Shadows are lengthening every minute and it is time to make a decision.
The entrance of the tunnel is hidden beneath the forest floor, visible only in the front. The darkness inside is complete, as if no light ever penetrates those open gates. Has the other end caved in, shutting off any rays of light? Is there another end at all?
Moss and fern cover each inch of the penetrable surface–the stone walls, the sides of the walkway, the spaces between rocks on the walkway…The air around the place reeks of dead things. The barks of the trees around the place has been stripped with claws–a clear warning for anyone who ventures too close.
But still the walkway holds grass that someone crushed underfoot a few minutes ahead of me. Could it be she? With her group of bird-brain bounty hunters? Could even they be foolish enough to enter this tunnel–a place clearly marked by death? How could they completely ignore the local stories? That this tunnel was the door to afterlife… That no one who entered the place had ever returned to the world of living…
Her favourite shoe marks adorns the wet mud. Why would she risk it all? She has enough inheritance to last her four lifetimes…but then this is what she is and I wouldn’t have her any other way.
The sun is behind the trees now. Either I enter or turn back right away. There is no point waiting outside till the morning, for no one knows what lurks in the tunnel. If facing a deadly foe, I would rather be awake. On my skin, I can feel its cold stare measuring me, giving me goosebumps.
Do I enter after ‘her’?
Can I ever leave her behind?
With answer, I braced myself and stepped inside.
Photo by Anna Gru on Unsplash