Ch. 6: Do we dare dig ourselves even deeper?
- Ch. 1: I’ll go in if you go in.
- Ch. 2: Like a cat’s eye at night. But it wasn’t night … and it wasn’t a cat.
- Ch. 3: Into the The Heart of Parkness
- Ch. 4: Do we stay or do we go?
- Ch. 5: Just Give In
- Ch. 6: Do we dare dig ourselves even deeper?
- Ch. 7: Who do you listen to?
- Ch. 8: Lu Goes First: Aliens, Farting, and Pepper!
- Ch. 9: Li Goes Deep: A Maze, Spiders, and Pepper
- Ch. 10: Last In, First Out?
- Ch. 11: Fright at the End of the Tunnel
- Ch. 12: Hi honey, I’m home!
- Ch. 13: It’ll be our Secret
One choice isn’t a choice.
My boys scrambled ahead fearlessly as if this were a video game. I hesitated as if this were my real life. Hello? It is our real life! Anyone? Anyone? Maybe that was it, maybe I was scared because this was all real, this was just an after school walk home and now we’ve been down a secret tunnel, catapulted into a different park, our dog is missing, and now we’re consciously climbing back up this tunnel through a place where obviously we’re not the first and I’m not even sure we’re alone. Oh, that’s OK, let’s just pretend it’s a video game, that’s easier. I’ll just follow along.
“Whoa,” came the next word out of Li’s mouth.
“Whoa,” came the response from Lu.
“Whoa,” I said as I saw past them.
If the last cave was as big as a minivan, this was as big as a camping caravan. But not some add-on to the top of a pick-up truck, one of those vehicles that is as big as a city block. I honestly don’t know how people maneuver those things through regular city streets without crushing, monster-truck style, little Mini Coopers and squishing dogs and pedestrians. Speaking of dogs, where’s Pepper?
“Pepper!” I called, not because I saw him, but because I was thinking of him and had mostly forgotten that he was why we were back in the cave.
“Do you see him?” asked Lu.
“No, I just thought I’d call his name,” I said.
“Pepper!” Li called.
We could only see because there was something like a skylight coming down from a hole in the top of the cave. Somehow we weren’t far from the surface. Well, that or the hole to the sky was really long. I had no idea how deep we were under the ground. Not a good thought process to follow. Stick to boys and dog. And cave at hand.
“Are those more tunnels?” asked Lu and pointed to the sides and back of the large cave where dark circles were either painted in the dirt or even more tunnels going even farther.
“I think so,” I said. “Pepper!” I called again, thinking if he just came out now, we could back out of here, go back down the slide tunnel and call it a day. “Pepper! Come on boy!” Nothing. Or was there something?
“Hey, did you hear something?” I asked. We were all silent. Nothing.
“Pepper!” Li yelled. We listened. Nothing. I closed my eyes to listen better. Does that even really work?
There was a faint yelp.
“Was that Pepper?” Lu asked.
“Pepper!” I called again. We were quiet. There was a yelp, this time we all heard it.
“It’s him!” Li cried.
We all moved into the larger cave. I counted the number of black circles that were clearly more tunnels. There were three. Now we had a choice: which tunnel? Where did the yelp come from?
“Li, you sit in front of this one. Lu, you in front of that one and I’ll be next to this one and let’s listen,” I said as if I were confident that this is what we should be doing at all. It was all happening so fast that thankfully I didn’t have time think, again, that maybe this wasn’t the most responsible of ideas. We waited. We listened. There was another yelp.