Short Stories: The Cave

The Cave is inspired by this work, by Rickochet12.

Night had fallen, but the heat, and worse, the humidity, had not faded. The very air itself felt cloying and sticky, and yet, despite her apparel (or lack thereof), she felt cool. Her spear held aloft, she smiled to herself as the pale light of the Moon splayed across the rocky earth. No one had believed she’d get this far.

Now though, as she stared at the huge skull, as her eyes made contact with the bleak, dark holes that were meant to be eyes, she felt a chill. There was something else in the warm, unrelenting air – a malevolent spirit, an intangible yet very real malice. The skull’s eyes remained black, impenetrable, yet she could not help but feel as if something gazed back at her, something cold, something hungry, something evil.

Now was not the time to hesitate. She had not come so far, defied so many men, so many traps and portents, to turn back now. The gaping mouth might yet yield only her death, but what she sought lay inside, and she would not retreat, not without at least trying to complete her mission. If she failed but lived… Well, she would know in her heart she had given her all. If she tried and died… Then no one would ever know.

“One step at a time.” She whispered to herself. Her boots scraped across the coarse rocky surface as she summoned her courage and started forward. The only sound to reach her ears was the sound of her footsteps – nothing else stirred, not even the moonlight, as brilliant as it was, could draw out even the smallest insect. In a way that was too profound for her to fully grasp, she was alone – and that was exactly what she wanted.

It was strange, but the yawning chasm of the skull’s mouth was less intimidating as she drew nearer to it. Under the unforgiving heat, a dank, musty odour had made its home at the entrance, which assailed her nostrils and made her crease her face. Moisture, condensation from who-knew-what, dripped from the cave’s ceiling, and turned matt stone into a slippery, potentially hazardous path.

“No turning away, no retreat.” She said to herself quietly. There was no light, not even the dying embers of light, to reveal her path, but she gripped her spear tight, raised her chin, and set her expression to one of fierce resolve. Then she stepped into the dark.

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