I chose the North Carolina photo for my prompt this week. I know I took this picture on a trip up to Chimney Rock, but I can’t tell you for sure where it is.
Cary poked his head around the side of the building to see what was in the back. The little half-shed that probably sheltered the water pump made sense. The story-and-a-half high wall with the upside down arch made him stop and stare.
“Cary, don’t go too far,” his sister called. She was supposed to be keeping up with him this week. They were on a road trip through North Carolina with their aunt and two older cousins. Cary, the youngest by three years, wasn’t as thrilled about this as everyone else. He had to sit in the very back of the minivan with no leg room and not much air conditioning.
“I’m just going to look at the backyard,” Cary called back. If she knew he was just behind the building she shouldn’t come looking for him.
Cary walked carefully around all the spare lumber that was littering the yard. The building was a tiny little general store type thing. His oldest cousin had seen the sign and asked to stop. They’d used the rest rooms and loaded up on drinks and snacks for the rest of the day. His aunt had wanted to stretch a bit, so she told them to be back at the car in fifteen minutes.
Once he was past what looked like an abandoned barn door, Cary was able to walk normally again. He was past all the dangerous rusty nails in the old wood and could hurry over to the tiny cinderblock shed and the wall.
The wall was made of natural stones. Each one a different size and shape. It didn’t even look like there was any grout. They just fit together so well that they stayed exactly where they needed to be.
Cary ran is fingers over one of the stones. It was rough and cool and felt exactly as he’d expected. It wasn’t covered by moss or damp or anything. It was just a stone, but Cary wondered how long it had been there. Who had set it there. Who had decided that the wall needed to be built?
He looked up and as far as he could tell, it wasn’t part of a wall. It had always been this height. The top was smooth and capped by flat stones. It wasn’t a ruin exactly; it just didn’t make a lot of sense.
Cary edged closer to the well-house, trying to see through the gap made by the upside down arch. There was a tree growing just on the other side. Its branches reached out through the arch, but they didn’t go any further left or right than the width of the arch.
A glance at his watch let him know he still have ten minutes before he had to be back at the car. He pressed on the roof of the well-house to make sure it was sturdy, and then hefted his foot up there so he could push himself up onto the wall where the bottom of the arch was.
Cary clambered up onto the wall, kneeling carefully on the slightly uneven stones. They’d been worn away a bit and weren’t as smooth and flat as he guessed they were when the wall was first made.
When Cary looked up, his mouth fell open. His eyes were so wide he could feel them stretching at the corners as he let his eyes rove over the scene before him.
It was like a tiny metropolis out of some fantasy novel. There were little stone buildings and tiny cobbled streets. There were tiny parks and something that looked a little like a clock tower that had no clock. There was something sort of like a church, but there was a symbol he couldn’t quick make out instead of a cross at the top of the steeple tower.
At first, all he saw were the buildings, the streets, and the layout of the place. It was just so much. It would have taken ages and ages for someone to build something like this. Just one of the little stone buildings would have been so complicated and taken so much work and attention to details.
It wasn’t until he’d already slipped off the wall, stepped past the tree, and knelt down beside the nearest building that he realized there were things moving in the tiny city. And not just animals or bugs or something either. There were people. Tiny, perfectly-sized, scaled-to-the-buildings people.
Cary pinched the back of his hand. This couldn’t be real. He couldn’t actually be seeing this.
For a second, he thought he heard his sister calling his name, but then one of the little people looked up.
Cary held very still as she gazed up at him.
When she started yelling, he sat back on his heels, startled by the noise. It sounded like words, but not in a language he knew.
He watched as more and more of the tiny people flooded through the streets toward him.