“Gemini” 20×26″ oil on wood panel. instagram: briansmith_art
locals warned you about Twelve Echoes Cavern. They told you stories of all the
other hikers and explorers who had been lost within it. They told you about the
screams that echoed across the desert at night. They told you, in no uncertain
terms, to stay away from it. Of course, you didn’t listen. Instead, you drove
across the desert and trekked up the steep hillside to the entrance of the
mysterious Twelve Echoes Cavern.
standing within it, you can see why the locals were so determined to keep you
away. The cavern is a natural wonder, easily the biggest you’ve ever been in.
Your flashlight beam barely illuminates the area in front of you before being
swallowed by the darkness of the cave.
can easily see tourists swarming the place, trampling the pristine ground in
their rush to get in and out before the gift shop closes. You can’t really
blame the locals for trying to keep it to themselves. Still, you have to wonder
about all the stories you were told. Every legend has a grain of truth to it,
after all. So, you pocket your flashlight, cup your hands around your mouth, and
shout a greeting into the darkness of the cavern.
voices that answer you are not your own. Their howls and shrieks merge into a
single, ear-piercing wail. You fall back in surprise, your flashlight
shattering in your pocket. You scramble back towards what you hope is the
entrance. Then, just as suddenly as they began, the screams stop. All you can
hear is the steady drip of water from the cavern ceiling.
take a deep breath and stand up. Now that your eyes have adjusted to the dark
you can make out the last feeble rays of daylight sinking beyond the horizon.
You hurry towards them, as your mind races to find a reasonable explanation.
Was this some kind of prank by the locals? No, too elaborate and pointless. It
couldn’t have been them. It must have been some kind of trick of the brain,
then. Something about the cavern that could turn one voice into many. That
could turn a shouted greeting into a bloodcurdling scream. It doesn’t sound
plausible, but it sounds rational and that’s all you need right now.
almost to the mouth of the cave when another voice cries out from deep within.
Like the others, it screams in pain and agony. Unlike the other voices, you
recognize it. You try to scream, but no sound emerges from your throat. Twelve
Echoes Cavern screams for you, in a voice that is unmistakably your own.
Your screams echo loud and long across the
desert. The locals listen and shake their heads. They tried to warn you. Now
all they can do is wait for some other traveler to pass through and hope that
they will listen when they tell them to never go near Thirteen Echoes Cavern.