rating: +19+x

There I Was

I'm stuck.

I'd gone here to study the local wildlife, or more specifically, to study their reaction to a changing environment. No one really visited these parts of the coast, so it was perfect for untampered research. The beach was littered with life: sea stars, crabs, seagulls - it had it all. I began to find a few suitable specimens, a couple of Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins, stuff of that matter. I closed my eyes and took a moment to smell the salty air when I was abruptly interrupted by the sound of water.

Drip, drip, drip

I opened my eyes to darkness. My bare feet were no longer upon sand but upon gravel and stone.

Where was I?

I reached out my hands in an attempt to get an idea of the immediate area. My fingers ran across stone. By the sound of my voice echoing I could tell I was in a cave, a rather small one. The walls were rough and ridged, with a few edges sticking out.

I took out my flashlight praying it still worked. I began to shine it in all directions, confirming I was in some sort of cavern.

In a desperate cry of anguish, I yelled for help.

"Help! Where am I?! Is there anybody out there?!"

No reply. What happened? One minute I'm on the beach and in the next, I'm in this… place. I stretched out my arms once more for them to hit the walls much sooner than I expected. That's when I had a terrible revelation.

They were closing in.

Before I knew it I was running. I did not care about the destination nor when I would've gotten there; I only wished for somewhere other than here.

After only a couple of seconds, I was faced with a wall. I was truly trapped. I tried breaking through the stone with some rocks but nothing worked. All I could do was bide time and wait for the inevitable. I weighed the possibility that this is my fault. The ocean is a dangerous place after all, I probably fell unconscious after the waves washed me in.

I should've just stayed home today.

I should've stayed home

I pulled out some of the sea creatures I kept in a small portable aquarium.

" The last people to see me alive are a couple of sea stars and sea urchins. How fitting," I thought, "I should consider myself lucky, most people die alone."

Well, now that I thought about it, I would rather die listening to the sound of my own thoughts rather than listening to a couple of slugs squirming. I wasn't even sure that they could tell I was here.

I began to entertain the idea that none of this was my fault. Surely someone put me in this position, there must've been someone I could pin it on. After all, surely someone had to have built this contraption I found myself in. I put my ears against a wall, fully expecting to hear pulleys pulling, and gears grinding.

All I heard was the endless noise of the ocean. What did I expect? I obviously wasn't trapped in a music box, at least I hoped so. I couldn't tell if the waves were inviting me or mocking me. After another futile attempt to escape I fell limp against the walls. I contemplated ending the pain but decided against it. For some odd reason, I held on to the hope that someone somewhere would free me. Still didn't stop me from trying to down one or two urchins though.

And so I sat there, slumped against the walls attempting to write down my experiences through barely legible handwriting. Soon the flashlight illuminating the page I was writing on began to dim, making it even harder to tell what I was writing. I was beginning to run out of things to say.

It was getting quite cramped in here. All I had to do to hit a wall was nudge my fingers slightly. It was over. Yet somehow, the sea creatures were still alive. It was almost as if they knew their end would be there soon, as I could practically hear them begging to be freed. Obviously they weren't, the hours of anxiety and stress were starting to mess with my head.

I came to the conclusion that it was nobody's fault. That it was by pure chance that I ended up in this position. For a moment all my fear slipped away, it was almost cathartic. The fact that there was nothing I could do made me take a moment to think of what I had done.

I had a good run.

…But that was nothing more than a comfortable lie. Something deep and primal was telling me not to let go. The sounds of the ocean weren't getting quieter, I just wasn't listening hard enough. I gritted my teeth and pushed back against the walls. I pressed my ears against them and listened for the waves. I began to imagine the jellyfish, the shrimp, and cod swarming around me. The images were so vivid I could've sworn they were real.

The walls began to shift away as the chilling water hit my skin. I felt the waves of relief carry me to shore.

I went home disquieted. Despite it all, I still had to conduct my research, so I returned the next day. I walked with great caution, praying that I wouldn't return to that… place. It went on like this for months, with me shaking in my boots fearing the day that I went back there. That day never came.

I realize now that perhaps it was my own fear keeping me from returning to that place. The truth was that I wasn't scared of the cave, but if I had the will to leave it.

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