Storytime Sunday – Caves

By, Erin DiStefano

Clare was terrified of the dark. 

More than slimy icky green beans. 

More than giant monsters. 

Even more than getting pinched on the cheeks by her Great Aunt Marjorie.  

Clare was petrified of the dark. So a field trip to Mammoth Cave was not her idea of fun.  

Clare was last to get off the bus.  animated-bus-image-0023

She was last in line. 

And she hoped she would be the last person her teacher, Mr. Hill, would remember, but he ushered her forward with the rest of the class. 

Toward the cave.  

caveThe mouth opened like a giant fish, wanting to gulp her up.  

Taking a step closer, 

Clare quivered. 

The cave was damp and creepy and crawly.  

Taking a step closer, 

Clare trembled.

Worst of all, the cave was nearly dark.  

Taking a step closer, 

Clare shuddered.

In the cave, voices echoed down the shadowy tunnel ahead of them. cave7

The lights flickered. 

Clare shivered. 

“These caves were formed by water flowing through the limestone rocks over ten million years ago. They are the longest caves known in the world!”

Clare thought ten million years was a long time. Even her Great Aunt Marjorie hadn’t been alive that long.  

As she looked ahead at the looming darkness her terror pushed any thought of Great Aunt Marjorie away.  

The lights flickered.

Clare shivered.  

cave3 (2)“Down this tunnel you can see mineral columns on each side. These are formed by water and minerals dripping from the ceiling, slowly over thousands of years. The ones hanging from the ceiling are called stalactites. Over there, rising from the floor, are stalagmites.”  

“Those look like piles of poop!” 

Everyone but Clare giggled.  

Clare thought they looked frightening like fangs.  

Sharp, spikey and scary. 

The lights flickered. 

Clare shivered.  

“This room, or cavern, is called the organ room. When the wind blows really hard it cave4funnels down through these hollow pipes. Stay quiet and maybe we can hear the sounds.”

A low eerie whistle filled the cavern, bouncing off the walls and sending an echo through the tunnels.  

Clare covered her ears, but the hollow howling still surrounded her.

The lights flickered. 

Clare shivered. 

 “Now this is my favorite room. It is filled with hundreds of thousands of living fungi and microorganisms. You can’t see them right now because the lights are on, but when I turn off the lights…”

Clare squeezed her eyes shut trying to keep in a scream. 

The darkness pressed all around leaving her breathless.  cave6

Everyone gasped. 

“What you are seeing is called bioluminescence. The fungi and microorganisms create an enzyme that reacts with the oxygen in the air and makes the blue and green glow.”  

Clare hesitantly opened one eye. 

Then the other.  

The cave was still dark.

But now it was beautiful, magical even, faintly lit with tiny points of light covering the ceiling and walls. It looked like the stars Clare could see out her window at night.  

The stars that made the dark not quite so scary. The more she looked the more the magic of the cave made her forget. 

Forget the chill. 

Forget the darkness. 

cave5Forget her fear.  

“Now, if you want to follow me slowly, watch your step, we can go to the next room. It’s called the bat cave!”

The lights flickered.

Clare smiled.

She followed the guide. 

THE END

About the Author

Erin DiStefano is a writer living surrounded by the magic and mystery of the Appalachian mountains. She recently graduated from Hollins University with her MFA in Children’s Literature and enjoys her work of organizing and sharing the most magical things of all–books.

You can find her hiking with her whole family (except the family fish Bubbles, he hasn’t figured out the whole leash thing yet), playing tennis or lounging in her favorite place, her hammock, reading a book. One of these days she hopes to have a dog, some chickens and a lot of land they can all run around on. Her picture book manuscript Caves won second place in the 2018 WV Writers Competition.

Categories: Stories

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s