Part 4 of my “write something, damn it” exercise.
Enjoy! Comments always welcome.
Eventually, left only with the thumping of my heart in my ears and the whoosh of my breathing echoing in the passage, I dimmed my light. After a few minutes of allowing my eyes to adjust, I caught the faintest glow from the passage ahead, and cautiously inched forward, aware of every scrape of my boot on stone, an explosion in the darkness, destined to expose me.
As I crept closer to that mysterious cavern, the grew faster than I thought possible just through my proximity, and a brief pause confirmed that the light was, in fact, growing brighter, as if some invisible sun was rising ahead of me.
Finally, I reached the last turn before I would catch sight of that valley, with its impossible grass and trees and birds—if they were birds. Steeling myself against the unease which had gripped me previously, I stepped past the turn and into the cavern.
It was dawn, indeed, here, deep beneath the Earth. The shone brighter with every passing moment, and a flurry of activity was beginning to take shape below me.
Small clusters of swarming insects were scattered around the grassy plain. A few of the birds made short flights from the trees to dive to the ground after some unsuspecting prey. Some deer emerged on the far side of the cavern, picking their way through the brush as—
Deer? I rubbed my eyes, focusing them as best I could in the still not full… daylight? Four-legged, long neck, with antlers (?), a half-dozen of the creatures made tentative strides, two or three at the most, before stopping and raising their triangular heads up, as if sniffing the air. A couple more steps, and the process repeated itself, again and again, though their direction keep them a consistent distance from me, making details hard to gather.
The unease did not return, and for a moment I was once again taken by the simple beauty of the place. So long as I did not let my eyes drift skyward, I could believe I was above ground. A simple glance shattered that illusion, however, though patches of what would be clouds clung randomly to the dizzying heights.
A dozen paces into the cavern, I realized I was moving, and returned my gaze to the valley floor. The deer were lost to my eyes, though the bids still flitted, though none near enough to me to identify, as if they knew I was a stranger to their home and so kept a safe distance.
Following the same tack I had before, I approached the point where the feeling of dread had descended upon me, but no such effect occurred this time.
Had I truly been simply frightened at finding such a wonder so unexpectedly? So impossibly? Was there nothing before me now but a miracle? A trick of nature and chance?