by Eric Esteb
“No, I’m not scared,” Arnie swallowed hard and looked into the darkness of the hole under the old dead tree. He was smart enough to know that Erin and her friends had brought him here to torment him, but he’d come because he had always fancied her, throw in the fact that she had developed earlier than all the other girls in his class and…
His current predicament was a foregone conclusion. He turned and looked at Erin; she nodded for him to go.
“If you’re just gonna chicken out Arnie, tell us now so we can get out of the sun.”
“I just need to bring out a rock?”
The girl smiled. “Yep! To prove you went all the way in.”
It was dark in the cave, too dark to see after Arnie had gone around a bend in the path. The air was humid and heavy, somewhere, deeper within the cave it sounded like the earth was breathing.
Hands slick with mud Arnie groped his way along the sweating walls of the narrow cavern. After a few minutes the ground evened out and the path widened. Suddenly Arnie’s hand fell upon a sturdy wooden fence. The wood felt old but strong.
He felt his way along the fence until he came to a gate barred from his side. Arnie hesitated a moment at the gate but thoughts of Erin’s T-shirt cascaded into his head. Arnie hefted the heavy plank barring the gate, let it fall to the muddy ground and opened the gate with a creak. He winced, but after nothing bad happened he continued on through.
The breathing stopped but he felt less alone than he did a moment ago. He continued on into the absolute blackness until he found the far wall. He still needed a rock, though now it felt like something was watching him.
He blundered along until his feet fell on stone. He stepped up onto an altar and felt around in the darkness for something to take up to the girls.
“Ouch!” His voice sounded far away in that dank cavern. His hand fell onto something sharp. Something metal. Arnie touched it more carefully and realized it was a sword buried in the ground. He wrapped his hand around the grip and the blade began to glow blue.
He looked about, sensing something had been living there and, with horror, that it was no longer in its prison.
Outside, far away Arnie heard the girls scream.
Something deep down within him told him what to do. Part of him, the reader, the geek, the outcast always knew.
Arnie pulled the sword from the bed rock and rushed through the darkness to the light.