Keith had not mentioned it to anyone, nor had he taken any notice of it. Hunger and tiredness had blurred his mind and nothing seemed that strange to him anymore.
It was at the place where the tree covered pathway joined the exposed level area from off which lay the cave’s entrance. The trees for a short length of the pathway grew less densely and it was here Keith thought he saw something moving in the tree close branches. It appeared best in his peripheral vision and seemed to vanish if he directly at it.
For a moment Keith saw it there and it appeared like the darkness had been replaced with light. Just for a moment and in that moment he saw it was a bird. One of the birds maybe that they had heard singing in the darkness. Not it chirped a familiar song. Then without a hesitation turned to face Keith and said, “Beware of the cave and now this. All must enter the cave but none can go back until they reach the end. ” The bird chirped a little more as if clearing its throat and then continued, “Beware of the cave and now this, you will never be alone in there but often wish you were alone.”
Keith for a moment could not believe what he saw and heard but also in another moment parked it and allowed his thoughts to go with those of the others now glad to be free of the trees and finding the cave.
Keith now wondered what he had heard and a little bird told him.
Suddenly Joel woke with the slow rhythmic warm blasts. Smoothing at first but, now it sent a sudden shudder fear through him. In the cave’s darkness, so different from the pathway and the trees, there was a presence that felt nearer and more threatening.
His only thought was to move away quickly and try to grab something. What could he grab, and thinking remembered the walking stick and a branch he tripped over and then pulled from the trees. Keeping very still he posed himself to move.
The darkness closed about him thicker than ever and his heart pounded in his chest. Surely whatever it was could hear this beating and smell the fear.
There is no time like the present. They all like the many before them now had forgotten what they were here for. The questions had long ceased and queries replaced them – those day to day questions of where what, when and how now frequented their thinking. The most basic of questions now so comment and relevant.
Was it the long walk in darkness with those black trees that creaked and murmured that affected them so? Where did it lead them and where are they now? What was the song that bird sang in the night? And how can anything make sense anymore? Maybe it was just the cold wind that blew so relentlessly until it drove you back along that dark way and of course that cave! Forgotten until now!
The darkness was different, this darkness was dry and that in itself was warming to their cold bodies and tired minds. The entered into the opening of the cave, not daring to go further but so happy to be out of that chilling wind. Tiredness now swallowed up the hunger they had held back for so many days. Soon they all begin to fall asleep and not one of them could keep watch.
One torch lit the cave entrance for several hours as all the group slept soundly for the first for a long long time. Then gradually its power and light faded growing ever dimmer until it flickered and died, leaving the cave in darkness.
The cave was no accident for it had existed for many years, a place of refuge and passageway for those that dared. Who would know it in that darkness, the thin lines and letters etched on the walls telling a message of warning and salvation?
Now in the darkness, something moved from within, creeping closer until it breathed down on the sleepers something still warmer.
It all seemed too much, the darkness, that clinging dampness and now this chilling breeze. Constant and cold as if it blew straight from the void of hades.
They now grouped together more relying on the little heat of the other. Their walking now more a shuffle and merged together into a multi-legged mass.
On they must go though for there was nothing about them, except these unforgiving trees and behind them just what they had already experienced. That was too much though hope in a future was growing dimmer.
It seems like days they this way and now the murmurs and speaking now was just a harder breathing. They all knew they were weakening quickly and some were already finding the pace, painfully slow as it was, too much for them. Still they struggled on and on.
It was a total surprise and a gust chilling air that could but wake and freeze the soul of the dead. They all felt it and for a moment thought this was it. Only death awaited them. And so when they begin to slip and slide they thought it was done.
They stopped in a heap and in the darkness fumbled about until one cried out, “it’s stone or rock…….. and it feels warm.” They all reached out and regaining they step huddled together letting the little warmth of the rock warm its way through them.
A torch lit on a cave nearby and so they made their cautious way to it. Dark but a shelter from the wind.
So dark it was, no light entered to bring hope expect the light they had themselves. Sleep was short and two watched whilst the others slept. Then walk on for a few more hours to then rest again.
They guessed it was morning though they lost any sense of time or day but it helped to call it something. The air generally cool and damp froze their bones from the inside but now suddenly a new chill could be felt. It caused a shiver through the whole group quite literally.
And so it was this breeze, this wind blowing against them as they walked. Never changing or relenting. Is this what hope feels like?
is this what is meant to draw them all forwards and to a new part of this adventure, a new pathway, maybe this time warm and full of light and maybe this was going into the morning.
The darkness of the pathway overwhelmed these last few days and the weekend comes with no relief. Fortunately the lamps held their light enough to show the path and provide some comfort to the group and as they followed willingly.
Who knew this path was so dark the only sound the murmur of the trees. Now unseen and unknown just the sounds of the wind in their branches and leaves.
The though of the weekend ahead rose a hope in his heart. Not that the road ever took notice of the days.
Still he held the hope that the next day or the one after that held a brighter path -and an end of this gross darkness. So they found themselves coming to the weekend.
They come in waves at times and today was one of those days. An idea for a book flooded my head with sketches and drawings, story text and occasional poem. I want to get drawing again, and writing a fun children’s book. I love it when ideas come.
The trees whispered to the five travellers, though only Rowan had ears to hear. Far from the fear of threat heightened by the dark night and overbearing trees and their shadows. Rowan told the others to be quiet and let her hear and soon she could make out the words.
Trees line the path and murmur over the travellers making their way along the path. Speck looks up and into the trees above the dark starless sky beyond, blackness on darkness. They all stand still now listening and it is here that Rowan says,”Ssssh! Listen!”
Could it be the trees are speaking? What have they said and does that help or threaten?