Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Cave

   As I run along the side of the creek in the dappled sunlight, I can't hear anything but the gurgling of the water and the autumn wind zipping past my ears. I struggle to keep up with Dorian as I dodge large rocks and muddy spots on the ground. Finally, we reach the place where we can cross the river, and I let him go first. A fallen tree that is just wide enough to walk across and not break, but I crouch down as I cross, trying not to look down at the cold river below. My heart beats in my ears as I step onto the bank on the other side, walking quickly from the steep edge that would send me into the river.
   I sit down at the base of a large tree as Dorian climbs into the lower branches, and starts picking at the twigs and leaves on the branch he is sitting on. I look up at him, holding my hand up to shield my eyes from the suns rays as it drops below the trees. 
"Should we go back?" I ask as I begin to worry.
"No, we just got here. What, you  don't trust your brother to find his way back?" he replies, dropping leaves down on me as he laughs.
"Little brother," I say as I wave my hands to swat the leaves away from my face, "And I only agreed to come with you because you said there was, something amazing."
"Come on, Agnes," he tries to persuade me as he climbs down the tree, and starts walking further away from the river. 
   I get up hesitantly, and walk quickly to catch up with him. We go uphill for awhile, the trees around us getting taller and the branches getting thinner as we walk on a dusty path. I struggle to keep up with Dorian's relentless pace as I feel sweat coating my dusty face. He shouts something ahead, and waves his hand at me, and I struggle to catch up with him as I grab at the hems of my skirt so I can walk quickly.
"What? Are we there?" I ask, out of breath as I look around.
"Yes, we just need to go down there," he replies as he gestures to the cliff side beside us.
   I give him a look of shock as I lean forward to look down. There is a small rocky path against the cliffs that leads down the side of the mountain. He grabs my hand and tugs me toward the path, taking a step forward to show me it's okay.
"Dorian, this is ridiculous. We're going to fall," I say as I glare at him.
"Please, just trust me, I'll help you down. You won't believe what is in there," he replies as he grins at me.
"In where?" I ask, worry showing on my face.
"The cave. That's where we're going. Please, just let me show you."
   I reluctantly take a step forward, holding onto his hand tightly as we make our way down the side of the mountain. I try to look forward as we turn a corner, and I see the cave's opening. I sigh in relief as I walk a little quicker, still not letting go of Dorian as we enter the cave. A steady stream runs out of the cave and off the cliff and I take my shoes off and hold them in my hands as I step into the cold water. I follow him into  the cave, and as the setting sun's light stops illuminating the way, I begin seeing countless blue string-like things hanging from the roof of the cave.
"What are those?" I ask quietly as I reach up to touch one, standing on my toes in the cold water.
"They're glow worms," Dorian answers quietly as if talking loudly would disrupt the placid atmosphere of the cave. 
   My eyes widen as I curiously touch one above me, watching as it pulses dark then light again. I lose track of everything else as I walk speechless through the cave, looking around at the beautiful life around me.
"It's like the stars, Dorian," I whisper as I look over at him, seeing a his face silhouetted by the blue lights glowing above and beside him.
"I know. I knew you would like it."
"I don't want to leave, it's so beautiful," I whisper as I look over at him sadly.
   As I continue walking into the cave, I run my hand across the cold stone walls, the water nearly up to my knees. I look ahead, seeing the water slope upward into a rounded tunnel. I pull Dorian along as I nearly crawl up the steep passageway. I reach a large cavern at the end, with a seemingly endless ceiling covered in layers of glowing blue. A clear pond sits in the center of the cavern, and I can see the shallow bottom with the glow from the ceiling. 
"It must be really late, Dorian. Should we go? We don't want to be forbidden from going on adventures again," I whisper, listening to my voice echo softly around the cavern.
"Yes, but we have to come back," he whispers back, tracing lines in the gravel on the ground with his foot.
I turn back, carefully making my way down through the tunnel into the front part of the cave. We walk quickly, admiring the quiet beauty as we wish it a silent farewell. Dorian stops at the entrance to the cave, and I turn around to look at him. He crouches down, and, with a smooth rock he picked up from the cavern, traces some letters into the sand-like gravel.
"Agnes," I read as he stands up.
"So everyone knows that the cave is yours," he says simply.
"Thank you very much Dorian," I say quietly as I smile at him.
   He puts the rock in my hand, which I tuck away in my pocket, and I put my shoes back on my feet. We make it back to the top of the hill, and run all the way down to the river through the skeletal silhouettes of trees. I stop, my legs weak from all the running, and look at the log bridge. I let Dorian go first, and I walk close behind him, trying to keep my balance. I feel the log shake around and see him struggling to keep his balance. He waves his arms in the air as he starts losing his footing on the log, and I panic. I lunge forward and grab him by his shirt collar, pulling him back to stand up. My heart is beating in my ears as I step off the log, still holding onto him.
"You have to be careful!" I exclaim as I walk with him away from the edge, worry still eclipsing all my other thoughts.
"I'm alright Agnes, I just don't want to get home too late. I was trying to hurry," he explains as we walk.
   We make our way through the trees that stretch up into the cloudy sky like towers and creak in the wind. I see the glow of our home up ahead, a beacon in the fog that has set low on the ground, it's tendrils moving around our ankles as we rush through the forest. I slow my pace as we approach the door, and I push it open slowly, feeling a rush of warmth and the aroma of dinner greet me. Our parents greet us and asked us where we went. I close the door behind Dorian as he tells them we were exploring, and they usher us over to the warm fire. Our mother fusses over us as she sees the state of our clothes. I pick up a notebook from the side table and a pencil and open it to the next blank page, and start writing about the fascinating cave.
   I feel a weight in my pocket and remember the rock that Dorian had given me. I walk out of the main room and into my bedroom. I place the rock in my windowsill, and stop to look out of the window. I observe the dark forest that seems endless from my window, and I watch as the wind makes the trees shake. Dorian comes up to my doorway, and I don't turn around, still mesmerized by the strong trees being shaken by the wind.
"Would you like to go to the cave again?" he asks as I turn to look at him.
"Yes. Let's go tomorrow," I say as excitement shows in my voice.
   I wish him a goodnight and try to go to sleep, looking over at the rock, my reminder that the magical place actually existed. As I drift off to sleep, I see the glowing ceiling behind my eyelids as I dream, and await the next adventure.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flash Fiction: Chandra's Adventure

As prompted by Chuck Wendig's recent blog post, I have decided to participate in the Flash Fiction Challenge. I chose to choose my 3 words out of the 10 prescribed, which are moon, scorpion and mint. Enjoy:
   The pale moonlight cast a mysterious glow on the earth as Chandra jogged away from her home, her bag slung over her shoulder. As she dashed through the field of soft mint leaves that brushed her ankles like feathers of a bird in flight, she felt free as the cool summer breeze mingled with her curly hair that flew behind her. When her mother found that she had left her studies, she would probably be a nervous wreck, but Chandra let all of her worries go as she inhaled the invigorating aroma of mint that surrounded her.         
Because they had recently moved to this new place, her mother was worried of all the wild animals and poisonous things. She had given Chandra a large book detailing all of the animals, insects, plants, and more that she had the potential of running into in this new place. She remembered what she had been reading about just before she had snuck out of her window to get some air, the Indian Red Scorpion. If stung by one, there were detrimental effects. It was native to her country, and she thought about how it could be skittering on the ground in front of her this very moment. The thought of this made her jump over the mint row to her right into a new one as the hair on the back of her neck tingled at the thought of the creature below her feet. She glanced down the moonlit row as a precautionary measure, and then continued on carelessly.
"Hottentotta tamulus," Chandra whispered under her breath. She had memorized the scientific name of the scorpion, although it seemed like useless information to her. The thought of scorpions fled her mind as she began to see the wall in the distance amidst the haze of the warm summer night. It had seemed so tall when she read about it in books. But in real life it seemed so doddering, maybe standing at a good four meters. As she approached it she slowed, observing every detail. It was composed of thick metal bars, reminding her of a prison, that ran up to a wide bar at the top which all of the vertical bars were fused to. She could easily slip her hand through the bars and reach out to the other side, but what she knew about the other side made her hesitant.
A bright light began to emerge from her left side, which she quickly identified as the headlights of a truck. It was gradually advancing, and she could have easily just stepped to one side and let the car drive past her. But it scared her, having just found this mysterious wall cloaked in shrouded moonlight. So she turned and dashed back towards her home, through the fields, heavy with their fresh aroma. Chandra had thought that she heard a shout behind her, but she didn't look back to investigate, and quickened to a sprint. Once she got back to her house, she quickly climbed the stout tree in her front yard and ducked in through her still open window. Sneaking down the stairs, she found her mother washing a pan in the kitchen. She gave Chandra a questioning look, to which she nervously smiled.
"How were your studies tonight, Chandra?" her mother inquired. "They were wonderful. I learned all about the Indian Red Scorpion," she replied, relieved that her mother didn't seem to notice that she had gone.
"Good. You should probably get to sleep now, you don't want to be too tired tomorrow," her mother suggested, continuing her work.
Chandra turned back up the stairs, jumping up them two at a time, and went to her room. Closing her door, she turned off the light and sat in her windowsill, opening her bag. she took out a leather-bound journal with an intricate weave of shapes all around the border. Opening it to the next empty page, she began to draw the wall and wrote about her late night adventure. Once she had finished, she fell asleep, thinking of the mysterious wall cloaked in moonlight.
The next morning she awoke, braiding her lengthy hair, and quickly put on a midnight blue tunic with golden trim and black leggings. Grabbing her journal and bag, she crept down the stairs, and managed to go out the front door without her mother hearing. The golden sun was just creeping up onto the horizon, a hazy figure in the corner of Chandra's eye. Since the sun was a spotlight on her, Chandra decided to take a lesser-known trail through a few trees to reach the wall. By the time she reached the wall, the sultry air was like a blanket wrapped around her. The dark metal fence was starkly contrasted by a deep blue sky with bits of pink clouds. As she approached the fence, she peered beyond, at the land that seemed so dramatically different than hers. There were small shanties and huts cropped together and a few people were in front of one talking, heads down. A few huts were in a tight circle, and a group of tired elderly men sat around a fire in the middle. There were some women with choppy haircuts that made them look featureless scrubbing away at old clothes in a mud-caked washtub. The strange part for Chandra was that none of them seemed to notice or pay any attention to her. As she walked down further and further, there seemed to be rougher conditions. Chandra stopped in front of what appeared to be a store. Many people were crowded in it, and a few people were selling things just outside the doors. As she leaned closer, fully intrigued, she forgot what she was doing. Before she knew it was happening, there was an angry man with long tangled hair that had taken ahold of her foot.
“Give me all your money! And don’t lie,” he shouted with a deranged look in his eye.
“I don’t have any!” she shouted back, and she lost her balance, falling to the ground.
“I don’t believe you! All of you people have better lives, and pockets full of money,” he snarled back with frightening certainty.
Chandra tried to kick her foot out of his grip, but couldn’t. Two men on the other side had started trying to pry him away, but he was determined. Looking to her right, she saw it. An Indian Red Scorpion right beside her. Grabbing it like the book had instructed her to, she sat up and quickly threw it between the bars and onto the insane man’s coat. He immediately let go, running away and wildly pulling his coat off to avoid getting stung.
“Thank you,” Chandra voiced to the two men who assisted her.
She then turned and ran back home, cutting across the mint fields, leaping across several rows before following an undeviating row to her home. When she got into her front row, panting, she climbed the tree that she had the previous night, and began writing about what had happened amidst the cluster of branches. Although she had had a frightening experience, she was determined to continue adventuring under the veil of moonlight.