It wasn’t long before our spirits started to fall. I could hear whispers late into the night of suggestions we turn back. This seemed like much more than a suggestion at sometimes, it almost sounded like a plea. Before long the village was becoming a blur and each of us got the feeling we likely wouldn’t see it again. I reassured everyone, but deep down I had the same apprehensions.
We took one final look the village as we reached the mouth of the mountain. It was difficult to make out but even the near sighted could observe the sight of fire and plumes of smoke. It seemed we’d made the right choice, all we could do now was hope they didn’t think think to go near the mountain.
A shudder swept through us as we crossed over inside. It was a difficult first step indeed. There was something about this mountain, it seemed dark and destitute, as if a place no man was meant to set foot in. The five of us made our way in and out of sight, wanting to set up camp as swiftly as possible. Realistically speaking we would only need to camp for a few days, the troops would likely be gone in less than that time and we most certainly had enough supplies to last us.
Despite all this the feeling of uncertainty would not leave us. As we sat over the fire that night we discussed a great many things. We talked of what we would do after the war, of where we may go if the village didn’t recover. My wife liked the idea of moving to the west, she heard Spain was nice this time of year. My little brother was thinking even further a field, he wanted to rule the roost across the Atlantic. My parents didn’t have much to say on this issue, they were past the age of voyages, they were happy to stay in our country, assuming it would still be a country by the end of this madness. I myself didn’t know where I would go, moving abroad was something I’d never thought too deeply about, though I supposed I liked the idea. Staring around the cavern, I liked the idea of any country but this one. Beside us the cave went much deeper, though none of us quite had the gall to explore it.
We went to bed with uncertainty that night, none of us wanting to take our eyes off each other while simultaneously too exhausted to sit up right. I watched everyone as they dozed, watching my brother last before I finally found myself drifting away.
It was on the next day that the peculiarities began. My brother was nowhere to be found. We thought nothing of it at first, it was a large cave, perhaps he’d wandered off and hadn’t made it back yet. But as the hours rolled by we realized this was something far more severe. Mother was immensely worried, she hadn’t said as much but I could tell, a few years ago she might have had the energy to go looking for him herself but right now she was spent. I alone went, venturing further into the cavern, I went far deeper than I cared to and eventually reached a dead end. The wall itself was oddly smooth, as if man made. I returned to my family fruitless and we spend the remainder of the day in a panicked frenzy. Only one of us got any sleep that night.
The next day it happened again, this time it was my father who went missing. By now we were just about ready to leave, if the troops were still in the village then so be it, but nothing was worth another night of this. I searched the cavern again that night, and once again I found nothing, though this time the dead end wall seemed to be further in. My mother was more frantic than I’d ever seen her in my life, what hurt most was how powerless I was to do anything. We decided to leave at the break of dawn without a wink of sleep. Though despite all this it happened again.
I wasn’t sure how, I don’t know when she left my sight but somewhere in our endless delirium mother vanished into the night. I and my beloved had taken our eyes off her for only a moment when we turned back to see she was nowhere to be found. This time I didn’t need to search to know it was pointless. It was just the two of us now. Me, my beloved and our unborn child. She pleaded for us to leave, saying the family would find their way out if they could. I took this into consideration and fairly soon agreed. We decided to exit the cavern as soon as possible, if the rest of my family were gone, then so be it.
It was then that it finally happened, as we began to make our exit a cascade of rocks blocked our way out. I and my beloved avoided it unscathed but now our only way out was to burrow though, and that would likely take days. My wife was in a panic now, she could barely breath. It was the longest day of my life, at the time at least. I tried my hardest to protect her, kept my eyes on her as lengthily as I could, but eventually I felt myself waning. I thought of our future together, the three of us living glamorous life in Madrid or Barcelona, our young unborn son jumping excitedly between us. I thought of the joy it would bring our lives to see the cursed series of wars in our continent finally come to an end. I cursed with sorrow at the thought that it may never happen, as man is barbaric in nature. I thought of all this and much more as I realized that I was dreaming. My eyes opened in a flash and I looked down to see my beloved was gone. I was now completely alone. I cursed, I screamed, I wept with submission as I looked around me. There truly was no hope at this point, it was almost inevitable.
Eventually I decided to do the only thing that was yet possible and carry on walking. I walked and walked as far as my legs could carry me. At this point the cave seemed never ending. One step after the other lead me further in that I ever thought was possible in this part of the world and eventually, as expected, I hit a dead end. I simply stood there, staring at it in anger as I clenched my first. I punched the wall full throttle, then again, then again, blood pouring from my hands as I hit the rock wall with all my might. This went on for some time until something caused me to stop. Jumping with a startle, I looked up and saw something strange. The wall before me was black as ever but there seemed to be something more. Something directly in front of me was missing, two distinct holes in the rock face were darker than the rest, as if somehow absent. I started at it for a full minute before the two holes exploded in a shimmer of light, the shock knocking me clean unconscious.