The cave descent

Speck led the other into the others into the cave and down the first part where natural light still showed something. The air had changed and now instead of the rain cleansed smell they had all grown used to, this was a dark dank smell thicker than normal air.

Speck and Joel were conscious that they had nothing of substance to light the pathway ahead. Assuming, of course, there was a pathway. The mobiles had all died and the one torch was no faint and fading. They had used some of their clothes to make some simple torches, torn up and wrapped around the end of a stick – each one of the carried one. With no oil or wax, these torches relied on setting fire to these damp rags.

The cave passageway curve around to the right enough to prevent the light from the entrance being seen. it was soon pitched darkness and Speck carefully inched his way forwards and stopping often to feel all around him.

The others held to the one before them, all afraid to speak in the stillness of the cave. Speck suddenly yelled and Joel behind him felt Speck fall away suddenly. He stood still, sweating as the fear of the unknown gripped him, and others now sensing the fear.

Together

They all knew it they could not remain here for much longer. The pathway had taken a lot out of all of them and had sapped their spirits to a low ebb. Some worse than others. Word was now going around about what some had seen, heard and felt. It was time to try and make some sense of that.

Speck stood up first to speak he had seen the dark sky split and moon appear briefly, and it was he the first night in the cave woke in a fright with a warm breathe on his neck. He had woke with a start and whatever it was gone and stayed away.

“We saw the night sky clouds open and show the moon, that was a real sight for sore eyes”, said Speck, “and we also heard what Keith said about the bird speaking to him about going forward.”

“Chloe! What was it you were saying to me a while ago? Speck looking at Chloe and asking the question. Chloe pulled out her notebook and began to tell the group about how the trees spoke to her. The others were not so surprised at this for on the pathway there were times they all thought they could hear the tree murmuring and even speaking.

“So what did they say?” asked Speck.

“They told me about the need to go forward and follow the path,” said Chloe, “and to find the red stone and old oak tree called Askel.”

“So where is the old tree and where are we suppose to go? I just want to go home and have a good meal,” said Sarah tears welling up in her eyes.

“We have to follow on………I guess go into the cave as far as we can and to a ‘great valley’ they said called Gorm, I think? Chloe was speaking and checking her notes, “then to the forgotten mountain Shadenwell in the Tilden Hills”. Chloe stopped for a while as if thinking then said, “That is all they told me.”

Speck stood up again and said, “We can’t stay here, and it is clear to all the back through the trees and the pathway is not going to happen. I suggest we move on, also it is not good to remain here in one place too long. Better we move on together and go forward as we appear to have been told.”

They all held fears and doubts and some spoke of them but all recognized the situation and the need to move forward – together.

 

Looking back

From the cave entrance, Keith stood looking back and now it seemed the trees were far away to the right and much more sparse than before. A heavy darkness still rested on them, though an eerie light shone behind them like a previously unseen sunset.

Trees in the distance with setting sun Copyright April 2017 IGL

Keith was no artist but the time there waiting and watching made him sketch what he saw. He wondered if that was a setting sun and if so how it could set without first giving light – and warmth.

The others were now stirring from their long periods of sleep and one of them had started a fire from the numerous dry wood around this flat area.

Keith liked to think it was the setting sun, it gave him hope and a little comfort. He recalled the words the little bird had told him and looked about quickly to see if he could it again.

To the right of the picture, the dense darkness of the trees held their position and Keith choose not to shown them just a brief indication to remind him (as if he needed reminding, of this!).

Sarah caught his eye distracting from his thoughts and his picture, now complete, but she held his gaze.

“Keith! What yer doin’ there?” she said looking back as she walked away.

A little Bird Told Him

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.

Photo copyright IGL Jan 2018

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

 

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.

 

Forgotten

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!

Still warmer

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.