Light a Candle For the Beast
In the haze of warm red turning purple, black wings carve through the air, my tie to land. He comes closer and closer, then lands on a tree trunk slowly working its way to shore on the tides of the river.
I wave to him, my present from the goddess, and return to the task at hand, the knife strapped across my chest.
At the very bottom of the river, there is a cave that leads to a sieve. In heavy rains, if one is so unlucky to be brought here by th…e undertow, they get caught in the tangle of limbs and skeletal rock of worn limestone, and drown. I push through and swim further down into the cavern, into what’s known as an underground river. You could swim for miles, if you didn’t know where to stop.
I watch for the marker, a vine of rock thick as my wrist, twisted into a double helix, and curved into a shape some might use their imagination to call a pretzel.
Using the marker to pull myself up, I break the surface of the water and remind myself to breathe through my mouth and nose again. The air is musty, stale, and damp, and the rock ceiling is low enough if I jumped up in the water, I could touch it with my hands.
I catch sight of a boat carved out of bone so old, it’s grown brown and laced together with calcium and lime so tightly, it refuses to sink. Beyond the shadow of the rock ledge, a hunched figure takes shape and slowly comes toward me. With my larger eyes, I can see everything better, but I still can’t see him.
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