The fence appeared out of nowhere, overnight. It was about a shin height, made of loosely stacked stones. The haphazard nature of the thing wasn't very imposing, but the length was something to mull over. The stone wall stretched for as far as any of us could see, and ended up weaving its way over the distant hills.
A small wooden sign hung from the fence, suspended from twine.
Everyone in the neighborhood gathered together at the sign and conversed about the wall's nature.
"Maybe it's a joke."
"Could it be a developer?"
"They can't steal land like this!"
A few of us took a step over the wall and searched the other side of it. Nothing out of the ordinary could be found. No sign, nothing.
The only thing of note was the two knee-high wall just beyond the first. We could all clearly see it from where we had been, but nobody could read the second sign hung upon it until we got closer.
"DANGER! DO NOT ENTER!"
Unlike the first wall, the knee-high one was comprised entirely of cement. We poked and prodded it, thinking this was some sort of fiberglass facade. Instead, we were met by the cold, hard surface of a solid slab.
"How could some even pour this that quickly?"
"Where are the empty cement bags? The dust? There are no supports or wooden scraps!"
A few of the strapping gentlemen began kicking and pushing at the small barricade, testing its strength against theirs. The thing didn't move, though of course there might have been some weak spot somewhere. The thing did stretch on for miles in either direction.
About ten of us straddled the second wall and continued on. The women in their summer dresses declined to attempt such a thing, but one young lady in jeans and a flannel shirt was the second one over.
So, we approached the third wall.
The brick wall was about the height of our chests. The mortar had set, and the bricks themselves were laid with the skill of a master craftsman. Not a single brick was out of place. Nothing jutted out for us to get a hand-hold.
The sign on the third wall was professionally made. It was black text on yellow metal, screwed right into the surface.
"WARNING! STAY AWAY!"
Our heads poked over the barrier, eyes squinting at the fourth wall in the distance.
"I have a ladder in my truck."
"What if it's radiation? That's serious stuff."
"Yeah, we should probably think this over, you know?"
Four of us managed to get over the brick wall, with the others begrudgingly offering the boost. Once we reached the top, it was just a matter of scooting around and taking the slight drop back to our feet.
The fourth wall was made of heavy wooden planks. It was easily three feet higher than the tallest among us. Finally, we seemed to have met our match.
A neon green sign with white letters stood on a post just in front of the wall.
"LAST CHANCE! DO NOT PASS!"
The ordeal was becoming ridiculous! Four walls had appeared in mere hours, and each one was more work than the last. One man requested a boost back over the last wall, and we quickly obliged seeing no reason to deny it.
"Well, there's three of us."
"Two could boost a third... maybe enough to get over."
"What then? What if there's another wall, even higher than this?"
"The two of us left behind can go back and get some tools. Get some workers. We'll tear this all down in no time and see what's what."
So it was decided. Myself and another man provided the platform as the third, the smallest of the three, got a grip on the fourth wall's peak and slowly hoisted himself up with a grunt.
Moments later, his feet disappeared over the wall. Soon, the two of us were shouting to him.
"Yeah, I'm here."
"So what is it, another wall?"
"Yeah. Well, no, it's a gate."
"Massive! It's like iron or something."
"What's on the other side?"
"I don't know, it's a gate. A closed gate. There's a breeze coming through the crack between them, and it smells like almonds or whatever. There's a sign, too."
"What's it like?"
"It's real big, and the letters look all smeary. It says 'Now it's just you and me', whatever that means. Sounds kinda freaky."
"Wait there, we'll get some saws and cut through this damned thing."
After a difficult trip over the brick wall, an easier crawl over the cement wall, and a mere step over the stone wall, we returned to the group. Unbeknownst to us, they were anxiously awaiting our return.
There were plenty of questions, and no good answers. All we could do was gesture over the walls and explain the same few points over and over again. By that time, a Professor from up at the College had come by to see what the fuss was about.
The old man leaned over the stone wall and poked it a few times.
"This appears to be volcanic rock. I can't be sure of course, but none of these stones should even be here."
He picked at a loose stone and wiggled it a bit.
"I'll bring one back for study."
As soon as the stone was in the Professor's hand, a great rattling sound rose up from the first wall. Pebbles shook free from it, then larger bits followed. In seconds, the wall collapsed into one long, snaking pile of rubble.
As we all looked on, the second wall started to crack and crumble. Large sections of cement broke free and spin down to the soil.
The third wall started coming apart like a puzzle. Bricks pushed their way out as the whole thing trembled. They feel free, leaving a Swiss cheese mess that soon fell under its own weight.
Finally, the fourth wall separated into wooden splinters. A single tremendous crack rang through the air, followed by the whole thing falling flat to the ground.
When the ruckus stopped, all four walls were nothing more than scattered debris. Up through the hills, the dust and stones were still settling.
Behind the fourth wall, there was no gate. There was no man. There was nothing but green grass and clear sky for as far as we could see.
There was only one thing we could think of. One way to see if we could bring our neighbor back.
It's been over a year, and we're still trying to rebuild the walls.