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The Mysterious Cave
By Elroy VanNuys
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Elroy VanNuys
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Beginning of the Story
Adventures only come once in a lifetime, or so I thought. Me, I had an adventure that lasted almost throughout my childhood. I was ten years old when my family decided to go camping in the Daniel Boone National Forest. My family was more than just me and my mom and dad. It was my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins too. Mom had only one sister, and Dad had two brothers.
I had three cousins-one boy and two girls. Kyle was the oldest, and he loved to be the man in charge. He thought he knew it all about the woods because he was a Boy Scout. He had red hair and a temper and attitude to match. He felt that he could order people around and they would do what he said because he was big for his age. Becka was the next oldest. She was a brain and almost always got good grades in school. She was tall and thin and had long, wavy brown hair. Hanna was just a couple of months older than I was, but she was just enough older for her to think that she could order me around. We were very close. I think it was because we did everything together.
My adventure began one night when my uncle told us a story: the legend of the Mysterious Cave. Uncle Carl was a huge man. He was rough, but he could be as soft as a kitten. He was full of love, and he always had a good way of showing it. I always knew that he loved me-no matter what I had done. Above all, he was a good storyteller. He could bring a person to the edge of his seat and scare him out of his skin.
Uncle Carl stood up and began his story, "Long ago, before there was any life on this world, according to Indian legend there was a cave that linked this world and the world of the Human Beings." Uncle Carl stood up and grabbed a stick and started to poke it in the fire. The flames of the fire started to pick up, as if someone had put some fire starter on the fire.
Then Uncle Carl went on with his story. "The Human Beings were peaceful. They loved the simple life. Then one day, one of the Human Beings named Natas, which in their native language means "beautiful one," wanted to wage war on Lionodious, the king of the Human Beings, because he wanted to be the king. The days of peace were over." Uncle Carl gave an evil look and sound to his voice, as if he was trying to create Natas's voice and look. Uncle Carl continued the story:
"Natas said, 'I am so beautiful. I should be the king.'
Natas managed to get a third of the Human Beings to follow him. There was a fierce battle, and Natas and his followers were defeated. King Lionodious had no idea what to do with these rebels."
Uncle Carl bent down and put another log on the fire before proceeding with his story, "So King Lionodious decided to build a cave that would link to another world. After the cave was built, King Lionodious sent Natas and his followers to live in this world forever. He also changed their looks to match their personalities. Some of them had the head of an eagle and the body of a human. Others had the body of a deer and the head of a human. However, the most feared, Natas, had the body of a human and the head and tail of a mountain lion. Natas vowed that he would get revenge on the Human Beings by destroying the humans that live in this world."
At this point in his story Uncle Carl started to walk around. "According to Indian legend, the cave is in these very woods. When the Indians walked through these woods, they dressed up in different animal costumes to confuse Natas and his followers. Natas and his followers are the reason that many people disappear in this area. Beware! We could be being watched right now."
In a matter of seconds, Uncle Carl had an eerie look on his face. It was the look of instant fear. He pointed to something right behind me. He tried to speak, but the words seemed to vanish before they reached his tongue. Finally, something came out. "Oh ... oh ... oh! My gosh, there they are right now!"
After the screaming died down, Aunt Judy walked up behind Uncle Carl and slapped him behind the head.
"Carl Sours, what is wrong with you? Telling a story like that to the children! You are going to give those kids nightmares."
Uncle Carl laughed and said, "If anyone has a nightmare, I will stay up with them."
What we didn't know was that we were really being watched. Everyone went to bed but me. I couldn't sleep. I just stayed up, looking into the flames of the fire. Uncle Carl's story stayed on my mind. What if what he said was true? I wondered where the cave might be. I had to find out. I continued to think to myself, I wonder if Natas is out there watching me right now. A cold chill went down my spine at the thought of that. What I didn't know at the time was that Natas was in the shadows, watching the whole story unfold.
Chapter TwoThe Beginning
The next day was bright and sunny. The sunlight shone through the trees like pillars of a Greek temple. I woke up and decided to go exploring in the woods. While I was walking, I could not get the story that my uncle had told the night before out of my mind. What if the tale of Natas was true? Were we in danger?
After about an hour of walking in the woods, I saw a strange creature. It looked like a human from its head down to its waist, but from the waist down, it looked like a deer. Slowly, I crept up to the creature to get a better look. Just when I was close enough to get a good look at it, I stepped on a stick. Snap! I stood as still as I could, but it didn't help. The creature spun around and ran into the woods. I was very curious about what I had seen. I followed the creature. All I could find were tracks. So I carefully followed them. After a while the tracks stopped, and then I saw something that scared me out of my mind.
Uncle Carl's story was true. Fear started to come over me like a fog. I saw them. I saw the creatures that were part human and part animal. Then I saw him: Natas. He was perched on a rock platform, sitting on a wooden throne like a king. All of his followers treated him like a king as well. They bowed down in his presence. Everyone trembled in fear when he spoke. The deer-human went up to the throne and began to speak.
"Lord Natas, I ran into a Human Being."
"I know. Last night I found a campsite full of them."
A half-man, half-wolf creature walked up to Natas, put his nose in the air, and said, "Lord Natas, I smell a human. He is very close."
"Get this human out of our midst. Everyone split up and search everywhere for this human. We cannot let him go free. Capture him and bring him to me. I want to deal with him," ordered Natas.
I didn't know whether to run or to hide. I ran. I ran as fast as my ten-year-old legs could carry me. I kept hearing someone behind me running very hard, so I decided to hide in an abandoned cave just long enough for the creature to run by me. I heard the footsteps run by.
While I was in the cave, I felt a warm breeze on my neck. I had no idea what it was or where it was coming from so I turned on my flashlight and turned around. I was face to face with a creature that was half man and half bat. I dropped my flashlight and took off again. I did not look over my shoulder to see if the bat-man was following me; at this point I did not care. I just wanted to get back home.
I found a log nestled in the middle of some blackberry bushes and thought, This should be a good place to rest and catch my breath.
After a couple of minutes, I caught my breath and was on my way back to camp. While I was running, I heard footsteps again. The sound of footsteps was all around me. I ran faster. I urgently wanted to make it back to camp. Then I was tackled from behind.
"Please, don't eat me."
"What are you talking about? You are in so much trouble. Your mom is going to have your hide when I tell her what you were doin'," said Kyle. "Becka and Hanna, I found him."
"DJ, where have you been?"
"We need to leave right now," I said.
"Uncle Carl's story is true. I ... I ... saw them with my own eyes."
Everyone but me laughed. I am pretty used to that, though. I am always getting laughed at by my cousins because I am the youngest of the four.
"DJ, you are letting your imagination get the best of you," Hanna said, laughing.
"It's not my imagination! I saw them with my own eyes. I also heard them talking. They are out here looking for me," I said. "I must have gotten a little too close, because the creature that looks like a half wolf, half man smelled me and told Natas. Natas ordered everyone to look for me."
My cousins still did not believe me. They just walked away shaking their heads and laughing at me. That made me very angry, and I made one of the boldest moves of my life.
Without thinking, I said, "Fine! The least you could do is to go with me to see for yourselves. Unless you are afraid that I may be right, or you are afraid to see for yourselves because you are afraid of Natas. I think you all are just plain scared, and I can see you shaking in your boots right now."
They half-heartedly agreed to go with me to see if I was right.
"You'd better be telling the truth, or else you will be in trouble with your mother," Kyle said.
It did not take to long to find the tracks of the creatures and follow them to the place where I had seen them.
"You see. It was not my imagination. They were here."
"Yeah, right. Where are those creatures?" Kyle asked.
"What's this?" Becka said.
She held up a piece of animal skin that had markings. It looked like a map. A map of what, we had no idea. Behind the throne and platform, Kyle made a huge discovery. He found the entrance to a cave.
Suddenly, all around us, we heard voices and footsteps. We ran toward the cave and hid in the mouth of it. What we didn't realize was the importance of the map-it was a map of the cave. This map would soon change our lives forever.
At first Natas and his followers didn't notice that the map was gone. Then the wolf man pointed it out and started to sniff around. "Lord Natas, the map is gone! I smell the Human again, and he has company."
"Which way did they go?"
"They ran toward the cave."
"Sneak up and capture them. I want them alive. You understand?"
"Yes, Lord Natas, consider it done!"
Chapter ThreeThe Cave: The Potion
After hearing the conversation between Natas and the wolf-man, the only place we could go was deeper into the cave. It was dark, damp, and mysterious. The cave was full of stalagmites and stalactites. It was hard to concentrate on where we were going because of the constant dripping noise from moisture on the walls and ceiling of the cave. The walls of the cave were very smooth and slippery.
"Which way should we go?" I asked.
"I don't know," Kyle answered.
Just then, the wolf-man jumped out of the shadows.
"You are coming with me!" he ordered.
We started to run as fast as we could, but we did not see any way out. Eventually, we found a dead end. It was very hard to navigate through the narrow passageways without a source of light. Kyle remembered the little flashlight in his pocket. He grabbed the light from his pocket and said, "Look what I found."
"Great! Turn that sucker on so we can find away out of here and away from that horrible creature." Becka commanded.
"We need to turn around to find another passageway that might lead us out of this cave," Kyle said.
"Did you forget something, Kyle? The creature. That horrible creature. The wolf-man is following us. He is going to take us back to Natas," Hanna reminded us.
"How can I forget that? But I don't know any other way out of here."
"Wait a minute. Becka, do you still have the map?" I asked.
"I think this map will show us how to get out of here. We just need to follow it."
Reluctantly, my cousins agreed with me. Believe me; that was something they had never done before! I was the youngest, and in their minds, I was not as smart as they were. I looked at the map and said, "If we were to go back a little ways, we would find another passageway"
Sure enough, it was there.
"It looks like this map is more of a maze than a map. Let's figure this maze out before we go any further. That way we will know where we're going."
Everyone thought that that was great idea, except for Becka. She thought it would be better if we figured it out on the way so that the wolf-man would not be able to catch us.
"That wolf-man is right behind us. We don't have enough time to figure out this maze," said Becka.
"Okay, then, let's find our next move so that we can be a move or two ahead of the wolf-man," I suggested.
Everyone agreed. We stepped into the next passageway and turned right, and then, a while later, we turned to the left. The map was easy to read. Suddenly, out of the darkness, we saw a pair of glowing eyes. It was not the wolf-man, but Natas himself!
"Nice to meet you. I will take that," Natas said as he took the map from us.
As Natas grabbed the map, we took off down the passageway. We were so intent on running away from Natas that we forgot what we were going to do next. We turned left and then right, thinking that we were getting close to an exit. We ran into another dead end.
"What do we do now?" Hanna asked.
"We need to get our map back," Kyle replied.
"But how?" asked Becka.
"Look, everyone." I said. I pointed to some writing on the wall and a bottle under the inscription.
"What does that say?" asked Kyle.
"I think it is written in Spanish. Does anyone know Spanish?" Hanna asked.
"Becka, you had Spanish in school, didn't you?" I asked.
"Yeah, but I did not do well in the class."
"Okay, but try and read this. You can do it."
Becka began to read what was on the wall out loud. It said, "If victory over evil is what you want, truth is what you should seek. Before the battle begins, drink this and your truth will come to life."
We grabbed the bottle and began to backtrack. A little further back, we found where the creatures were camped.
"Those stupid kids. They are going to be so lost without the map. They will wander around like kittens looking for their mama cats. We are going to have so much fun tormenting them. They will have no idea how to get out of this cave. They don't have the map. We do." Natas and his men gloated.
We heard everything. We quickly found a place to sit down in a circle. Hanna handed the bottle to Kyle. Just as he loosened the cap of the bottle, a red mist filled the room. It totally engulfed everyone in the room and was thicker than fog. Then, it floated to where Natas and his men were camped. Instantaneously, we started to share what we appreciated about each other. By the time we were done sharing with each other, the red mist had caused Natas and his henchmen to fall into a deep sleep. We walked in, took the map, and walked out, undetected. As we stepped into the dark passageway, I could hear Natas beginning to grumble.
"Let's go before he catches up with us," said Kyle.
Chapter FourThe Cave: The Secret Doorway
After a while, we got on the right track, and we looked for a place to rest. We noticed on the map that there was a passageway that was a dead end. We decided that, strategically, a dead end would be a good resting place because it would be easier to keep from being surrounded. We entered the passageway, and we took turns keeping watch while everyone rested.
When it was my turn to keep watch, I did something terrible: I fell asleep. I began to dream. I dreamed that I was in a land that had no sun, but it was bright and warm. I was walking through a grassy meadow. At the back of the meadow was a forest. This was not just an ordinary forest: it seemed that the trees were watching me. I felt like I was being watched with every step that I took-and I was.
Once I had gotten through the woods, I found a river that was flowing very fast. I didn't know which way to go, so I walked down river. While I was walking I felt no fear or anger. I felt peace. Why? I didn't know.
Excerpted from The Mysterious Cave by Elroy VanNuys Copyright © 2010 by Elroy VanNuys. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsPart One The Cave....................ix
Chapter 1 The Beginning of the Story....................1
Chapter 2 The Beginning....................7
Chapter 3 The Cave: The Potion....................13
Chapter 4 The Cave: The Secret Doorway....................19
Chapter 5 The Cave: The Secret Passageway....................23
Chapter 6 The Cave: The Hallway of Evil....................27
Chapter 7 The Cave: The Hallway of Good....................31
Part Two The Land of the Human Beings....................35
Chapter 8 The Guardians....................37
Chapter 9 The Tree People....................43
Chapter 10 The River People....................49
Chapter 11 King Lionodious....................53
Part Three The Final Battle....................59
Chapter 12 The Revenge of Natas....................61
Chapter 13 Prince Cristo....................65
Chapter 14 Magido....................69
Chapter 15 Home....................73
Chapter 16 Was It All a Dream?....................77
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