Monsters and Dust

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It was midafternoon by the time they had gone, and I removed a few articles from my soldier’s pack. The kerosene lantern, coil of rope and hand axe. It was a fortuitous time, as the cave mouth faces west, so shafts of sunlight reached down into its maw, and lit it sufficiently for me to see through to the floor, which was heartening. It was also possible to see, from the same vantage, a tunnel off the floor, leading away to the left, which piqued my curiosity.

My thirst was mighty and it implored me to go in search of water, but somehow the cave’s pull was the stronger.

I tied my rope off round a sharp jutting boulder, and pulled with all my weight to secure it. Then slowly, and treacherously, I lowered myself down the side of the cliff wall, passing the ledge I had been perched on just the night before.

The rope ran out ten feet from the floor, and I hung for a while, weighing my options. I felt I could drop to the floor safely, it looked smooth and level, but how would I reach the rope again, once I had let it go. Looking around I could the entrance of the chasm that I had spotted from above. Its darkness seem to throb and beckon me, in the still of the cave it looked like liquid night, stripped of all stars.

There were many boulders, lying about, seemingly fallen in from the hole. I figured I could push a smaller one over, or perhaps pile enough up to reach the rope on my way out. My curiosity had got the better of me, and I wanted very badly to see the bats’ nest, and how they made their home.

Once on the floor, I lighted my lantern, and made for the tunnel. The blackness around me was dense, and the light did little to cut it. I felt like a tiny ship in the middle of the great ocean. I pressed onward, advancing slowly into the dark with the light held out in front of me as guard. I could see the walls of the tunnel grow around me, and felt as though I were entering the very center of the earth.