“A black hole is this really cool thing in outer space,” Jaxson said. “See, stuff falls into the hole. And the more stuff, the bigger the hole gets. Eventually it’s so big, everything has to fall in. Even light.”
Trevor didn’t understand this. “Yeah,” he said.
“So we’re gonna make one.”
Jaxson turned away and gestured for Trevor to follow. “Come on. Show you.”
The boys walked out of Jaxson’s backyard and into the empty lot next door. This was a place of endless fascination. It was unkempt and woodsy, with tall trees around the border. Shorter trees and bushes and vines grew everywhere else. Haphazard stone wall remnants crisscrossed through the undergrowth.
Kicking through layers of dead leaves, the boys would occasionally uncover artifacts: sheet-metal, bottles and cans, an old shoe, a bent and discolored fork.
The piece de resistance was the well. Jaxson’s parents didn’t know about the well, and he was smart enough not to tell them. Trevor had been sworn to secrecy. When they arrived at the well, they pushed aside the sticks and leaves they had left for camouflage and struggled with the heavy rotting plywood that covered the opening. Then they stood at the edge and looked into the dark and scary depths.
“This is our black hole,” Jaxson said proudly.
“Okay,” Trevor said.
“What we have to do is throw a lot of rocks in. Then it’ll begin to suck stuff in on its own. And the more stuff it sucks in, it gets stronger and stronger and nothing can resist it. Not even light.”
Trevor looked at the sky. “Will it get dark?” he asked.
“It’ll suck up any light that comes too close. Light over there,” Jaxson pointed, “might be okay. Come on. Let’s get rocks.”
The two boys found a jagged line of stones nearby and laboriously carried them and stacked them by the well. This took some time. As they worked, Jaxson regaled Trevor with the latest ways that his family sucked. “My sister, she’s really snooty and says bad stuff about me. Just like for no reason. I mean, my mom, when she says bad stuff about me, at least she thinks it’s for my own good. But my sister just wants to put me down. I guess what my mom does is about the same. I wish I didn’t have such a cruddy family.”
“Yeah,” Trevor agreed. He was out of breath.
“I hate the way they just sit there and look at me. My mom sits in the recliner, and my sister lies on the sofa like some kind of queen and badmouths me.”
When Jaxson pronounced the pile big enough, they rested briefly. Then Jaxson hoisted a stone and let it drop into the gaping maw of the well. It ricocheted and bounced thump thump thump on its way to the distant bottom that the boys could not see.
Now it was Trevor’s turn, and he did the same thing with the same result.
They continued until most of the stones were gone. Trevor felt tired and sat down on the ground. Jaxson turned to pick up a rock, and as he did so, one of the nearby small trees came flying out of the ground and disappeared down the well. Trevor was amazed. “Jaxson,” he said. His voice quivered.
Jaxson hoisted a stone. “Yeah?”
Trevor pointed. “The tree…”
“Sure,” Jaxson answered. It was his stock response to any remark that didn’t make sense to him. He used it a lot with Trevor. “See,” he said as he tossed his rock in, “what happens is gravity makes stuff fall, but then it’s all down inside there and the gravity builds up. There’s nowhere for it to go.” He rubbed his hand slightly. “That’s how it works. Scientifically.” He went for another rock, and two more trees flew through the air and vanished into the black hole.
Jaxson selected a particularly large rock. He closed his eyes as he strained with it, and so didn’t see the family mailbox, complete with post and concrete base, come sailing through the woods and into the black hole.
Jaxson gave a grunt and tossed his rock into the well. “That might be enough,” he speculated as he peered over the rim. “I don’t know. I’m kind of tired of hauling rocks. Man, that last one was a boulder.” He wiped his hands on his pants. “You know, there must be animals here,” he said. “I wonder if we could catch one.”
“No, “Trevor said quickly.
Jaxson picked up on Trevor’s line of thought. “We wouldn’t hurt it. Just catch it, then…let it go. Or hey, what about this? We could get a GoPro and film it. We could film everything that goes on here. We just need a clearing.” He scanned the stunted forest for a good spot. As he did so, Trevor saw Jaxson’s sister, still lying on the sofa, go flying into the black hole. Trevor couldn’t tell if she was aware of her situation.
“See, we can record the animals’ behavior. That’s what scientists do. Watch how they act and what they say to each other and stuff. It’ll be cool. We can put it on YouTube.” He began to walk away. “That might be a good place over there,” he said.
Trevor waited, wondering if he would be next. But he wasn’t. It was Jaxson’s mother, seated in her recliner. Trevor looked hard as she passed and was fairly certain that her face was pale and that her hands held the chair in a panic-stricken grip.
“Jaxson. I have to go home now.”
Trevor’s mother bustled here and there about the kitchen. “So what did you and Jaxson do?” she asked as she darted by her son.
“We made a black hole,” Trevor answered. His mother had gone into the living room, and he wasn’t sure she had heard.
“That must have been fun,” his mother called.
Trevor nodded. “Yeah,” he answered.
BIO: William Brasse is the author of three novels published by Rough Magic Press. His short fiction has appeared in The Southern Review and Border Crossing.