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.
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.
Trees line the path and murmur about 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?
The only way was forwards, the path behind seemed to close in so dark. They walked on now conscious that time was only by their watches or mobiles. Keith looked at his mobile and saw 6:43 pm and a red bar showing 5% battery left.