"I'll never go camping again." I said to Vera.
Her laugh fills the hollow cave. A joyful one, one that's free, in a hopeless situation.
"Sooner or later, the cave's gonna run out of oxygen-"
"Don't worry," I interrupt. "We're going to get out, no matter what, you hear me?"
She jerks away her tears, and nods.
We sit there in the cave. A foul odor arises from somewhere in the darkness. I sniff.
"What is that smell? Ugh!" I jokingly say, in an effort to brighten up the mood. Man, I could go for a torch right now- it's so dark in here my eyes are starting to hurt.
Vera doesn't say anything. "What would we do if we get out?" The words pierce the silence, bouncing off the walls, and coming back again. Bounce, come back. Ricochet.
"Uh..." I try to think. The sour, fetid smell is overwhelming, and the lack of air isn't doing anything to help. "Um, marry? Have kids? Live a life?"
"Kids... would we even have kids?" I know what she means. We've tried before. She starts to cry.
"We could adopt, I mean-"
"Have, not get kids, Alex! I mean, they're both human, but something that's a part of you, something that's a little you... isn't that what you mean?"
Cry. "It's okay, it's oka-"
"You don't know what I mean!" She beats the ground. The sound doesn't go anywhere. It stays. The walls reject it. "Do you? Have you ever known what I mean?" The sound stays. The air seems to absorb it.
"Uh..." Somehow, the air accepts my 'uh', and it lets it pass to the greedy walls, who quickly absorb it, and pass it around. Ricochet.
The smell's interfering with my thinking. The air is getting thinner.
"Well, I've... yeah, I've known what you mean! Uh..."
Vera chuckles. "You fell for that. I was just checking if you were still okay."
We both laugh in the cave. Only my voice registers.
She lays her head on my shoulder. Within minutes, she's asleep.
Within minutes, I'm asleep.
Pounding. That's what I wake up to. The air's thick with the smell, thick with the heat coming from outside.
The sliver of light before me grows and grows, until, finally, with one loud crack, the stone wall breaks.
"Alex? Vera? Hello?"
I mutter something. The person hears it and rushes forward to me. He picks me up and carries me out of the cave into the cool outdoor air. Well, cool compared to the cave- Richard, my saviour, is sweating profusely.
He sets me down. "Never going to go camping again, right?" he says playfully.
"Uh..." Richard scratches his head. He jerks it up with a sudden epiphany, and rushes back into the cave, covering his nose with his arm to defend against the stench.
After a few minutes, he comes back out, visibly shaken at what he's seen back in there.
"Is she okay? Did you find her?" I ask.
He comes over and sits down with me. He pats me on the back. "Alex, it's okay."
It all comes to me.
I cry as Richard pats me and assures me with the two words he has in his mind: It's okay.
Was Vera really alive when I talked to her? The smell... oh, God.
Written by 41488p