Rollin’ On A River VI
“Shit, shit, shit,” Erin says. “You gotta be kidding me with this nonsense!”
“Look, calm down,” you say, although you know you aren’t exactly the best person to be saying that. “We’ve got a moment to decide. What do you two want to do? Go right? Go left? Or stay at the center?”
“Hell if I know,” Maggie says. “We can’t guess what direction goes what way.”
You click your teeth together. You try to scan ahead to the best of your ability, to try and see if there are ANY signs as to what way you ought to go. None of the three routes seem any faster, nor do your ears tell you that there’s anything to be worried about one way or another.
Your mind is racing, spinning as you try to think this through.
Something dawns on you. ‘What way did I go when we first got into this cave…?’
It takes a second for your brain to recall - you went down the center one, Erin went down the left. Neither of you went to the right, however, so you have no clue what could have been that way. However, as you start to muse over this, you begin to wonder… if this whole world is ‘magical’ or something obviously abnormal, then maybe the design of the cave is significant somehow.
The left path Erin went is what led down, deeper into the cave. The straight path you went, to your best recollection, was a tight squeeze that just seemed to be a dead end.
“Maggie,” you say. “When you came back into the cave, at that spot where it broke into three points. Did you go down the left path Erin and I went? Or did you try the right hand path?”
“Eh?” Maggie says.
“Quickly, please, which way did you go?”
“The left path,” Maggie replies after a split instant. “That middle one was too tight a bloody squeeze for me, and even then, I knew it was a dead end ‘cause I’ve gone that way prior. And that right one? It just loops back around to a side entrance for the cave. You don’t normally notice it because of how the cave looks, but, trust me.”
“How do you…?” Erin started to ask.
You have to cut her off. “Let’s go right.”
“Right?” Maggie asks.
“Yes,” you say.
“If you say so,” Erin replies.
And about five seconds after she finishes saying this, the current picks up again. You start to hurtle down the path at a quicker pace, and you lean your weight to the right hand side. Maggie and Erin do the same, you can feel it without having to turn around - and as all three of you turn to the right, the slab you’re riding veers to the right thanks to all the weight shifting to that side.
Not a moment too soon, either.
Fate is on your side with this much, because all three of you manage to go right at the best possible moment. From there, the river’s current picks up speed again, yet you don’t see any twists or turns up ahead once you realign your position so you aren’t leaning to the side.
“Why did you say go right?” Erin asks.
“A hunch,” you reply earnestly.
“A… hunch?” Erin replies, incredulous. “What the bloody hell sort of…”
She trails off on her own as the river’s current starts to move gradually to the side. In fact, while the river moves to the side more, you swear that it’s starting to go… up?
You frown and glance about.
You don’t know if you’re imagining things or not, but something in your gut tells you that the river is just tilting a little upwards - somehow, if that is the case, the speed at which the current is moving and propelling the three of you doesn’t change. You end up trying not to question it too much, because at this rate, you mostly want to hope that your hunch proves to be useful.
‘Please let this be the best way to get out of this cave,’ you think.
When the river eventually rights itself, you keep going forward on it, and you can see that it just seems to be taking you further into the cave - for now, you try to relax, since stressing isn’t going to do anyone any good whatsoever.
“I wonder how much time has passed since we got in here,” you say, more to yourself, but, loud enough for the other two to hear.
“Too bloody long if you ask me,” Erin says. “I know it’s too much to hope it’s been a damn week, but holy hell does it FEEL like we were in there for a week. Or two!” She sighs and shakes her head. “Nah, it’s probably been a couple hours at most. I imagine it might be nighttime now.”
“Either way, let’s just pray that this is our way outta the cave,” Maggie remarks.
“Agreed,” you say.
As you clear the long stretch of nothing but trekking forward, you start to notice something - your ears perk, because in the distance, it sounds like there’s rushing water up ahead. But the rushing water seems… off to you, and you can’t quite put your finger on why that is. You’re a bit puzzled by this.
“Do you hear that noise?” you ask.
The river starts to go to the side again after you ask this.
“Yeah, I do,” Erin says. “Sounds almost like… wait…”
Before you can say anything further, you notice something - at first, you are concerned it’s just your eyes playing tricks on you. But as the seconds slide by, you begin to see, no, your eyes don’t deceive you: there’s light! Light from what you hope is the outside world gradually pouring into the cave, illuminating the darkness more and more.
Your heart swells with giddiness, and you try not to jump to conclusions.
But then, at long last, as you round a wide corner, you can see the outside, as you’re coming to a big opening in the cave wall. The fresh air hits you, and you breathe it in - you soak in the fresh air like you haven’t been outside for centuries, but you don’t care if that seems exaggerated.
Then, though, you realize from the sound…
“Um,” you say, snapping from your daze. “I think there’s…”
“A waterfall,” Maggie mutters. “Goddammit. Brace yourselves!”
“I really fucking hate this stupid cave!” Erin shouts.
Then, you’re upon the waterfall.
Written by Hollowpages on 25 November 2020