Another dribble rolled downward, hung momentarily suspended from the jagged-tooth stalactite.
The surface of the water rose as it fell, embracing each droplet. Layer upon layer, each calcified drop adding another piece of skin over the rock.
I collect those falling droplets, sipping at the cold water – I figure it’s fresher than the metallic silver of the pool. I sweep my hands through that black mirror, startling the blind cave-fish, driving them onto the shore. Cold, wet flesh; warm blood trickles through my beard. It thickens, fusing together.
Sunlight trickles from above me, diluted and diffused, like the shrieking of the warm-fleshed, unreachable bats, blowing hurricanes above me each night.
At night I hold the frayed ends of my rope, remembering the
and the tumble, remembering the
of my collapsing leg on the rocks and the brilliant – cold – numbing twinge of the water on my broken bones. I see the flickering cavers’ torches overhead. I can hear them murmuring. They’re talking about me. Hallucinations, all. They come down each night and taunt me, they scare my fish and leave behind candles, blazing, too-bright.
They disappear each morning, fading into the light.