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It's been forty-nine hours since my light went dead and left me in the dark. The fourteen dots from my wrist watch can show nothing in this total vacuum of light. I can do nothing but count down the time to my ending. I busted the crystal so I could feel the hands, gingerly running my finger lightly over the face. There is nothing but waiting. Every now and then I see a small dot of light, a random wayward photon activating in my retina, or a stray particle passing through the Earth, but nothing more-- just a split second of false hope followed by nothing but black.

The darkness must be getting to me as I feel my mind slipping away from me. The only thing that keeps me partially sane is the torrent of sound made by water running beside me. It reminds me of a fan running in the quiet bright of outside night. The darkest room is as the surface of the sun compared to this place. To think that I came here for fun.

The lack of luminance is wreaking havoc in my mind. It swirls and spins in a vertigo of three days drunk. The walls are spinning like the eye of a tornado; if only I could see them. I vomit the water and lie down against the cool rock, praying to every invisible deity for mercy. I retch and vomit again. Groaning against the earth, I think about killing myself and laugh when I realize I can't seem to make it painless.

The spinning slows to an out-of-control tea cup ride and I drink some more water. The irony of being trapped here next to liquid life has not escaped me. Three weeks. That is the figure I read once that the average human can survive without food if they had a steady supply of water. Combined with the six Power Bars in my pack, I could cling to life for a month, maybe a month and a half. There would be six weeks of darkness, vertigo, vomiting, and water. The humorous part is that it might be the best tasting water I have ever had.

"We found your son's body inside a small cave about 500 feet from the path, ma'am," the Park Ranger explained into the phone connected to the weeping woman. "As near as we can tell, he was exploring a small cave when the ceiling caved in. He had some Power Bars and was next to a stream."


"Are you sure you want to know that?"


"Okay, the preliminary report is saying he lived about three weeks. His death is listed as starvation in conjunction with exposure."


"No, ma'am, he wouldn't have been able to dig himself out. There wouldn't have been any need to."


"Well, ma'am, I mean your son was on the outside of the cave-in. He was only about ten feet inside the cave."


"Ma'am, I know you are distraught, but we must have not been around to hear him cry for help."


"Well, the coroner believes a stone fell and struck your son in the head, causing a minor subdural hematoma in the rear part of his brain."


"No, ma'am, he wasn't unconscious. It means that your son was rendered almost instantly blind."

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