Never speechless for long, Dory wondered out loud if she should just hurry along into the cave and hope to catch up with some other expeditioners, or explore the area around the cave first.
Have a look around, a voice in her head said. Ever the wanderer, always curious to just see what’s around that next corner, and the next….Dory wandered through the strange tall rock shapes. In a sort of natural passageway between vertical rock faces she came upon a group of people squatting next to a large oblong hole in the ground. The womans shawls and headscarves were flapping madly in the wind as she conversed with a boy of about 13, and it seemed to Dory as though they were discussing moving something so that it wouldn’t be found. Dory stood perfectly still just watching, and somewhat strangely they didn’t seem to notice her standing there.
An older man with curly grey hair and a long maroon djelaba and a tall narrow brimless black hat started to hurry away, as if a decision had been made.
Dory watched him until he disappeared from view. When she looked back towards the hole in the ground, it had vanished, and so had the woman and the boy.
PPFFFT! Dory had been deserted again. She turned and headed back towards the cave. Suddenly she felt hungry, and an image of a plate of cool crunchy coleslaw popped into her head.
I hope they’ve laid food on in the cave, she said.
The singing in the next room was getting louder. As Dory started to sing along, she felt better. Bugger this! she shouted, and leapt off the musty sofa. The trip to the cave! She felt around the floor with her feet for her shoes, and wasn’t altogether surprised to find her magic flying sandals. Perfect, how perfect is that! She looked around the cluttered shop store room as she buckled the sandals straps. She grabbed a bright blue energy blanket off a pile of coloured shawls, a pith helmet off a hatstand, a mini magic tool kit in a terracotta patterned kilim bag, and on impulse, a glass egg timer with bright fuchsia pink sand.
As she ran out of the back door a parrot in an elaborate wrought iron cage squalked ‘Don’t forget the key, dear, don’t forget the key’.
Key? What key?
‘Don’t forget the key dear don’t forget the key dear don’t forget the key…’
WHAT bloody key dear! Dory was really anxious to get to the cave now, but something held her back.
The key, the key… There was something she couldn’t quite remember about a key. She looked around the room in a panic, It could take me HOURS to find the key in here, she ranted. Ok, ok, I tell you what, she said to the bird, I’ll let you out of that cage, you find the key, and catch me up. Meet me at the cave with the key, OK?
Sanso was used to travelling alone. He’d been exploring this cave on his own for several years now, and it suited him, on the whole. No need to confer, or compromise, or rush to keep up, or slow down to let others catch up. He could follow his own impulses without hindrance. He did meet others on his travels, but only at the cave entrances, or rather, the times and places that the cave entrances revealed. He never felt an urge to settle though at any of these places, always compelled to return to the caves mysterious and ever changing labyrinthine tunnels.
The disembodied voices and coloured wispies were always with him in the tunnels. Sometimes one would be louder than another for awhile, then another would assume prominence. The bleakest coldest times were when he wasn’t noticing them; that’s when he found himself going round and round in circles, lost in the maze.
The electric blue wispy had been around alot lately, comforting him with little explosions of pinprick blue lights, and a golden mustard yellow one. English, not French mustard, he reminded himself, although he didn’t think it mattered and wondered why he’d thought it.
Sanso had been almost crawling for some time in a particuarly cramped and difficult tunnel; bent double for most of the time, his back was aching and he longed to stretch out. The thought of going back, retracing his steps, was unbearable, so he continued, and tried not to be discouraged.
‘Find something to appreciate, Appreciation is the key’ the voice of the blue wispy sounded amused, but in a kindly and endearing sort of way. Harumph, muttered Sanso, easy to say! It would help if there was something to appreciate!
Just then Sanso heard another voice, muttering something over and over again. ‘… dragon egg dragon… egg dog egg … dragon dog egg…’ What the heck was that all about?
Illi set off at a brisk trot in search of the cave. A deafening clap of thunder made her flinch and lose her footing. She slipped, and slid down a steep slippery wet bank, tumbling and rolling out of control. Arrgghh! How embarrassing, she thought, I hope no-one is watching….OUCH! She banged her head on a strangely perfect long oblong stone, which catapulted her into the air and into a cork oak tree. Lordy! She clung onto the knobbly grey bark, trembling and gasping.
Well, I may as well have a smoke and catch my breath, she thought, at least it’s fairly dry here in this tree. She inched upwards until she found a comfortable fork in the branches and leaned her back against the trunk, fishing in the pockets of her tartan jacket for her Camels and her lighter.
Ahhhh….that’s better! Now, where are we? Illi felt more optimistic, and surveyed the terrain. AHA! In a little dip behind the tree was a dark hole in the ground. That will lead to a cave, I’m sure of it! Illi lit another smoke, musing that she might never have found the cave entrance had she not banged her head on the strange oblong stone, and hurtled into the tree.
Feeling much more enthusiastic, Illi climbed down out of the tree and went to investigate the dark hole in the ground. HHmmmm…no sign of a rope, or steps, no light, she wondered what to do next. A voice boomed in her head TRUST! Trust is the key!
Suddenly feeling very devil-may-care and adventurous, Illi dived into the hole head first… wwwwhhhheeeeeee HOOOOO…… the free-fall was exhilarating, exciting, wildly fun….and then a little voice of doubt crept in, Are you stark raving MAD?
Whallop! Illi landed on something soft, something sodden and smelling a bit of mold. Momentarily stunned, she just lay there, in a heap on the soft wet lump.
“Holy MOLY” the soft wet lump shouted “Get OFF me! How incredibly RUDE to land on me like that without so much as an introduction!”
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