66 - The Box

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Next day

Kirt Heinrich

I never really understood why I stayed in that cave for more than ten days. All I remembered was that I had jumped into what looked like a puddle that night, only to realize that it was a narrow opening to an underground lake. I regained consciousness after I fell into that water body, a few minutes after I sank into its depths. When I came to my senses, I used my legs to propel myself towards the surface of the water. When I reached the 'top', my head hit a rock ceiling. After a brief moment of being surprised at how the rock ceiling was there, I understood that after sinking into the underwater lake, I slowly moved away from the spot where the small puddle-like opening to the forest was directly above me. I could feel my breath running out. Using my hands, I felt that rock ceiling, hoping to find the small opening into the earth's surface. I couldn't find it. My breath was running out. I needed to grab oxygen as soon as possible. When I realized that I couldn't find the opening to the forest floor, I swam around to find some way I could get out of the lake. After a desperate and hurried search, I surfaced in what was an underground cave. I dragged myself out of the water and across the dry piece of ground in that cave. Even though I was out of the water, I was still underground. Looking around myself, I discovered that I was like a rat in an empty bottle. I was stuck underground. The water in the lake seemed to come from a spring. When I sipped some of it, I found out that it was sweet, but most importantly - it had the taste of cleanliness.

Though it took me many days to find a passageway out of the cave, I didn't feel hopeless during my stay there. I felt safe and protected from whatever danger lurked on the surface of the earth above me. There was an endless supply of fish and fresh, clean, drinking water which kept me satiated there. It was that satiation, I believe, that led me to forget what happened on the night I got there, and what I saw on that night. It was that satiation that encouraged me to stay there for more than 10 days, even though it was uncomfortably humid inside. It was that satiation which made this cave seem like a refuge from the tough jungles above.

This day, however, I was willing to leave the cave. Even though I discovered the passageway going outside the cave, three days before this day, I never really used it to exit the cave. The day when I was to leave the cave was also the day I first used the passageway. I never really questioned where the passage lead when I first discovered it. My belief that it leads to the surface of the earth was a mere assumption.

After sipping some water, I got up and took one final look around me. This cave had been a haven for these many days. I could have stayed here for as long as I wanted if only I didn't have to go out and find my friends, and perhaps to find my way out of the forest. Deep inside the cave, behind a boulder, was a tiny hole that I thought leads to the rainforest. I walked from the area where I slept and stayed, into a rocky region of the cave. The cave was long and very wide, and there were impassable areas inside the cave. It took me an hour to reach that boulder behind which was hidden that small hollow. When I got there, I stuffed myself in the space between the rock and the cave wall, sweating because of the uncomfortable heat. Parts of my clothes tore as I shoved myself into that area. I paused for a while, before entering the hole. I took deep breaths during that pause and stretched as much as I could before sliding into that hole. It fitted me - barely! In my first shove into the hole, I got the upper half of the body inside a tunnel. After that, even when I tried, I realized that I couldn't push myself back out of the hollow. I was stuck. I decided that there was no use trying to push myself out of the hole, back into the cave. I had to get out of the cave anyways, so I jerked myself up in the only direction possible - out of the cave. After a few pushes, I came to an area of that tunnel where I could comfortably move. That was when I had to fight with gravity to climb up. Putting the tip of my shoes in the ridges on the rocky wall of that hole, I secured my footing during the climb. If it was hot in the cave, it was blazing in the tunnel. Sweat dripped from my face incessantly. The tunnel seemed endless.

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