I kept staring at the biggest pile of treasure in the center of the cavern. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Sean’s words kind of drifted out of my mind, like he’d said them but since the way we’d come was gone there was no point in thinking about leaving anymore.
All I could think about was how shiny the gold and silver were for being in a cave for who knew how long. I mean, where was all the dust? Cobwebs? Rats scurrying around?
Everything seemed a little too perfect.
“Josie, c’mere,” Sean said while peeking from around the edge of a massive stalagmite.
I blinked in surprise, not realizing he’d left my side. How long was I staring at that pile? The thought was unnerving. I shook it off and approached him with an overwhelming sense of cautious restraint, which even I realized wasn’t my M.O.
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?”
I came around the rock to see him squatted down next to what looked like the head of an owl. The surface was completely gold except for two very green, very round eyes that I could swear were staring at me. It was beautiful, with intricate details worked into the metal to look like feathers.
“It’s cool. Did you find a door out of here?”
Now that I wasn’t staring at that mound of treasure my wits were starting to come back to me, but I still had that bad feeling about this place. Solid rock blocking the shaft out of here or not, we could not lose our heads like this golden owl had obviously done.
Sean looked up at me, his expression serious, but I thought there was something else in his eyes.
“I think we should take it.”
“What?” I practically spat the word at him. “I thought we already agreed not to touch anything. Don’t you get a super creepy vibe from this place? I mean, the ground is a mess of dust, but there isn’t a speck of it on anything else.”
He stood, all six feet of him, and dusted his hands on his pants while nodding. “Yeah.”
I felt a surge of relief, not realizing I’d been holding my breath. This place was really getting to me, and not just the darkness or the fact that the only way out that we knew of was completely blocked off.
“I think this will be okay, though, Jos. I don’t know.” He put his hand to the back of his neck and squeezed. I watched my stoic friend’s internal debate march across his face before he said, “I think . . . I think it wants us to take it.”
He shrugged, and I stared at him like he’d lost his last marble.
“Uh, since when do you talk crazy? Aren’t you supposed to be the one with sense here?”
“Usually I’d agree with you, and I know it sounds crazy, but look. Just really look at it.”
I squinted at him in the darkness, the wavering flames dancing around the cavernous space playing with the shadows swaying over his broad chest. Sean was not crazy, and if I trusted no one else, I knew I could trust him. Still, I sighed before I knelt down next to the owl head. He lowered himself down next to me and waited in that silent way he was so good at.
I glanced at him, but all he did was motion his head toward the owl. It was about the size of an apple and the eyes, green and round reminded me of how you see owls in decorations that are so popular: big, perfect circles. They weren’t flat, looking almost like half a sphere each, and though dull, they had a strange inner glow. Maybe it was just firelight playing off the smooth, glassy surface. But the more I stared the more I understood what it was Sean felt. I got this strange feeling like this owl needed to escape and we should save it.
How weird was that? It felt wrong to leave it here. I looked back at Sean and could see the question in his eyes, but fear niggled at the back of my mind. And not the kind that told me I should be freaked out that we were stuck in a cave with no way out and no cell service to call for help. It was a deeper, foreboding chill in my bones that was beyond my ability to explain to him. Somehow I thought Sean could feel it too.
He tore his gaze from mine and picked up the owl head. For a second I imagined the ceiling would start to shake and a huge boulder was going to come rolling toward us, but nothing happened. Sean slipped the owl into his backpack and stood up to sling it over his shoulders. He reached down and took my hand to pull me to my feet again.
I didn’t want to let go of his hand. I didn’t want to admit that I was afraid, but Sean must have known because he kept a tight grip on me and pulled me under his arm, hugging me to his side.
With the owl head in our possession we followed along the outskirts of the cavern, using the main trough of liquid fire stuff as a guide and then it dawned on me.
“Sean.” I grabbed his shirt front and stopped him, pulling him to stand facing me. “Don’t move.” His facial expression said he was curious and confused but he didn’t speak, only did as I asked.
I stepped back a couple paces and stared at him, at how the shadows moved. The fire light danced around too much for a cave with no escape. There had to be a door or . . . or some way to get out of this place. If there was dancing light there was air flow, a breeze. And if there was a breeze there was a way out.
And so concludes the second chapter in this new and exciting adventure! I think there shall be more to come. What do you think? Give it a “like” if you’d be wanting to read some more. ❤