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Cave Dwellers by Héctor González
SUMMARY: I had always wondered who dwelled in the caves in the outskirts of my town. I always looked at three narrow entrances. I heard strange noises. I saw light patterns. I had to know.
I had always wondered who dwelled the caves in the outskirts of my town. When I was small I used to watch them as the day rose and fell. They hypnotized me. The rocky formations that I thought resembled animals; I used to look for bears and lions in those giant rocks. The narrow entrances, three of them. No one entered. No one left.
At night, I used to hear strange noises coming from the caves. And sometimes a shallow light appeared in the sky coming from the entrances. The noises were like the humming of a funeral song. I used to stay awake all night, trying to distinguish a recognizable word from those hummings. I never did. And just when I started to get a hang of them, the sun came out. The humming stopped.
Every time I asked my father about the caves he told me they were empty. There was no one inside them. The humming was in my imagination. Then I told him about the lights, he said it was a side effect of the moons' light.
One night I decided it was enough. I had to know who the cave dwellers were. There had to be someone in those caves. I stole one of the atomic flashlights my father had. I took one of his guns; I had to be prepared for anything. I went through the main portal of my house. It was dark outside, and there was smoke flowing in the quiet streets of my town. I had gotten used to it a long time ago, but at first the smoke used to suffocate me.
I walked through the town with a ghostly pace, I wanted to run and end it. But I didn't. Something made me keep walking. There was something strange in the usual smoke. A smell of dead flesh. I was leaving the outskirts of the town. All the shops were closed at that time. The city slept at night, only one bright sign was still alive. I never learned to read so I didn't know what it said. I finally left town, I could see the caves near me now. There was no humming, no lights. The cave was as calm as a lake in a quiet night. I looked for the rocky animals, but I couldn't find them.
I turned on my flashlight. I could see inside! Even though I didn't see anything interesting at first glance, I was shocked. It was the first time I saw the inside of the caves. I entered slowly through the middle passage wielding the gun on one hand and the light with the other. The three passages connected several meters later. There was only one room in the cave. It was empty. No cave dwellers. Just some strange paintings in the wall. They seemed to resemble men in pain. Men suffering tortured. I stood shocked several seconds. I was sure there was something in there. I looked around and saw a little command in the far corner of the room. I dropped the gun and the flashlight, let them resting on the floor. I ran to it, and without thinking twice I pressed the first button that came to my mind. A big red button. When I pressed it, the earth started shaking and the floor started to open. Six human form statues emerged from the floor. Then the shaking stopped. I grabbed the flashlight to examine the statues. Each of the statues looked different. A grown man, a grown woman, teenagers, a girl, a boy... I looked closely at the boy.