Friday, September 3, 2021

Microstory 1705: Aquila

I sit in the darkness, head in hand, muttering to myself. I have no sense of direction, and no clue how to get out of here. I’ve been in the dark before, but not like this. I can feel it seeping into my eyes, like it’s made of something, like it’s alive. It’s the pressure of being underground so deep, I imagine, or maybe it’s just my mind playing tricks on me. I’m exhausted, but if I want to survive, I have to get back to finding a way out of here. As I get down on the floor of the cave, ready to start feeling my way to some kind of corridor again, it hits me. I fell pretty far to get down to this spot. I’m not too badly hurt, but the drop still must have been a few meters. It’s possible that the only way out is up, which actually means it’s impossible, because there is no way I’m getting back up that high. I don’t know why I agreed to go on this trip to Dark Eagle Caverns, or how I let myself get separated from the group. I suppose I’ve always been lost, and this pit of despair is just a metaphor come to life. Is it even life? That fall could have been farther than I remember. Or I could have landed on my neck. Or I died long ago from something else, and everything I’ve experienced since then has been my own personal hell. I may have never been alive at all, and everything I’ve seen has been an illusion to make me feel small, sad, and alone. This then would simply be a deeper level of the hopelessness that I have never not felt. I realize that it doesn’t really matter. Hell, real life; I still have to do everything I can to get out of here. If that means confirming that the pit is all there is, and my only option is to climb, then so be it. No one is going to find me down here, and even if they did, they would probably become trapped too, so I best just get on with it.

I carefully crawl in one random direction, feeling myself around the rock and moss. Can I eat this moss? Can you eat moss? I’m not that desperate yet, but I tear off as much as I can, and stick in my pocket in case I can’t find it again later when my situation does indeed become that dire. I’ve finally reached the wall again. I am so disoriented that I can’t tell if I’ve already checked for openings here. Irrelevant. I continue around the circle, if it even is a circle. I have no clue what shape this cave is, or how big it is, or how far it goes. I keep feeling the wall, hoping that something will give. I pray for that moment when my hand escapes me and swings forward. It does happen once, but it’s literally a misdirection. It doesn’t lead to a corridor, but a cranny, or something. I’m still feeling around on the wall with my right hand when my left hand runs into something. Apparently, for as slow as I was moving, it wasn’t slow enough. My ring finger isn’t broken, but it doesn’t feel great. I feel around on my left, and realize it’s another wall. I’ve run into another dead end; just a larger one than before. Tired and disappointed, I roll over to my back, and try to sprawl out. My right foot hits a wall too. Did I get that much turned around? No, my left foot hits the main wall. My God, it’s a spiral. I’ve been in a corridor for who knows how long. I could have already gone in a circle a few times for all I know. I guess nothing has really changed. This is as good of a place as any to die. Because of the darkness, it doesn’t really feel any more claustrophobic than it did in the bigger room. The future looks bleak, but I won’t give up. I just need to rest again, and then I’ll keep trying. I fall asleep for an unknowable amount of time. When I awaken, I find it dire enough to try the moss. A few minutes after I eat it, something in my body changes. I begin to glow, and the path before me becomes clear.

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