| eye begins to play
hallucinatory tricks. At times I could swear I could dimly see
walls in front of me, which a physical exploration would readily
disprove. I experimented with this eerie phenomenon by
hand a few inches from my nose. My cerebrum took up the slack for
missing stimulus with disturbing verisimilitude, recreating the shadowy
silhouette of my wiggling fingers—something I knew would
not be the
case were a stranger’s hand placed unknown before me, a thought that
was instantly unappealing. Also, the longer I was blind, the more
frequently I would turn to pursue some will-o’-the-wisp of imaginary
light that would seem to appear at the corners of my eyes, always
eluding direct witness. Many times I turned to face the headlamps
rescuers that were not there.
It is harder than I would have thought to know if
you are straying
from the main passageway when you only have your hands to guide
As I mentioned, corners are indistinguishable from crannies, especially
along walls as serpentine and pitted as found in GSP.
began to detect an increase in moisture in the air. Wondering why
was sensing a fine mist in passageway where no
exists, I felt along the floor for clues. I soon found some
logs of substantial girth, spongy with decay. Where the hell was
still don’t know, but I must have been somewhere in one of the side
passages that trails off the main route out—probably either Pig Pen or
Booger Branch; two places whose names have yet to charm me into
investigating them during more leisurely hours.
It was here that my optimism left me as
though exhaled. I glumly
recalled the legend of the original cave owners being lost in the dark
for two days; at least I knew I wouldn’t be trapped for longer than
reckoned that, as people were now partying with
attempting slumber), my whereabouts probably would not become an issue
until I didn’t show up for the second day of the cave clean-up.
would not be long after that before they deduced the last time anyone
had seen me. Trying not to despair, I sat down on the damp,
floor, psychologically preparing myself for the long, dark night.
least I didn’t have broken ribs and hypothermia. Yet.
But after a short while I became aware of a sound,
thumps and bumps of curious rodents or the hollow, marimbal notes of
the occasional drop of water from high above. This was a sort of
remote white noise, like a television left on in a room far away, still
playing after the station has shut down for the night. At first I
thought it was just another hallucination, my ears nearly as starved as
my eyes for any kind of sensory input. But then, through the
heard definite punctuation. Shish-shish. Shish-shish.
outside kind with raspy legs! Hope was renewed with each faint
I stood and faced the sound in
front of me. I
wherever I heard the crickets there was open space. For the first
in over an hour I dared to leave the cave wall and step into the
measureless void. I followed the sound around crooks and bends in
passageway. It was almost like following something on the move,
each time I would round a corner, the sound would appear to issue from
another direction. But if it seemed as though I were pursuing a
in flight, I was definitely gaining ground. Around each turn the
became more distinct and complex with lesser noises.
going was quicker than raking my way along the cave wall, it still took
twenty minutes or so to reach the gate. I knew that when I had
to smell the outside that I was