The Cave

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An innocent journey to a cave near a small town in California turns on its head. A father and his son have to face impossible odds against an unimaginable horror deep within the darkness. Will they survive, or will the darkness swallow them? P.S.: The first version of this story was way too dragging, and I think that I overcomplicated things with unnecessary characters and action. I've decided to keep it simple, and write an ending which I think is more fitting. Please leave a comment or a review, and tell me your thoughts about this story! Enjoy!

Horror / Mystery
4.9 7 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

‘Daddy, daddy! We’ve found a cave up in the hills. Come and see!’ said eleven-year-old Katie Hudson to her father, Tom, who was working in the backyard.

Their house was at the edge of the town named Redwater. Peaceful as it seemed to be, the town had its secrets. Deep in the darkness, they were waiting to be discovered.

Tom Hudson looked up and squinted. The sun was shining straight into his eyes. It was already way past noon, but it still had the power to hurt the man’s eyes. Katie and her brother, Alex, were running downhill to meet their father and bring him the exciting news.

‘What cave?’ asked Tom and furrowed his brows. ‘I’ve never heard of any cave being around here.’

‘It is, Daddy,’ said Alex, who was only nine years old and much more excited than his older sister. ‘It wasn’t there yesterday, but it is now, I swear.’

‘Really? And where did you spot that cave?’ asked Tom, then scratched his head. His fingers almost disappeared in his thick black hair. His hair was not getting gray yet, his youthful looks and viking-like cheeks made him an impressive presence.

‘Up there,’ continued Alex, and pointed toward the wooded hill behind him, ‘just beyond those rocks.’

‘All right, it must have been yesterday’s earthquake which caused it to open up.’

It was not a big deal, but a small to medium intensity earthquake shook this part of California. On the news, they saw that in Nevada it was a little harsher. They were lucky, Tom thought, that even though their town is close to the neighboring state, here the damage was mild.

He had to do some minor repairs on the house, and now Tom was working on the wooden fence which separated their yard from the forested hillside behind. An old tree fell on it and broke several of the boards. The tree was dead even when the Hudson’s moved to Redwater four years ago, but Tom had been too lazy to deal with it. Now he had to work more thus paying the price for his laziness.

‘If the earthquake opened it up,’ Katie began a curious child’s line of reasoning, ‘that means that nobody had been inside before.’

‘I guess that’s right,’ replied Tom, already knowing what’s coming next.

‘Are we going to explore it?’ asked Alex while jumping up and down with his enthusiasm over the roof.

‘What are you going to explore? Can I come too?’ these questions belonged to Stevie Duncan, their neighbor’s only child.

‘No, Stevie,’ replied Tom, ‘we will explore nothing. It might be dangerous.’

‘Come on, Daddy, pleeeeaaaase?!’ asked Katie in a pleading voice.

‘Please, Daddy! We want to see! We want to see!’ Alex continued with his brown eyes open wide.

Tom knew that he had to do something. He admitted to himself that he too was curious about that cave. The only thing he wanted to avoid was to put his children in danger. But then he thought that if he doesn’t take them there himself, they will go on their own. Children are curious by nature, he thought while hammering a nail through two pieces of plank; they want to explore. The only obstacle in their way are the adults who force them to conform to all kinds of bullshit social norms and habits.

‘What’s all this fuss about?’ asked Greg Duncan, Stevie’s father. He was taking out the trash when he heard the pleading children.

‘We will go on an adventure,’ said Katie, ‘is that right, Daddy?’

‘I don’t know, Katie. Just let me finish this, then I’ll think about it!’

‘Think about what? What are you all up to?’ asked Greg jokingly.

‘The kids said they’ve found some cave which wasn’t there yesterday...’

‘Yes, we’ve found it,’ Alex cut in, ‘it was the earthquake!’

‘Yesterday’s earthquake might have shifted some rocks around. It’s probably just a hole in the rock, nothing more.’

‘It’s a cave, Daddy, we’ve seen it,’ shouted Katie.

‘All right, all right! It’s a cave then...’

‘Then why don’t you go and see it?’ asked Greg. ‘I would go, but I have to go to my in-laws to give them a hand. The earthquake knocked a few loose shingles down their house, so I’ll give them a quick hand.’

After hearing how casually is Greg talking about the trip, Tom decided that they should go. It shouldn’t take more than about an hour.

‘Can I go with them, Dad?’ Stevie asked his father.

‘Of course you can. Have some fun, but be back before nightfall. You’ll be hungry after all that adventure.’

‘All right, Dad,’ the child replied, ‘I’ll be back for dinner.’

Greg left Tom with the three hyperactive and overly curious children. He decided to pause his work and get going. The more he hesitates, the more restless the kids will be, and they’ll step on his nerves.

Tom went back inside the house to tell Laura, his wife, that he’s taking the kids on a hike, but they’ll be back soon. She agreed, then kissed him goodbye. The children waved to her from the backyard. She waved back through the kitchen window.

In Tom’s garage, there were some flashlights. They were waterproof. Tom liked to buy quality products, he didn’t want them to give up on him on a rainy night. He grabbed two, then checked his phone. They still had enough time to come back before sunset.

A strange feeling took over him. He couldn’t wrap his head around it. What the hell, he thought. It was like a void in his guts, a weird empty feeling. Tom shook his head, then headed for toward the back where the children were waiting for him. Maybe it’s a sign, he thought, that my midlife crisis had begun, who knows? I’ll have to buy a Harley then be on my way...

Reaching the kids, he spotted something on Alex’s forearm. It was a red spot, a rash or a bite, maybe. Tom took the little boy’s arm in his hands to inspect the wound. It looked like a mosquito or spider bite. Considering that the wooded area behind their house is home to all kinds of bugs, it was most likely one of the above. Nevertheless, they started uphill towards the treeline.

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