As stated last week, I’m going to start posting every five days, rather than every Tuesday and Thursday (which, as anyone following this blog can see, hasn’t happened frequently for a couple months). That said, I hope you enjoy this piece.
For a moment, Nico feared that he’d gone blind. But as he jolted up from the place where he had just lain, he realized that he felt no pain in his eyes; and anyway, even if he were blind, it wouldn’t matter. Not after what had transpired to leave him in this state.
Wherever he was, blackness covered his vision like a colored swimming pool – deep, dark, and suffocating. It pressed on him with the combined power of the claustrophobia and agoraphobia that resides in the hearts of all humanity, planting him in a box that at once was only a couple feet wide and also stretched to the horizon. He felt the ground around his position, touching the rough stone and the loose rocks of various sizes that had dislodged with those that had imprisoned him in this place.
At least he hadn’t suffered any serious damage. He could feel a stickiness on his arms and legs and head, but there was only a little pain now in those regions – enough for him to ignore, enough not to hinder movement.
He rose steadily to his feet, looking all around him for any hint as to the way out. But the darkness wrapped everything in doubt, and there wasn’t even a reflection of light to help him. He would have to rely on his position when he came to.
He had turned to face the rock slide as it closed behind him and he had fallen backwards, so his best bet would be to turn around and go to the back of the cave with the hope that it would come out somewhere.
Turning around, he began to walk forward, one small step at a time, hands defensively out in front of him. He shuffled on, his boots knocking against small rocks and shifting over the uneven terrain, causing him to stumble frequently.
After what seemed like hours, his hands finally pressed against something solid. He stepped closer to whatever it was, either a wall or a pillar or just a large, flat rock, and moved his hands over its surface. It was taller than him, and it seemed to stretch on to his left. To his right was a corner. He followed this corner with his feet, feeling his way along with his hands as well. It was definitely a wall – or, more accurately, he discovered as he stretched out his hand into the space opposite the wall, a tunnel.
So he followed this tunnel, the smooth, cold, stone twisting and winding. As he walked carefully forward, his ears picked up what appeared to be the distant sound of rushing water. His heart leapt with hope, for a river might just mean a way to escape this black prison. His steps quickened, regardless of whatever danger may lie on the black floor.
At last, the tunnel opened up into another void. However, unlike the silent, suffocating, blackness of the previous chamber, this one was loud and roaring with the sound of a river. The water threw light jubilantly on the ceiling and the walls, reflecting it all in its bubbling, glassy, surface. Light – certainty of an escape. Niko nearly shouted for joy.
This chamber was more of a long hall, accompanying the train of water as it marched gradually downhill. Around it, spectating pebbles watched it as it flowed, making up a thin bank that grew taller near the walls. Niko hurried along the bank, crunching the loose stones like echoing claps, or ringing coins, as he followed the water to its destination.
When he first saw the light in the distance, he had to pause to squint his eyes at it. All it was was a white dot on the horizon, yet his eyes were shocked by its presence, having become accustomed to the total darkness of the previous chamber. Nico’s eyes hurt with the adjustment, and the pain continued as he went onward, until he entered the light and walked out into a red canyon.
The river flowed down the middle of the canyon, leaving on the thinnest of banks to either side. These quickly stretched up into great red walls, towering up toward the sky, capped in the green trees that marked this part of the wilderness. Nico took a deep breath, taking in the cool air in contrast to the stuffy stuff that pervaded the cave behind him.
Now he could take a look at himself. Overall, there wasn’t much damage. The rock slide had given him a number of cuts and scrapes, but he washed these off easily in the river before he continued any farther.
The canyon walls were far from flat or smooth. In fact, loose rocks and stones jutted out everywhere on their surfaces. As Nico walked along the canyon, he searched the nearer wall for any place he could climb up to the top. Finding one after several minutes of walking, he reached up, grabbing hold of the canyon wall, and began the climb.
Several more minutes later he pulled himself over the top. He rested a moment in the light of the afternoon sun, relishing the adventure, despite the damage and the danger of the rock slide. He smiled. All he needed to do now was walk back around to where he had found the cave. And then all this would be a story for his friends. He’d like to see them top it.