The marks on the sand were intriguing, and I followed them. Of course I had plenty on my mind: what had happened to the wreckage of our craft, why had my skin changed colour overnight, how was it I wasn’t hungry after three days and nights without food, sleeping in the open?
Those were obvious questions, there were others. Where was I, what time was I in? Where were my companions? There was no point in losing myself in conjectures, I was alive, somehow, and exploring this world.
The tracks seemed to be of those of heavy objects being drawn through the dunes, and they led to a rocky band of land slowly rising away from the shore. I must have walked for about an hour, and I had by then lost the tracks, but somehow felt compelled to continue, toward what looked like a group of bigger boulders, standing like sentinels over the swampy hinterland.
There, between the two larges rocks, partly masked by brambles and short, black pine shrub-trees, was the entrance to what I guessed to be some cave, well hidden from view for anyone walking along the beach. The ground was damp, the sounds of the shore now far away.
I looked around: there were only rocks, the boulders, the short vegetation, sand, and further away, the shore. The opening of the cave was narrow, and appeared to go down fairly quickly. I took a few steps, crouching below the rock. After a sharp bend, the path widened, the light turned a dark reddish colour, as if projected from a source deeper in the cave, the sand gave way to a slippery surface that, at first, I did not recognise.
Then I heard the unmistakable sound of water: I looked up, the walls of the cave and the ground were damp, a few steps further I saw the stalactites: I must have walked down underground longer than I thought. This place was deeper in the earth than seemed possible. I guessed the temperature must be close to freezing, although I did not feel the cold. Above me, ice and silicates adorned the cave’s roof. I walked for a little longer: I liked the cave, the silence was only troubled by the crystalline ringing of flowing water, the air was as pure as it would have been on a high mountain in Spring.
Now the floor was punctuated by rising stalagmites, some reaching almost to the roof. I estimated that these formations were century, if not millennia-old.
Inspired by Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo prompt