5-8-2020 5,000 Writing Prompts Book Written By- Bryn Donovan
150 Fantasy Prompts
Prompt #76- ‘No Human who has entered this cave has ever emerged alive again.’
Sidney stands in front of a dark cave that sits just slightly East of her little village. A cold breeze washes over her as she takes a step towards the mouth of the cave. Her pale hands clutch a small handmade basket filled with beautiful wildflowers. As she walks forward, the wooden basket bumps against the skirt part of her light blue dress that covers her scrawny legs. She stops when she hears what sounds like a sad moan emitting deep inside the throat of the cave. Her plain long brown hair falls over her shoulder as she cocks her head to the side, thinking that she sees a light from inside the cave. But how could that be?
“Oh look. Sidney is thinking of going into the cave,” a harsh voice taunts her from behind.
She turns to look behind her, seeing a group of teens about her age and younger huddled close together in the early cold morning. The taunting came from a pretty short red-haired girl who has bulled Sidney since she was a child. Where Sidney is a plain girl, the red-haired girl succeeds in being one of the most beautiful girls in the village. She is every young boy’s dream girl where Sidney will be lucky to even get a boy to look her way.
Sidney rolls her soft hazel eyes and faces the cave, whispering so only the cave can hear her, “Next time can you please eat Jennifer? That would make my life a lot easier.”
She is stunned when it sounds like the cave actually chuckles in response to her comment. As she does every day, she walks over to the side of the cave and lays some wildflowers that she had picked from the meadow behind her, setting them on the ground. She places them there for all of those from her village and from other places who have ventured into the cave and have never come back out alive. She steps back, the basket once again swinging in her hands. She waves slightly before she spins on her brown booted heel and walks away from the cave.
Jennifer and her group laugh as Sidney walks away, leaving through the field, following the girl. They ruthlessly insult her until they come to the edge of their village. Once there, the teens say their goodbyes to each other, excluding Sidney, and head home so that they can start on their morning chores. Sidney sighs relieved that they are leaving and walks to her parent’s hut, pushing open the small wooden door.
Inside, she can hear the crackling of a fire and smell the bitter smells of freshly brewed coffee. She can hear the sizzling of pork and eggs on the wood stove, telling Sidney that her mother is already awake. Soon she will see her father, they will eat, and then he will be gone to work in the fields that lay to the West of their town, as far from the cave as possible.
Sidney puts away her basket and worn brown shawl in her room, retrieving the last of the picked flowers from the bottom of the basket. She walks back into the kitchen where her mother is dishing up the breakfast for the family and smiles, “Good morning, Mamma. I picked us some fresh flowers.”
Her mother glances over her shoulder to her only daughter, “Any pink ones this time?”
Sidney grins and holds up a bunch of pink and purple wildflowers, “They were hiding behind the big oak tree just like daddy had thought.”
“What was hiding behind the old oak tree like I had thought?” her father asks as he walks into the kitchen, accepting a plate full of eggs and pork.
“The pink wildflowers,” Sidney says as she puts the fresh flowers in a vase on the table.
“I told you! The pinks and white flowers love that old tree,” her dad says as he begins to dig into this food.
Sidney accepts a plate of food from her mom as she sits down at the table, biting instantly in the slab of salted pork. Her mom gently touches one of the pink flower’s petals then begins to eat with a smile on her face. Sidney smiles, always happy to bring a smile to her tired mother’s face.
Her mother has slowly been getting sicker as fall begins to grow closer. Once winter, comes Sidney fears that her mother will not survive as last winter they had lost five people from their village due to illness. Her mother begins to cough a bit, lowering her head as she tries to gain control. Sidney and her father exchange look, not saying a word since she hates when they ask her if she is okay and goes back to eating.
Soon her father has left and her mother has gone back into their bedroom to rest, Sidney jumps straight into killing the dishes. She will move onto the laundry and then the rest of the house. She will make lunches for her mom and dad, taking her dad’s to the field as she does every day. Thankfully, she doesn’t need to go to the market for any shopping so that will make the day a little easier.
Months come and go and as Sidney had feared, her mother passed only a week into winter when it just starts to become cold. Her father takes the death hard and becomes distant from him. He begins to stay out after work and even disappears a few days. One day, he doesn’t come home, and it worries Sidney. She grabs her shawl and heads out early the next morning to see if he had gone to work but those out in the field only looks at her with sad eyes.
“Have any of you seen my father?” she asks urgently. “I haven’t seen him in three days and he usually comes home after being gone for three days.”
The men only shake their heads as they head off into the fields in order to prepare the ground for the Spring growing season. She grows frustrated and is about to chase the men down but a gentle tap on her leg stops her. She looks behind her to see the old crone who lives in a small cottage at the end of town closest to the cave is standing behind her.
The old crone smiles at Sidney, “Follow me, Sidney, we must talk.” The old crone turns and walks away from the fields, her wooden cane tapping on the rough ground and stones.
Sidney reluctantly follows, always having been told to leave the old woman alone, but she decides that she wants to find out what she knows hopefully about her father. She follows her until the two of them are standing in front of the cave; the air seeming different as it seeps out of the dark mouth.
“Your father has gone into the cave where no one returns from, Sidney,” the old woman says, pointing at the cave with her cane. “In his grief of losing your mother, he heard the voice of the cave and went in.”
Sidney stares in disbelief at first but her eyes then cloud with anger, tears she hasn’t even been able to shed for her mother’s passing, fall hot and fast down her cheeks. “He left me!”
“Don’t be angry at him or the cave, child. The cave calls to all who need comforting in a time of heartache or when they feel lost in their lives. I have been hearing the voice of the cave for years now since all of my family has either left or has passed.” She sighs, her wrinkles knobby hands grasping her cane tightly, putting a bit more weight on it. “And I am tired of hearing it so I am going to go in this time.”
Sidney stands still as she listens to the cave, the breeze drying her angry tears into slightly dirty streaks down her cheeks. There is a sort of rustling sound from inside the cave and then a sweet voice calling her name. She gasps when she hears the voice whispering her name and then beckoning her to come into the cave.
The old woman chuckles, “You hear it too, don’t you?”
Sidney slowly nods her head unable to tear her eyes away from the cave. The voice continues to call to her, sounding sweeter and more enticing the longer she listens. “I do… but…” She shakes her head as she continues to stare into the cave, swearing that she can see movement in the darkness towards the back.
“Well child, you have nothing in the village keeping you here any longer,” the old lady says, holding her hand out to Sidney. “Will you accompany an old woman into the cave? See where the cave leads us?”
Sidney finally breaks her gaze and looks back at the village that is just starting to wake up to another cold day. A smile spreads across her face when she sees her tormentors have begun their trek out to the cave for their daily tormenting of Sidney. Sidney thinks for a moment as she watches the small group march closer, the group following behind Jennifer closely as they try to stay warm.
Sidney takes the old woman’s hand and looks into the wise old gray eyes, “I think I will accompany you after all. I am ready for a new adventure and I think the cave has just what I want and need.”
The old crone glances over her shoulder to see the group and cackles, “Oh yes, Jennifer and her group of brainless friends.” She cackles again as she and Sidney begin to walk into the cave, her laugh echoing around them the deeper they walk.
Jennifer sees Sidney and the old crone walk into the cave together, gasping in shock and freezing her steps. Her friends stop walking as well and start chattering like annoying hens all at once as Sidney and the old woman vanished into the dark cave. They ask each other questions and try to figure out for themselves why Sidney has actually gone into the cave.
Sidney and the old crone walk what seems like an eternity, the cave slowly growing warmer the further they went inside, even the breeze feeling warm and not cold like it did back at the mouth of the cave behind them. Soon they can see light and another opening of the cave. Soon the two are stepping out into a field of wildflowers just like the one they had just left behind except for these flowers are in bloom where the others are sleeping for winter and standing in front of Sidney is her father. He laughs when he sees them emerge from the cave and opens his arms wide.
“Daddy!” she screams and rushes to him, hugging him tightly.
“Welcome to our new home, Sidney,” he says, turning her to show her a new village where humans and other creatures she only heard about in her mother’s stories living happily together; mermaids, fairies, and giants being the first creatures she sees.
Sidney gasps, “The stories mamma told me as a little girl are true?”
“Apparently they are and I feel that I can heal better living here even though she is gone because her stories are true,” her father says, squeezing her shoulders. He then turns to the old woman, “Thank you m’ lady for bringing my daughter to me.”
Sidney turns to see not an old crone but a beautiful tall and young woman, her cane now a tall staff. She blinks a few times, her jaw-dropping open, causing the woman to chuckle a sweet honey laugh.
“It was my pleasure,” the woman says, nodding her head before she turns her sparkling gray eyes to Sidney. “Sidney, welcome home. I have been the one bringing people here who have lost their way in the human realm. Anyone who comes through who hasn’t proven themselves to us are turned back around, sent back out of the cave, and their memory wiped clean. You both belong here with us.”
Sidney smiles and looks at the magical village, letting her father lead her in by the hand. The missing humans and all the magical creatures wave to her or say good morning, welcoming her to her new home.