For anyone who's interested, here is a another peek into the story!
The Strangest Thing Ever
When I woke up, it was daylight. I was lying on my back in the cave with a patch of sunlight falling on my face. I groaned and shook my head to clear my groggy brain, and it all came back to me. That’s right, I had been sick or something, and for some reason, I had wanted to see the cave again. And I had. But then I had passed out. It must be morning now.
So I sat up and crawled to my feet. I walked towards the entrance. My groggy mind was giving me this faint sense that something was wrong, or at least peculiar, but I was too tired to care. All I wanted was to get back to my little bedroom and get some more sleep. Forget about the morning chores. They could wait. Even breakfast could wait for all I was concerned.
Then I stepped outside of the cave, and the warning flags in my brain finally got my attention. What? This was strange. The last I remembered, my cave had been on a slope, but now I was standing on flat ground. At the same time, it occurred to me that I had been walking completely upright out of the cave, which it was too small for. So either I had shrunk or the cave had gotten bigger. No big deal, right?
WHAT? My mind suddenly snapped to full consciousness. I turned around and stared back at the cave entrance. It wasn’t exactly how I remembered it. At all. Instead of a small hole almost hidden by the forest underbrush, now the entrance had been widened about three times over. A smooth dirt ramp led down from the lip of the enlarged entrance into the cave, which had also grown much bigger it seemed. Then there were the statutes, one on either side of the entrance. They were massive chiseled-stone images of men. They stood straight and tall, with a hood shadowing their grim faces. A sheath of arrows was slung over their shoulders, and each statue held what looked like a longbow--all this carved in great detail in the white stone.
I stared up at the statues, dumbfounded. This was the strangest thing ever! Where had those giant things come from? Then an idea struck me. I looked around to see if anything else had changed, and yep, it had. The trees for instance, they had grown. Instead of being 40 foot tall Maple trees, they were now 70 or more foot tall Maple trees. No, check that, they weren’t even Maple trees anymore. They looked like some sort of pine. What on earth?
It finally struck me: what if this was not my cave, or even the forbidden forest? But how was that even possible? I looked closer at the forest. The pine trees were indeed large and spaced apart majestically, with patches of grass and smaller trees interspaced between them. Here and there, these jagged rock outcrops dotted the landscape. It was all strangely beautiful, but definitely different than the forest I remembered.
I wondered if it was possible that I had wandered into a different part of the forest last night. But no, I remembered following my markers down to the stream, and then the stream to my cave. So what was I doing here in the morning? I was starting to feel a little weird—and even scared. I racked my brain for any detail last night that could explain everything . . .
And suddenly I remembered the light, that strange, clear blue light that had shined suddenly in the cave. And you know what? That didn’t make me feel any less scared. I looked back at the cave entrance I had just walked out of, and then at the solemn statues that almost seemed to be guarding its entrance.
The thought, as strange as it was, came to me immediately. A portal, I thought. A portal to a whole new land.
I think it was then that I sensed him.
I had this sudden strange feeling that I was not alone, and I spun back around, searching the patchy forest underbrush. Then the man stepped out into sight from behind a tree. He stood only ten feet away from me.
I jumped, and a cold tendril of fear wrapped around me even tighter. The figure who stood before me was strange. I mean, his features were ordinary enough—a smooth, tanned face with fine features and a thick mop of curly black hair. He was young, probably only a little bit older than me. He stood about five and a half feet tall—short for a man, but that was not what was odd about him. It was the way he was dressed. He wore a green shirt with this strange cloak made from what looked like twisted strands of leather. His pants were dirt brown, made of some sort of course fabric. He had a sheath of arrows slung over his shoulder and carried a long, curved bow in one hand and a smooth staff in the other.
Then he opened his mouth and tried to talk to me. But his speech . . . it was strange, unlike anything I had heard before. It was not like a foreign language where you cannot understand anything that was said. This was different. I felt like I was really close to understanding what he was saying, but yet . . . but yet I didn’t understand a word. It sounded like he was asking a question. I guessed he was probably asking me for my name.
“Hi, um, I’m Ken,” I said hoarsely.
The man stopped talking, and he looked at me strangely. His eyes, I noticed, were a deep brown, and you know how sometimes people’s eyes can look kind of distant or thoughtful? Well, his eyes looked kind of like that, only a little different—inquisitive, I thought, or curious. I had seen the same look in the eyes of a deer once, and I realized that that was what they reminded me of.
But wait, the man was no longer staring at my face. He was staring at my upper torso with that same look in his eyes. He pointed at my chest with the hand holding his walking stick and uttered a single word. “Luminous,” it sounded like.
I followed his fingers with my eyes, and my gaze settled upon my chest. I nearly jumped out of my skin. I was glowing! I’m totally serious; the center of my chest glowed faintly through my t-shirt with this clear blue color—the same color, I think, as the one in my cave last night. Now I was freaked out—really, really freaked out. I took a step backwards, still staring at my chest. I realized suddenly that all I wanted was to get home. Home to my bed, away from all this sudden craziness. It occurred to me that if the cave behind me was a portal to wherever I was now, than it must also lead back to where I had come from. I could get back through it . . .
I took another step backwards, faster this time, and another. The young man in front of me said something. This time it sounded like a command, almost like, “halt”, and I’m guessing that was exactly what it was. But I didn’t care. I turned and fled towards the portal entrance. There was another harsh yell behind me, and I heard footsteps coming after me. I panicked. I looked over my shoulder to see that the strange young man was right behind me, lifting his staff up over his head . . .
Then he struck me square on the head, and my last thought was on how such a little fellow could move so fast . . .