The Heart of the Mountain
The Heart of the Mountain
By The Narnians
Everyone has a story. Most of us have stories that we don’t want anyone to know about. They are our secrets, kept from the world for unexplainable reasons. Such is the case with former president George W. Bush.
“Georgie, get down from there!” the gray haired women called.
George ignored the calling of his mother and continued to turn the chiseled heart shaped stone over in his hand. He had found it on this very mountain. His father, George Sr., had built the mountain tree house when he was a child. Even now as a teen, this place was his sanctuary, the place where he had purposed in his mind to one day be the president of the United States. But that path would have to wait; he had something more important to think about today.
George placed the rock in the heart shaped indention on a branch that hung into the tree house. The trunk of the tree opened up exposing a staircase that descended deep into the mountain. George removed the rock and stepped confidently into the tree to fulfill the task that had been given to him. His stomach grumbled. I don’t have time for this, he thought, wishing he had taken his mother’s suggestion to eat a second bowl of Oops Crunchberry Cereal.
With each step he took, a light on the interior of the tree popped on. The first time he had taken this walk, he had not been alone. It was his best friend Wolfgang von Strucker—son of German diplomat Baron Zelig von Strucker—who had given him the key to the museum. Very aware of Wolfgang’s tendency for the darker side of life, George assumed that it was stolen, but his curiosity had gotten the better of him, and he agreed to check out the “secret” Wolfgang insisted existed.
“Good morning, Stewart,” George said, petting the creamy skinned hairless cat.
Stewart hissed, which came out more like a bark, and then nipped at the back of George’s hand. “Wolfgang should have taken you back to Germany,” George mumbled. The family had left the country in a hurry. The war had been over for nearly thirteen years, but there were still those in the US who were not comfortable with Germans in their country.
George placed the rock on the indention in front of him. Another door opened exposing the tunnel to Wolfgang’s secret. He had passed through dozens of times. The booby traps would be no match for him.
He studied the walls . . . six squares. Three of those squares would protect him from falling to his death when the ground gave way beneath his feet. Piece of cake, he thought. George looked at the letters that had been hand etched into each of the panels. He pressed the W. A gentle breeze blew past him. He ran his fingers over the V and gave it a gentle push. The breeze blew harder. He knew the final letter; he had protected himself from the first trap more times than he could count on his hand, but the fear of the unknown made him shiver.
Wolfgang had laughed at George’s pale face and shaking hands the first time he had warned George of the hidden dangers in the mountain cavern. “Cowards can’t enter George. Only the brave deserve to see my secret. Are you brave, George?”
He had answered, yes, but inside his churning stomach told him, no. George didn’t think dying was funny at all. He pressed the S, just as Wolfgang had done on that first day. George lifted Stewart into his arms and walked across the now secure floor. Two more to go, he thought.
“Alright, Stewart, you know what to do,” George said, setting Stewart back down on the ground. The cat stepped forward, and then back a step to George. “Go on you crazy thing! Go!” The cat looked at the path and then at George. Stewart proceeded to stretch his body, clean his hairless paws, and then curl up in a ball. “Lazy! You can be replaced!” The cat looked at him, annoyed. “Urgh!” He needed the cat’s cooperation to go on. Why Wolfgang had chosen this creature to open the next door was beyond him. “Maybe I’ll get a dog!” George snarled.
Stewart jumped up on his four paws, hissed, and then sauntered toward the path. George crossed his arms and waited. Stewart began to walk, crossing from one side of the room to the other. His light paws illuminated the floor. George followed, stepping only where Stewart had not. When they were safely on the other side, George scooped the cat in his arms, kissed him on the head, and set him back down.
In front of him, the cave opened wide to a cavern. The cool air from the rushing river below blew up at him. “Now to cross,” he mumbled to Stewart. George looked down into the chasm, he sighed, and saw the thing in the water. He wished this part were easier. “Wolfgang,” he murmured, “this really could have been much simpler.” He squeezed the heart shaped rock in his hand. George looked down to the water once again and imagined that if he just stepped into the bubbling liquid the water would part like the Red Sea and then he could walk across, but Wolfgang had not made it that easy.
“Come on, Stewart.” George lifted the cat into his arms and gave it a squeeze. “Sorry.” He removed the clippers from his pocket and snipped of the tip of his toenail. Stewart squirmed. With Stewart under one arm he slid the back of the rock open and placed the clipping inside. The rock began to glow. He held the rock to the wall. The luminescent glow exposed the puzzle on the cavern wall.
He moved the pieces, one by one. With each piece he moved, the water below churned harder, faster, and louder. George’s heart raced. The bubble in the water rose higher. He tilted his head and leaned in lower. “Beast!” he yelled as loud as his lungs would allow.
Stewart yowled and dug his claws deep into George’s arm. “Don’t jump down!” he commanded the hairless feline. From the depths of the cavern a creature emerged. Its body was long and thin like a snake, its head round like a swollen balloon, and its tail adorned with sharp daggers—Wolfgang was fascinated with the monster once thought to live in the lakes of Scotland.
The beast reared its head until its black eyes were gazing into him. George mouthed a silent prayer, tucked the rock back into his pocket, and jumped onto the creature—landing onto its bulbous nose with Stewart safe in his arms. The monster roared loudly, reared his head backward, and then flung George and Stewart to the other side.
They landed with a thud. George rubbed his back. He should be used to this by now. Stewart hissed and dug his claws deeper into George. “Maybe Wolfgang should have gone with his original plan,” he snapped glaring at the cat. Before Wolfgang had discovered the creature in Lake Ness, he had considered making a few modifications to Stewart. The idea of holding Stewart by the tail and flinging him across the cavern was tempting at times. George imagined the kitty’s tail expanding, pulling him to the other side, and then retracting when they were safely across.
George stood up, brushed off his slacks and turned to face the three doors in front of him. One would lead him to his final destination. The other two contained more of Wolfgang’s fun. This one was easy. He stepped to his right, turned the knob, and opened the door effortlessly. There in front of him was the heart of the mountain. The best kept secret in the world.
George cautiously entered the darkness of the underground museum. The room was filled with glasses cases that held bizarre objects and inventions from around the world. He knew the red, green, and blue tiles were directly in front of him on the floor, and he knew which ones to step on. George stepped on a red and two greens. He felt the cat brush past him. “No, Stewart!” he yelled as an axe flew right in front of George’s nose. George angrily scooped the creature up in his arms. “Be glad you didn’t unleash the beast, or it would have gobbled you up!” He stepped again, remembering the pattern of red, green, green, and blue. The electric lights illuminated the room.
Stewart jumped down from his arms and tried to run. “Oh no you don’t!” George shouted, just in time to save them from a spray of arrows should Stewart have taken another step. The last time they had entered, Stewart’s mischievousness found him lying upside down on his back. It was the first time he had ever seen a cat not land on all fours. George laughed at the memory. At the end of the path, George saw a circle of heart shaped rocks, and an indention for the one he held in his hand. George bent down and placed the stone in the circle. A green fire started around the rocks.
George jumped in the fire and was instantly transported to a small room with three beds, a small kitchen, and a sitting room. George looked at the family of three and smiled. “Hello, Wolfgang.”
“Hello, George,” Wolfgang said. “Did you run into any of my traps?”
“Well, my nose almost got cut off by an axe,” George said, frowning at Stewart. The cat jumped on Wolfgang’s lap and purred. The heart of the mountain was the perfect hiding place for the Von Strucker family. A few years ago George’s father—George senior—made the official announcement that the family had gone into hiding. Little did the man know, hiding meant being hidden in a former lair for German spies that had been converted into apartment living. If the German’s found out where they were hiding, a whole new kind of war would erupt between the Americans and the Germans. They would not tolerate a government that was playing host to a man who had stolen secrets from his own country.
“Will you join us for lunch?” Wolfgang asked. George stepped toward the table. Suddenly, a board smacked him in the face.
“I forgot to tell you . . . I added some modifications to our lair!” Wolfgang said, half laughing. George’s face was red with anger. Every inch of him wanted to knock the bratty, overly intelligent German teenager on the ground. “Tsk. Tsk. Let’s not make this a fight,” Wolfgang said. “Come dine with us, George.”
“Would you like to see my latest addition?” Wolfgang asked after they were done eating.
George didn’t trust him, but as usual, he went along out of curiosity. He opened the door. Stewart followed him in. The door slammed behind him. Lights spun around the room making George dizzy and nauseous. He felt his body collapse to ground.
When he woke, he looked around the room. It was his room . . . sort of. Wolfgang had forgotten one detail . . . the cup of water he had sat beside his bed the night before. “Wolfgang!” he yelled. George tried to sit up, but was forced back down by the chains on each of his wrists that held him to the exact replica of his bed.
“Meoooowww.” George twisted his neck to see Stewart looking up at him. The hairless feline jumped up on his chest and stared at him.
“Get down!” George shouted, as he tried to shake the creature off.
“No,” Stewart said with a Cheshire grin.
George was astonished. “You talk!”
“Well of course I do, I do, I do,” the cat repeated—his voice robotic.
“Oh,” George said smartly, “I should have known. You’re not the real Stewart.”
The cat continued to repeat, “I do, I do, I do.”
“I’ve known you too long, so let me guess, Wolfgang,” George shouted, assuming Wolfgang was watching from cameras hidden somewhere in the room. “Obviously this isn’t my room, and this is not the real Stewart! What is this, some bizarre clone that you have modified into a robot? Poor beast, I bet you have him chained up somewhere! Surely you aren’t that cruel. Maybe he’s curled up on your lap enjoying my torture! What do you want from me Wolfgang?” The room was still and silent except for the contorted words that were trying to spill from the fake Stewart. “I’ve been your friend!”
Suddenly, the German accent echoed around George. “This, is for your own good, George. You do want to be president one day, do you not?”
“Of course! You know I do!”
“Good, then you will do exactly what I say, for the good of your country . . . and the freedom of my family.” The whole thing felt like a dream, some wild dream with Wolfgang at the controls.
Good of the country, freedom for his family, George thought. Neither sounded bad, but he knew Wolfgang well enough to know that there was a twist. All right Wolfgang . . . I’m listening.
“Good George, for you are going to help me,” said Wolfgang.
“What am I going to help you with?” asked George.
“You are going to help me take down that snotty brat Donald Trump. He’s telling everyone that he will be president one day,” said Wolfgang. “That would not be good for you or for my country! So George, are you going to help an old friend out, or are you going to be chicken?”
“It would have been easier if you had just asked.”
“But that is not as fun!”
“I don’t know what he has done, but if it means being president one day, I’ll do it. But wait, if I were to say ‘no’ what would happen to me?”
“Well, you would stay down here forever, in the heart of the mountain—the perfect addition to my museum. Since you have agreed, we need to return to the museum, so we can get my family’s secret weapon to stop Trump. Hahaha,” Wolfgang laughed
“Let’s get this done, so I can be home in time for dinner. My mom will have a fit if I am late again. You know, I have never been a fan of that Trump brat,” George W replied.
Wolfgang released George and the two of them took off for the heart of the mountain. “We will have to pass through the tunnel to get there, so don’t forget the booby-traps.”
“I think I am pretty good with your traps, Wolfgang,” George said, remembering his journey that morning—and many other mornings to check on Wolfgang and his famiy.
“Follow me,” Wolfgang instructed. “We do not want him to know we are here just yet. He might catch on to my plan.”
“He’s here? In the mountain? How did he get in?” George nearly shouted.
“I invited him, of course!”
“How else would I get him here. I promise you George, once we get a hold of my family’s biggest secret, he will be no threat to you.”
George didn’t know what to think, but growing up to be president was the only thing he had ever wanted. If Trump thought he was going to take the dream away, George would do whatever it took to stop him.
The two passed the traps with ease until they were back at the heart. Wolfgang entered the numbers to carefully open one of the glass cases. He pulled out what looked like a gun.
“Hey! What’s going on here?” Donald Trump, a boy a bit younger than George and Wolfgang, with a blond mop of hair on his head, whined while wiping dripping ooze from his nose.
Wolfgang pointed the weapon-like instrument at Donald. “We have taken down your nanny and those weirdoes you call guards.”
“Hey! You invited me over to play!”
Wolfgang sighed. “Did you really think I would want to play with a little kid like you? I’ve got to protect my future . . . I mean George’s future.”
“If this is because my said that your dad did to your dad, I’m really sorry!” the boy continued to whine.
“Sorry won’t fix the future. It’s better to just get rid of you now so no one gets hurt. It will make George’s campaign run a lot smoother.”
“Wait,” George shouted. “You can’t kill him! It’s not right!”
“Oh, this won’t kill him. Goodbye Donald, for you shall be gone!” Wolfgang pulled the trigger. A bright light filled the room and Donald was gone.
“Where did he go?” George asked, nervously looking around the underground museum.
“Let’s just say, we won’t see him for a while.”
“So, he’s not gone . . . forever?”
Wolfgang laughed. “No, not forever, he’ll be back, and he may even be president one day . . .”
“Don’t worry, it will be long after you have had a go at it.”
George should not have been as confused as he was feeling. Wolfgang was a curious kid, and George knew that there was more to Wolfgang’s motive than having his friend become president one day. “Hey Wolfgang, what did his dad say to your dad?”
“Old friend,” Wolfgang said as he placed the device back in its holding, “the heart of the mountain holds many secrets; that’s a story for another day.”