Beyond the Cave

Sam opened her eyes to nothing

The nothing was pitch black, without form, and it was void as was the earth predawn to creation.  Funny that she should think of the earth’s creation on the day of its destruction.  The irony did not escape her.

Finally, her eyes began to acclimate to the darkness, and she saw eerie whispers of light dance upon the cold cavern walls.  Wondering the source of this light she deflected her eyes to the opening of the cave.  It was jagged and glowed orange, like a breathing entity.  Sam knew the truth…the world was on fire.  Hell was falling from Heaven. 

The morning had started out as any other day…pee, coffee, and pee again.

Then she and Bella went out for their morning run.  She usually stayed within the neighborhood but today she wanted some different scenery, and so when they came to the main street in their one-stoplight town they turned left instead of taking the usual right. Half a mile later they took a small dirt path that snaked its way into the Shenandoah National Park. It was rough, rocky, and very steep but the two continued.  Bella always reached the crest of each hill before Sam and true to form the Golden Retriever stopped, looked at Sam, and wagged her tail.  Once Sam reached the summit Bella bounded off to conquer the next hill. 

Exhausted, Sam stopped to rest upon a small boulder beneath the shade of an ancient oak tree.

Bella climbed the rock to sit beside her person, and gratefully lapped the water that Sam had poured into her canvas water bowl. 

As they sat relishing a cool breeze, Sam brought her hand to touch a heart shaped locket that hung by a golden chain around her neck.  Sam’s mind went immediately to her grandmother who had given it to her on her 17th birthday.  Sam remembered her words as clear as if it were today…

“Samantha, this is my heart and I’m giving it to you.  Take special care now for this old body won’t always be here to protect you, but if I give you my heart, I’ll always be with you.”  A year later gram died.

Gram had always been her protector.  She had been the one who had cradled her as a baby, not her parents. It was her parents that had packed the car and left the same day she had been diagnosed with type 2 albinism.  Type 2 meaning there was some pigmentation in my skin instead of type 1 which is the complete absence of pigmentation.  It was gram who had wiped the tears I cried because of bullies poking fun of my fair skin and ice blue eyes.  It had always been gram, and Sam loved her dearly.

Sam smiled at the memory, and opened the locket to see her grandmother, young, vibrant, and beautiful.  Sam whispered, “I love you, gram.” She closed the locket, and kissed it before letting it fall gracefully around her neck.  Bella was anxious to hit the trail so Sam put the bottle of water in a side pouch, and folded and tucked the fabric bowl snuggly beside. 

That’s the moment it happened.

A shadow fell across the land, and Sam looked up to see a massive craft come between her and the sun.  It was silent, gray, and moved slowly but then all hell broke loose as it began firing beams of light that cut through 100-year-old trees as if they were made of butter.

Fear seized Sam, and panic, fueled by adrenalin, propelled her forward.  As she ran, she called out to Bella hoping the golden retriever would follow her.  They both dodged great balls of fire falling all around them consuming the earth.  As Sam rounded the curve in the trail, she saw another runner coming toward her.  His face was just as marred with panic as her own.  A burning tree limb hit the ground in front of his feet and the man tripped, fell, and scrubbed his face into the rocky ground. Sam made her way to him with the intent of helping, but he stood before she could reach him.  His face was crimson from the blood that ran down and into his eyes.  He was screaming he couldn’t see.  Sam reached him and with her hands she wiped the blood, but it did little to stop the flow.  She hooked an arm around his and screamed, “Come with me!”  They both ran until they came to a large rock pile.  The man took off his shirt and used it to wipe away blood from his face.

“I know a cave!” he yelled. 

She followed him and  began scrambling over the rocks.  In their haste they both stumbled and fell their bodies making new canvas for fresh blood.  The stranger pointed to an alcove in the rock and reached for Sam.  In an effort to help her inside his finger snagged the necklace around her neck, and the moment the chain snapped a ball of fire severed his head from his neck far better than any surgeon’s scapple.  Blood squirting from the stump was the last thing Sam saw before falling into the darkness of the cave. 

Sam sat on the cavern floor, and watched from a distance the carnage that raged outside.  She had no way of knowing how long she’d been unconscious.  Her body ached from top to bottom.  The gash below her left eye hurt like a bitch she reached to touch it and found it was bleeding.  With hopes of stopping the bleeding she ripped a piece from the tail of her shirt and placed it over the cut.  “Shit!” she cursed and winced at the pain.  Her body was covered with cuts and bruises, but they were superficial unlike the one below her eye. 

Sam sat for a long time not knowing what to do.  Then she thought she heard a whimper come from the darkness.  She turned to see its origin and watched as a singed Bella hobbled into the light.  From her mouth dangled a heart shaped locket covered in soot. 

At the sight of Bella and the locket, tears began to stream down her face.  She called to Bella and the golden limped to her to lay her head in Sam’s lap. 

Once again, she knew that she and Bella could face whatever world that lay beyond the cave.  

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