.
    “All right then. I can’t pee. But I can spit.”
    I went back through the hot air and a brass eagle ignored me. Though evening had come on there was more light rather than less—enough to show high fences of carved oak on either hand, a carpet, a pattern of black and grey in the stone floor. I stood as near as I dared to the bottom step; but now my mouth was dry, too. I was involutely thankful for that dry mouth. I snatched wildly and legalistically at the hope of another misfire.
    Leaning forward, the green lights swimming round me, I made my motions loud so that Philip should hear them.
    “Ptah! Ptah! Ptah!”
    The universe exploded from the right-hand side. Myright ear roared. There were rockets, cascades of light, catherine-wheels; and I was fumbling round on stone. A bright light shone down on me from a single eye.
    “You little devil!”
    I tried mechanically to get my body on its feet but they slithered under me and I fell down again before the angry eye. Through the singing and roaring I heard only one natural noise.
    Wubb. Wuff.
    I was being hauled across the stone floor and the eye was dancing a beam of light over carved wood, books and glittering cloth. The verger held me all the way and as soon as he had me in the vestry he switched on a light. It was a fair cop. But I could manage neither the insolence nor the stoicism of Black Hand when unmasked by Sexton Blake and Tinker. The floor and the ceiling could not decide between them on up and down. The verger had me cornered literally in an angle and when he let me go I slid all the way down the wall and was a boneless heap. Life had suddenly rearranged itself. On one side of my head life was bigger and more portentous than on the other. The sky, with stars of infinite velocity and remote noise that patterned their travel had opened into me on the right. Infinity, darkness and space had invaded my island. What remained of normal inspected a light, a wooden box, white cloaks hanging up and a brass cross—looked through an arch, and saw that it was lighted now. This world of terror and lightning was only a church being prepared for an evening service. I did not look at the verger , cannot remember at that time what sort of face he had, saw only black trousers and shiny shoes—for at any moment I might have dropped off the floor andbroken my bones on the ceiling by the single electric light. A lady appeared in the arch, a grey lady carrying a sheaf of flowers and the verger talked a lot, calling her madam. They talked about me and by that time I was sitting on a low stool, inspecting the lady in one direction and the universe in the other through the hole that had been blown in the side of my head. The verger said I was another of them. What was he going to do? He had to have help, that was what it had come to and the church must be kept locked. The grey lady looked down at me across whole continents and oceans and told him that the rector must decide. So the verger opened another door and led me through into darkness on gravel. He was talking down to me, I deserved the birch and if he had his way I should get it—boys! They were young devils and getting worse every day, like the world and where it would end he didn’t know and no one else seemed to, either. The gravel felt as if it had been ploughed and my feet were unclever. I said nothing but tried to get along without tumbling over. Then I found the verger was holding my hand instead of my ear and soon after that he was bending sideways with his hand under my elbow and the other somewhere round my waist. He talked all the time. We came to another door and another grey lady who opened it but carried no flowers and the verger was still talking. We went up some stairs and crossed a landing to a big door. This was a bog because I could hear someone straining inside.
    “Ooh! Aah-ooh!”
    The verger tapped on the door and inside

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