The tone of frustration in Tass’ voice made Pet sigh as she turned to she what pissed off her friend this time. One of the strings on Tass’ hiking boots had snapped off, forcing her to remove the entire lace and re-thread it through her boot. Pet shrugged off her knapsack and took a drink of water as she watched her best friend curse at the offending situation.
“Bucking Potsdam Conference,” Tass growled quietly.
Tass’ mother did not approve of colorful language so Tass had long ago started using similar words in their place. It was a technicality that her mother could not realistically fight and a workable solution to a very sore point in the family. Even though Pet and Tass were adults now, living on their own and being big girls, Tass still never actually, technically, swore around anybody.
Pet found the old Timex in her pocket; it used to belong to her father and was well over thirty years old but still did its job with aplomb. It was getting late, almost three in the afternoon and they were making their way back from a small cave in the
Sonoma area. The expedition had taken most of the day
since they had left Sacramento
when the morning was still dark, and their efforts had borne no tasty fruit.
There had been a few glyphs on the cave walls, but nothing of great interest, modern graffiti that lacked both wit and charm. But the day had been nice anyway, it was always good to roam around the natural beauty of Pet’s home state and they had taken a few good pictures for the blog.
Pet had seen the erratic on the way to the cave and decided to give it a quick once over on the way back to the car. They were halfway up the hill when the lace snapped and Tass was having some trouble making the remainder work.
“Go on up,” Tass said, looking up briefly before deciding she had to tie both pieces back together with a barely coherent grumble that sounded like flit duck.
“K,” Pet answered breezily and picked up her pack. The erratic was just a rock on a hill, pushed there eons ago from far away by the glaciers that shaped the geography. She was not expecting to find any glyphs on the erratic, but it was a rock far from home with a story to tell and those stories always interested Pet.
There were no man made markings on the rock at all; it was a common piece of granite from much farther north with some glacial striations running over the top like city streets. It was the smaller pile of rocks on the far side of the erratic, hidden from view until Pet crested the hill, which had actually been calling out to her. These smaller boulders were locals, but seemed to have been put there with deliberation which made Pet get that tingly feeling.
She fetched out the camera and took several shots from all angles of the pile before setting her pack aside; then Pet carefully began removing a few of the boulders. None of these had marks either but some instinct was telling Pet to keep going. There was a flat rock near the bottom, about a foot wide and heavy as Pet braced herself and pulled. The small gasp of cold air that escaped from beneath the flat rock wafted over her skin and Pet’s heart began to thud with excitement.
“You ok? I’m just about done,” Tass called up.
Pet had pried up one of the corners and seen the inky blackness below. A cave! “Hurry up,” she said over her shoulder, “There’s somethin…”
The ground beneath Pet’s feet gave away as she fell into the darkness, it seemed like a slow ride down as her mind frantically tried to guess at the depth of bottom. She felt the cold air rushing against her skin and saw the late afternoon sunlight slowly fade away through the hole above her, it all happened in slow motion as Pet wondered what the point of her life had been if it was only to end now when it was just starting.
She heard her body hit the ground before she felt the jarring of her bones. A sharp stab of pain from a jagged shard of something in her thigh cut through the dull roar of her joints and Pet realized that she was still happily alive.
“Chucking fell! Are you alright?” Tass called down through the opening.
Pet thought about the question thoroughly before answering, “Yep.” The sound of her voice echoing off the cave walls told her the chamber was not very big as Pet found her feet carefully. “Toss down the flashlight.”
“It’s getting late, we don’t have time for you to fall down the well Timmy,” Tass shouted down even as she reached for the pack and retrieved the torch. “Heads up,” she warned before throwing down the light.
Warm yellow light flooded the cave as Pet stayed in the middle and slowly turned around to reveal the chamber. It was perhaps fifteen feet around and twenty feet deep with no remarkable features to be seen. No stalagmites, no water, no old fire pits and not even an old beer can, just a hole in the ground Pet told herself regretfully as she finished making the circle.
And then there it was, a thing that had no right being in a forgotten cave in
a thing so unlikely that Pet’s eyes refused to believe what was in front of
them. She stepped closer, not breathing,
as her right hand moved of its own volition towards the glyph. Pet shined the light on the glyph, looking at
it from all angles and trying to convince herself that she was not seeing what
was truly before her.
“Answer me you trucking twitch!” Tass roared from above.
“I asked how you are planning to get out of there.”
Pet’s fingers had melted into the carefully carved lines in the rock, tracing the straight and curved grooves like a lover. It was a rune, a very old rune from
Europe, of that Pet was sure, but how did it get here?
Pet looked way up, she did not really want out at this moment, but opted not reveal that. “It’s Timmy’s job to fall down the well and it’s Lassie’s job to get him out. Better start barking girl.”