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Adi & Praja 136

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9

Issue 136: The Cave

He had nobody to prepare him his meals or do his shopping. He had to find and prepare everything himself, and that took a considerable part of his time. So he stood up, a little stiff, and continued his walk.


(the cave)

Anyway, after this experience, Shano had a lot to think about. What he had experienced through his microscope-gadget was almost a mystic experience. But that it was not really. It had all been seen through his instrument and his innate power of clairvoyance. He had reasoned about what he saw, and it was indeed mystical and mysterious. But he had kept both his feet on the ground, as it is called, and though absorbed in what he saw and felt, had not completely ‘lost himself’ and become one with his object of perception. And that is good, because he was in a region full of danger. He had seen and experienced, and greatly understood it when he used the best part of his mind.

Life went on, the days followed the nights, and the nights the days. His life and understanding had been greatly enriched. Of course he was tired and bored at times, and felt lonely, because ‘nothing happened.’ But that would change. He only had to learn patience, patience, patience, waiting for something – or for nothing? He had a feeling that ‘something’ was in stock for him, but when he was in a more pessimistic mood he thought that perhaps it was only the fancy of false hope. Anyway, there was no way back. So far he hadn’t noticed much about the ‘eerie stories’ people had told about that region towards the east of the town of the instrument maker. He hadn’t seen any large predators so far, except birds of pray flying over – but as he was not a rabbit or mouse he had little to fear of these large birds. He also saw vultures, quite many together at some distant places before him, with meant that ‘death’ was in the air. They were scavengers and these could only survive by eating the dead bodies of others. Was he doomed to become one of these dead bodies? Who would know? He choose not to give to much thought to that.

He walked on peacefully for several days, mostly on bear feet, and mindful to avoid stepping, as far as possible, on insects or other small lives. Nothing special happened.

In a hillside on the left Shano saw what looked like a cave. Perhaps a nice shadow place to take some rest. So he walked to the opening in the rock and indeed found a small cave, some three meters wide and seven meters deep he estimated. It seemed to be empty so he went in. There was nothing, except in the corner in the semi-dark he found some bones. Apparently some predator had been consuming his meal there. For the rest nothing but silence. On closer look, the bones looked rather fresh, and particularly human. It came to Shano’s mind that it would be okay to spend a while there, but it was better not to fall asleep and leave well before sunset from that place. Of course he remembered the stories he had heard in the town of his ex-employer and brotherly friend, of people going into those lonely mountain areas would either never return or return crazy. Shano felt quite stable though, and he was lean and quick and strong enough to escape from an attacking animal, he thought.

Of course he investigated all stones and corners of the cave. And when he tried to move a rather big stone, it rolled away, and he looked into a hole. It was just big enough to creep through. He could see the beginning of a tunnel, high enough to walk upright, with a smooth floor and walls – it could well have been made by humans. And Shano wouldn’t be Shano if his curiosity was not immediately aroused. So he let himself slip through the hole and stood in the tunnel. The tunnel was sloping down smoothly, maybe two or three degrees. Looking down into it, it was pitch dark. The floor was smooth and Shano started walking down into the earth. It soon because absolutely dark before his eyes, but when he looked back he could still see the light of the cave at the entrance of the tunnel. He descended further, feeling his way along the wall. He was careful though, because you never knew whether there would be a sudden pit or precipice, or a sharp bend. Shano was not afraid, but still his heart beat considerably faster than normal. However, to his amazement, after about half a mile, it seemed to become lighter again. First he could vaguely see the walls and the ceiling, and it became clearer and clearer, as if he was walking in moonlight. First he thought that he must have almost reached the end of the tunnel, but then he realized that the light was radiating from the stone itself. It was an eerie greenish light.

He walked on for may be three hours, and nothing happened. Then, suddenly he came at a division: one tunnel on the left went more steeply down into the earth, the other turned a little to the right, but was not sloping down more that one degree – hardly noticeable. On the floor he saw two arrow-like things. So people must have been there, Shano concluded. It looked like if the arrows had been laying there since a very long time. Perhaps many thousands of years without having been touched. One was a pointed stone with a convolute snake carved in it, its head rising up, pointing left. The other was an arrow made of dried corn stalks, pointing right. He had to make a choice. He took the one to the right, arbitrarily, because he had no idea what to expect, or whether there was anything at all where the tunnel was leading to. Continuing for another hour or so he thought he heard something, very softly. It repeated itself a little bit louder, and it sounded like someone laughing, but with a deep voice, like that of a giant. His heartbeat, which had long since returned to normal, suddenly reached double speed. Was there someone? And Shano called: “Is there somebody?” The sound echoed as if there was a large subterranean space beyond. He waited ten seconds, but no answer came.

Just when he decided to continue walking, he heard the same sound, but now very close by. He felt at once that there was no escape, as if it were some monster.

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