Down the Rabbit Hole


More stories from Dakota Qualls

More stories from Lane Vineyard

Gardening around
May 4, 2015
Down the Rabbit Hole

Dakota Qualls’ Story…

Darkness…cold…time for a plan. With no power and no means to prepare food for two hungry teenagers but a small jetboil for camping with limited fuel, something had to be done. With roads too icy and covered in snow from #Icemageddon2k15 to drive, the only option was clear: a pilgrimage to the faraway land of Lenoir City.


Early in the morning, Levi Johnson (12) and Dakota Qualls (12) loaded up their gear and layered up for the long journey ahead. After almost 3.5 miles the first break was long awaited. Erin Carter graciously allowed the two to take a small break at her house and use her amenities (after being given a moments notice that they were almost there). After a quick break the two were ready to leave,“You know you guys can just stay here where its warm right? We have food.” said Erin. The men scoffed and continued towards spiritual enlightenment (a.k.a. Taco Bell).


A thought occurred to Levi, “We have to go to Andy’s!! I need to borrow Pokemon Mystery Dungeons,”and thus the destination was changed. Around 1.5 miles later the pair arrived at the hospitable Thornton residence where two cups of freshly brewed tea were waiting for them. After a musical jam session consisting of some serious ukulele solos it was time to go. Andrew’s mother needed milk so he knew what he must do. Join the pilgrimage!!!


All the while Erin sat at home realizing her terrible mistake in not joining Levi and Dakota so she did the only thing she could think of. She begged her father to drive her to the Thornton residence so she could join in the adventure. The now party of 4 began towards the final destination and after another 2 short miles they arrived at the Holy Grail of fast food…TACO BELL!!! After 7 miles of trekking through snow and ice for a delicious chicken quesarito box, Dakota reached for the door but when he pulled nothing happend. Taco Bell was closed!!! As their stomachs growled with hunger something had to be done so the group decided to eat at “Mi Jalisco” which seemed to be the next best option.


After the feast one final mission remained. Get milk and ginger beer (non-alcoholic of course). A quick mile to the grocery store, which by this time was fairly busy due to the safe driving conditions, and the final task was complete. Now all that lay ahead was the long journey home.


First stop was Andy’s and after parting ways the now smaller group headed to Erin’s. After arriving at the Carter residence a quick game of “Break All the Ice Off the Car” was played before Dakota and Levi had to go for the sun was falling lower in the sky and there was only a few hours of light left. By this time the primary roads were clear enough for safe travel and Dakota and Levi saw more and more cars as time went on. Some even offered them a ride but they were politely declined because adventures don’t happen in the passenger seat of a car.

The sun became dangerously close to setting and the sky lit up with a mural of beautiful colors but the two knew they must pick up the pace to make it home before dark. With seconds to spare they made it home just as they saw the sun slowly set over the horizon. The day was over and it wasn’t wasted. It wasn’t a day of playing video games or lazing around in bed, it was a day of adventure and friendship and all thanks to #Icemageddon2k15.


Meanwhile…With Lane Vineyard…


“What can we do? I’m literally going to diiiie if we don’t do something,” exclaimed Kayla.

Lane lifted his head from his hands and gave her the most grotesque face that his skin would allow. He felt no remorse for his actions, and in fact, proceeded to make another one. Due to the icy roads and unnaturally cold temperatures, Kayla Waggoner, LC’s friendly neighborhood ‘trash punk baby,’ had been stuck in his house for three days. Although Lane and Kayla were the absolute best of friends, they began to take out their boredom and bitter feelings toward LCUB on each other.


“Can we please just go for a walk or something? We could walk down the street and get a pizza,” Lane suggested.


On hearing the word “pizza,” Kayla was already waiting at the front door, all swallowed up in the biggest, tackiest coat Lane had ever seen in his eighteen years of life. Lane adorned himself in old, suspicious-smelling winter clothes he found in the downstairs closet and a pair of clunky black boots.

“Should we get gloves?” asked Kayla.

“Naaaaaaaah, Trashbox,” was Lane’s quick reply.

Immediately upon entering the icy wonderland that was Lane’s front yard, Kayla started taking selfies (wasting her phone’s battery life). The pair found that they were far too accustomed to staying inside on Netflix, because the outside world was almost too much for them to handle. They were fascinated by the simple beauty of the bone-white landscape and constantly found themselves comparing the falling snow to the whites of their eyes. Arm in arm, the two friends waddled up hill after hill after hill. They came to the realization that there aren’t many things more lovely than the city at night and the way the golden light of the streetlamps danced over the icicles, which clung to every shutter and every car-door. True happiness was spinning around like kids do, so fast that they couldn’t even see each other; only hearing the sound of loose pieces of clothing slapping into the eddies. Their spinning eventually lead them to knock into each other, throwing them to the ground in a big fuzzy, laughing heap. Lane’s world continued to twirl without him, making the falling snow above look like falling stars. Lane watched as Kayla stretched her arms up, letting her hands meet at a point in the air. In that moment he felt as if the entire weight of the universe could fall on top of him, and he still wouldn’t be able to wipe that stupid smile off of his face.

The snowy adventure seemed to be something out of one of those cheesy, overly-happy Disney Channel movies. They had already walked almost six miles through their quiet, little town, and they weren’t even tired of it yet. Kayla and Lane as if  they could travel over an entire continent and still feel up to walking to the nearest Taco Bell.

Around 9:30, the two decided that they should probably start making their way back towards the comfort of Lane’s cozy, little grandma-esque home. As they were walking the opposite direction from whence they came, they began to reminisce their Freshman year, when they first became friends. They laughed at the stupid things that they said to each other in the past, and seemed to forget about how much older they were, how different everything was.

“Let’s go to the high school,” suggested Kayla. “We can go sit in the band field and pretend we’re fourteen.”

“Why would we ever do that?”

“Because Lane, we are losers.”

And with that, they turned around and started adventuring toward the high school. The new destination made them both excited, helping them rid themselves of those nasty feelings that come with thinking about the future. As it got later, it got much colder, but singing old pop songs and quoting their favorite poems seemed to help keep them warm. After walking down the steepest hill in existence and climbing through a tree that had fallen into the road, they were close enough to see the high school. Kayla commented on how strange it was that they actually wanted to get to school, rather than avoid it at all costs.

“Let’s go ahead and get off of the road,” suggested Kayla. “I think this way is sort of a short cut.”

Now at this point in the duo’s journey, it was around 10:30 or 11:00, so you can imagine that it was fairly dark. It was so dark in fact, that a large ditch full of (mostly) frozen water could be mistaken for concrete. Lane and Kayla were pretty surprised when they tumbled into the grimy, frigid water, and proceeded to lie in it screaming for almost a full minute. They leaped out of the water and back onto the icy concrete like enormous, inbred frogs who wear cardigans.



“My feet are going to fall off, and I’ll never be able to walk. Kayla, do you know what this means? We’re going to gain 300 pounds and stop looking good!”

The duo ran for about thirty seconds and then realized how much effort you had to put into doing that. They agreed that they would be lazy and walk on the condition that if it somehow caused them to become unattractive, they would platonically marry each other. They walked together in silence after they grew weary of complaining about how their feet were just killing them. All heartwarming feelings of closeness had vanished the minute they were drenched in the smelly, icy water, so they just moped silently. About an hour later, they arrived at Lane’s home. They were both beyond excited to be able to peel off their stiff, frozen clothes and wash off all of the grime. However, upon entering they discovered that the power was out.

“I….I want to die,” sighed Kayla.

“I want you to die too.”

The friends sat together in the cold darkness for a couple hours, complaining about the lack of food and power to charge their dead phones. Around midnight, they accepted the fact that the power was not going to be coming back anytime soon, so they went to bed. They spent the next couple of hours just laying in bed and talking about their favorite things. They both told each other what they were most scared of and what they wanted to change about themselves. The darkness seemed to be comforting for them; in a way it allowed them to actually see each other in their true lights.

Lane and Kayla still remember their ice journey vividly…I mean it was only a couple of weeks ago, but, like, that’s such a long time. Although the night ended with them slightly cold, hungry and exhausted, the experience strengthened their relationship and them closer friends. Lane and Kayla had been friends since their Freshman year of high school, and although they had really only known each other for four years, it felt like a lifetime to them. As their graduation date started getting closer and closer, they realized that after that summer they would be going seperate ways. Lane was going to college in Boston, while Kayla was staying here to stay closer to home. They knew that they needed to cherish all of the time that they had left together, so that they wouldn’t be able to forget each other. The pilgrimage was so much more to them than a painful, cold experience, it was a symbol of their friendship in a way. It was something that neither of them will ever forget.