Saturday, April 27, 2013

Prompt: Glowworm Cave

Thanks to Wanderings in the Fantastic World for another great prompt!
“We’re going down there?!” Paul shouted. And then there was no more time for talking, or thinking, or doing anything but holding on. The thick rubber walls of their raft bounced off the walls and submerged rocks of the river as it roared down a waterfall and disappeared underground. The icy cold water splashed over them, and Paul gripped his tie-rope with both hands, sure they were about to die on this insane adventure.

Quiet. Stillness. Well, the water slapped and burbled, but the roar faded behind them. And they were still moving, but in a lazy drifting swirl that seemed like floating after the fearsome descent into the cave.

“It’s okay, chicken. Open your eyes.” Katie nudged him in the ribs with her sneaker. He would have glared at her, if he could see her. He actually couldn’t tell any difference whether his eyes were open or shut.

“Okay, folks, we made it down the Hell Hole! In just a few minutes, things will brighten up in here. We don’t have to start rowing yet, so just relax after that exciting start to our trip,” Anna said in her best tour guide voice. Katie giggled.

Paul was still focused on not throwing up, or wondering which side would be better to lean over if he did. He didn’t want to roll the raft in the process. As he debated the merits of various positions on the raft, he realized he could see the girls in faint profile. He sat up and focused ahead on them. The darkness yielded to a dim blue glow. As they moved closer, it brightened steadily, until he could see both of their features, and even the damp glistening walls around them.

As they rounded a gentle curve, the walls spread farther apart and the roof was lit by thousands of tiny blue lights. Paul thought he saw some drop into the water. Yes, and they moved in the water, glowing squiggles of blue light. Katie gasped and Paul stared. “Welcome to Glowworm Cavern, ladies and gentlemen,” Anna announced. “The current’s too slow to move us forward here, so we’ll need to pick up our paddles in a minute. But take your time enjoying the view.”

Katie held out her hand and caught a glowworm as it dropped from the ceiling towards the river. She laughed. “It tickles!” she said, turning her hand over to drop it in the water. She leaned over to swirl her hand in circles.

“Um, maybe you shouldn’t do that, Katie,” Paul said worriedly, looking to Anna for confirmation.”

Katie laughed and splashed him. “Don’t be a baby! It’s okay, isn’t it Anna?”

Anna’s teeth shone bright white as she smiled in the blue glow. “Of course, it’s fine. Okay, let’s paddle. Paul, why don’t you and I start.”

They picked up their paddles and Paul struggled to match Anna’s smooth strokes. Katie laughed and played with the swimming glowworms while he found his rhythm.

As they reached the far side of the cavern, Anna lifted her face, resting her paddle against the raft’s bow. Paul wondered if he should stop, but he kept his steady pace, switching sides to keep them on a more or less straight line. He watched Anna, wondering what she was up to. Katie had quieted and watched her too.

Glowworms dropped onto Anna’s face. One slid down her cheek and dropped into the raft. Katie reached down to pick it up and drop it over the edge. She didn’t see what Paul saw. Two glowworms crawled right over Anna’s eyes and disappeared. He blinked, sure the dim light was playing tricks on his eyes. They must have fallen on Anna’s other side.

She smiled and picked up her paddle, pointing to the blackness ahead of them. “Okay, folks, it’s an easy ride from here to the Hidden Cove, but a long one. We should be there in about 30 minutes.” She opened her glowing blue eyes and turned to face the front again. Paul looked over to Katie, who was staring open-mouthed at the back of Anna’s head. 

TBC (maybe)

Dogs in house:
“6 Hour Jazz Music Mix by JaBig” on YouTube
Time writing:
30 minutes
April word count:


  1. Prompt: Glowworm cave

    Lizbet clutched the bag containing the sum total of her belongings to her chest and ducked after the little boy who scampered ahead on the forest path. Sunlight filtered through the early spring foliage, and birds sung somewhere above. Everything seemed too clean and bright. How could spring still come, when her world had changed forever?

    The boy dove into what appeared to be a solid patch of brush. She approached reached the end of the path and stopped in confusion. The half-seen pastel figures which danced now always in her peripheral vision swirled in agitation. The boy's head popped out of seemingly nowhere. A cleverly woven door closed off continuation of the path down a small brushy tunnel. She folded over and frog-walked through the brush.

    "Here you go," the boy said as she straightened on the far side. Then he was gone.

    Lizbet stayed still, taking in the camp before her. A few women in tan dresses were busied stirring pots over fires--clothes washing or food?--and others sat doing some sort of craft. She saw no men, other than the boy who soon vanished behind a tent. Everything looked so domestic. Was this all there was? She had heard tales...

    Her pastel companions piled on top of each other, as if each angled for a better look. They vanished, as they always did, as she turned to look.

    "Give them time," a tall, grey-haired woman said, striding towards Lizbet. "They are as new at this as you."

    Lizbet cluched her bag tighter. Her mouth went dry. "You can see them?" The woman could not be talking about her hallucinations, could she?

    "Of course." The woman stopped in front of Lizbet and bent to touch her hand. "Who sent you to us, if you don't know that?"

    "No one," Lizbet whispered. "A dream."

    The woman straightened. "Oh. You are further along than I thought." One of the pastel figures dashed from beside Lizbet to touch the woman's skirt, then vanished. The woman looked down at the touch. "Much further. Come."

    1. Ack, never even got to the prompt! It's there, back behind the camp...

    2. Nice setup w.spring and her thoughts! A little confusing on her action (folding over and frog walking?). Like the pastel companions! Her initial disappointment, and the mysterious woman, or the woman's mysterious comments!

    3. It's okay! The prompt is just a prompt! Doesn't have to figure in the story at all, of course! And I know how it goes, that sometimes you've written the setup and haven't yet reached the prompt, but that's all you've got for the moment. *wry grin*