The cave was covered in the same slimy kind of substance we had seen in the trail going up the mountain. It was very sticky and had a dark color to it, which we had identified as a very deep green. Someone argued that, maybe, the creatures inside the mountain used that goo to attack predators and be able to escape. Another person said it was very likely that they were the predators and that they used the substance to actively hunt for food. The third opinion was simpler but more confusing: the substance could be blood.
In trees, sap is green and it acts, in a very basic way, as the blood of a tree. But it never gets that thick or dark. Susan, who was the botanist in the expedition, analyzed a sample and assured everyone that green thing was not sap from any tree she had ever seen or that had ever been recorded by any human being. It did pass some of the tests that Marcus, a biologist, did for several other animals we had found earlier in our journey through the mountains. So it was blood but it was impossible to know why it was all over the place.
Maybe they did use it as a weapon, like those lizards in the desert that squirt blood in order to scare their enemies. Something like that could be at play with these creatures, which we hadn’t had the opportunity to actually see with our own two eyes. Some of the tribes living around the mountains talked to us about creatures living under the mountains, creatures that would come at night into the town and kidnap children. We didn’t believe that story but it was repeated to us in various occasions.
Alex and Richard stood at the entrance of the cave. They were geologists and wanted to have time to analyze the mountain itself so they asked to stay there as lookouts if anything went wrong. It wouldn’t have been a very smart idea if we would all enter the cave at the same time. Samantha and Sergei were the last two to enter the cave, just after I get stepped on a rather large mound of the gooey substance. I had to be helped by Sergei and Marcus in order to get my foot out of there. It was very scary for a minute.
The cave was rather large and our voices seemed to run wild inside, so we decided to stop talking in order not to scare any potential new findings. We had helmets with soft lights on them and all the equipment necessary if we had needed to go down a very dangerous wall or even jump over a crevasse. It was normal for such cavernous systems to have different features that would play as obstacles for groups of people such as ourselves. But, strangely, after walking for twenty minutes, we realized that the cave wasn’t shrinking in any way, rather it was descending gently but steadily.
I think we all thought the exact same thing at the same time: whatever creatures inhabited this world; they had modeled the cave in order to accommodate them and not the other way around. What that meant was that the creatures had to be able to use tools of some sort and had various abilities to carve stone. They would even be able to do a certain degree of calculations, which was only possible if they’re brain was evolved enough. We weren’t looking for some little creatures in the dark.
After another twenty minutes, we finally arrived at a larger chamber. The ceiling on it was huge, covered in what seemed to be bats in a deep slumber. We fixed our lights in order not to disturb them and kept on walking until we weren’t able to. The ground stopped dead in the middle of the room to give way to a rather large body of water. The liquid look as gooey as the green substance in the entrance. We actually looked around for it but realized there were no traces of it in that chamber. There had to be a reason why.
Samantha and Marcus walked and kneeled in front of the body of water, as Susan walked closer to me. It was obvious that, as a botanist, she had not being in such a situation before. She wasn’t hyperventilating or anything, but she was clearly not comfortable being in the underside of a mountain. Sergei stood right behind us, looking at the path we had used to come down to the chamber. It looked like he had heard something but, when I asked, he said it was nothing and tried to seem unperturbed, which he failed at.
Samantha filled three large syringes with water from the pond and Marcus grabbed some in his hands. He first smelled it, very thoroughly, and then drank some, to everyone’s amazement. But none of us said a single word, because we didn’t want to wake up the whole bat infested roof. When Marcus stood up, we asked in a whisper if there was anything wrong with it and he just did a negative movement of his head to answer. We all went back to breathing normally then. For a second, it had been very scary.
However, we had failed to notice that Sergei was looking at the path we had come down through and there was something wrong with it. Sergei did not answer so I turned him around with one hand. His face was livid, whiter than ever, blood completely drained from his features. He was breathing heavily and it was only when I saw what he had seen that I realized why he was behaving in such a strange way. Out of nowhere, a rock had been put to block the path. We were trapped in the chamber. It was a trap and we had fallen into it without even a glimpse of doubt.
I wanted to tell them what was going on but then the water from the pond started making sounds, as if it was boiling. But that did not make sense. We only had time to look at each other once more before we saw something coming out of the water and then our lights failed and the bats flew over our heads, filling the place with confusion. Then, we felt them and it all went black.