Ch. 12: Hi honey, I’m home!
- 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
I don’t really want to know.
Chicken that I am, I felt safer with the four of us together even if I was the only adult and my companions were small boys who were more concerned about farting than getting out of here alive, and a small dog who looked like Toto and would protect us perhaps from a rat, but not much else. It was time to move.
We crawled up Lu’s tunnel and everything seemed easier and faster. We were soon back to the larger cavern with the three tunnels and we all knew which way to go. At the smaller, minivan-size cave, the candle jolted a small shock into my chest reminding me that we weren’t alone—or at least we wouldn’t be if we stuck around. Who lit that candle? Why? When were they coming back? Did they live down here? These were questions I didn’t want answers to, so I didn’t ask my sons what they thought until Li did exactly that.
“Whose candle is that, anyway?” Li asked. I noticed that it seemed a little smaller than when we first went in. My sense of time was completely out of whack, and I hoped that it was still light outside. Our natural skylights were dimmer than when we started; we needed to get out before we lost that light.
“Should we take it?” asked Lu. “It can light our path,” he added.
I certainly take movies too seriously as my first vision was of Indiana Jones when he, extremely carefully, removed the small statue on top of the pedestal and all seemed well. Until the whole place started to cave in and crash down on him. Shooting arrows, skeletons, collapsing floors, none of which we needed right now.
“Let’s leave it,” I said, without going into detail about events that happened only in a film that they never saw … and maybe never should based on our experience here. “We don’t know whose it is, maybe they need it, maybe they live here,” I continued and immediately regretted.
“Who lives in here?” Lu asked.
I sighed as I realized I had myself opened up this can of worms. “I don’t know, Lu, but you know what, I don’t really want to know and I want to get us out of here before they come home. Sound like a good plan?”
He gave me something of his famous googly-eye which translated into an entire paragraph explaining that yes, he understood and agreed that we should leave the candle for this unknown city troll who lived under our daily Kite Hill walk home from school, but I didn’t have to make the topic end so quickly and abruptly. Lu was very efficient with his gestures-to-words ratio.
If we were at the candle, then we had a decision to make: try to climb back up the slippery slope or go back down to the other park.
One might think that, by now, we would have learned our lesson and put Pepper on his leash. But alas. He didn’t bolt or sniff or look back, but rather trotted towards the tunnel and took a right turn as if he did it everyday and was gone down the tunnel to the smaller park.
“I guess we’re going that way,” Li said, not meaning to be funny, but I thought it was typical of his often dry humor and I laughed at what he said but also how he said it and also because I felt the first signs of relief that we were almost out of here.
“I guess so,” I replied.
We were moving towards the tunnel to go down when I heard voices. Murmurs muffled by the dirt that I now recognized as what voices sounded like when you were in a cave. We three were silent and looked at each other. No more googley-jokey-dorkey eyes from Lu now. We looked at one another and said nothing.
I put my head into the passageway and listened again. I closed my eyes. Pepper had just gone down and turned to the right. I really wanted the voices to be coming from up and to the left. Pretty please, I thought, we’ve had enough adventure for one day. I tried to stop my imagination from churning in my mind and just listen. Nothing.
But then the voices were there again, but this time louder and less muffled. They did come from up and to the left. My shoulders fell slightly and I let out a quick sigh of relief. But the relief was short lived as my next thought escaped from my mind and slipped out of my mouth.
My face just inches from those of my boys, I whispered, “Maybe they’re coming in. Let’s go.” I looked at them, they looked at me. They didn’t need much more convincing, but I gave it to them anyway, “Now.”
Li was closest to me and he went first. He slid on his butt and was gone in a flash. Lu scooted over and he was gone without even looking at me. The voices were closer. I took one last look at the candle, hopefully my last, and slid behind Lu.