Tales from THEEUnseen
As punishment for some trouble they got into, Morgan and Nash, brother and sister in their teens, were cleaning their basement. As they moved some boxes around, they noticed a small window about 4 feet off the ground. Neither one of them has ever seen this window in the little over sixteen years they’ve lived there.
“What is that?” Nash asked.
“It’s a window dummy.” Morgan replied.
“But, where does it go? I mean, we are in the basement. There’s nothing but dirt on the other side of these walls.” Nash said.
Morgan shrugged and then went over to the window. She noticed a latch that appeared to be recently used, holding the window closed. She tried to move it, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Go get me that small crowbar off Dad’s workbench.” She instructed.
Nash went over to the workbench and grabbed the small crowbar. He brought it back to Morgan, asking, “What are you going to do?”
“Really?” Morgan stated. “Ehh, you can be so ridiculous sometimes. I’m going to try and open it, silly.”
Nash looked at her puzzled and then asked, “Should we? We’re already in enough trouble and have to clean down here. I don’t want to get into more trouble.”
“Look,” Morgan started, “Mom and Dad aren’t home. We just open it and take a look. That’s all. Then we’ll close it back up and no one will know, OK?”
Thinking about this for a minute, Nash finally agreed. Morgan took the crowbar and wrenched the lever free. “Ready?” she asked as she handed Nash the crowbar. Nash nodded in agreement. “Let’s see what’s behind this window then.” Morgan finished as she grabbed the handle and began to pull.
The window swung open with a loud crack sound and Morgan fell backward. She noticed a hook above the window where it could be locked onto to hold it open and did just that. She peered into the open window, but could see nothing but darkness. She went over to the workbench, found two flashlights and came back to the window. She handed one to Nash and turned on the other.
Nash asked, “Why do I need flashlight?”
Morgan let out a loud sigh and replied, “Because we’re going to go in and explore.”
And before Nash could say another word, Morgan was pulling herself up and through the window into the unseen. Expecting to be crawling along a dirt tunnel, Morgan was surprised to find that the crawlspace felt smooth and hard, like it was made of wood. She also was shocked to find that it was not dusty from years of neglect. She looked back and yelled to Nash, “You coming!”
Nash replied, “Ahh, I’m not sure.”
“Come on you big chicken! There’s nothing to be afraid of in here!” Morgan yelled back. “I’m in front anyway!”
Reluctantly Nash pulled himself up into the window. As he slid his feet in, his shoelace got caught on what appeared to be some sort of lever. He gave his foot a strong tug and the shoelace broke free. As it did so, the lever flung around and the window slammed shut!
“What did you do?” Morgan screamed at him.
By this time, Nash had already turned around and began pushing on the window. It wouldn’t move. Morgan crawled up beside him. “Here, let me try.” And she gave the window a good shove, but still, it would not budge at all. “Are we trapped?” Nash asked shakily. “Well, sort of. We can see if this tunnel leads to a way out.” Morgan said. Nash looked at her, then down the pitch black tunnel, then back at Morgan. “Ok.” is all he could say with the fear strangling his voice. “Well, let’s get moving.” Morgan directed. “I’ll lead.”
Morgan, flashlight pointed out ahead, led the way through the tunnel. There wasn’t much to see, it was indeed all made of wood. The tunnel itself was about three foot in height by maybe, three and a half foot wide. She looked at her watch and saw that they have been crawling for about ten minutes. She peered into the darkness ahead and could see no end in sight. From approximately five feet behind,
Nash said, “Can you see anything?”
“Yeah,” Morgan replied smugly, “A lot of dark.”
“Funny.” Nash replied and they kept moving.
After another ten yards or so ahead, Nash heard Morgan yelp and saw her flashlight’s glow disappear. “Morgan!” he cried out. No answer. He called for her again, still there was no reply. Nash froze. He didn’t know what to do know. Should he push on and see if he could find her? Should he go back to the window and bang on it until help came? After sitting there thinking about it for a couple minutes, he heard a moaning sound from ahead. He wasn’t completely certain, but it did sound a little like Morgan. He decided that he had to see if she was alright. Nash cautiously crawled onwards, feeling his way as he moved. After a few feet, he felt the tunnel drop off. This is when he realized that Morgan probably didn’t catch it in time and fell.
He called for again. “Morgan, are you down there?”
A moment passed and finally Morgan replied, “Of course I am, I can’t float.”
Nash just growled at her. “Come on down. I feel a ladder against the wall.” Nash felt around and did find the top rung of the ladder. He climbed down the ladder for what seemed like at least ten feet. He got to the bottom and shined his flashlight around finding Morgan over by what appeared to be a door.
“Come here.” She said.
“Are we going through there?” Nash asked.
“Do you see any other way out?” Morgan snapped back.
Nash searched the strange room. But other than the four by four foot shiny black tiles that made up the walls and the ladder that lead to the crawlspace, there was no other exit than the door. With a heavy sigh,
Nash stated, “I guess not.” And with that, Morgan began to pull on the heavy wooden door.
Morgan grasped the large handle and leaned all her weight backwards. The door was very heavy, but it finally began to open.
“Don’t just stand there, give me a hand!” Morgan loudly whispered to Nash.
They both pulled on the door until it was fully open. The door had to be at least six to eight inches thick. As they climbed out from behind the large wooden monstrosity, they saw that it opened into a large hallway.
“Well,” Morgan began, “At least we don’t have to crawl down this one.”
Nash agreed. Flashlights in hand, they began walking down the large hallway. After some time, they realized that the passageway was actually headed downwards, and it grew colder the further they traveled. They then noticed a small amount of illumination from the rock walls. As if some of the rocks were glowing. Morgan shut off her flashlight and instructed Nash to do the same. As they did, the hallway began to glow with a purple and blue hue.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Morgan asked.
“It’s cool I guess.” Nash replied.
Morgan reached out to try and feel the glowing stones, but as soon as she made contact the entire hallway went dark.
“What happened?” Morgan said with sadness in her voice. “I just wanted to see if they gave off any warmth.” After turning his flashlight back on, Nash busted out in laughter,
“You touched them and they died!” he laughed even harder now. “You’ve, you’ve got the touch of death!” he scoffed between breaths. His amusement was interrupted by a slap to the back of the head and a loud, angry, “Hmph!” as Morgan began walking down the hallway, leaving her younger brother standing there, rubbing the back of his head.
Turning on his flashlight, he saw that Morgan was several feet down the passage from him now. He started to walk at a faster pace to catch up to her, when he heard, “Nash! Get down here quickly!” Nash broke into a jog and made his way to Morgan. He pointed his flashlight at her, asking what all the fuss was about, when she lifted her hand and showed him a ring. “That’s… that’s my Hero ring!” He shouted. “Gimme that!” he demanded snatching the ring out of her hand. “I loved this ring.” he said with a smile on his face. “I lost this, years ago. I looked everywhere for it and never found it! I even asked mom to get me a new one and she wouldn’t. Made me upset. I never forgot about this ring. Where did you find it?” He was all giddy with childhood memories and then realized Morgan was looking at him strangely. “Um, I mean, it’s cool. It doesn’t mean anything to me now, of course. I’m too old for childish toys like this.” Morgan just smirked and turned to continue walking. As she did so, Nash secretly put the ring on his finger and followed her. Another few yards and the hall began to turn to the left. It was going deeper downwards in a spiral. The further they descended; they began to notice a greenish glow all around them. “Ahh… Morgan.” Morgan stopped. “What is it now?” she asked. “Umm, my ring is glowing.” She looked over at him and saw that his ring was indeed glowing. In fact, it was glowing a very bright green. “How long has it been doing that?” She asked. “It started faintly a little way back, but it just got this bright now. It’s not supposed to do this.” Nash informed her. “Well it is, so let’s save our batteries and turn off the flashlights.” Morgan instructed. “You lead.” Nash, somewhat scared, held his arm out in front of him pointing the ring ahead, began walking as Morgan followed behind.
The two teens made their way down the spiral passage and arrived at the bottom which now opened into a large cavern. There was light down here, but from no particular source. The area was just illuminated almost magically. They both stood there in awe combing the entire cavern with their eyes. [Water drop SFX] They could hear water droplets somewhere, echoing off the walls. But that wasn’t surprising, seeing as how they were very deep underground now. They could also hear what sounded like a stream. [Stream SFX] The glowing of Nash’s ring began to fade now as the cavern was well lit. Morgan began to search around for the stream and saw a small wooden bridge about five yards away. It was like one of those cute little bridges you see in magazines, the little wooden ones that are arched. As she approached it, she saw a glimmer at the crest of it. When she arrived at the bridge she saw that there was a shiny disk on it. It looked like a CD. She picked it up, turned it over and saw that it was one that she lost just last year. [Cavern echo SFX to voice] “Nash!” She hollered. “Check this out!” There was no reply. “Nash?” she called again. “N-A-A-a-a-s-h!” Still there was no reply. Carrying the CD, she started back to where she last left him and noticed footprints leading away to the left, or her right. She followed the prints as they led right into a cave opening. Turning on her flashlight, she entered the cave.
As Morgan walked deeper into the cave, she could smell, “Chocolate?” She continued on, seeing a green glow ahead, she assumed it was Nash and his kiddy ring. She was correct. She turned the corner and there was Nash, but more surprisingly, there was Nash sitting at a large wooden table, eating a chocolate bar. “Oh, Morgan, come on over. Sit down and have a candy bar. We need our nourishment you know.” He said with a smile. “What, what is all this?” Morgan questioned as she looked around at the collection of all types of candy, though mostly chocolate. Nash shrugged as he took another bite. Upon closer inspection, Morgan realized that it was, “Halloween candy?” she said with a suspicious tone. “Nash, stop eating that!” she exclaimed as she knocked the chocolate bar from Nash’s hand. “Hey!” Nash jolted, “I wasn’t finished with that!” Morgan snarled, “Do you know how old some of this is? This is Halloween candy. More specifically, OUR Halloween candy, from all the years past! Who knows how old some of this is. Anytime I thought you stole my candy or you thought I stole yours, this is where it ended up! So, stop eating it, you’re gonna get sick from this junk.” Nash just looked at her with a questioned look. “What are you talking about?” he asked. “This candy tastes like it just came fresh from the factory. Here, try one.” He said as he handed Morgan a chocolate bar. She pushed his hand away and said, “No way. That bar could be 8 years old for all either one of us knows.” He opened the wrapper and told her to smell it. She leaned forward and took a sniff of the chocolate. It smelled fresh enough she thought to herself. She then took the bar from his hand and sniffed it again. She looked at him, then took a very, very small bite off the corner. Morgan swooshed the bite around in her mouth for a little, before swallowing it. She smiled. “Oddly enough, this tastes as fresh as the day it was made!” she exclaimed as she took another, much larger bite. All Nash could say as he stuffed his mouth with more chocolate was, “Told ya.”
As they both chowed down on tasty treats, they heard a noise from out in the large cavern. [Growling SFX for this?] It was like a rustling and then a gurgling sound. They both froze, staring at each other, not knowing what to do. The both of them noticed that the ring was starting to change from glowing green to glowing red. They looked down at the ring, then at each other. “That can’t be good.” Morgan commented. Nash looked around. “We should hide.” He decided. Morgan searched the room. “There!” she pointed “Behind that pile of backpacks and pillow cases.” They both ran over and dove underneath the pile of collected candy carriers, covering themselves. Then, they waited in silence. After a few moments, they heard the rustling getting closer, then the gargling noise again. Rustling. Gargling. Closer and closer it approached. Then it stopped. Morgan gently pulled down a corner of a pillow case to peek out. She could just barely make out what looked to be a humanoid shape, but one of the big wooden chairs was blocking her view. It wasn’t very tall and it appeared to be a bit stout. She could hear sniffing sounds coming from the creature’s direction. She realized that whatever was out there was smelling something other than chocolates and candy. It was smelling them. Meanwhile, Nash kept his hand with the ring in his pocket. The rings red glow was now pulsing furiously. As he looked over to see what Morgan was doing, he felt a tickle in his nose. “Oh nooo!” he thought to himself. “Not now, not now!” His allergies were acting up, especially down in these dusty cavern rooms. He raised his other hand to his nose to stop it, but it was too late. “Achoo.” Nash let out a quiet, startling sneeze. The creature heard this and moved towards the sound. Morgan ducked back into the covering, but could hear it advancing towards them and began to panic. It was only a couple feet away now and looked directly at them. The creature then, reached out towards them.
In a panic and not having any better ideas, Morgan jumped up and screamed as loud as she could, flailing her arms about. She stopped, frightened once she saw what the creature actually looked like. She had never imagined anything like this to ever exist. It was around three foot tall; a body covered in fur and almost rat like. The strange thing is that it had a human-like face, almost resembling a baby. Puffy cheeks and gentle, soft, blue eyes, which made you melt. Also, it had large, bat like ears. But of all that, the strangest thing, in her opinion, was that this creature was wearing a pair of camo shorts. HER camo shorts to be more precise. Actually, they were practically like pants on this weird, troll like creature. To her amazement, the creature ran out of the room, terrified. Frozen in fear, Morgan could not move. She still couldn’t comprehend what she had just witnessed. Nash popped out of the trash pile and asked… “Is it, is it gone?” No response. “Morgan!” He looked around. “What was it?” he asked. Still, there was no response. He gently shook her arm. “Morgan? Are you ok?” Finally Morgan snapped out of her trance. “What the…?” she quivered. “I don’t… I can’t… What the…?” is all she could fumble out of her mouth. “Morgan, what happened? What did you see?” Nash asked again, now even more frightened. Morgan turned her head towards Nash. She stared at him for a moment. Ordinarily, she was the brave one. She thought to herself. The one to hold it together, but this time, she had used up all her courage. This time, she was the scared little kid. She wanted to cry, but could no longer show her fear. She had to pull it together and be brave, for the both of them.
Morgan placed her hands on each of Nash’s shoulders. “Listen, what I’m about to tell you may sound unbelievable, but you have try to be open about it. I can’t find exact words to describe the creature that was right here in this room with us, but I’ll do my best.” Morgan went on to explain in as much detail as she could. At first, Nash did not believe her. But after thinking about how she was in shock from fear, he realized there had to be some truth to what she was saying. “What do we do now?” he asked. “I’m not sure just yet.” Morgan replied. “Stay here.” She told Nash as she walked out into the passage that led back to the large cavern. Keeping her flashlight off, she felt her way through the dark cave until she reached the cavern. She peeked out and did not see any sign of the creature. She flicked on her light and went back to Nash. “What did you see?” has asked. “Nothing, but I have an idea. Let me see your ring.” She said. “Why?” Nash questioned as he handed her the toy ring, now once again glowing green. “I think this thing can warn us if there is danger near, by the color its glow.” She said as she slid the ring on. But, once she did, it stopped glowing. “Hmmm.” She thought out loud. “Here, put it back on.” She handed the ring back to Nash. He took it and placed it back on his finger. The ring began to glow green, once more. “Sorry ‘bout this little brother, but you’re going to have to lead.” Nash stared at her. “I do?” He asked. “Yeah, apparently the ring only works for you. We’ll need it to tell us if there is any danger coming. So, that means you will have to lead.” Nash wanted to curse, but held his tongue. He accepted the fact that he had to lead and walked ahead. “Hold up a sec.” Morgan called out. Waiting, Nash watched as Morgan rummaged through some of the backpacks. She pulled out a couple pens from some, a notebook from another and some other gadgets. She then grabbed one of the sturdier backpacks and slung it over her shoulder. She also grabbed a few handfuls of assorted candies and stuffed them in the pack. “Ok, I think we’re ready now.” She said as they began to head out.
Cautiously, the two of them headed out of the cave and back into the large cavern. Nash checked the ring and it continued to glow green. “All clear.” He said. “Where are we going now?” “Well,” Morgan thought for a second. “We could try to go back.” “Back to the room with the ladder? Back to the window?” he asked with some relief. “Yeah, I don’t think I want to be down here anymore.” Morgan answered. With Nash in the lead, they made their way back to the cavern entrance and up the spiral corridor and continued on. When they arrived at the room with the big wooden door, they saw that the door was closed. Nash spoke first. “Umm, I thought we left this door open?” “Yes, we did. But we also know now that we aren’t alone down here.” Morgan stated. “I wonder if that creature you saw came back this way and closed the door.” Nash commented. “I don’t think so.” Morgan replied. “The creature I saw was much too small to close this door alone.” They both thought about this for a moment. “There must be another much larger creature!” Nash said scared. “Or a bunch of the little creatures. “ Morgan said reassuringly. “I would much rather it to be several smaller creatures. They seemed to scare easily enough. And the one I saw only knows I’m down here. Imagine their surprise when they find out there are two of us!” She looked at Nash. This seemed to re-instate some courage in him. “Yeah!” he shouted quietly. “Well, should we try and open the door?” He then asked. “Let’s give it a shot.” Morgan said and they both leaned on the door to begin pushing. They put all their weight into the door, but it would not budge. They stood, Morgan suggested that they both fall against the door and push with all their might. They did this and it had absolutely no effect. Morgan sighed. Nash asked her what this meant. “I guess this means we head back down to the cavern and hope that there IS another way out.” She told him.
They once again, returned to the large, mysterious cavern. They stood in the entrance trying to decide where to go now. “We could see what’s across that bridge.” Nash looked around and pointed to his left. “Or… we could see what’s in that room over there.” Morgan looked to where Nash was pointing. Past another large group of rocks, there was a normal sized wooden door in the wall of the cavern to the left of where they were standing. It resembled the larger wooden door that led them down here. “Well, we are sort of stuck down here.” She thought to herself. Guess it wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of exploring. Besides, if they pass up one door, one hallway, they could very well be passing up their chance to get out of there. “Alright, let’s go.” Morgan said as she looked over at Nash’s ring. It was glowing green, which was a good sign. She held out her hand as a gesture for Nash to take the lead. He sighed, and then began making his way around large rock pillars, towards the door. When they arrived at the door, they both stopped and just stared at each other. “Still green.” Nash confirmed. “Then let’s see what’s behind door number two.” Morgan said in her best game show voice. She reached out and lifted the lever to open the door. It moved with a creak as it swung open [creaking SFX]. This room was well lit with candles and torches hanging from ceiling and walls. They noticed a wooden table in the corner to the right, much like the one in the Candy Cave. The room turned to the left and as they peered in that direction, they could see the walls lined with book filled shelves. “A library?” Morgan stated curiously. Nash went over to look at some of the books. He grabbed a particular book and read the title, “Guitars and You.” Morgan glanced at him, then uttered, “Wait, what?” “Guitars and You.” Nash repeated. Morgan walked over to Nash and snatched the book from his hand. She opened the cover to look inside. She stared in disbelief, and then looked at Nash with both fright and concern showing on her face. Without saying a word, she turned the book around to show Nash exactly what she was looking at. “That’s… that’s your signature!” Nash exclaimed.
The two continued to look around the library and noticed that there were many, many books of theirs. Ones they originally thought that either they had lost or their parents had thrown out. “What in the world is going on here?” Morgan questioned. “I don’t know, but this is becoming very creepy.” Nash replied. “Judging by the fact that a lot of our Halloween candy was in that cave, along with pillowcases and more that we used to carry it in, I would have to say that this creature appears to be some sort of scavenger.” “Yeah.” Nash agreed. “It’s a scavenger of OUR stuff.” With that in mind they continued to look around the room, reminiscing some of their favorite books. After a few minutes, Morgan pointed out, “We’re wasting too much time in here. There is no way home from this room, we need to move on.” They both picked up one or two of their favorite books that they wanted back, placed them in the backpack Morgan grabbed from the Candy Cave and returned to the cavern. “Now, where to?” Nash questioned. Morgan looked around the huge cavern. Noting the large, standing rocks that sort of created pathways around the place, and began to scribble in the notebook she grabbed a while ago. Curious, Nash asked, “What’cha doing?” “I’m drawing a map of this cavern and labeling the rooms we’ve been in. That way, if we need something or whatever, we know where to go.” “Good idea!” Nash regarded. After a bit of sketching, Morgan returned the notebook to the backpack and advised that they try the other side of the cavern, before attempting to cross the bridge. Nash agreed and they moved out.
Navigating around the rocks, they returned to, what they were now calling, the main entrance. There was another group of rocks almost forming a wall, to the left, as they faced the entrance. There was also a path that of course, led in that direction. They followed it. They arrived at sort of an arched gate structure made of stone. The wooden gate doors were wide open. Peeking through the gate opening, the path appeared to lead to a large open area where there seemed to be a sort of campground. Tents or hut like structures encircled a central oversized campfire pit. At first, it appeared that it was empty. There was no movement, and there was no fire burning. Morgan also noticed that this area of the cavern was much darker. As if the illumination of the cavern didn’t glow or reach over here. The two of them slowly approached the closest hut and peered in. Towards the back there was some sort of mat or weave carpet on the floor, that could be a bed. The floor itself was made of sticks laid side by side and plastered together with mud-based cement. There was a small table in the center with a single small stool. There were objects strewn about the place, objects that looked very familiar. “This is our stuff!” Morgan exclaimed. “Well, most of it is anyway.” They looked at each other thinking about everything they’ve seen down here. Morgan spoke, “So, these creatures are scavengers, I’m guessing. They come into our house and steal our things and we just assume they’ve gotten lost. That much we know. What we don’t know is why.” “I think I can answer that.” A voice came from behind them. Both Morgan and Nash nearly jumped out of their clothes and spun around to see a man standing behind them; an old looking man; a human man.
The old man, who looked about sixty-something, was bald and had a very long beard. He was dressed in what appeared to be a leather cloak of some sort draped around what looked like a very old suit. What was even more odd, and even somewhat funny, is that he wore pink fuzzy slippers. He noticed the two of them staring at the slippers and commented. “Oh, these, well, they’re comfortable.” He chuckled and smiled. “Come, let’s go to my hut. I will explain all I can there.” He instructed. They followed him through the tiny village and beyond, to the old man’s dwelling in the darkest part of the cavern that they’ve seen thus far. There was a much larger hut illuminated from within, resting against the back of the cavern. The old man entered and the two teens followed. The inside of the hut was very cozy. There was a fireplace to the left with a comfortable looking chair in front of it, a dining table with a couple of smaller wooden chairs in the center of the room and a sort of kitchen on the right. They could see an archway in the back of the hut that was covered by a sheet. “Have a seat.” The old man told them. “I’ll make some nice warm cocoa for us.” They sat at the table and both scanned the front part of the hut. “Oh, I nearly forgot, my name is Similak.” The siblings looked over at Similak and Morgan made introductions. Similak greeted them with a nod and a “nice to meet you” and then returned to making the cocoa. The two continued to examine the interior of the homestead. Morgan noticed there were a pile of books next to the chair by the fireplace and walked over to them. “Oh, those,” Similak said. “Those books taught me a lot of information about the upper world. Come, sit, I’ll explain.” Morgan returned to her seat and Similak placed a tray with 3 tea cups on the table and pulled a stool over to sit with them. Morgan noticed that the cups that Similak was using were hers. A very old tea set she had many years ago.
Similak began his story. “First, I see you’ve noticed the tea set. I can only assume it was yours by the expression on your face.” Morgan nodded and Similak continued. “Yes, well, I have nothing to do with it being here. You see, these creatures that live down here are sort of scavengers. They’ve been down here for, what I can only estimate, hundreds and hundreds of years, possibly even thousands. From what I gathered, they once used to live above ground, but something forced them down here.” Similak took a sip from his cup and continued. “They speak some English, but it can be difficult to understand.” He then pointed to a machine near the entrance to the hut. “That is how I learned to speak. It’s a vinyl record player. I’m sure you’ve seen these before, though you probably don’t use them anymore. I have a collection of records with stories, music, radio broadcasts and even educational ones that teach to read and write. Not much else to do down here ya’ know.” Similak chuckled a bit. “Similak, what do you mean you ‘learned to speak’?” Morgan asked confused. “I was getting to that and please, call me Sim.” He smiled as he went on with the story. “I was not born here as I’m sure you guessed. I was brought here when I was about two or three years of age. I’m not exactly sure, but I do know that I was abandoned as a baby. These creatures brought me here and raised me. I call them Incola-terrae. It’s Latin for ‘Ground Dweller’.” He took another sip of cocoa. “I cannot pronounce their name in their native language, but they don’t seem to mind.” Morgan looked at Nash and he nodded for her to go ahead. “We sort of actually met one of these crea… umm… Incola’s,” Morgan informed Sim. “Yes. I know.” Sim said. “The one that you surprised came back to the village and warned the others that an outsider has made their way down here. So they immediately had the door sealed and then ran off to the main city to seek the council’s advice.” “Wait! Main city?” Morgan gasped. “This isn’t it? This cavern isn’t the end of it?” Sim smiled, stood then walked over to the fireplace and sat in the comfy chair. “No… No my dear, this is just a very, VERY tiny piece of the world down here.”
After stirring the coals in the fireplace to create more heat, Sim waved for the two teens to come and take a seat next to the fire. “This place, this world down here is very much like the world above. There are cities down here, cultures, and many different races of beings.” Nash and Morgan glanced at each other a little frightened by the last comment. “Oh, not to worry kids.” Sim reassured them. “Most of the creatures down here don’t make it this far out to the gathering portals.” “Gathering portals?” Nash questioned. “Yes. These areas, these hubs if I may, are located in thousands of places. This is where the Incola have access to the outer world for gathering food, supplies, trinkets for bartering, and whatever else they find interesting. They gather, bring their finds here to a gathering portal, separate and organize it all, then take what they need to trade into the main city.” “The main city. Is that what’s across the bridge?” Morgan chimed in. “Well, yes it is. But I do not recommend you going over there. Stay away from the bridge. In fact, we are going to get you two back home where you belong.” Sim stood and went to the back of the hut and through the sheet covered doorway. Morgan looked at Nash and said, “Do you get the feeling that Sim is getting paranoid?” Nash nodded. “I’m not sure, but something changed when I mentioned the bridge. He all of a sudden seems to be in a hurry to get us out of here.” At that moment, somewhere far off, there was a loud rumble, almost like a large train was passing through the walls of the cavern. Sim appeared in the doorway to the back area. “Come, we must go… now!” “What was that sound?” Morgan asked. “One of you must have already been to the bridge. The bridge alerts the main city of outsiders, and if considered a threat they, send the Custodes.” Sim turned the teens towards the door and told them to go. He followed behind.
Heading through the village camp, the three moved quickly, but cautiously. “What is a Custodes?” Nash inquired. “The Custodes are the Guardians’ of the Main City. They are sent out to investigate and cease any possible breach to the subterranean realms.” “I was on that bridge over an hour ago. Why haven’t they come sooner?” Sim just looked at her with a grim look, “Does it really matter?” he said and waved at them to keep moving. They reached the gateway to the village camp and once again heard the loud thundering noise. “They’re getting close” Sim said in a panic. “They’ll be in the cavern soon. We must move faster!” They traveled through the stone pillar walls and turned left towards the main entrance to the cavern. There was a loud “ROAR” from behind them. Morgan turned to look back… “Don’t look back!” Sim warned. “They’ll see your face!” The three of them closed the distance to the main entrance. “We can’t open the big wooden door!” Nash screamed. “This is pointless!” Just as they started up the spiral tunnel, Nash couldn’t resist, he just had to look back. He just had to see the Custodes. When he did, he froze in terror or was it something else. Sim grabbed Nash by the arm and pulled him up the spiral. Nash never stopped staring. Morgan now grabbed Nash’s other arm and both her and Sim pulled Nash all the way up the Spiral tunnel and into the long hallway before the room with the wooden door. “Will the Custodes make it this far up?” Morgan asked frightened. “They won’t come this far. The spiral is too narrow at the top and they won’t fit. But, this doesn’t mean we are out of danger just yet. Hold him tight, we’re almost to the door.”
Once they reached the door, Sim let go of Nash’s arm and grabbed something from under his cloak. It was sort of like a stone key, circular and flat at one end, cylindrical on the other. Sim knelt down and placed the stone in what appeared to be just a natural hole in the wall near the bottom of the door. He now took out a dark piece of wood that was almost shaped like a flathead screwdriver, but with no ordinary handle. He slotted this perpendicular into the stone piece and turned it. There was a loud “Click!” He pulled both of these objects from the wall and returned them to his cloak. “There. The door is unlocked. Now, let’s get it open.” Morgan sat Nash down against the wall as he continued to stare down the hallway as if in some sort of trance state. Then she leaned against the door with Sim and they pushed as hard as they could. The door slowly swung open. Morgan lost her balance fell to the ground. Sim, able to keep his balance, moved inside the room and began to pull something out of his cloak when he looked over at Morgan. He shouted, “Where’s your brother?!” Morgan still dusting herself off pointed to the hallway wall where she sat Nash down. “He’s right ther’… ” She began when she realized that he was no longer there. “I just sat him there against the wall. He was fine!” she cried out. “You let go of him?” Sim said somberly. “Your touch, it was all that was keeping him from returning to the cavern.” “I gotta go after him!” Morgan said as she broke out into a run down the hallway. “Stop!” Sim yelled. “You cannot catch him now. And… you don’t have the means to get him back.” Morgan stopped and bent to her knees. Under heavy breath, she panted “Then what can we do? I need to go get him!” Sim, closing the door behind him, went to meet her down the hallway. “There is only one way now.” He said, “We need to have council with Incola. Only THEY can help you now.”
©SL Sullivan 2011
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