Monsters and Dust

Table of ContentsBlogArchiveAboutLinks

Retreating, I quickly gathered some dead prickly pear, and built a small fire, just near the edge. The plants were green, and about as good for fire as ice, but I managed to ignite them. When it was all aflame, I took a stalk and pierced one of the fiery pads and flung it down, into the hole. I bent carefully over and watched it fall down until at last the flame disappeared. I thought I saw some embers strike against the rocks below and sprinkle, 100 yards down, if I make my guess.

I kicked the remainder of the fire towards the mouth of the cave, to watch it fall as well. It was a great mess of flames, and it seemed to frighten the bats, which for several minutes stopped their ascent from the hole. However, as soon as the sparks died, a few brave ones risked the flight out, and more followed, and soon they were pouring forth as before.

The flames illuminated little, as before, save for this time I saw a ledge but twenty feet down, which seemed manageable, and like it was wide enough for a man. Disregarding any possible misfortune, I descended carefully, as a fly on a wall, my breathing heavy against the rock face. Once I made the ledge, I crouched down, and took off my pack. The stream of bats seemed to be slowing now, and I stared into the stygian dark, deeper and blacker than any night I have known.

Partly because of the daunting task of bringing myself back up, and partly because of the wonderment of it, there I sat, for a long while. I don’t know how much time passed, but the stars became bright, and it seemed in them I could make a constellations of Elswyth’s face, her eyes marked by two bright lamps hung in the ether in just the right spots.

I have made my own little camp, not far from the hills now, and plan to return tomorrow.