I no longer remember the sun. Nor the stars or moon. I have walked in these endless caverns for longer than most people live, and…
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I no longer remember the sun. Nor the stars or moon. I have walked in these endless caverns for longer than most people live, and I am now certain that my knowledge will die with me here. For I will die, eventually, as all things should… yet here in these timeless halls of crystal and stone, it would seem that I grow no more. Every wound, every puncture these sharp rocks have gifted me, are hiding under layers and layers of bandage, never healing. How have I not bled to death by now? It feels as though my blood is forming into droplets on my arm and falling to the cave floor. The stones should be painted red… then again, it does not matter because it is so dark that I can barely see anything at all. It might be blood, it might be condensed water, it might be something else entirely. If I dared to light my torch then perhaps I could determine the truth… but I am not sure that would be wise. After all this time the lantern still glows dimly and that is enough. No more light will be tolerated, I am sure and no more is needed for now. Still, even in this all engulfing darkness I know I have been injured on my journey, as I can feel the pain of scratches and minor flesh wounds. Oh, how I wish for the wounds to turn into scars, how I miss the prickle of fresh hair growing on my cheeks. Down here, so unforgivable deep underground, nothing heals. And nothing changes on its own…
I sit now at The Lake. It is the only lake in my consciousness, for it demands it so. The cool water hides an endless world below, this I know to be true, yet I dare not enter it. Not out of fear, for how can one still feel fear after such a long and grueling descent? Nay, I know the water to be sacred, I feel it in my forsaken soul. As I stare out over what might as well be an open ocean I can’t help but contemplate the journey which led me here. I remember the very first caverns, how they seemed so daunting then yet so timid now. After all, when all you have ever known is night and day the prospect of endless, unrelenting darkness is frightening. I remember braving the unknown, going deeper than even the most renowned explorers and never stopping. I had supplies for days, weeks even, if I used them sparingly, and so I did. I ate only the bare minimum, I kept my lantern dim, my torch unlit and I continued beyond the point of no return.
I am not sure. In truth, I don’t recall much of what I left behind on the surface. Did I want to leave? Did I have something to fear, reasons to flee? Or maybe there was some unseen presence which ushered me onwards and downwards? It does not matter. Not anymore. All who might remember me will believe me dead, nothing but a skeleton buried deep underground in a tomb of my own ambitions… a grim reminder of the fate which far too many adventurous younglings share.
I am no youngling though. Not anymore at least, this much I know. I was fortunate to bring a watch, for watching time pass gives me some sort of comfort. How and why it still works after all these years is a mystery to me but at least I can count the days and carve them into the rugged stone all around me. I know with my mind that I am older than any man or woman have any right to be, I know that things must have changed so much above ground… but I also know that it does not matter, for this dreamscape is unchanging, unmoving. It must have been here longer than the oldest civilizations, and it will be here after everything else has crumbled to dust. The pristine waters remind me of a tale I heard as a child. Many of the details have vanished from my mind long ago, but as I recall it was a story about a child who found the spring of everlasting youth. It was said that the child would from that day onward never change, never grow. As seasons passed the child would begin to regret it’s strange luck, for what is a child with no future? Children wish to grow up and adults wish they never had. Such is the fate of many and this was the lesson of the tale. And try as I might, now I can’t help but wonder if there was any truth to the story after all.
I cannot sleep. Or rather I cannot tell the difference between being awake and sleeping anymore, and if there is no difference are you ever truly sleeping at all? The lantern still burns with a faint flame, as static and timeless as everything else here and I dream. I dream every moment I am awake and every moment I sleep because there is nothing else to do. I see kingdoms and empires, the dawn of nations and the world at war. The stories I assemble in my head are truly the thing of wonders! Surely, were they to be written down and shown to the world, they would stand proud, shoulder to shoulder with the greatest literature of the past few centuries!
Of course, they never will. I know that I am doomed to sit here for all eternity. Though I yearn for company, I am well aware that I will never find it again. I will never know the feeling of friendly kinship, nor the warm touch of another human soul. My throat has rusted, my voice is gone. And I will forever sit here alone.
I could go deeper. What would happen if I did? This I have pondered for some time and I have yet to find an answer. No light could follow me there.
I think the sacred water is inviting me in.
I should go deeper.
Perhaps the lake was meant for no one but me?
I cannot breathe underwater…
But can I even breathe the air anymore?
My lungs will fill with water, my mind will finally numb.
Or perhaps not. Nothing changes here after all.
I have come so far.
I must go deeper.
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