“This way!” Shouted Penny, bounding over the rocky terrain with ease. She’d walked this route many times both alone and with her Mother, but this was the first time she had ever brought Daniel along.
“Hold on” Daniel panted, sweat dripping off his face and neck. He had decided his grey tshirt had been a bad choice; it merely highlighted just how unfit and sweaty he was. Penny just smiled. On a normal day, they may have tossed a few jokes back and forth between each other, but not today; today was important.
“It’s just over these rocks and into this cave!” She shouted, racing off once more. Daniel struggled, but managed to follow behind.
By the time Daniel reached the cave entrance, Penny was about ready to rush inside. Luckily for him, though, she had waited.
“This is it!” she shouted, pulling on her rucksacks straps, “Just look at it!”
Daniel finished catching his breath in order to take in the entrance Penny was making such a big deal about. The “entrance” was more like a slit in the weathered rock face. In fact, from some angles it was practically invisible, you had to be looking at it just the right way to see it went on deeper behind the stones. It didn’t help that the front was obscured by, not just large rocks and boulders, but grass, and weeds, and all sorts of plants. It was actually quite bizarre to look at.
“Look at the strange vines!” She shouted, her voice no quieter despite his proximity. Daniel put a finger in his ear; an attempt to hint how loud she was being. “I bet these are ancient plants never unconvered in a million years!” His hint hadn’t worked.
Daniel looked down, the vines looked more like tentacles than foliage; they were fat, purple, and oozing. He shuddered just looking at them, so getting close was the last thing he wanted to do, but when Penny pressed on, sliding herself against the cave entrance, he knew he had to follow too. Her rucksack pressed against his face, for the most part, but out the corner of his eye he saw something… One of the vines, brushed against by his foot, darted back in between the cracks.
“Pe-Pen!” He said, panic in his voice. “Th-That one- Just moved!”
“It’s fine!” She called back, confidence in her voice. “Just a little-” There was the sound of scuffling, then the sliding of rocks. Penny made no noise as she fell, shock winding both the air and the noise from her, but Daniel was able to unleash a mighty scream as the rock slide came for him as well. Whether it had been the added pressure of their feet on ancient stone, or the disturbing of the slithering vines, something had unsettled the earth and swallowed them whole. They didn’t tumble too far, not far enough to even truly realise they were falling, and when they landed the ground was soft, and cushioned their fall.
Penny was straight to her feet, the fall had done nothing but temper her resolve. Before her companion had even stopped screaming, she was rubbing the cavern walls, and looking for a way out. Daniel, on the other hand, was studying the floor… with his face. Having been a clumsy child, prone to dropping things and falling over, Daniel had spent a lot of time lying on the ground. It was familiar to him, a normal sensation, but the ground they lay on now was like no other. It felt, he thought, like he was on a half filled waterbed. He pushed his hands into the ground to try steady himself up, but they sank into the fleshy surface uncomfortably far. Somewhere inside he needed to be sick. Before he had time to give into his bodily functions, the ground slipped out from under him, rolling him backwards into Pennys feet. She turned with a start.
“What the-” She paused, looking from Daniel and up from where he rolled. The once dark cavern they were trapped in was now as bright as day, and in front of her an enormous glowing eye studied them both. She reached down slowly, helping Daniel to his feet without looking away from their watcher. The eye blinked with purpose, and it’s pupil narrowed on them. Around their feet, coils upon coils of purple tentacles wrapped themselves around legs and arms; constricting them til only their heads could move. Suddenly, in a voice which sounded like it came from somewhere either deep below the earth, yet was as clear in their minds as though it was their own conscious thought, the thing spoke.
“Tell Me, Foolish Mortals. Why Have I been Awoken”