Longer story post because I’ve been shortchanging the story posts.
Wandering further into the old timey cobblestone hallway, I was reminded of the time that I got lost in a cave as a kid. It was the first of this kind of experience for me. A journey into a cramped space, my insides feeling like inky, ill darkness is slowly dissolving my organs. Except for my brain. My brain tells me to move forward, faster, as if the freedom, were the only real threat. And, both times, I’ve soldiered on. Further.
The cave was a small hole in the side of a small mountain. It went on about six hundred yards, and then forked into a branch that went upward, and a another that led down into the mountain. The base of the mountain, as they would say in fantasy books. The upper branch lead through the mountain, then double backed on itself to the same branch. It was a common hiking spot where I was from. The outdoorsy soccer moms and business dads would take the kids from the park at the base up and back. It was a good hike, unless you wanted a challenge.
The bottom path was off limits, due to the frightening amount of sudden holes and the lack light. There were a dozen deaths every few decades as people hoped the barricade on a dare, or drunk, and fell down a hole, or tumbled down the slope itself. The barricade got longer and taller each time. As a child, I heard stories of satanic cults and fae love fests taking place deep in the bowls of the cave. A kid had disappeared when I was 9 years old, taken by an estranged parent and returned within a month, but the rumors were so pervasive that the police opened the cave up and sent in professionals, only to find dozens of dead animals, yards of graffiti, and no child. However, they did find a whole new branch.
Two years later, I was running away from, not for the first or last time, and decided to live in the very bottom of the cave. I was going to live like Gollum, and kill people who wanted my precious. I got up the mountainside purely on anger. I had left without shoes, or a coat. It was a winter night, less than a week before the first snowfall, less than a month from the first blizzard. I was cold, until I was numb. Eventually, I reached the cave entrance, and suddenly, I was warm. Not enough to stop my shivering, but there was definitely heat coming from the cave.
It was at that moment that the feeling, the black sickness and running thoughts took hold. I ventured far into the cave that night, and I’m still not really able recall how I did it. I didn’t have a light, but I got all the way to the newer path found by the rescue cave guys, and there I saw a flicker light, as if from a fire. I just knew that down this path was the secret to me becoming the horrid cave creature I had to be to spite my parents. That would show them for… whatever it was that they had not let me do.
“Excuse me. If we could move, we’d probably escape faster.” Hemingway said in a short clip. My revere seemed to have pissed him off. Understandable, as I was standing there staring off into space while this animated granite gargoyle was saving me from a raver priest who roofied me. This was weird night. I really hadn’t even begun though.