Haven Shorts – Chapter 9 – Episode 14 – A Stranger Magic
Chapter 9 – Episode 14
The breeze felt good on Sam’s face; the rain had cooled things off so it actually felt quite nice now. The sky was clear and the birds chirped as they flew by. It was a great day to go to the caves.
They talked about several things on their way, first was about a guy named Kane who had joined Travis’s online Halo team.
“Sam, this guy lives in the Hamptons and is crazy good with a sniper rifle. He can run, jump, and shoot with that thing. I’m telling you, he gets a bull’s-eye every time. He’s gonna be a great addition to the team.”
Then Travis talked about his grandparents. Travis had lived with his grandparents for about nine years now. His parents had died in a car wreck when he was four, so he had been staying with his grandparents ever since.
“It’s like they forget things all the time, Sam. Grandma is worse than Grandpa. I’m constantly reminding her to take her medication. She has one of those little pill boxes with the days of the week on it. But that doesn’t help because she can’t remember where she put the box.”
Sam nodded, not sure what to say exactly. You couldn’t tell by the tone of Travis’s voice, but the gloom in his eyes betrayed him. He was worried.
“Sometimes it’s so bad I have to remind her what day of the week it is. My grandfather, on the other hand—well, his back is getting worse. He barely gets around now.”
Sam and Travis had an unspoken, common bond between them. They had both lost parents that they missed dearly. But at least Travis could vaguely remember his. Sam never knew his father; he didn’t even have a picture. He didn’t know which was worse—knowing your parents and losing them, or never knowing them at all.
Since they had both lost their parents at such a young age, Sam and Travis had not suffered through the normal stages of grief. There was no period of accepting the loss, or working through the physical and emotional pain associated with grief. There was no adjusting to living in a world without their parents. They just simply moved on with their lives.
But it was that very notion of “moving on” that bothered Sam the most. He felt cheated, deprived of what could have been. Sam didn’t want to just move on. He wanted his father. He wanted all the memories children are supposed to have growing up. He wanted to share a peanut butter sandwich with his dad, and to hear stories at bedtime. He wanted to build the perfect snowman, and take summer trips into town for a snow cone. He wanted that life, not the one he had now.
Sam and Travis crossed the main street from Giddyup Lane onto Roundtree Drive, which was a much newer subdivision. The street had a nice slope to it, perfect for skateboarding. Roundtree Drive ended in a huge cul-de-sac where many kickball tournaments had been played when the boys were younger. Even though they were always picked last—Sam because he couldn’t kick the ball that far, and Travis, well, because he was Travis—they always had fun. The cross street in front of the cul-de-sac was Quail Creek Drive, which dead-ended into a large field and the Saginaw Quarry, better known as The Caves.
Sam and Travis made their way beyond the beautiful, manicured lawns and overgrown gardens to the open fields behind the development to the quarry.
The mounds of rock looked like pyramids from a distance. Most of the caves were formed by dynamite years ago. Explosives had been used to loosen the ground and harvest rocks. The caves were off-limits to everyone due to cave-ins, but that did not bother Travis or Sam. They had been coming here for years now, and had never seen any kind of cave-in. They figured it was just something the city said to warn off curious and unsupervised adolescents.
They maneuvered around the organized heaps of rock until they reached the back of the quarry. The cave entrance was nestled behind nine large oak trees and camouflaged by overgrown weeds and wild juniper.
Sam and Travis loved the caves. It was their sanctuary, their Fortress of Solitude. Travis called it his Yavin, which was a planet from Star Wars, of course. Sam liked it because it was a place of refuge, a retreat from the daily stressful surroundings, like the stranger in black, Sarah, and Daniel Harris. There were no rules in the cave. It was a place where other people’s standards of cleanliness were not observed. Sam could spill a coke in the cave or leave a sandwich overnight, and no one cared. It was their way of creating some space and freedom that they so badly needed. Sam often thought it must be similar to living in a frat house or a college dorm room, where they could come and go as if they owned the place. Where you didn’t have to be on your best behavior, and there were no evil older sisters to make fun of you, or make you feel like pond scum. It was a place where you could just be yourself, and it was perfectly acceptable.
The opening to the caves was located at the back end of the quarry. It was surrounded by large trees with fluted trunks that leaned to one side. Sam followed Travis around the attractive, miniature shrubs that were gathered at the base of the trees. Clusters of colorful, berry-like drupes clung to the bushes. The entrance to the cave was nothing more than a hole in the ground that stretched at least five feet across. There were flat pieces of tan limestone placed in a circle around the hole. The opening resembled a large sunflower with faded petals.
Travis was the first to hop down into the cave and disappear from sight; Sam quickly followed. They were standing on the first ledge. Together they looked down into the ominous void; it was a vast sea of darkness. The canopy of tree branches let in very little light. Sam thought this would scare most people who had never been here before. It had scared him at first. Years ago, when they had discovered the opening, they debated and dared one another for hours as to who would go down first. Finally, Sam had agreed to go. Travis had followed shortly after, and they had been coming back every month since then.
Inside the cave the light was dim; they could barely see one another now. Travis sat down on the ground next to Sam, who was still standing, and shuffled himself to the edge of the next drop-off which was about four feet down. He dangled his feet into the darkness, then rolled down on his side and stomach, sliding his body over the edge.
Sam watched and then did the same. By the time Sam had reached the ground, Travis had grabbed an old candle lantern and opened the top to light the three candles inside. Travis had borrowed the lantern from his grandfather long ago, and it had stayed in the caves ever since.
Travis removed a box of matches from his pocket, took out a match and struck it on the cave wall. The match burst into flame, casting shadows that danced around the cave. He lit each candle, shut the lid, and handed the lantern to Sam. Sam breathed in the familiar smell of dank cave air. It was rich with earthy sediments from the rock and dirt around them. The temperature was much cooler, and the air was more damp than outside.
He held up the lantern to survey their surroundings. The narrow vein serving as the main pathway stretched on in front of the two boys before it curved off to the right and gradually disappeared into the darkness. The cave walls were made of jagged gray and tan stone with thick limestone layers that traveled vertically the length of the tunnel. With the candle light flickering causing numerous shadows to move around the cave walls Sam almost missed it. To his surprise there was an additional passageway on the right—one he had never seen before.
“I don’t remember that before, do you?” Sam whispered.
“No, that was never here before,” Travis replied in hushed tones.
Sam walked toward the entrance of the new tunnel and lifted the lantern into the opening. The light stretched down the dark tunnel; the jagged rocks cast their own shadows making it difficult to see anything.
“What do you think?” Travis whispered as he surveyed the entrance.
“Well, we’re here. Might as well see what’s in there,” Sam said.
Travis looked at Sam with a childish grin. “That’s the spirit, Dalcome!” he said, and took the lantern from Sam.
Sam smiled back at Travis. Travis stepped forward with the lantern dangling in front of him and Sam stayed close behind him. Their footsteps echoed and the gravel beneath them crackled as they made their way down the long corridor.
It was becoming colder and more and more damp the farther they descended. The tunnel twisted and curved until it finally opened into a large cavern.
Travis held the lantern high and moved it slowly from side to side. Sam’s mouth fell open and Travis’s breath caught in his throat. They stood in astonishment; it was simply magnificent. It was as if they had stepped into another world. The cavern walls sparkled like diamonds when the light struck them. Enormous stalactites covered the slanted ceiling, suspended like huge stone daggers ready to fall. The cavern was vast, with a large emerald pool in the center surrounded by massive stalagmites protruding from the ground.
“Wow, what is this place?” Travis whispered, his voice echoing through large chamber.
“A cavern. A really old one from the size of the stalactites,” Sam said with bated breath. “The water from the lake must feed into here somehow.” They were amazed by the sheer size of the cavern, and by the beauty of its stone landscape. Tans, pinks, and greens were fused together in the rock, coloring the cavern walls.
“It’s fantastic. I mean really beautiful, don’t you think?” Travis marveled.
“I’ll say. Hey, what’s that?” Sam grabbed Travis’s arm, guiding the lantern toward the center of the cavern.
There was something shining in the middle of the pool, something large and round.
“I’m not sure what that is,” Travis said leaning over to whisper more quietly than before.
“Me either. Let’s have a look.”
“You think that’s a good idea?” Travis asked with hesitation.
Sam looked over to Travis with a devious smirk. “Come on, where’s your spirit?”
The rocks where jagged and extremely uneven; each step was carefully planned so they didn’t fall on one of the many stalagmites that surrounded them. The lantern swayed back and forth as they pushed forward. The light shimmered on the walls of the cavern and reflected off the calm body of water in front of them.
It took them several minutes to get to the body of water, but at last the ground finally smoothed out near the water’s edge. It was a murky, luminescent green and still, like a solid sheet of glass.
Both Sam and Travis stood at the edge, staring at the object in the center of the pool.
From a distance it looked like a very large mirror perched on something they could not see. The lantern light was clearly visible in its reflection.
“How in the world did that get down here?” Travis asked, his voice crackling just a bit.
There was no sound; it was deathly quiet. Travis realized that Sam hadn’t replied, and turned to look at him.
Sam stood frozen, his gaze fixed and full of fear. Whatever Sam was staring at had rendered him momentarily speechless.
“Sam … what’s wrong?” Travis asked. There was no hiding the fear in his voice now.
Sam swallowed hard, then slowly lifted his hand and pointed.
“The mirror … it’s floating …”
Good news! We are ramping up for BOOK 2 in the Haven Series: Revenge of the Viper. So in celebration and to say thank you for all your support we are giving away Book 1 A Stranger Magic for FREE!
If you already have a copy, get a new one! Each version (PRINT and DIGITAL) have been reformatted. You will love the new look. Also when you buy the PRINT copy of Haven: A Stranger Magic at Amazon.com you still get the DIGITAL copy in a bundle package for FREE.
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