<<<Chapter 2: Cubby<<<
(Introducing the boy and the cave that wasn’t…)
The boy entered the cave, wet and shivering. He had been out in the rain too long.
His early morning fishing expedition had resulted in nothing. Not that he had expected much. Rain always agitated the water in the river making the fish vanish from his regular fishing spots. But he had to try. After spending a full hour out in the cold, with the icy breeze lashing on his back, he had returned empty-handed.
The boy lived in this cave alone; he had lived here forever.
Seven years ago, he wasn’t alone. His parents used to live with him. Then one day, they left and never returned. All these years he had lived alone and fended for himself. He had learned to divide the day into two halves. When he woke up in the morning, the first half began. In the mornings he fished, hunted, or collected fruits and nuts. When his shadow became really small and almost vanished under his feet, he stopped work and returned to his cave.
On days like today when the sun didn’t shine, he lost track of time. So when he returned to the cave today, he was not aware that it was still the first half of the day.
He pushed aside the grass and the creepers that hid the entrance of the cave, and entered.
After taking three measured steps in the dark, he raised his hand and pushed down a lever that jutted from the wall at his left. A bulb went on and lighted the area in front of him. He had used the lever on his own for the last seven years, and yet he had no idea why pushing that lever down could light up the cave.
The interiors of the cave that he had entered couldn’t have looked less like a cave, but he had never seen any other cave, so he didn’t find it odd. In fact, the interiors of his cave looked more like those of a house. Caves were usually narrow and they went deep into the belly of the mountain but this one didn’t.
This cave was different. It flared inside its mouth on both sides and its walls were made of wood.
Unlike the regular caves, its floor wasn’t made of dirt; instead it was paved with stone. After a small open area, there was a wooden wall with a door in the middle. The door didn’t have a lock, but it had a clasp to shut it.
The boy undid the clasp, opened the door, and entered the room he knew as the lobby. The lobby was not a lot to look at. It had a rug on the stone floor and a vase of artificial flowers in a corner.
The door in the wall at the boy’s left opened in a small kitchen – complete with a fireplace, a chimney, and a wooden table that had three wooden chairs placed around it.
The boy went into the kitchen and picked up an apple that lay on the table, and then he turned and walked out of the kitchen into the lobby.
He didn’t stop in the lobby; instead he swung open the door that was opposite to the kitchen door. This door opened into a much bigger area that had another locked door in the far wall. A comfortable looking couch, a cupboard, a desk, and a bed occupied the space.
The boy was tired. He dropped down on the bed, and took a bite from the apple.
More than tired, the boy was bored.
Then he remembered the key. Absently and wordlessly, the boy wondered how hunger had the capacity to make you forget everything. Just last night, he had found the key that he had been dreaming of, all these years.
He turned and gazed at the locked door behind him. The door had tormented him for years. It had snuck into his dreams and turned them into nightmares. For the boy, the door had symbolized both hope and fear.
Once again, looking at it, he was reminded of the questions that still remained unanswered.
Why had his parents not returned?
What had happened to them?
What lay behind the door?
Why he kept dreaming that his parents were in a room behind the door?
And why, when he saw that key lying at the bottom of that urn in the loft of the kitchen, he instantly knew which door the key would open?
He had hundreds of questions that needed answering. A small voice in his head told him that this key would help him find the answers.
The door was different from those other doors in the cave. It was reinforced with steel strips. The brass locking mechanism that was embedded right in the center of it looked extremely formidable too.
The thrill of stepping into the unknown made the boy’s heart beat faster.
He slipped his hand inside the old tattered shirt that he was wearing and his fingers closed around the key.
He tossed the core of the apple into a trash bin that stood near one of the sofas, rubbed his hands on his jeans, and stood up.
He was going inside.
——— ¤¤¤ ———
To go behind the locked door, read, “Chapter 3: The Nameless Boy and the Cave that wasn’t (Part II)”