Tass was a natural born ringleader; if Chuy had even a fraction of his little sister’s gift of persuasion, he would have been a serious crime boss by now. Not that Tass had approached Chuy about this expedition, he didn't mind driving and possibly a little hauling, but tramping through nature looking at rocks was completely out of the question. She had convinced three other people to come along to
Point Reyes and search for the cave though.
Araceli had put her foot down very early on about Pet and Tass camping alone, she was convinced that the woods were full of predators like the other Stayner son in
ago. Pet’s father had followed that case carefully, sadly even because of the
poor women that died and the entire Stayner family whose lives were ruined
because another predator had taken their child.
It was a chain of evil that just kept birthing demons and those demons
had come to taint Raymond’s favorite place in California.
None of the Romeros had done any camping at all before Pet, never really explored any wild spaces around the area. Tass hated it that first day, she had complained endlessly about blisters, mosquito bites and boredom; it all changed after the otters the second day. There was a family of them in a wide pond splashing and chittering loudly; they all froze at first when the hikers came into view but soon relaxed and went back to playing. Tass had never seen anything like that up close and understood at that moment exactly what was so wonderful about it.
“We think our world is so scram big don’t we, but we are really small,” Tass had said quietly, “really Canucking small huh?”
“Yeah,” Pet had agreed, “tiny. Ain’t it cool though?”
It turned out that Nastassja Romero had a natural affinity for hiking and trailblazing, it suited her forthright nature to a T. She often went out with other groups now, white water rafting was her new favorite thing, but she was up for all kinds of outdoor activities. So Pet only knew one of the other campers well, the other two she had met only once before, but they were all good sports about the search.
Fulstone was a friend from high school, he was more of a gamer/computer nerd than the outdoorsy type, but he had a longstanding crush on Tass so he always said yes. Dani and Alex were an engaged couple, avid skiers, hikers and such who planned to spend their Honeymoon hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail. It was one of Alex’s friends who had seen the cave and made the map, although it really wasn't much of a cave anymore.
It was more of a hollow in the rocks, but it had to be the cave from the map because of boulder nearby spray painted with the hallowed words “Fuck the world and everyone in it”. Dani had volunteered to be the expedition photojournalist and was busy taking snaps for Pet’s blog and her own because they had agreed to have a cross promotional event featuring the expedition to help increase readership.
The five of them stood and looked at the cave quietly but for the clicks of the camera. Pet could see the glyph and her heart was racing, but felt oddly paralyzed as though she were in a movie theater watching her group look at the cave. From a few feet away, Pet could see that this glyph was much cruder than the
rune, but it had the same vaguely pitchfork shape with three upright lines and
one longer line in the middle that curved on both ends.
The glyphs always called to Pet, they pulled her towards them and she felt her feet moving towards the back of the cave even as her hand rose to feel the rock. It always happened that way, like a magic spell was cast on
Petra that she was helpless to resist. Even though it was crude, Pet could see it
was the exact same rune as Sonoma. She held a photo up next to the new glyph to
verify it, they were both the same size with the same number of lines and the
same curved line.
One rune in a forgotten cave was a fluke, an incidental curiosity; but two of them were something completely different. Two runes were a mystery, a message of some sort and a vague promise of more, which shifted her search into a full throttle obsession. There was no going back now, Pet wanted to find them all, to figure out who had put them there and when.
Pet was lost in her usual glyph reverie and not listening to the others, Tass was well used to this and Fulstone always enjoyed saying excruciatingly rude things to her knowing full well that
Petra would not hear. But when the other four people around her
went silent in a rush, Pet noticed and her head snapped around to see if a bear
had come by to join the party.
There was no bear, just the four other campers huddled around the edge of the cave where the rocks were the most weathered. Pet took a couple of steps towards them, trying to see over shoulders what they were looking at as Dani started taking pictures again.
“Whatcha got?” Pet asked Tass as she squeezed into the huddle.
Tass pointed the semi-circular line that had been carved from the rocks, it looked like part of something bigger at one time, but erosion had taken most of it away. Tass had seen her fair of share of rock carvings by then, and said simply, “There’s two.”