A Little Adventure
ⒸMasahiko Tone, 2001
"This is it !"
Charlie and his friend George peered into the dark hole in the bushy bank. It looked much smaller than they had expected. A long time had passed since Charlie found it.
Charlie had found the cave when he was just over six. He was playing with a soccer ball on a hill. He kicked the ball too far. He chased the ball down the hillside, and found the opening of a cave gaping in the bushes. He was curious, but he hesitated to go in.
The next day, Charlie told George about the cave. George was very interested and said he wanted to explore it with Charlie some day. But soon after that George's family moved out of town.
Eight years passed. Charlie had almost forgotten about the cave. One summer morning, the telephone rang while Charlie was having breakfast. "Charlie, this is George," a familiar voice said. "Do you remember our plan to explore the cave?"
They had to squat to get through the entrance. After a while, Charlie looked back and saw the entrance shrinking behind them.
It looked like the moon in a starless sky.
The sight scared Charlie. He stopped advancing for a moment.
"Hey, are you chicken?" George said, "There's nothing to be scared of."
Charlie noticed a slight tremble in George's voice.
"I'm not chicken. You are."
After they walked fifty yards or so, George said,
"Let's set off some fireworks."
He took a few toy rockets out of his pocket. Charlie agreed, thinking that although it was a crazy idea it might be fun.
George lit a rocket and backed away, shouting "Fire!"
It whistled away toward the entrance with a dazzling light.
"Cool! Light some more,"
Charlie said, and George lit three rockets one after another.
The cave was filled with blinding light and deafening sound.
It was too late when Charlie noticed that they were facing disaster.
"Stop it! The smoke is coming our way," he cried.
"Help! I can't breathe!" George yelled, coughing badly.
They moved deeper into the cave as fast as possible, but the smoke moved even faster. Charlie began to run, but after a few steps, he suddenly felt himself falling in the dark and fainted away.
When he came to, Charlie was sitting in water. He stood up and realized that he had fallen into a deep, water-filled hole. He tried to climb out, but in vain.
"Charlie, where the hell are you? Are you all right?"
George's voice came from far above.
"I'm here! I'm O.K." Charlie shouted.
The ray of George’s flashlight stopped on his face. George was laughing. He said,
"So you fell in there like Alice into the rabbit hole!"
Hearing this, Charlie punched the wall of the hole.
It was not "fair" that only he had fallen, he thought. After all, it was George who had gotten them into this situation. Charlie shouted,
"Hey, come down here. You'll never believe what I see. You’ve got to see this."
"But how?" George asked.
"Just take a dive," said Charlie, "if you're not chicken".
"Give me a break," George snorted, "It's too far down."
"Sorry, I forgot chickens can't fly."
"All right," George said.
"Geronimo!" He jumped into the muddy water with a big splash.
"My God," George said. "I nearly killed myself. Now what is it that you said I had to see?"
"Nothing. I was only joking," Charlie laughed.
"What? you lied to me?" George asked angrily. "Now, how do we get out of here?"
"I have no idea." Charlie looked around.
There were a lot of big rocks in the water.
"How about piling up these rocks? "
"Now, stand on the rocks. I'll stand on your shoulders and climb first. Then I'll pull you up."
When they finally made it, the battery of the flashlight had almost run down, so they had no choice but to head for the entrance.
The moment they came out, they found a tall man in a hard hat standing there.
"So it was you guys," he said to the boys. "We were going to cover the entrance to this cave with a bulldozer today because the town has decided it is dangerous for children. But when we were about to get to work, we found a rocket just inside the entrance. So we thought there was someone inside."
Charlie and George couldn't utter a word.
* * *
Thanks a lot for reading my story.
This story is not fiction.
About 95% of it really happened when I was young. A few months ago, I saw the pal I explored the cave with for the first time in ages. I asked him if he remembered the adventure. He said that every time he saw a cave on TV, he relived it all.
Now It's a memory I treasure, but that day I thought for a moment that we were faced with imminent death.
I've never been to the cave since.