Video of the "Tell" recorded at Fugitive Productions 5/21/2017

The dark opening in the white limestone of the cave wall was not just dark but black. ... there were no shadows, It was as if something beyond the doorway, in the next room, was alive and sucking our lights right out of the air…
Just as I was stepping through this aperture, ... SUDDENLY A HAND GRABBED MY ARM, and he nervously pointed saying “WAIT, what are those strange letters”?

Wait, wait!!

Wait, Let me tell you how I got here, I was in a West Virginia Cave with 12 other college freshman, in part because I was the president of the speleology club,

...Oh but lets backup some more and tell you that this is my mothers fault, She read me the book "Adventures of Tom Sawer", you know the one, teaching a wayward boy with a good heart to be good, And I remember the best part where Tom And Becky kissed and wander around a big exciting cave with candles and a kite string, but ending up heroes and with a bag of Gold!!!  Well I went to school where there were hundreds of caves, and my infections almost addictive excitement about adventure was catchy, (and the fact That I owned a book on caving and had read it 3 times) so they made me president of the new club. And the college even gave us funds for cave helmets.

So we had been wandering around this cave for hours, had said many ooo’s and auu’s on our way through huge underground chasms, and high under ground hills, with its big beautiful rooms, so big that a few houses could be built in it, so big that we imagined a dragon could have flown across it.  We felt like kings of this underground world, explorers that were impervious to mishap, being young and strong as we were.

When  every one was taking a break, me and my best friend Byron split off and took a side passage, it was a low stoop, and ended up in a dead end roundish saucer shaped room. It was really really beautiful, it had bowls of water rimmed with crystals, it had soda straw stalactites with one glistening water drop on the end of each one hanging over the bowls. The lights where magnified here making it bright and wonderful. As we slowly stepped around the room we said "we have to bring the others back here, it is the find of the day!!" 

Just around a large stalagmite on the far side, there was another DARK opening, THE OPENING,   It was not just dark, but black, with no shadows and a fearful feeling ran down our backs as if the blackness was alive. But I had to see, just had to explore, as I stepped words it, Byron grabbed my arm, and pointed at scrawled strange letters down at the very base of the doorway, “what kind of markings are those?” he asked nervously. 

   It said "squiggle" "WARE" on the left, and on the right squiggle "RT!!" exclamation exclamation

Byron turned to me nervously "Do you think that this is some sort of warning"? He looked scared, and then shivered as if cold had just seeped into him.

 It was not uncommon for cavers to mark passageways when deep underground with a dot from the flame of our carbide head lamps so that we’d know if passages looped back on themselves, and so we could find the right turns on the way out. But this seemed different, in this case it was letters, not a dot, and not entire words but just indistinct carbon written letters, and just an inch up from the floor scrawled as if hastily written while lying on your side, very very strange.

Humm, I wondered aloud,  "well I know of one way to find out if its a warning, and I grabbed him and pulled him through the opening.

The wise have eyes in their heads, while fools walk in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both. (Ecclesiastes 2.)

Stooping and stepping through the opening we were able to fully stand, in fact it was more like a huge subway tunnel than the room we had expected. About 20 feet high and 30 feet wide in a perfect curved arch of black rock stretching off into the distance farther than our lights could go. There was something so weird and grizzly about the dead silence that rained there, and something so depressing about the loneliness and desolation of the place, that we were afraid, frozen for a moment.. We entered with quickened pulses, talking only in whispers, ears alert to catch the slightest sound and muscles tense and ready for instant retreat. But in a little while familiarity modified our fears and we gave the place a critical and an interested examination. 

Walking down the center of the tunnel we were impressed by the quiet, it seemed that all sound was absorbed by the walls, and the floor, the floor was a sort of soft, almost a mossy feel to it instead of the usual hard packed prehistoric mud.

“Impressive tunnel” I whispered, “Black limestone is unusual, never seen it before, do you think its not really limestone, or was a fire or something?” I remarked.

Moving farther and farther slowly back, we felt a creeping fear of dealing with something we’d never seen before, our lamp lights just seemed to be absorbed into the distance and even the sounds were gone as soon as we spoke.

Then after walking in silence for quite a long long while, it just ended, a flat wall crossed the tunnel end and a chimney like passage headed straight up towards the surface. Byron was shining his light up the chimney and wondering aloud how far up it went. Looking around I suddenly saw one white spot on the wall, and walked over to check it out. Just as I reached out a finger to touch the white spot, Byron yelled "ECHO", AND SUDDENLY  A dozen beady glistening eyes opened from the black black wall, BATS!  I realized our danger, several hundred feet of black tunnel covered,  not leaving any white limestone to show, ! of bats!, hundreds, thousands maybe millions of bats all sleeping, “Oh NO we’d better get moving” I called.

Then 10 white spots, 20, 100, the wall was turning white as sheets of living squeaking bats dropped from their purchases leaving the white limestone behind. They swirled over our heads, then started diving at our lamps.  They seemed to think our head lamps where a way out of the cave and were rushing at our faces.

We turned to run, but with the bats swirling around and now bumping into us, we waved our hands in the air to cover our faces and couldn't run in a straight line. Then one knocked out Byron's light and he fell to his knees and yelled "we're in deep shit"... I turned out my light and said "best to lie down and let them quiet, lying down, my hands sunk in something soft and gooey, auuuggg I yelled, Byron turned on his light for only a second, I saw, the floor was deep with bat GUANA, BAT SHIT, as far as we could see, piles and piles of deep bat guano.  Then the black tunnel again exploded into a black fog of bats circling squeaking like mice and hitting and catching on us, I saw one land on Byron's back... "TURN OFF YOUR LIGHT" Again we turned off our lights and lied down in the ….. AUUUUG. … guano in absolute blackness and hid our heads in our arms. And waited, slowly, waiting for the squeaking to subside. Shivering and ducking instinctively as we heard them wing by, afraid to think that they might be dozens on our backs.

He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste.  They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards. (Job 12)

Slowly, holding the lights just an inch above the floor, we’d turn on the lights briefly and crawl, ever ever so slowly as the squeaking and swooping started up again, and increased, till again we’d have to turn off the lights and lie in the …. Auuug, guana. And wait for the little air born mice to settle back to the walls.

Then again when it was once again quiet,  we’d repeat the procedure… slowly, going the distance on and on and on in the deep mushy shit!!! Then turn off the lights and hide our heads under our arms, Then again when it was once again quiet,  we’d repeat the procedure over and over and over.

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Finally crawling out through the door flat on the floor, we could clearly see the strange warning that we had not stopped to read,  and then the message rang in our minds,

But Isn't it sometimes like that in our lives, we ignore that strange feelings, those warning signs, those written words. If we had just looked closer, we could have read the message, and we would not have be in deep shit... the full strange warning message rang in our ears as we stood and ran for our lives....

beWARE              baTS!!

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Doesn’t wisdom call out?  Doesn’t understanding raise her voice? (Proverbs 8)  well ... we had better listen then !!!!

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The Story Tellers Notes:

  • The opening, the Catch, 
  • Wait - leading 12 college freshman
    • it was all my mothers fault
    • President of the club
    • Big rooms, lunch break
  • Me and Byron, shining white dead-end room
  • The Opening, the living blackness
    • silence on the mossy floor
    • blackness, light absorbing fear, living blackness
  • The End, the chimney, Byron's wondering aloud
  • Touching the white spot, Byron's Echo, the eyes, the danger
  • swirling bats, falling, Deep Shit
    • Lights out
    • crawling
  • Crossing the threshold, 
    • seeing up close the strange writing
    • realizing if I had heeded the warning I wouldn't be in deep shit
    • the warning read "Beware...Bats"