Hiker Discovers Girl in Cave, Upon Closer Inspection, Recognizes Error

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The Dark Has Eyes

There was a scratch of metal against the stone from the left, startling both Ken and Sarah as they navigated the barely illuminated dark. When they lit the passage the sound had echoed from, there was nothing but settling dust that floated in the light. Ken’s heart was beating out of his chest.

Sarah walked in front of him, frequently coughing as the dry air put a strain on their lungs, and shook her flashlight as it started to dim. They had grabbed what could be classified as the worst flashlights to date and, with that knowledge, decided it was a good idea to go cave-diving.

Suddenly, she came to a complete stop, the light shaking as she illuminated what stood before them. He had expected to discover many strange things, but nothing could have prepared him for what they stumbled upon.

Welcome To The Jungle


Ken and Sarah were about two mosquito bites away from setting themselves on fire if only for temporary relief from the pressing heat and humidity, the insects buzzing in their ears and biting them on every uncovered piece of skin.

“I knew we should have brought a map,” Sarah said, irritation clear in her voice. “I thought you said you knew these woods?” Ken rolled his eyes, if only to cover the fact that he was slightly worried about their lack of direction.

“I do,” but then he recovered, “Well, I did. I haven’t hiked here in a while.” Sarah gasped, the crunch of her hiking boots on the trail going silent for a minute. “And you thought it was a good idea to come without a map?” she yelled.



“I can’t believe you dragged me into this just for us to get lost,” She complained, “I knew I shouldn’t have come,” but Ken couldn’t listen to it anymore. He turned, ready to lay into her when he noticed the true worry on her face.

“Sarah, listen,” he started gently and took her hand in his, “Everything’s going to be fine. I promise we’ll find the trail again. Just look for any strange rocks—they usually use them for trail markers.”

They had been friends for years now, and this was the first time she’d ever agreed to do something like this with him; it was his bad luck that he’d lose the trail and get lost. This was supposed to be fun for her, and now she’s upset.

Night Descending


But hours later, and Ken still hadn’t found the trail he’d promised her they would. The rangers hadn’t come to search for them as he assured her they would, and he was starting to get as nervous as she’d been all day.

In the distance, he could see the sun sinking lower and lower, and he wondered why no one had come looking for them yet. The park where they were hiking had a policy where hikers were searched for if they did not return within the maximum number of hours; however, they had marked stations where one could camp for the night.

By late afternoon, when they had still not found a hint of a ranger or even a trail, Ken knew his luck had completely run out. They were an hour away from sunset, and while it was an enclosed park, he’d much rather be in his own warm bed than in the forest at night.

A Speck Of Light


“I knew it,” Sarah whined, “I knew we were lost. We’re gonna be coyote meat!” But Ken ignored her overreaction, too hot and sweaty to be bothered right now. He was agitated—at himself, at her, and at the entire situation.

“We’ll be fine,” he said again, reaching back to help her down from a steep ledge. Their boots crunched on the forest floor, barely perceptible in the dark. They had two dim flashlights that cast the forest around them in light, but the flickering made Ken worried.

“We need to find a place to stay tonight,” he said and hit his light, which went off again. Had he known they would be stranded in the forest due to his inability to navigate, he might have brought his actual hunting lights.

Overnight Stay


“What do you think? Climb a tree?” Sarah said, which only made Ken laugh. He turned to her slowly, eyebrows raised, and regarded her with complete incredulity. “Well, thanks for the idea, but we don’t have to. There aren’t any predators in this part of the park. We can just find a nice pace and start a fire—hopefully, the light attracts some rangers or something.

They found a small patch of ground that he could use to make a fire and set their backpacks against the tree right across from where he’d settled the gathered wood. Sarah searched for some dry leaves they could use to help it along and complained the entire time.

It was strange to him to see her so whiny. Sarah was usually an upbeat and friendly person who rarely ever expressed dislike over anything or anyone. But he supposed being stranded in a forest at night was enough to turn the purest of hearts into a complainer.

What Could Go Wrong


Only fifteen minutes later, they finally had their fire blazing, bright, and warm enough to keep them from freezing. Despite their rumbling stomachs, Ken was inclined to think they would be as comfortable as can be with this little speck of warmth and light.

“I’m sorry for being so whiny,” Sarah suddenly said, her fingers twiddling a small twig as she spoke. The fire cast an orange glow on her face, bathing her blue eyes in a red hue. Ken just smiled, “It’s okay. The only reason I didn’t complain was because I couldn’t—not when I was the one that insisted on the lack of a map,”

They giggled, the direness of the situation finally switching from stressful to hilarious. They laughed for what seemed like an hour, both of them clutching their stomachs and heaving as they did. Little did they know just how serious things would get.

It Was Beautiful


Laid on his side, Ken couldn’t help but wonder if he would be able to find the trail the next day. He didn’t find it today, and without a map, he had no idea where they even were. In fact, he had no idea how he’d even missed the trail in the first place. There were trail-markers all over this place; to miss one meant he had truly not been paying attention.

“It looks like the clouds are gathering,” he said, pointing up at the sky that peeked down at them from between the trees. “I don’t think it’ll rain, though.” Sarah didn’t respond, either fast asleep or in her own little world.

Ken just smiled, his eyes trained on the stars and their winking, and hoped that tomorrow would bring a trail or a ranger—he wasn’t too picky. And even though it was stressful being in the open in the forest at night, he had to admit that it was beautiful.

Open The Heavens


If Ken had known this forest was out to prove everything he said wrong, he might’ve been content to shut his mouth. It was the middle of the night, their fire still blazing brightly when the rain came pouring down like a tidal wave.

Sarah screamed and grabbed her jacket to throw over her head as Ken scrambled to do the same. The rain was cold, almost penetrating their skin and freezing their bones. The icy sheet pelted against them as they gathered their things.

“We have to find shelter!” Ken shouted over the rumble of thunder. He grabbed Sarah’s arm and practically dragged her after him. The flashlights bugged out even more with the rain, and it made it almost impossible for him to see where they were going. Though he was sure they were heading in deeper into the forest.

A Shelter


Their boots slapped in mud puddles and slipped on the foliage as they ran. Their clothes were soaked through already, their bones freezing, and it didn’t look like the rain was going to stop anytime soon.

“There!” Sarah yelled, grabbing his hand to flash at the cave opening she’d spotted. He had no idea how, but he knew he was very grateful for her strangely sharp eyes on this dark and rainy night.

They shuffled into the opening, expecting to see a small outcropping in the side of a cliff, but found a huge channel of cave tunnels instead. Right in front of them were three tunnels that split down the middle and off to the sides, left and right.



Sarah grasped the back of his backpack as they inched inside. The passage wasn’t lit at all, and if it weren’t for their flashlights, he doubted they’d be able to see their own hands in front of their faces.

The air was dry and cold, almost freezing their lungs every time they inhaled, and there were no vines or greenery growing along the walls like at the entrance. In the distance, a steady drip of water echoed through the tunnel, somehow close and far at the same time.

“This place is a bit creepy, no?” Sarah said, her hand tightening as it clutched his arm. Ken just exhaled heavily as he peered into the dark, making sure he saw no catch of light, no reflection, and no eyes peering back at them. If only he’d known that the darkness always has eyes.

Exploring While Stranded


They sat at the entrance of the cave, shivering and wet, as they looked out into the forest around them. Sarah had returned to her pouting, especially since they had to huddle together for some warmth, and exhaled heavily every so often to vocalize her displeasure.

Ken had officially joined her club of misery and sat hunched over, arms on his knees, glowering out at the pouring rain and the distant trail he’d somehow missed. He was very slowly starting to get agitated, and Sarah’s complaining wasn’t helping.

“Well,” he announced and stood, dusting off his pants. “We might as well explore if we aren’t going to sleep. Are you joining me?” he extended a hand toward her, but she only regarded him with a blank stare. But after some convincing, she finally relented.



They moved through the middle tunnel, marking the path with a rock he’d grabbed on the way, and treated their curious minds to the exploration. The tunnel was full of small rocks and outcroppings that served as booby traps for clumsy Sarah, though, by her curious expression, he gathered she didn’t mind the occasional tripping.

Every so often, there was a scuffle of feet and the rumble of thunder that made them pause and listen, both of them barely hearing anything above the beating of their own hearts. They’d laugh it off and continue, but Sarah’s humor was slowly disappearing.

“Did you hear that?” she jumped, tipping him over in her fright. Ken ripped his arm away from her panicked clutches and frowned, “Nothing. Just like it was nothing before, and just like it will probably be nothing later.” But no sooner than his words were out, he saw the quick flash of eyes disappear behind the corner of the left-hand tunnel before them.

Eyes In The Dark


Ken jumped up, shoving Sarah behind him as he peered deeper into the dark corner he’d seen those eyes. At first, he thought it was his mind playing tricks on him due to hunger or fatigue, but then they flashed again, only for a second, and he felt his blood chill.

As far as he knew, there were no predators on these trails, so it couldn’t be a bear or mountain lion, but who knew? Maybe things could slip through the fences. Sarah was bruising his arm with her grip now, her eyes wide as they both stood deathly still.

There was another scuffle of feet and then a whisper of a breath that both of them managed to hear. Sarah’s flashlight decided to die at that moment, bathing the cavern in partial darkness right as the creature peeked again.



“What is that?” she asked, her voice high-pitched and almost breathless with stress. But Ken was too focused to speak, too unsure to confirm. He shook his head, fear closing his throat, and whispered, “Run.”

There was no hesitation as Ken pushed Sarah in front of him, and they ran for their lives. The creature gave chase, the whisper of its footsteps barely registering as it hunted them. The light of the flashlight was barely enough to show them where to go, much less illuminating every single rock they tripped over.

Sarah was whimpering as they sped through the tunnel, Ken feeling as if he could detect its breath on his neck as it closed in. It got freezing as they ran, taking turns and not bothering to stop and mark.

Lost And Afraid


They ran for what felt like forever and finally stopped, pressing their back to the wall as they strained to hear any sign that they were still being followed. There was nothing besides their labored breathing and the silent but somehow awfully loud realization that they were completely lost.

Ken glanced down the passage they’d just come from and saw nothing but more caverns and naked walls where he should have been marking. He cursed softly and powerfully and turned to Sarah. Her eyes were wide with fear, her face pale and covered with a sheet of sweat.

“We’re lost,” he said, fear settling into his bones for the first time. Her flashlight had already died, and that meant his wasn’t far behind. Being lost in the caves was bad enough, but being lost in the cave without light was worse.



Sarah’s hands flew to her face, her fingers knotting in her hair as she realized the direness of the situation and started to panic. Tears flowed down her cheeks, leaving two clean tracks among the dirt.

“We’re not going to make it out of this,” she whimpered, her breaths becoming shallow and panicked, “I’m going to be a skeleton in some cave somewhere.” Ken grabbed her hands and removed them from her face.

Rubbing his thumbs down her palm, Ken spoke gently, “Everything is going to be okay. We’re going to make it out of here; we just need to retrace our steps.” Sarah ripped her hands away, “There’s a thing out there, Ken!”

Retrace The Steps


“I know,” Ken growled, trying to check his temper. He knew she was scared and cold and tired. But so was he, and panic wasn’t going to help anything. “But we can’t go deeper into the caves, Sarah. Then we’ll never be found. If we go back and retrace our steps to the entrance, we could get shelter underneath a tree or something.”

Sarah shook her head and inched backward, but he grabbed her wrist gently, “I promise I’ll find the way back. But you have to trust me.” he tugged at her wrist oh-so-gently until she finally relented and followed him.

He had been so focused on getting away from the creature he had forgotten to mark their way, but he could try to find the way back again. From what he could recall, they’d only turned left two times before coming to a stop. So it was easy enough to find the two right turns again.

Not So Easy


Ken had possibly taken them down three more right turns, but they were still not back to where they had been before the creature chased them. It felt like he was leading them even further into the caves, even though he could feel a slight breeze from the entrance.

It felt to Ken as if he was in some sort of labyrinth, so close to the entrance but still so far. This frustrated him and worried him to the point where he got butterflies in his stomach. Sarah had also fallen silent in the last hour they’d been walking, which concerned him even further.

“I don’t think we’re going to get out,” Sarah suddenly said, “I know it’s not your fault. But I don’t think we’re going to make it.” Ken’s heart shattered at that, if only because it had been a truth he’d been unwilling to speak. They had been walking for hours already, and there was still no sign of the entrance.

No Hope


Their flashlight was finally beginning to sputter, the light floating in and out as they walked in a never-ending circle. It had been horrible in the beginning, but as they walked farther and farther, they started hearing the scuffling of footsteps and whispers of breathing again.

There was a scratch of metal against the stone from the left, startling both Ken and Sarah as they navigated the barely illuminated dark. When they lit the passage the sound had echoed from, there was nothing but settling dust that floated in the light. Ken’s heart was beating out of his chest.

Sarah walked in front of him, frequently coughing as the dry air put a strain on their lungs, and shook her flashlight as it started to dim. They had grabbed what could be classified as the worst flashlights to date and, with that knowledge, decided it was a good idea to go cave-diving. Suddenly, she came to a complete stop, the light shaking as she illuminated what stood before them. He had expected to discover many strange things, but nothing could have prepared him for what they stumbled upon.

Peculiar Person


He moved the flashlight in an arc around them, waiting for that flash of eyes, but it never came. Instead, what they saw was something he could have never been prepared for. Such a peculiar sight this far into the cave and unexpected enough that Ken was suspicious at first.

There, in the corner of the dead-end, they’d stumbled upon, stood a young girl that seemed to be no older than fourteen. She had warm clothes and braided hair with dark eyes, and in her one hand, clutched a knife as big as Ken’s forearm.

She gazed at them motionlessly and was crouched in an almost animalistic way. Her pale face contained smears of dirt on it, and she looked anything but scared in the never-ending dark of this tunnel. Ken had never expected to see a young girl this deep into the channel of caves, and what frightened him more was the lack of fear in her face.

To Follow Or To Flee


She inched forward, the knife extended towards them in caution, as if they were the ones to be afraid of. Had she navigated this dark tunnel without a light? He hadn’t seen anything, any sphere or spark of fire or light of any kind.

“Do you need help?” Sarah asked, peering over his shoulder as she did. Her nails dug into his bicep, painful enough for him to step away the slightest bit. “Do you think she needs help?” But Ken shook his head. She did not look like she needed help. Instead, it looked like they would need help escaping her.

Her eyes held the slightest bit of curiosity as if she wasn’t sure why they were here, just as they were unsure of her ability to have gotten here. How could such a young girl be here alone, and have survived? Because there was no way she would have gotten out of here or even entered the caves with them.

The Offer


The girl continued to approach, her movements cautious yet determined. Ken and Sarah exchanged a quick, uncertain glance before Ken took a step forward, raising his hands in what he hoped was a non-threatening gesture.

But the girl advanced, her knife still pointed towards them and motioned with her other hand. She regarded them closely, Ken and Sarah holding their breaths as she came within arm’s length of them and sniffed.

The girl paused, her grip on the knife relaxing ever so slightly. Her eyes flickered between Ken and Sarah, assessing them with a mix of wariness and curiosity. Then, to their surprise, she nodded slowly.

Into the Unknown


The girl pulled at their backpack straps and bounded further away behind them, motioning for them to follow with her one hand. Ken’s heart beat wildly, his mind struggling to decide if they should follow or stay. He supposed either option would inevitably be a bad one if she wasn’t to be trusted, but what choice did they have?

It was either staying and remaining lost until they starved, or they could follow this strange girl and see what she was trying to lead them toward. Ken almost grunted with frustration but finally sighed and took Sarah’s wrist in his hand again. She started to protest, but he just shook his head. “Trust me,” he asked. And she finally relented.

With the girl leading the way, Ken and Sarah followed cautiously as they ventured deeper into the labyrinthine tunnels of the cave system. Despite their initial apprehension, they couldn’t deny the sense of relief that washed over them knowing they weren’t alone in this dark, eerie place.

A Leap Of Faith


The girl moved with a confidence that didn’t fit her young age, navigating the twists and turns of the tunnels with ease. Ken couldn’t help but wonder how she had come to know these caves so well, and why she was so willing to help them. Or rather, he hoped she was willing to help them. As they walked, Sarah whispered to Ken, her voice barely audible over the sound of their footsteps echoing off the stone walls. “Do you think we can trust her?”

Ken hesitated before responding; his gaze fixed on the girl’s back as she led them onward. “I don’t know,” he admitted quietly. “But right now, she’s our best chance of finding a way out of here. She hasn’t done anything threatening yet.” After what felt like hours of wandering through the darkness, the girl finally led them into a cavern bathed in a soft, golden light. Ken and Sarah’s eyes widened in wonder as they took in their surroundings.

The cavern was unlike anything they had ever seen before. Glowing mushrooms dotted the rocky floor, casting an ethereal glow that illuminated the space with a warm, otherworldly light. In the center of the cavern, a small fire burned brightly, its flickering flames dancing in the darkness. But it was the sight of other figures moving about the cavern that truly took their breath away. People—men, women, and children—moved about, their faces lit with smiles as they went about their tasks. It was a scene of domesticity and community that seemed utterly out of place in the depths of a cave.

Wonderful Discovery


Ken and Sarah stood at the entrance, the girl still gazing up at them as they took in the wonders of the civilization before them. It was a fully developed community with its own crops, water, and even a few chickens running about.

There was a hole in the top of the cavern, spanning half the size of the cavern, that let in some of the light from the moon and the rain from the storm. It sprinkled over the crops, and some of the people littered about, cupping their hands to catch drops of it.

“What is this place?” Ken huffed and glanced down at the little girl. The smallest of smiles grazed her lips before she motioned for them to follow again.
He’d heard of cave-dwelling civilizations before, but they were so rare he’d never had the privilege of experiencing them firsthand.

A Night In The Caves


Ken and Sarah spent the night in the heart of the cave-dwellers civilization, welcomed warmly by the members of the tribe. They shared a simple meal with their hosts, grateful for the warmth and hospitality they were shown.

As they sat around the fire, they couldn’t help but wonder the challenges these people faced. Sarah smiled at the girl’s dancing around the fire, hair loose and free as they twirled around the embers. “Not too bad for a horrible day, hey?” Ken asked, bumping her with a shoulder.

Despite the strangeness of their surroundings, Ken and Sarah couldn’t help but feel a sense of kinship with these people. In their own way, they were survivors, too, facing the unknown together and finding strength in each other’s company.

The Journey Home


The little girl had her own family, which came to greet her and surround her with love. They didn’t speak, and they didn’t laugh, but somehow, they still held an air of utter joy. She joined them at the fire later on and took a seat right next to Sarah, who tried her best not to look uncomfortable.

It was strange being in the heart of a civilization so far removed from theirs, tucked away in their own little cave in the middle of a park that also had no idea they existed. It was surreal, and Ken wondered how he had gotten them so far off the trail that they’d even discovered a cave-dwelling community. But as his eyes grew heavy, he couldn’t find it in himself to worry.

The next morning, they were gently risen from their perch by the fire by the same little girl who had led them there. She was so different from the feral girl he’d seen yesterday in the dark tunnel, and he wondered if he’d made the snap judgment out of fear. With new eyes, they looked like any other tribe trying to make its way in the world. But for them, it was time to go home.

Rescue and Reunion


With the young girl leading the way once more, Ken and Sarah retraced their steps through the labyrinthine tunnels of the cave system. This time, however, they felt a sense of confidence and determination that had been absent before.

As they emerged from the caves and stepped out into the cool morning air, Ken and Sarah were greeted by the sight of a search party waiting for them. Relief flooded through them as they realized they were safe at last, their harrowing journey through the caves finally at an end.

Their ordeal in the caves would be a story they would tell for years to come, a tale of survival and resilience in the face of adversity. But as they looked back on their journey, they knew that they had not faced it alone. In the depths of the caves, they had found friendship and solidarity with a group of people who had welcomed them with open arms.

A New Perspective


In the weeks and months that followed, Ken and Sarah often found themselves reflecting on their journey through the caves. They had emerged from the darkness with a newfound appreciation for the world around them and a deeper understanding of the resilience of the human spirit.

Their experience had changed them in ways they could never have imagined, instilling in them a sense of gratitude for the simple pleasures of life and a determination to live each day to the fullest.

As they stood on the precipice of a new adventure, Ken and Sarah knew that they would always carry the lessons they had learned in the caves with them. For in the depths of darkness, they had discovered the light of hope and the power of friendship to guide them through even the darkest of times.