KEDA HAD FINALLY MADE IT DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE CLIFF.
The new challenge was getting across the pathway. From the bottom of the steps to the other side, was a narrow ledge protruding from the cliff–it was the only way in or out of the cave. Slowly Keda inched his way out onto the path, there was a strong wind blowing in from the East, the high surf created monstrous waves which threatened to pull his feet out from under him, sweeping him out into the ocean. Luckily, last summer he had bored some holes into the cliff wall so he could secure anchors for a safety line, hopefully avoiding such a calamity.
Good thing too, only moments after he made it to the half-way anchor, a beast of a wave assaulted the cliff wall, daring it to retaliate. With blurry eyes and careful steps Keda did his best to trudge forward. The wind picked up and the waves crashed harder and there was no part of him that wasn’t covered in water.
“FINALLY!” Keda huffed as he unlatched the last anchor, he had made it without falling to his death. That would’ve put a real damper on things.
They had to keep all of their extra food, personal belongings, and items of value down here. Anyone who didn’t keep their stuff well hidden fell victim to being robbed, caught or both. The State had ramped up home invasions in the last few months, whatever they were looking for it wouldn’t take long at the rate they were going. After it happened to them several months back Marcus had gotten the idea to use the cave as a store house. Turns out he wasn’t totally useless–but pretty close to. Ever since then Keda had made trips up and down the cliff at least twice a week. Here in the last few days though, he hadn’t been.
Keda kept clung to the wall as he made his way to the opening of the cave, before stepping inside he could already hear the roar of water coming from inside. Everything was wet, as he shuffled across the path his feet made a scuffing noise that reverberated off the walls. The entrance to the cave was more than twenty feet high. Once inside, the cave seemed to grow bigger–a whole village could probably make refuge inside. Sharp rocks dangled from the ceiling, and straight forward towards the back were tunnels that led deeper into the rock, he’d never taken time to explore.
The wind howled as it blew past the cave, commanding the hairs on his arms to stand at attention, it was getting colder.
He began to look around “Crap.” He said under his breath. He was on the wrong side of the cave. Normally it wasn’t a problem at all, he would’ve just cut straight across. There was always a slight stream that trickled down the back of the cave, unfortunately the roar of water he had heard was that little trickle, it’d grown into a massive river with all the rain–emptying out the mouth of the cave.
One slip and he was as good as gone. Anger rose inside him as he contemplated the situation. It always seemed like he found himself going from something bad to something even worse.
He had no choice, though. The food cellar was on the others side, he could’ve cared less about Marcus’s alcohol but they needed food, too. He sat at the edge of the rushing water thinking of how he was going to get across. There was a large rock almost dead center, but by his estimation the river was about ten feet in diameter and four feet deep. If he could take the rope he used to secure his anchor and throw it around that rock, he might be able to wade through to the other side. Yes, that is what he would do.
The rain came down even harder now, relentlessly pounding the side of the cliff. There was no way he was making it back up those stares now. The rope was useless as far as that was concerned, his best bet was to wait it out down here, but he needed to get across. Quickly, he pulled the rope through the last anchor and ran back to the edge of the water. After tying it around his waist securely, he made a guess at the rocks circumference and fashioned another loop.
“Alright,” He stepped back with the rope in his hand, “ONE, TWO, THREE” and he hurled the rope at the rock. Missed. “Dang.”
He pulled the rope back in, “Okay, one more, you got this, and… GO-” And with that throw he hit his target. “YES! Piece of cake.”
“OOOOOH” The water was freezing cold. “Okay, okay, okay, you got this…” As he made his way out to where the rock was, the water was had already made it to his chest. He needed to get across fast, he began to panic, he hadn’t anticipated the water being this cold. It rushed past him, splashing his face, blurring his vision. His shivering intensified. He kept his hands out to feel for things to grab on to as he pulled himself along but there was nothing, he only had a few feet to go but the current was strong and the water cold. Was it getting deeper, he felt water rising up his neck, slowly?
He fought the best he could but couldn’t get a grip, the water rushed too quickly. He was growing tired and was losing his ability to move as more time passed. He wasn’t going to make it, he tried his best to feel around some more and then, “YES, okay now we’re talking,” his hand stumbled upon a rock sticking up from the ground, like one of the spikes on the ceiling. He pulled himself over to it with all his might. At that point he was close enough to get a footing and make his way out of this stupid water before he drowned. He just laid there as he got out of the river.
“GREAT! MORE WET THAN BEFORE, FREAKING BRILLIANT.” KEDA SAID TO HIMSELF.
He’d finally made it to the other side where the cellar was. It was housed several feet above the rushing river, a decent sized hole in the wall–it was protected by a colossal ceder door that had two cast iron windows, it almost blended in with the cave. After removing the wood lock in front of the door, Keda opened the cellar and stepped in. “Weird,” He made his way to the closest wall, something he’d never seen before caught his attention–a painting hung from the wall just to the right. The painting depicted a women tied to a poll, in the middle of what looked like a town square just like, was that…no, it couldn’t be, and who was that women–why did she look so familiar? She was completely naked, tied to a poll, she appeared to be bruised and bleeding.
How strange. The focus of the painting was her, more specifically, her face. He peered at the painting with curiosity. Slowly he began to make his way forward, he almost forgot what he had come for.
“Huh? What the–” Pausing for a moment confused, he then stepped back to where he moved from. “How in the he–” So he wasn’t losing his mind. The girls’ eyes. They followed him.
It can’t be? Carefully he stepped forward, not taking his eyes of the women in the painting–sure enough, where he went, the girls eyes followed. Rushing over to the wall, he examined the picture–it looked so real, like it was actually happening, but her eyes! He took his hand and brushed his fingers across the women’s eyes, CLICK.
The sound of tumblers rolled, again, CLICK! The painting opened from the right side, unhinging like a door. He pulled the painting open to reveal some kind of safe. Looking inside, he poured over the contents of the safe–there was a medium sized box covered in burlap, some cash, identification papers, maybe, he couldn’t tell. He reached out for the box and unwrapped it, it wasn’t a box, it was a book. Why would Marcus lock up a stupid old book?
The book was warn, almost falling apart. The cover read IBLE, “What the heck does IBLE mean?” Suddenly, the ground began to rumble beneath his feet.
“WHAA-” A loud rumple erupted from outside the room. He rushed to the cellar door, what in the world was going on, they never had earthquakes?! He glanced out and saw it, to his astonishment, an enormous metal door broke through the ground near the mouth of the cave. How was this even possible? Who could’ve built such a thing without anyone noticing? Quickly his amazement subsided as a new problem arose–it was getting dark, like really dark.
“Okay, okay, common, think!” He cried out. He needed to find a lamp, the door was almost shut. He ran back inside and searched, it was already too dark, he swore as he fumbled around in the expanding blackness. “C’mmon, C’mmon, C’mmon, WHERE IS IT?!”
The shaking had stopped, but the darkness permeated every part of him–he began to tremble. He couldn’t move. Paralyzed by the darkness that filled the cave, Keda took in a deep breath, and then another. And one more. Suddenly he found he couldn’t breathe.
“OH GOD!” He gasped. “Calm down, calm down!”
Falling to his knees, he gasped for air. Tears started to trickle down his face, he knew he had to control himself if he was going to make it out. He began to breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth. He needed to get up and feel around for that he kept around.
Slowly, he made his way to his feet, then silence–the silence was loud, overwhelming…or was it? The sound of water rushing, crashing, getting closer. What…
His eyes widened at the realization…WATER. With the vault-like door shut it had nowhere to go. At that, Keda shuffled slowly over to the closest thing he could put his hands on. He was back at the painting by the feeling of it.
“Okay, okay.” From there he slid right, feeling the shelves that lined the walls. A few steps later his feet clanged against something on the floor–the lantern! He quickly bent down to grab it. Picking it up in his hands he felt around. “YES!” He’d felt the little compartment filled with the matches.